Monday, November 25, 2013

Ragnar Vegas with Team Nuun Pro Compression #sohydratedsotight

Well, per usual, I'm the very last person to post my recap!  Stupid overachievers on my team...!  :-)  And also per usual, it's impossible to recap such an amazing event.  It's an "experience", and words can't really capture what it was like.  So I'm going to leave you with some random bullet points of what it was like instead.  Hold on to your hats folks, it's a long one. 

What it was like to leave Baby J
It was hard. Shocking, right?  As I mentioned, you plan these things so far in advance that you imagine by the time the race actually arrives you'll be perfectly sane and able to deal with the situation.  But then it arrives and you're still not.  And you find yourself at the airport crying because another little boy has the same toy.  But once I got there it was great as I knew it would be, and it was nice to be able to say "I'm going to see him tomorrow" from pretty much the moment I got there.  Needless to say, I'm not planning another overnight trip away from him for a long long time.  He (and my husband!) did survive though!

What it was like to do a relay while breastfeeding
Hmmm.  Let's just say that I probably won't do another relay until I'm all done breastfeeding.  Though I could probably be convinced.  :-)  I'm SO glad I did it, but pumping every 3-4 hours wasn't exactly the most fun thing ever.  My vanmates were such good sports about the whole thing (sweet Sandy was even constantly offering me water and snacks while I was tied to the pump!), even when it was 4am and we were trying to sleep and the pump starts going again.  They graciously said the white noise helped them get to sleep.  I certainly am glad there weren't any males in my van though. 

Anyway, it was a huge hassle to say the least.  But if you're in the same boat, here's what I did: I dumped for the first 12 hours I was away, and I kept all the milk from the last 40-ish hours.  What I had read said in a cooler with ice milk can stay good for up to 24 hours (which is why I dumped for the first part), but I deliberately attempted to do better than average so I could keep it for a bit longer.  I loaded up ziploc bags with ice at the hotel before we left and stuffed my soft sided cooler to the brink (full coolers stay colder), leaving space in the center for the milk (so there would be ice on every side of it).  Immediately after pumping I put the milk in the cooler, and I got new ice 24 hours later, which lasted until I got home.  I checked the cooler (bye bye $20) on the way home and didn't even try carrying it on, even though the TSA rules say you might be able to.  The milk seemed very cold and I smelled a few of the older bags just to make sure and they all seemed fine so I immediately froze them after I got home.  

I brought home about 45 ounces and Baby J drank about 80, so I'm definitely still in the negative, but it was nice to not feel like all that hassle was completely wasted.  We'll also see if it had any impact on my supply, as there were definitely a few times when I went longer than normal without pumping (like Thursday night when I enjoyed some uninterrupted sleep!).  

What it was like to hang out with my vanmates
My vanmates were AWESOME.  My whole team was awesome, but sadly I didn't get to know Van 2 very well.  This is one of my big regrets from the trip.  It was made worse because, as Runner 1 I was usually running when the teams hung out at the major exchanges.  Hopefully someday we'll meet again, because they all seemed awesome from what little I learned.  But my vanmates are all amazing - I could not have asked for a better group of ladies to hang out with.  From sweet Kelsey, the adorable baby who hasn't even seen Dirty Dancing, to Caroline, who powers through every run despite intense stomach distress, to Sandy who is so modest and kind, to Vanessa, who is so caring and hard core, and finally Zoe, who was constantly tending to our needs and dominating her runs.  I'm truly blessed to have such wonderful vanmates.

What it was like to be Runner 1
Being Runner 1 was awesome!  It was fun to start the relay off and it was definitely awesome to be the first one always done and not be waiting around.  On the other hand, it's not that great to be the one who has to be super stressed about waking up on time to meet the other van after the sleeping exchange.  I barely got any sleep because I was so worried about being up, dressed, pumped, etc. in time.  If you do a relay while breastfeeding I actually recommend not being Runner 1 so you can pump when the runner before you goes.  

It was great to lead us off and get to toe the start line though!

