Ragnar Relay Napa Valley 2014 Race Recap

I can’t believe another year of Ragnar is over. It’s been a  crazy busy year of trying to herd all of the local ambassadors, make sure our events are covered, postcards are handed out and info sessions are given in the Bay Area. The race sold out (yay!) earlier than last year, so that was a pretty awesome feeling, knowing we had helped with that.

Then I broke my toe less than a month before Ragnar. I was super worried about it healing in time and also having zero runs under my belt for 5 weeks before the race.  I’m happy to say that my toe didn’t fall off, but was NOT happy during the weekend.

We woke up super early on Friday morning to head to Golden Gate Park to meet with the rest of the team.  While at the start area in Marx Meadows, I was eaten alive by who knows what. Seriously though, they bit me through my compression socks. WHAT THE WHAT.  I had welts all over both legs and they were super itchy. That was at 7:30am and as runner #12, I still had about 10 hours before my first leg.  By 10am, the two bites on my left calf (same side as my broken toe) were painfully swollen. It looked like someone cut a baseball in half and then attached it to the side of my calf. It was rock hard and felt like one of the deepest bruises I’ve ever had. Just walking on it was painful.

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it was so early that everything was still illuminated!

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This was my ankle 1.5 days AFTER the race. You can imagine how swollen it was DURING the race!

But our van powered through, cheered on our first runner as ourwave went off, and then headed across the bridge to pick up some essentials and then on to breakfast. Being in van 2 this year was already throwing off my internal clock. We started eating breakfast around the same time that I was taking off for my first leg as runner #3 in van 1 last year. ps, breakfast was DELICIOUS.  We decided to order family style and then just share everything, aka much better way of doing things because otherwise I would have just had a belly full of french toast. We went to Crepevine in San Rafael and it was basically heaven in your mouth, if you could fit heaven in your mouth (I mean, if we’re fitting the whole world in our hands, might as well add in some delicious food, too).

Once we finished breakfast, we headed to the first exchange, all amped to get started (you know, once our food was digested). Van 2 picked up our goodies at the first exchange, decorated our van, used the restroom and waited for van 1 to arrive for the first major exchange.

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van 1 shenanigans

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Van 2 – 5 dudes and a little lady!

It was HOT. Like when our 6th runner didn’t come in within 10 minutes of her predicted time, we started to worry that she may have passed out from heat stroke. Legit worried.

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We took advantage of any little shade we could find while we waited.

But then she rounded that corner like a champ!

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Perfect slap bracelet exchange formation!

And van 2 was off!   But not before a team photo (minus Shashir, who had just taken off for his first leg)

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Not gonna lie, it was hot. My first leg ran through Petaluma and other areas close by.  All of my legs were no van support which kind of sucks (a lot), so it was just me, my thoughts and the sun. I went through neighborhoods and then climbed my big hill that SUCKED but when you got to the top, the view was absolutely beautiful, especially because the sun was just starting to dip.  That is, until the manure came out. Yeaahhhh, wonderful Petaluma. I was running through parts of town where it was a cross between KFC chicken grease and cow/horse poop. I wanted to vomit for the last 2 miles, and we all had our shirts pulled over our noses while we finished up. IMG_7025

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Even my friend Brian, who drove up from San Diego to run the race with another team came and cheered me in from my first leg!

That was the end of our first set of legs, so we headed off to find some dinner (seriously, we got lucky with what times we started and ended our legs because it was relatively normal eating hours) – Chipotle for me and Sam and burgers for everyone else. Sam and I were worried that it would come back later to kill us, but I’m happy to say that my Sofritas tacos were a hit!

This year was definitely harder than last year. The combination of injuries, lack of sleep and training really took a toll.  My body didn’t’ feel strong and everything just hurt. It was much  of a mental game as it was a physical one.  None of us really got sleep during our “rest” time at night, we had an injury in van 1 so my phone was going off during the team I should have been sleeping (but I wasn’t because I just couldn’t get comfortable), someone in my van accidentally set off the car alarm when we had finally fallen asleep and then it was time to start thinking about our next legs already.

My second leg wasn’t a true night leg, though I did start when it was still semi-dark out.  About a mile and a half from the exchange, my headlamp battery died (on it’s first use, thanks for nothing), but thankfully the sun was starting to come up, so I could see for the most part.  I was just crossing my fingers that a race official didn’t drive by at the time, or another team reported me for not wearing night gear since the light was out. I got lucky!  I finished up my leg, had the medic wrap up my toe (I couldn’t have it wrapped while my running shoes were on since there wasn’t enough room in the toebox. I’d unwrap for my leg, then immediately take my shoe off, rewrap and put my flip flops on), and we were off to breakfast just after sunrise. Pretty awesome timing, even if we were pooped.

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Poor little baby toe!

We grabbed some breakfast and had a little time before our last set of legs started up. For van 2, the third set of legs were the hardest.  Last year, it rained for about 70% of the race. We were soaked, cold, muddy and semi-miserable for parts of it. This year was the polar opposite. It was pretty nice weather for our van for the first 2 set of legs (though warmer than we’d probably like), and the last set of legs was brutal. The sun was at it’s highest, there were ZERO clouds at all and little to no shade coverage, so we were overheating fast.  Water at aid stations went faster than it should have because runners were dumping it on their heads, etc since they were dying out there.  All of our last legs were no van support, so we couldn’t stop our vans to give our runners water, and there was MASSIVE traffic, so we missed a couple exchanges and our runners had to either wait or run extra mileage to catch up or backtrack. Not so great.

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Beautiful views of the vineyards, but the sun was blinding and scorching and everything else you can imagine.  After the longest leg of the race, we were stuck in traffic to get to the main road, to our next exchange for probably about 40 minutes. Thankfully we had an extra case of small water bottles and used that time to cowbell the runners along that road and give them water, since the last aid station they stopped at had run out.

I was runner #12, so I got to bring it home for our team. My entire left side was dead by this time, to the point where I could barely lift my legs because it literally felt like I had shredded my quads.  I texted my team when I had 1/2 a mile to go so that they could start heading to the finish area, and then when I had 1/4 of a mile to go.  They met me just before the finish and we all ran in together as a team. It’s an AWESOME feeling, trust me. Not an awesome feeling? Running your last leg, feeling hurt and ridiculously hot and then smelling the pizzas at the finish line (barf).

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We did it! Team Suns Out, Buns Out, in all their glory :)

There was a snafoo with the manufacturer of the medals, so they weren’t at the finish line.  They finally arrived about 2 weeks ago, and I had forgotten about it!

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 We may be crazy, but we’re already thinking about 2015!

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