On June 10th and 11th, Kevin and I drove up to Madison, Wisconsin to run our very first RAGNAR Relay TOGETHER! Kevin is an old pro at Ragnar races. He started running the Wasatch Ragnar when it was still called the Wasatch Back Relay and hasn't stopped since then. When we were engaged I got to be in one of his support vans and watch him run up the mountain stretch that use to be called "you gotta be kidding me!" and that was it... in that moment I knew I would start to run, and would eventually run a Relay with Kevin. 6 years later and we finally did it!
Van One started us out early in the morning on the 10th. They had a little rain but other then that things went really well. Their van consisted of our team captain's husband, Dan, her brother David, David's son Trent, Trent's cousin Jesse, Dan's daughter Alexa, and Alexa's friend Ellie. Because the van was mostly filled with teenagers who can't drive, Dan and David had to drive all their legs (which is actually pretty tiring) but they survived and had a fun time.
We met up with them a couple ours later and David handed off the bracelet to me since I was the first runner in Van Two. By the time I started running the rain had stopped and the temperature was PERFECT! I ran 4.7 miles on a beautiful forested dirt path, which felt great on my knees and allowed me to run 30 seconds/mile faster then I usually do. Needless to say, when I came in to hand off to the next runner I was pretty proud of myself :)
After me, Rachael (who is the team captain's sister) ran, then she handed off to Jared (who none of us really knew, but I had met last year when he and I ran the Red Rock Relay on the same team...different vans, and I knew he wanted to run all 15 Ragnars this year, so I facebooked him and asked him to fill our last spot, and he said YES! And he was the best addition to the team, and we all loved him! Whew! that was a mouthful) who then handed off to K'lynne (our organized and fearless team captain) who handed off to Livia (who goes to the same church/ward as us and K'lynne) who then FINALLY handed off to Kevin!
Anyway, it was a long wait before Kevin got to run, so he was getting very nervous watching the rest of us go.
But that's OK because we kept entertained by telling funny stories, getting to know the other runners on our team, admiring the legs on "Calf Man", and making fun of the Bootie team that seamed to always be near.
Eventually though, Kevin got to take his turn pounding pavement, and let me tell you... he did NOT disappoint! Somewhere along his 6.9 mile route, he found this guy who was just a little faster them him (a hard thing to do) and decided his goal would be to keep up with the guy. Well, they ran neck-in-neck the whole way and actually looked like they were having a blast together. When we saw them coming up around the bend, both teams (and all the other runners that were standing around) started yelling at them to beat each other. They both put it into overdrive and literally came FLYING through the shoot! And yes... the crowd went wild!!! When we all calmed down, we hopped back into the van and went to get lunch while Van One took over and we awaited our next turn on the trail.
That time came somewhere around 10:00 pm. We were all waiting in the van in a parking lot to hear from Van One when we realized they should be coming in by now. So we started to walk over to the exchange, just in case, when I heard someone yelling "345! Your runner is coming." YIPES! I wasn't really ready but I turned on my head lamp, strapped on my vest, and barely made it into the shoot before he did! Then I was off! Kevin was supposed to be running with me at this point (because I'm still afraid of the dark) but hadn't known that David came in already so I had to go solo. No worries though, about a quarter mile in to my 3.7 mile leg, Kevin came running up behind me, pinched my rear end, and scared me to death.
We found out later that some random people had moved/stolen a bunch of signs and 2 of Van One's runners got lost. They only found their way because they were carrying their smart phones and were able to use GPS! In the chaos of trying to find each other, they'd forgotten to call us to tell us where they were, thus, the chaotic exchange. Also, further into the night we realized that dozens of runners came into the exchange only to find their team mates lost and missing... so I guess we were pretty lucky!
The rest of the runs went smoothly, minus some creepy guy that tried to sneak up on Livia at 1 in the morning, and a moment of panic when I thought I was being attacked by gnats, only to find that I was seeing mist in the light of my headlamp... :) and soon it was time for Kevin to run again. We had noticed that the guy he ran with before passed us about 10 minutes before Kevin got to take off on his 5.4 mile leg, so we all tried to convince Kevin to catch up to him. That is a REALLY hard thing to do when you run the same pace and are that far apart, but Kevin came within 2 minutes of catching that guy and we were all very proud!
When we were done running that night we went to a hotel to catch a few hours of sleep before we had to run again. We all wanted as much sleep as possible, so we had timed our wake up call to the T. Unfortunately, we woke up to a flat tire!
We phoned the other team to let them know we might not make it to the exchange and then Kevin and Jared made fast work of changing out the tire for a spare! 20 minutes later we were on the road and MAGICALLY we were only 5 minutes behind Van one, who were slowed by some roads that closed during the night and caused them to lose their runner. We pulled up and I could see David waiting for me. I wanted to jump out and run to the shoot but if I didn't go potty first there would be a much bigger problem to deal with. So, I jumped out and ran to the bathroom, cut in front of 30 other runners (who were NOT happy with me), took care of business, and then started to run my last leg of 4.9 miles.
I was really tired, really sore, and really hungry by the time I started to run my leg and could tell I had slowed considerably! But somewhere in the middle of my run an older gentleman came up from behind and asked if he could run with me awhile. I gladly said yes and about 5 minutes later I could tell he'd pulled me back up to my regular pace. At that point he kindly said goodbye and then I ate his dust, but it was OK because he'd really helped me out.
I kept on running and before long another runner came out of nowhere and asked which way he was supposed to be going. I pointed him in the right direction and prepared to eat some more dust but then he asked if he could run with me too! I said sure and soon realized I'd gained a funny new friend.
He told me some funny stories along the way and tried hard to keep me motivated, but the best part was when we saw the "one mile left" marker. Brian (my new friend) turned to me and said, "Look, we only have a mile left. I know you got some juice left so lets kick it into high gear!" I started to tell him that I didn't think I had enough in me, when he cut me off and said, "No! Let me tell you something. Yesterday I was at an exchange and saw these two guys on different teams running in together. EVERYONE started to cheer and yell at them to beat each other, so they started to run super fast! They came in neck-in-neck and then hugged each other and everyone was cheering like CRAZY! It totally inspired me and now WE are going to do the same thing!" I started to laugh at him pretty hard right about then. He said, "What? You don't think we can do it?" Then I proceeded to tell him that we certainly could, but I was laughing because he was talking about my husband! We both got a good chuckle out of that and then we started to run our britches off! We ran into the shoot accompanied by loud shouts and cheers and it was the perfect way to end my last run!
Now all I had to do was wait. During that waiting period we saw more bums, watched Kevin perfect his cheer leading skills, waited for our runners on scary corners in our stealth van, took many bathroom breaks, and of course, ran. A few of our runners had to do really long runs at this time. Rachael had to do 10 MILES! and Livia had to do 8.2! But they handled it like machines and soon Kevin was up again. The last runner, on the very last leg. He ran a long 7.8 miles into Chicago where we proudly met up with him and crossed the finish line as a team!
It was truly an amazing experience running with my husband and getting to know so many fun people. We had perfect running weather, never above 60 degrees, constant fog and cloud coverage to fight off sunburn, and no injuries or illness to speak of. Our team finished running 200 miles in 29 hours 58 minutes and 26 seconds. We came in over an hour faster then our predicted time! When we were done enjoying the free post-race food and entertainment, we said our good byes, drove home, and passed out cold for the next 12 hours. And yes... it was totally worth it!