We started our final round of legs just before the sun came up. It was a rough start-up since we had closed our eyes in the van around 345am and alarms went off at 530am, and then our runner #1 was MIA for awhile since he went to the bathroom but didn’t bring any of his running stuff to change into. Thankfully van #2 was running a little behind so we were barely able to get him to the exchange in time. Don’t worry, he got an earful 🙂
His first leg was only 2 miles, so we had to go straight to the next exchange, where he handed off to Robert for his longest run of the race. While we waited for him to finish, we drove to scope out the next exchange, and then stopped at a little cafe for coffees for a few people, and I was able to brush my teeth and change into my next running outfit. We raced to the exchange and I was foam rolling in the parking lot when we heard someone yell our team name, which meant Robert ran his leg WAY faster than we had anticipated. I raced over to the exchange where he was patiently waiting and we simulated the most awesome slap bracelet exchange ever.
I knew my 3rd leg would actually be a 3rd and 4th (or extended 3rd) since Shanna was injured, and since she was the runner after me, I would just keep running through the next exchange. They’d follow close behind in case I needed a reliever, but I really wanted to run the whole 6.2 miles myself.
It was quiet and calming. For my first and second legs, there wasn’t much runner traffic around me, which kind of bummed me out since it seemed almost everyone else had other runners around them while running. The encouragement really helps! This guy was ahead of me for a little while, but I think he was battling with hamstring cramps because I quickly overtook him and never saw him again. Running through the vineyards with the above beautiful view really gave me time to collect my thoughts and I just kept thinking to myself, “you’re almost done with this crazy amazing Ragnar experience! Soak in every single moment that you can.”
I made my way through the vineyards and then transitioned to running through a Eucalyptus tree-filled area where I ran into the Race Director (shoutout to Lambert!) and he encouraged me on. Shortly after that I waited at the LONGEST red light ever, but there were tons of vans there to honk and encourage you while you impatiently bounced up and down at the corner, trying to keep your muscles warm and loose. Just after crossing that main intersection, I turned right and I knew the exchange was coming up. I could hear cheering and cowbells (so I definitely knew my van was there!), and when I got to the chute, they yelled my team number for the next runner, but I held up my slap bracelet-clad wrist and yelled “RUNNING THROUGH!” I felt like a bad@s$, not gonna lie. Only ultra runners do that (and well, those with injuries like us), and it felt good!
Leg 3 was officially done. I should have been finished by now. My Ragnar experience should be over. But with Ragnar, it’s all about the team, not the individual runner. You do things and say things and show things during a Ragnar weekend without a second thought. You’re now a family and when one goes down, the rest of the family rallies together. Shanna powered through her first leg, Robert finished up the second half of her second leg the night before, and I had just started running her third leg. She was the #1 cheerleader throughout these legs because she knew we were out there for her. Her cowbell was the loudest of them all!
Leg 4 was kind of boring, not going to lie. More fields to the left and highway to the right. Not a ton of runners around for the first half, and about a mile into it, the skies opened and it started pouring. Luckily I had grabbed my visor because it really saved me. If you don’t wear glasses, you just can’t understand the difficulty we face to do anything active, especially in rain! Since it wasn’t cold while raining, it wasn’t horrible, but I was completely soaked after about 3 minutes and I could feel my feet sloshing around in my shoes. About halfway through the leg we got more into “town” so there were things to look at and lots of crosswalks to wait at, which was kind of nice because it gave other runners a chance to catch up to each other.
I didn’t look closely at the leg map beforehand and was surprised when there was a giant uphill bridge towards the end of the leg (come on guys!) When I rounded that last corner I was tired and soaked and hungry and pooped. But I had to hand off to poor Jerry who had run every one of his legs up until that point in the rain. I guess that’s what happens when you’re the Weatherman 😉
Once Jerry took off and we made it back to the van, it was time for Suzanne to try out her ankle to see if she’d be able to run her third leg or not. She stretched it out, compressed and iced it and was confident she’d be ok. Slower than normal, but ok to run it. We picked up Jerry at the next exchange and it was still raining, so Suzanne had motivation to finish as fast as possible! After their exchange, we headed to the very last major exchange where we would happily hand off the slap bracelet to the second van for the last time, and where van #1 could officially celebrate being finished!
We headed out to get something to eat that wasn’t a granola bar of Cliff shot block or Honey Stinger and stopped at Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena. nomnomnom. After eating, we headed to the finish line so we could turn in our flags and be ready for when Turner came running in, so our entire team could run in together.
A weekend of no sleep and stinky armpits and feet leads to delirium:
We looked around the merch tent but decided to be good and not spend a ton of money, got more Nuun (HOORAH!), and a couple of us bought some Pro Compression socks and sleeves for recovery/a baller’s life. Everyone made sure we had our team shirts on, and when we got the text that Turner was a few minutes out, we headed to the finish area so we could run in together. IT WAS AMAZINNNNNGGGGGGG!!
And the most awesome team finish area picture EVER:
Yeah, I’d do it again.
… and my spot all day Sunday (uh hello, it’s football season, too, so it was the perfect spot!):
Have you ever run an overnight relay race?
And don’t forget that I’ve been chosen as a Hot Chocolate blogger for the Inaugural Hot Chocolate 15/5k in San Francisco! If you use the code ‘SHEENAMUG’ when you register for the race, you’ll get an awesome travel mug! Keep your eyes peeled for a race giveaway later this month!