Thursday, January 10, 2013

Run, Drive, Sleep? Repeat --Part 2 of my Ragnar Relay FL Keys Adventure

Continued from Part 1.....

 We got to the next exchange around 10pm. After I ate, changed, and got myself situated, I leaned the van chair back and finally snuggled in for a 2 hour nap. Some teammates sprawled out on the van seats, others took sleeping bags and found a nice grassy area. 

We got the call that Van 1 was about an hour out around 1:30 AM. I fired up the Keurig and started getting myself prepared for my 9.9 miles through Islamorada.

Van 1 handed off at 2:44 AM, and just like that, I was gone on my second leg! 

I started out great with negative splits going from 8:23 to 8:11 to 8:06, all the way down to 7:55 in mile 4.
It was super dark and kind of scary, but wow the stars were beautiful. 

I was going along fine, then I started to get REALLY HOT. 
Like, marathon-training-in-the-dead-of-summer hot. 
I felt like I could hardly breathe in some spots. Isn't this supposed to be January?!

I had brought my little amphipod water bottle with me solely for washing down a Gu, never imagining I would use the majority of that water pouring it down my head and neck as I ran those last few miles. 

As my pace started to slowly creep up again (8:22, 8:40, 9:08-WTF?!) I started getting so angry at myself. Why had I not hydrated more in the van? Why didn't I train harder? Why am I being such a wuss? I live in Florida, I should be able to handle a little bit of heat! There are people depending on me! Move your feet dangit!!

I saw my team somewhere around that 9:08 mile and they graciously gave me a cold bottle of water to pour on my head. The next few miles were much easier thanks to that, even though they apparently got yelled at by a local for being loud. Thanks y'all :)  
I handed off to Bob at 4:07 AM with an average pace of around 8:20 and 14 total baptisms! While the pace wasn't exactly where I'd hoped, the baptisms made up for it. 

Leg 2...check!

Back in the van I went, and continued navigating duties. Bob and Emily were up next, and they both had fairly long legs. With as dark and as hot as it was, I knew they'd need support.

Rachel rounded out our night runs with a beautiful sunrise over a bridge in Marathon, Florida. 
With the exception of some not-so-beautiful moments. But I will let her tell more about that. 

Glenn finished off our 2nd leg at 8:50 AM Saturday morning. We had about a 5 hour break, so we grabbed some breakfast at a local cuban place and headed to our final major exchange. 

We power napped, "showered" with baby wipes, and changed up for our 3rd and final leg.

Ragnar sleeping area? Or refugee camp?

Pic stolen from Rachel -- us rocking out the lululemon ruffle skirts! 

I knew my final leg would be tough. I knew it would be hot. But I never anticipated it being SO tough and SO hot. After 26 hours with only 3 hours of sleep and no real meal schedule to speak of, I was a mess and running solely on adrenaline. 

Clint handed off to me at 1:29 pm. I had 4.1 miles to go, and I was finished!
My splits were acceptable for that amount of heat - 7:42 (went out too fast), 8:15, 8:20, 7:58.

Except for that 4.1 was actually 4.4, so when my Garmin went off at mile 4 and I looked up and didn't see the exchange yet, in my head I was yelling  
And I'm pretty sure it was showing on my face when I came across the final exchange. Because people kind of looked frightened. 

But at 2:03 PM, I was finished.

 2 1/2 hours total running time, 18.9 miles, and 26 total "baptisms" -- I just Clowney'd my first Ragnar!

I cheered on the rest of our team through their final legs and was getting excited to be so close to Key West.

After Glenn took off on his last leg to finish, we all drove to the end and anxiously awaited his arrival so we could all run across the finish line together.

The finish line! It's so glorious!

I took a  Blair-Witch-Project type video as we crossed the finish.

 Official Time: 
197 miles 
29 hours, 37 minutes, 37 seconds

After a much needed shower, we all headed down to the dock for a well deserved champagne toast at sunset.

A HUGE thanks to all the volunteers along the way and to all of the local residents that put up with our hootin and hollerin at all hours of the day and night. 

 Also thanks to Matt for being the best captain ever, the entire team in Van 2 for trusting me to navigate through the darkness of the everglades, and to Glenn for responding to my email inquiry about joining the team in the first place. Thanks to Octavian for being brave and letting Rachel and I teach you how to use the foam roller for the first time (we may or may not upload that priceless footage to youtube!).
Many thanks to Bob for helping Prateek take out the back seat of the van and agreeing to stash it at your house so we had more space for all of our gear.
And of course special thanks to Emily for broadening my horizons on giant rat invasions and to Rachel for bringing back my southern accent, even if it was only for a few days.

I can't lie, I am still kind of on the Ragnar hangover/high and keep having flashbacks of all the good times we had. As crazy and daunting and mentally and physically challenging as it may have been, for some reason I'd love to do another one.

(Did you hear that? It was Prateek begging me to get a grip on life and stop acting like a lunatic!)

