Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ragnar Northwest Passage ULTRA Style

I could write an entire book about this relay and at the same time I could sum it all up in just a few sentences.

Before it all began!

Here's the short version:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Yes, it was the WORST of times.

Here's the long version:
Without completely and utterly embarrassing myself (too late for that?), let's just say I suffered incredible intestinal distress such that I've never experienced while racing before.  I've been a complete arrogant snob - my gut has always been a "rock", and that was something that happened to other racers.  Well let's just say, I will never ever again relay without carrying Imodium.  That stuff is magic.

My happiest moment: before the running and distress began!

While this was my 3rd Ragnar and 6th relay (well, 7th if you count Mt. Si but that's not the same), I've never done one ultra style before (ran with 6 runners instead of 12).  And, I'm not sure I will again.  Let me be clear, I am incredibly proud of myself for finishing and for accomplishing this.  I'm so glad I did it and I'm happy to cross it off my bucket list.  But let me also be clear, this was probably the hardest race I've ever completed.  It was hard physically (oh the hills, the hills, hills, hills, everywhere) and it was sure hard mentally, and didn't I already mention I thought I was actually dying during it?  Like Robyn sneezed and I couldn't muster the energy to tell her 'Bless You' even though I wanted to.  That's how bad it was.  Like I was googling hotels in the area and Marilyn said 'Maybe her husband should come pick her up'.  THAT'S how bad it was.  So maybe you weren't clear about that.

But here's the lowdown of the race itself.  I got to hang out with 5 amazing ladies and one truly amazing driver (Marilyn's husband is AWESOME).  I loved each of these ladies and I'm so glad I got to know them more.

In order of legs, Robyn, Lauren, Marilyn, moi, Jordanne, Bethany.

These women are hard core, never give up, funny, kind, inspirational, generous... they are the kind of ladies one would be lucky to call friends.  I'm so lucky I got to annoy them for 48 hours!

 Reppin' Nuun!

We decided to divvy up the miles in a more "interesting" way than the typical 3 vs 6 leg conundrum, to avoid one person being stuck with an 18 mile middle-of-the-night leg, so we split them unconventionally across 4 legs for each person.  Sometimes we ran 1 leg at a time, sometimes 2, and lucky me once got to run 3 legs at a time.  So here they were:

1st Leg: Legs 7 & 8
9.67 miles  10:38 average  1:42:58   elevation gain: 807 feet (yes you read that right)
Friday, 2:48pm
Splits: 9:41, 9:15, 9:39, 10:06, 9:42, 12:07, 13:25, 12:14, 10:07, 9:49

They said this was the hardest leg of the entire course.  Too bad I didn't realize I had to climb a mountain until the week before.  It was DIFFICULT to say the least.  Steep and unrelenting and HOT in the middle of the afternoon.  It was pretty though - on gravel trails through forests and along a lake. 

A few miles is was when I started to worry about how my stomach was feeling.  Another mile or two and I was panicked and looking off into the bushes.  Luckily there was a bathroom at this lake park in the middle, I don't even want to think about what would have happened if that oasis hadn't magically appeared.  I majorly struggled through the rest of the leg.  The mile splits tell the story. 

I've never been so happy to hand off that bracelet!

Then I proceeded to die in the car for a few hours.  Like seriously, it was terrible and not pretty.  We saw Lindsay and the Nuun team at the exchange and I couldn't even go hang out with them, that's how bad it was.  Until Robyn had the genius idea to ask the first aid tent at the major exchange for Imodium.  And man that worked IMMEDIATELY!  Seriously, it was magic.  You could tell I felt better when I finally laughed (once! ha) and took a few tiny bites of my sandwich.  I wasn't 100% but it was 10,000% better than it was before. 

2nd Leg: Leg 18
5.55 miles  9:58 average  55:23  elevation gain: 26 feet (yes you read that right!)
Saturday, 12:13am
Splits: 9:45, 9:41, 9:58, 10:02, 10:10, 10:19


I felt much better during this leg and didn't need a bathroom.  Win!  Also it was cooler and flat as a pancake, so that certainly helped.  This was the closest to running on a treadmill as I would EVER thought was possible.  Who even knew such a flat road even existed?!

3rd Leg: Legs 25, 26, & 27
8.68 miles  12:09 average  1:45:36   elevation gain: 597 feet
Saturday, 7:38am
Splits: 10:25, 12:33, 10:42, 12:44, 12:35, 12:09, 12:57, 13:05, 12:18

Here's where I made a mistake of not preempting the bathroom issues by taking another Imodium.  Man I wish I had, because the intestinal issues were back, as were the relentless and difficult hills.  I was really hoping my team would come by so I could get that magic pill from them but they were off at Starbucks.  Luckily I ran through not one but two exchanges and I used the port-a-potties at each.  Once again, those splits tell the story.  It makes me cringe just looking at them. 

My nice teammates were making fun of my outfit.

4th Leg: Leg #34
5.69 miles  9:38 average  54:54   elevation gain: 476 feet
Saturday, 2:54pm
Splits: 11:05, 9:02, 10:06, 8:25, 9:51, 9:12

And NOW the going gets good!  I was just about writing off relays FOREVER.  I was begging others to take that leg.  Thank goodness Robyn and Bethany and everyone else told me to SUCK IT UP LADY and stop being a baby and just finish this thing, because this was easily the best hour of the whole entire race.  Again, look at the splits!  This was still a hilly leg - and yet there's an 8:25 in there and a bunch of 9's!  I felt amazing, I felt like me, THIS is the Ricole that comes to relays, not that girl I didn't even recognize from before.  Who was that?!?!

This was exactly my favorite kind of run - on rolling hills (hills are okay as long as you actually get to run down them!) through beautiful countryside with animals (I saw a deer and her baby!) on backcountry quiet roads on a coastal island.  Seriously, does it get any better than this?  And I was truckin'.  I still powerwalked the huge hills but now I FLEW down the downhills.  I picked out people to pass like "come here little one" and passed 8 people one-by-one.  THIS WAS ME.  It was a wonderful way to end the relay after such horribleness. 

Isn't running wonderful?!?!  I yelled this to my teammates during this run and they all thought I was being majorly sarcastic after all of my complaints but I wasn't!

In all it was 29.6 miles of running, 1,906 feet of elevation gain (YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT), and 5 hours and 19 minutes of running.  WHEW! 

I was too grouchy to cross off any of my legs until after I finally had a good one.  

All done!  32 hours and 17 minutes later... and cheersing with some pizza, and later with some DQ.

And thanks in advance to my husband for not holding all of my sad sick texts against me the next time I want to relay...

And that's a wrap!  Let's hope Hood to Coast is a little more friendly...