That is, until I looked around and I saw that of the 15 or so starting, there was only one other female, and many of the guys were sporting six-packs, short shorts, or other tell-tale signs that they were FAST.  Umm.... why were WE starting so late with them?

Annnndddd, just like I was afraid of, I'm immediately in last place. See you later guys!

Leg 1:
Leg 1 was GORGEOUS.  Wow, I loved it.  I love downhill running so I was kind of excited for the challenge of running down Mt. Charleston.  Buuutttt who knew that running at 8,500 feet of elevation is actually really really really REALLY hard?  I seriously could barely catch my breath the first 4 miles, it was like there wasn't enough oxygen in the air to breathe.  Which, there probably wasn't.  I didn't think there'd be any problem because I've run Leg 2 of Hood to Coast before, which is down Mt. Hood, but I just looked it up and the start of HTC is only 6,000 feet, so my start was probably 4,000 feet.  There's probably a pretttyyyy big difference between 4,000 feet and 8,500 feet.  It's so crazy because Mt. Charleston sure doesn't look like much of a mountain compared to Mt. Hood!
As I mentioned, it was funny when we lined up at the start because there were about 20 of us, 18 guys looking like Ryan Hall in their no-shirt six-packs and short short running shorts, one other girl, and little old-me wearing a sparkle skirt.  Yep, I was in DEAD LAST PLACE from the moment they yelled "GO".  And it stayed that way until the very last half mile when I finally passed the other girl.  Why they started our nearly all-female non-elite team at the same time as all-male, practically elite teams I have no idea. It certainly left us feeling less than stellar with nearly 0 total roadkills (I had 1 on every leg for a total of 3).  

Yep.  Last place and all alone.

Seriously, these were for REAL my views while I was running.  At one point I shouted at my teammates - "Can you believe this???"  It was gorgeous.

Annnnd this is what a straight downhill elevation map looks like:

Friday, 12:30pm
Total time: 54:28      Total distance: 6.93 miles        Average Pace: 7:52 (WOOT! Yeah yeah yeah I had help.)
Splits: 7:50, 8:09, 8:06, 8:20, 8:00, 7:24, 7:09
Elevation loss: 2,011 feet

After a Chili's dinner and some hanging around shenanigans it was Leg 2 time!

Leg 2:
Leg 2 happened at about 9pm and it was COLD by this time.  Like seriously high desert COLD, and I was glad I had my huge parka even though my neighbor on the flight made fun of me (highs were in the 70's).  Leg 2 was in a residential neighborhood with the first mile flattish and then the rest all straight uphill.  Ugh.  Where I'm from we run up AND down hills - you know - like rollers?  Apparently in Vegas you just CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB unrelenting hills that never end and never give you a break.  It's ridiculous.  There's not much else to say about this leg.  Thank goodness it was only 4 miles.  I was still feeling prideful at this point and refused to let myself walk at all even though I wanted to SO bad.  1 more roadkill.

Seriously.  Lovely.

Friday, 9:09pm
Total time: 37:47       Total distance: 3.87 miles        Average Pace: 9:45 (hmm, 2 full minutes per mile slower...)
Splits: 8:59, 9:49, 10:02, 10:16
Total elevation gain: 354 feet

We tried to get some rest at the next exchange but I'm guessing I slept for about 30 minutes.  If that.  I suck at sleeping in weird places.  Then it was time to go again!

I also obviously didn't change my clothes after my 2nd leg, even though I had those lovely ziploc bags with different outfits ready.  Too lazy and too cold.  Don't judge.

Leg 3:
By leg 3, I was TIRED.  I was dreading going back out there.  Oh man, especially because my last leg featured another never ending hill as well.  This leg was made worse by not knowing exactly how far it would be - the book said 4.8 miles while online said 5.4, man I was hoping for 4.8, and it ended up being 5.5.  OF ALL UPHILL.  Ugghhhh.  At least it wasn't dark AND wasn't hot yet.  The sun was rising while I was running and it was again pure loveliness, except for the part where I climbed a mountain in another residential area.  This leg was actually really close to where I used to live which was some great nostalgia seeing all those familiar street names.  

