Ragnar Relay: Northwest Passage 2015

… is done! (as in I finished it 4.5 months ago haha)

So proud of myself and my overnight relay packing skills/still need to stop overpacking.

I headed up to Seattle on Wednesday after work (it took me 2 hours to go less than 2 miles in San Francisco traffic. I almost missed my flight!), spent Thursday in Bellingham with Suzanne, got everything prepped and ready for our team, picked up the vans, went to her Crossfit box to do a warm up, and just relaxed – something I haven’t really done lately.  It was an absolutely beautiful day out, and we spent part of the morning having coffee along Bellingham Bay.

This view. Can’t beat it. Oddly enough, the smell of low tide is really comforting and reminds me of my childhood. Gross, whatevs.

We ran around that day, running errands, dropping things off, finding and moving new furniture for Suzanne, did a warm-up at her local Crossfit (potentially mistake as I went a little too hard with the lacrosse ball), picked up the vans and all our vans snacks, decorated the vans and had pre-race dinner with a few of our teammates.  We picked up Robert late that night, as he had also just flew in from San Francisco and then settled in for the night. Thankfully the three of us were in van 2, so we started later, and the first major exchange was just a few miles from Suzanne’s place (local friends for the win!)

Our team was ConBear: Always on the Run.  Think of the movie Con Air, but with bears. Yep, that was us.  One of our teammates has a sweet bear coat that you just can’t say no to (you’ll see a lot of that coat in this post!)  Each of us had a sweet mugshot on the side of our van, complete with our jail name and reason we were imprisoned haha

Obvi had a killer growth spurt, towering at a giant 6’5″ :)

At the very first exchange. Scott was in van 1 and was just walking around the parking lot being awesome, while waiting for their runner #6.  People were clamoring for photos with him. We were celebrities and it was awesome.

See? AWESOME. He’s also a giant, bear-like dude, so it was PERFECT.

BEAR ATTACK!

We even had a parking lot battle.  Who wore it better? HAHA
  Van 2 got all checked in, got  our shirts (that fit only half our team, meh) and tried to take a few photos of our awesomeness before we had to exchange and head out.

8 out of 12 bears. You can see a couple pairs, but each of us had homemade bear ears 🙂 Bear cubs for the win!

Robert was off first as runner #7.  Robert and I have done every single Ragnar (for me at least) together.  He’s also done SoCal on his own since I couldn’t make it down for that race. We both flew up to WA for this race, and it was awesome to be in the same van again.  He is ridiculously fast (i’ll just keep saying it), and any time he comes into exchanges, he turns it up even more and people literally are scared to be anywhere near the path because he’s coming in so fast.

This is literally the only photo that came out of his exchange to Terence. Every other picture, he was just a blur. A BLUR.

I was runner #9, so I had a little bit of time before I had to run, to prep myself. All I remember was that it was already getting warm when we were checking into the first major exchange, so I couldn’t imagine how warm it would get by the time it was my turn. Turns out it just got plain hot.  Running in shorts and a tank top, with a hat to try to shield me and still sweat my butt off. I had to flip the hat around halfway through the run because my head was overheating.  Once the sweat started dripping into my eyes, it promptly got turned back around!

Thanks to my awesome teammates for stopping partway through the leg to cheer me on! They snapped a couple awesome shots.

This one will always be a Ragnar favorite photo. Chugging along, sweating profusely, overheating, and bear cubs stop to cheer next to a sign telling me to “slow down” as if I was going too fast haha

Thankfully I was still able to kill the run even though it was pretty warm. I walked one little section where there was shade (because there was basically none), to try to cool off for a few seconds and then started up again. I was super excited to hand off that slap bracelet to Deling!

Leg 1: 6.1 miles (hard) DONE!

There were a couple awesome vans we kept seeing throughout the race, including this one.  When they would pull into the exchange, they would roll down the windows and play the theme music to Duck Hunt super loud. Thank you childhood!
We sat at that exchange in the shade waiting for Suzanne to come in.  It got chilly quickly (very welcome to everyone who had recently run).  Check out that sweet hat hair!

After handing off to van 1 to complete their “night legs,” we headed to the next major exchange. I had not been feeling well since I had finished my leg, and ended up laying down in the back of the van while runner 12 was out. After laying down for awhile, throwing up, taking some medication, we headed out to the grassy area to try to “rest.”  Sports Authority had set up a bunch of tents in an open field and it was AWESOME.  We used the tent for shade since there was a bunch of sand in it, but the blankets and the pillows we brought were awesome. I probably napped for about 10  minutes, and it was glorious. (everyone was on their phones except me because T-Mobile is the absolute worst and I never have service at any Ragnar I do)
Since our time between major exchanges was kind of at a weird time, none of us really slept at all, and when we got up to start getting ready for the next exchange and to start our night legs, the sun was barely starting to go down.

All the vans at sunset!

