31 July 2011

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage: Part One

Last Thursday (July 21st) Will and I were packed up and ready for our big adventure- running a 190 mile relay race from Blaine, WA to Whidbey Island, WA!  Chris and Mandy arrived at our house and we decided to decorate the van a bit before heading to pick up the other two runners in our van.  Each team is made up of 12 runners and are split into 2 vans.  The other 6 girls on our team we had not even met yet and they would be meeting up with us later on Friday.  Our team name was "How the West Was Run" so we had a western/cowboy type theme and our colors were orange, blue and black. 

Once we had most of the decals put up, we were ready to hit the road!  A quick stop to grab Jason over by the Tacoma Dome, and a not so quick stop to get Maria in West Seattle and our van was complete!  We made a stop once we got close to our hotel in Ferndale to eat some dinner at The Olive Garden (OG) to do some carb loading.  I don't think our waitress got the memo that our table of six needed breadsticks to be continually restocked, they were being rather stingy with them.  But that's ok, the Italian Sushi (as Jason renamed it) somehow filled our bellies and we were once again on our way.
Italian Sushi!
We got to the hotel and realized that our team only had 3 reflective vests.  Oops!  Each van is required to have 6-one per person.  Somewhere along the way I thought they had been purchased so I didn't worry about it.  A quick trip to Fred Meyer and we were good to go!  We got to bed around midnight -the alarm was set for 4am so we could head out by 5am!  Let the sleep deprivation begin.
5am never looked so happy!  I totally photo bombed Will's self photography haha!
Our assigned start time was 6:30am, and we still had about a 20 minute drive ahead of us from the hotel.  Once we arrived at the starting area we had to check our safety gear in, attend a quick safety meeting (they are strict with the rules!) and of course get our race packet!  Our team number was 236, we all got our own race bib- including the van!  We wandered around the starting area, took some photos and checked out some of the other teams decorations. 

Thanks for this lovely shot Will! 
This van went all out decorating!!!
Soon enough it was 6:30am and Jason (runner 1) was at the starting line ready to get our team going!  There was a guy in our starting group who was part of a 4 person ultra team- that means they all ran 45-50 miles!  Amazing.  Jason took off down the road and we hopped back in the van to start the leap frog running game called the Ragnar Relay!  We stopped about 3 miles down the road and cheered him on and offered water as he zoomed past us.  He was super speedy!  We headed up to the first exchange area and Maria prepared to run her first leg as runner 2. 
The guy in front was part of the 4 person ultra team- Jason is in the white shorts!
Basically a volunteer radios ahead to the exchange area which team is heading in and they start calling that team down to the exchange chute.  Jason then passed the slap bracelet to Maria and she headed out down the road!  Maria then passed to Chris, Chris passed to Mandy and Mandy passed to Will (runner 5).  Will ended up being super speedy on his run and by the time we got to the exchange area I barely had time to use the bathroom really quick and grab a drink of water!  I was standing in the exchange chute waiting for my Garmin to locate the satellite and I could see Will charging towards me!  I just stuck my arm out for the bracelet and took off down the road- setting my Garmin as I ran!
Iron Man Chris getting ready to start his first leg of the race!
Chris exchanging with Mandy (runner 4)
Entertaining ourselves while waiting to cheer Mandy on!
My studly husband running in his Vibram's!
Is it my turn yet?????
I had been very patiently waiting for my turn to run- since I was runner 6 I was last in my van to go!  I think I waited like 6 hours for my turn which was tricky because I ended up being hungry just before running!  I wore my "does the shirt make my butt look fast" shirt and bright orange socks and they turned out to be great choices!  I got lots of comments on my shirt as well as numerous thumbs ups, and people loved the socks (plus I was easy to spot!) while out on the road.
That was the only guy to pass me on this leg!  He was quick.
Thirsty girl!
My first leg of the race was 6.5 miles long, and since it was about 1pm the sun was a bit warm, but pleasant.  I passed quite a few people on this leg of the race, and I only got passed by one speedy guy around mile 2!  I chose to not wear an ipod during the relay- there was plenty of stimulation to keep my mind busy and I wanted to be able to focus on my surroundings.  The van stopped twice for me- thank goodness I was thirsty!  It was fun to see everyone waiting on the side of the road waiting for me while I ran by!  There were a lot of turns in the last mile and also a lot of waiting at stop lights which was terrible, but overall it was a quick run!  6.5 miles in just under an hour- pace 9:11!
Thirsty again!
When I came into the exchange area it was like one giant party!  It was at Bellingham High School and since it was a major exchange both vans from each team were there.  I came running through and didn't immediately see anyone waiting in the exchange chute, and I had never met anyone from van 2 so I wasn't sure what to do!  I looked around and all of a sudden this girl came shooting out of the crowd, running straight at me so I assumed it was my fellow team mate!  She was wearing cool red and white arm sleeves- I slapped the bracelet onto her arm and she was off running!  Then I saw Will and we found the rest of van 1 and we were officially on break while Van 2 took over. 
The crew of Van 1 after completing our first legs!  Chris, Maria, Mandy, Will, Me and Jason.
We headed straight to our second hotel to shower and get checked in.  We grabbed something to eat and rested for a short time then headed back to the next major exchange area because van 2 was close to being done already!  We got to the exchange area a little bit early so we rested in the grass area and relaxed in the sun waiting for van 2 to finish.  And then less than 5 hours after I completed my run- van 1 was back in the game!
Resting while we wait for Van 2!
Aaaahhhh!  So comfy!
To Be Continued!

You can also head over to Mandy's blog and read about our adventure from her point of view!  She did a four part blog and you can read part one HERE , part two HERE , part three HERE  and part four HERE!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds so fun! Can't wait for part 2!
    Hmmm an ultra you say.... that just peaked my intrest lol.