And there you go Kelsey - I'M DONE!

Okay fine, this stupid elevation map says only the last 2.5 miles were uphill.  I say it was the whole time.  And fine, Garmin says I did get some breaks, but I sure didn't notice them!  LIAR GARMIN LIAR.  Oh yeah, I also walked during the hill.  A LOT.  My pride was gone and my quads were HURTING from all that downhill earlier. 
Saturday, 6:07am
Total time: 55:17      Total distance: 5.48 miles        Average Pace: 10:05 (I just keep getting slower!)
Splits: 9:21, 9:16, 9:49, 10:48, 11:07, 10:17         Total elevation gain: 289 feet 
The Finish!
Then we were DONE!  Okay okay, IIIIII was done.  I made sure everyone knew it too.  I'm so mean.  But soon the rest of my van was done too!  Good thing, because it was getting HOT.  I don't envy Van 2 (except for their view of Lake Mead) - they are all rock stars for toughing out super long legs in the direct sun on the 3rd leg. 

Love these ladies!

So we headed to the finish where we enjoyed our complimentary beers and pizza, but we were already sweltering since there was no shade anywhere.  Ragnar - you need some umbrellas.

But we cooled off with some Nuun with Megan at the Nuun tent and said hi to our Pro Compression friends next door! 

And then Brennan was bringing it in for the W!  Well, a W to us! 

My awesome amazing teammates:
Go read their stories!

And before you knew it I was back at the airport heading home and my whirlwind of a 48 hours was over.  And I seriously could not walk.  That first leg KILLED ME. 

What it's like to run a Ragnar
This was my 2nd Ragnar (Northwest Passage was my other) and 5th relay to date (all the others were Hood to Coasts), and my previous opinion on Ragnar stands.  Ragnar ROCKS when it comes to directions and signage.  It is so so so nice and comforting to have all of those signs out there directing you, even complete with flashing LED's during the night legs.  BUT, I still find it extremely EXTREMELY annoying how they "make up" mileage with silly loops around the block and out-and-backs.  That's just plain ridiculous.  If you're going to run 200 miles FROM somewhere TO somewhere, you should actually do that, instead of doing multiple loops around the block to make the numbers add up.  It was awfully ridiculous to find out the next exchange was ACROSS THE STREET!  Seriously.  

 Ragnar does bling right though.

Also, if you're going to do a Vegas relay, I feel like you should at some point kind of run at least NEAR the strip.  i realize it's not that safe and it's super trafficky and maybe it's just not feasible, but it seems kind of necessary?  It was also too bad that one of the most gorgeous parts of the route - Red Rock Canyon - is done in complete pitch dark blackness.  Go read Vanessa's race report about running that (she is such a trooper)!

Finally, similarly to Hood to Coast, we started nearly last even though we were an all female definitely not-elite team.  Why that happened I have no idea, but it left us in near last place for almost the whole race, and pulling into exchanges that were ghost towns.  Because of this I think we missed more of the crazy costumes / decorations relays are famous for.  

What it was like to run with Nuun and Pro Compression
Um, did you SEE our awesome Nuun Pro Compression socks?  We were seriously the envy of the entire relay.  I LOVE them and totally felt like they helped #keepittight.  I totally felt like they helped save my calves... now if only they made full-length tights because man my quads were hurting from that downhill leg.  Nuun and Pro Compression are AWESOME and I'm so thankful they gave me this opportunity.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU TIMES INFINITY!

Final Thoughts
Doing a relay always leaves you begging for more.  You can bet you could find us at the finish line talking to the Ragnar Trail people about upcoming races.  I am dying to do Ragnar Trail Zion in April - anyone interested?  Maybe pumping would be easier if I was stationed in a tent instead of a van...?? :-)  And I definitely want a reunion with these awesome peeps sometime SOON.

Thanks for Reading!
If you made it this far - CONGRATS!  You're amazing and must be really bored today.  As a reward - you've earned yourself a 20% off code on Nuun (using "ragnarvegas") and a 40% off code (plus free shipping!) on Pro Compression socks (use "nuunpc")!