We exchanged and took off to meet Robert before he finished (because he’s ridiculously fast) and while going over the water, captured this beauty. I wish my iPhone could have actually done this sunset proper justice.

My night leg was barely uneventful, since it was only 2.2 easy miles. My headlamp was a complete FAIL though and was flickering on and off the entire time. Thankfully it flickered on when I was coming through the exchange so we didn’t get a strike for it (and thankfully it was through parts of town and residential areas that had either street lights or front porch lights. I only tripped twice, but never fell. Whew!).  I also jumped out in the middle of Suzanne’s night leg to run with her for 2.5 miles. Her longest leg was her night leg (and also longest leg of the relay) and over beautiful Deception Pass! It’s a lonely route since it’s full of nature and super dark, so I wanted to keep her company (and having someone jump out and run with you in the middle of your 9.8 mile leg can be motivating so you don’t slow down or walk).

Night legs are always fun because that’s when people start to get delirious haha. The lack of proper meals at regular times, combined with sleep deprivation start to creep in.  Scott’s bear coat was like an awesome waist coat. He’s a million feet taller than me, so I wanted to try it on. It literally went almost to the ground and the arms were a good 6″ too long.

Robert and I both small. How many tiny bear cubs can you fit in Papa Bear’s coat? 2. Literally both of us were able to wear this at the next major exchange and stay warm.

After this exchange we went to get food (who knows where, my memory is horrible 4 months later) and napped a little bit in the van before we had to be up for our final set of legs.

Just after sunrise

Before we started our final set of legs, we all needed a boost, so we stopped by The Woods Coffee to get a growler of cold brew for the fan.  The boys were all over it, but sadly, I can’t have coffee before a run or else the runs ensue, and not the awesome, PR-worhthy kind. Makes me sad because their cold brew is delicious! Thankfully there was still some left after I ran my last leg, so I was able to partake (and drank a bunch more at other times that weekend, not during the race).

Like a champ! Tom looking at him all proud-like :)

In case you’re wondering, climbing atop a homemade wooden saddle (as awesome as it was!) in shorts = not the best idea Tom has ever had. Hello splinters!

My last leg was my longest leg, and listed as very hard, which made me super nervous. It was once again in the dead of heat, so that contributed to the “very hard” factor.  It was partially through the woods, along the road, so sometimes nowhere for vans to pull over to cheer, and you had to watch out for wildlife as well (deer count: 4, almost panic attack from deer jumping out the woods right in front of you: 1).  Even though I was wearing capris, I was eaten alive by mosquitos on this leg on my arm, shoulders and legs (yes, they bit me through my capris!).  I had this issue last year at Ragnar Napa, and for the past few years, I have had a local allergic reaction to any bug bites.  These ones swelled up pretty bad like all the other times and were really hard, hot and uncomfortable.  My van stopped about 4 miles into my run for an impromptu dance party to Eye of the Tiger, and let me tell you, I needed those shenanigans. The bug bites were killing me by that point and I was just plain tired. At the beginning of our dance party, a girl passed me and when we finished, they told me “now you have to catch her. That’s your one job!”

I ran my butt off those final 2.7 miles.  This was the awesome view when we turned out of the woods for the final quarter mile. During that final quarter mile, we were running stride for stride. I somehow had a little kick left in me for the final stretch and when we turned that last corner, I passed her and ran as hard as I could until the exchange. I have no idea how my lungs stayed inside my body.

Leg #3: 6.8 miles (very hard) DONE!!!

It felt so good to mark that final checkbox!
Now it was Deling, Suzanne and Tom’s turn to experience their last run at Ragnar Northwest Passage (while I guzzled the Cold Brew and attempted to cool down)

Van Selfie minus Deling (running) and Tom (getting ready for his last leg) on Whidbey Island!

While Tom was running his last leg, we raced to the finish so we could meet up with van 1 and all run in together. 12 bears running through the finish chute together? EPIC.

We have to get a shot together at every Ragnar. It’s tradition!

The original California 3. Suz, Robert and I ran our very first Ragnars together (Napa Valley 2013). Even though Suzanne couldn’t run Napa with us in 2014 or this year, Robert and I made the trek up to WA to run Northwest Passage with her. Zero regrets. Absolutely beautiful course and we had a blast!

Then on to the “official” Ragnar photos with the backdrop.

And then our true selves. We still have zero idea who Terence is waving to. Fan club?
After the race, we drove back through Deception Pass and got lucky as there was a car pulling out and we were able to snag their parking space (there aren’t that many to choose from right next to the bridge).  It was still hot and absolutely beautiful, so I climbed down under the bridge (in my flip flops, which wasn’t super easy) to snap a couple shots.

Another fantastic Ragnar experience in the books!  I must say, I’ve only done Napa and Northwest Passage, and this one hands down, has the best scenery ever.  I grew up in Washington and it was really nice to be back up there, smelling low tide and the evergreens and running in nature (and you know, just seeing green things. Thanks a lot California drought!)

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