 I'm not certain what my next race will be, but I know for sure that it will be sooner rather than later. I have already been bitten by the race bug and it's only 10 days into the new year.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Run, Drive, Sleep? Repeat---Part 1 of my Ragnar Relay FL Keys Adventure

I'm not certain that any of us rookies knew exactly what we were getting into.

Sure, we'd watched the youtube videos of years past and studied our individual legs. We had prepared our night gear, stocked the cooler with water and gatorade, and made sure we had ziploc bags to stuff our sweaty clothes into after each leg. We even brought a Keurig for a late night pick-me-up.

However, until I actually ran a cumulative of 19 miles over a 24 hour time frame with no more than 3 hours of sleep and a real meal, I had no idea what might happen. 

Thursday Prateek (AKA "Coach") picked up the van, we picked up a few of our other team members, and headed south towards Miami. After swinging by the Ft Lauderdale airport to grab Rachel (Running Backwards in High Heels) we made it to our hotel for the night. 

Our captain, Matt, is one of those super-organized people that has his own laminator (not kidding) and makes sure all the T's are crossed -- from checklists to pretty maps printed in color to a 3 ring binder with tabs and a table of contents with all information needed for the weekend, he made sure we had it all.

I tried my darnedest to get a good night's sleep that night, knowing it would be the last time I'd get an actual bed for the next 2 days.

Of course I tossed and turned all night, with fleeting thoughts of everything from pure excitement to going over the distances in my head to OMG I FORGOT MY COMPRESSION SOCKS!!

The next morning after a big breakfast and a Publix run for ice, pretzels, and gatorade, we finally made it to the starting line. 

We took some spare time to decorate the vans, take some photos, and pass along individual good juju to the "baton" that we'd all be slapping on our wrist 3 different times throughout the relay.

Van 2 is ready to go! 

Since we were the "saints" van, complete with angel halo and wings, we called our kills "baptisms". 
 (A "kill" is when you pass someone. You make tally marks on the van as bragging rights!) 

 Side note - on the way down to Miami, Emily asks if we had heard of the giant rats that had recently invaded the Keys. Come to find out, these things are completely real. They are called Gambien Pouched Rats. We nicknamed them R.O.U.S.'s. (Rodents of Unusual Size).

Watch this video if you're confused, and it will probably make you more confused. Or make you want to watch The Princess Bride.

So of course we paid tribute to the R.O.U.S.'s on our van.

We bid farewell to Van 1 after the start and made our way to the first major exchange to pick up our bibs and go through the safety briefing (basically, wear your night gear at night and you'll be alright).

 From left: Glenn, Rachel, Bob, Emily, Octavian, Me

I was runner 7 - AKA runner 1 from our van. 

Sure, send a newbie out first. Why not. 

I took off for my first leg at 1:59pm on Friday.

It was hot, but I still had fresh legs and good energy. Even after all those stupid traffic lights in which I was forced to stop, I still ended up with an average pace of about 7:50. Without those stoplights I could have killed it!
I handed off to Bob around 2:32 pm. First leg, check!

The nice thing about going first is that the rest of the time your van is running their legs, you can relax and cheer on your teammates. 
And shatter your iphone glass into a million pieces. 
But mostly cheer on your teammates.

Our van got the first turn at night running. Octavian (Doc Oc) and Glenn both had legs on pitch black middle-of-nowhere roads. It got to the point where our GPS stopped recognizing where we were, and we had to put in geographic coordinates instead of an actual address.

We were so happy to see Doc Oc and Glenn come through the exchanges, free of casualties from R.O.U.S.'s, alligators, or other indigenous species in South Florida.

After Glenn finished his leg about 7:45pm, we had approximately 6 hours before Van 1 finished their second leg. This was the time to drive to the next exchange, eat something, change, sleep, or do anything else that may be necessary before our second part of the journey began.

.......Continued at Part 2

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Audit

Wait...It's 2013 already?! 

Acted like a silly pirate with my family and friends at Gasparilla

Headed to Miami Beach for a fun Bachelorette weekend

Went back to Miami for a cruise wedding, then a week later went to Miami again for Ultra (AKA March Madness)

Went to Vegas, registered for the Chicago Marathon, ran the Iron Girl 1/2 marathon

Turned a year older, went to Sunset Music Festival, started marathon training, attended my 10 year high school reunion

Went to Michigan for another beautiful wedding, perfected my bhangra moves, and watched our sea wall wash away from Tropical Storm Debby

Went to Minnesota for a family reunion, got our swing on at Celebrate Sinatra

Injured my piriformis (sad face), lived through the Republican National Convention

Went to Hermosa Beach and hung out on the Southern California sunshine


Ran the Tap N Run and won best original team concept, went to EDC, flew up to Philadelphia to eat turkey and hang out with Prateek's cute nephews


Watched the Eagles win in Tampa, PR'd a 10K over the Clearwater Bridges, went home to Alabama and then back out to Southern California for a beautiful dual-ceremony wedding 

2013 is already shaping up to be amazing! I have Ragnar Relay this weekend, another trip to Vail/Beaver Creek, Gasparilla after that...and this is only in January!

Happy New Year and all the best for 2013!