I'm going to try to write out the events in detail so that I can look back and remember it.
I was in Van 1. The Van 1 runners:
- Runner 1: Ashley
- Runner 2: Thomas
- Runner 3: Melinda
- Runner 4: Vonn
- Runner 5: Michael
- Runner 6: me
Well, we got there at 8:25pm, and they told us they were closing at 8:30pm! So we hurried to get the six reflective vests and two headlamps and two taillights we had to show for our safety equipment. Then we watched the safety briefing video. Everything was so miserable in the heavy rain.
We met Van 2 at the hotel. After we got checked in, we went to what seemed to be the only restaurant in town still open - an Italian restaurant. I thought it was pretty good, actually, and they didn't seem to be too upset that we walked in about 40 minutes before they were supposed to close. I got Rigatoni Bolognese, which was good.
We got back to the hotel for showers and some sleep - we had a 4:30am wake-up time. I got to bed at 11:30pm, so 5 hours of sleep for me.
Van 1 made it out the door in the morning to get to the start line. We were supposed to start at 6:15am. Start times are assigned by expected pace - the slowest teams started first. Some teams had started as early as 5:00am. At least it had stopped raining!
Ragnar allowed the 6am starters to go, and then they mysteriously held everyone indefinitely. It turns out that the heavy rain the night before had flooded out some roads and bridges along the race route and where the exchanges were located. At about 6:45am, they told us it would be at least a 3-hour delay. We went back to the hotel for breakfast and naps, as the hotel was kind enough to let us back into the rooms we checked out of earlier.
Well, the delay turned into a partial race cancelation. Besides the flooding, Ragnar had to keep the race reasonably on schedule because of the the volunteers and support needed. So they canceled legs 1 - 9 (36 total legs) and said everyone would start at the beginning of leg 10.
We were bummed! That's 25% of the legs in the race, and everyone from Van 1 and half of Van 2 missed running their first leg. Ragnar said we could double up with another runner in order to get in some of the miles that we missed, so I started planning how to do that. The leg I missed was 6.0 miles.
I thought that I might run leg 10, which was being run by our captain, Dawn. It was several miles longer than the leg I missed, but she runs much more slowly, so if I stayed with her, it wouldn't have been too hard. This was the plan, but then at the last minute it didn't work out.
So I went with Van 1 and we got some lunch before we started - with leg 10 starting at 2:15pm, our first runner in Van 1 didn't start until about 6:30pm Friday! It was exciting to finally be doing the race!
Ashley starting at about 6:30pm also started the night time hours, where we had to wear the reflective vests, headlamps, and taillights while running. After Ashley came Thomas, who crushed his leg. I decided that I would run Melinda's night leg with her, because she was nervous about running alone in the dark. The photo below is Melinda and I before the start of her night leg.
This was a good plan, except that she usually runs faster than I do. She said she'd slow down for me, but that didn't really happen. We ran pretty darn fast! The splits were 9:28, 9:29, 9:23, 9:25, 9:10, and 9:05 - the last was a little short because I started my GPS late. This was the fastest 6 miles that I've run in awhile! Melinda was really thrilled to have crushed her leg.
In fact, she stayed on the course and ran with our next runner, Vonn, who was also nervous about running in the dark. I got in the van and we were able to leapfrog them for much of this leg and provide some support.
Then Michael had his night leg, and Thomas ran with him to get back some of the miles he missed. Then it was time for my own night leg, just about 2.5 hours after I ran the fast leg with Melinda - at about 11:30pm on Friday!
My own night leg was only 3.5 miles, but it had huge, steep hills in them. Since I had just run that fast 6 miles, I decided that I would take this leg slow and go for 12:00 min/mi. It was really very pleasant - nice and cool, and so quiet and dark. The sky was beautifully clear - Venus, Saturn, and Mars were visible. I had to make sure I looked down enough to stay on the road!
The uphill part was really hard. I ran it all, albeit slowly, except for about 0.1 miles at the very top. I had thought the hill was supposed to go on longer, so I was very pleasantly surprised, when I started going down. The downhill side was so steep that I just let gravity pull me down as fast as I thought was safe. My splits were 12:16, 12:49, 11:31, and 9:27. I was pretty pleased with that. The photo below shows me coming in to the exchange at the end of my leg.
This exchange had an ice cream shop, so I changed clothes and got some chocolate peanut butter ice cream. By the time I was done with that, the rest of the runners in my van were back in the van trying to go to sleep. I tried to, too, but I just couldn't get comfortable in my seat. I dozed a bit, but not much.
After a few hours, we drove to the next exchange where we would start running. These would be all of our last legs. But I started feeling like something was going on in Van 2. They seemed to be taking a really long time to get their legs done. Someone got lost (and found). There were some issues for sure, but those of us in Van 1 didn't really get told about them.
At any rate, when we got running again around sunrise, the runners in our van did well again. Ashley had a good leg. Thomas had fewer than 3 miles in his leg, so he burned it up. Melinda had another strong leg. Vonn did well, but got off-course - several other runners did in that area, too, so we are suspicious that a marker was moved or stolen.
Michael's leg was a little over three miles, and he really blasted them out. We got to the exchange to meet him, and luckily I went out to the exchange a little early, because he showed up earlier than we expected! He traded off to me, and I was on my last leg shortly after 11am on Saturday.
This leg was 8.2 miles, and it goes on some trails that I run frequently. I had done this leg as a training run earlier, so I knew the route. I wasn't sure how fast I'd be able to go with the hard running I had already done. It was also warmer and sunny.
Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't easy, but I got some pretty good speed going. My splits were 10:25, 10:30, 10:41, 10:59, 11:25, 11:02, 10:49, 9:50 and 0.2 miles at 9:07. There were numerous stoplights that added on to some of the slower miles. Not bad! I also passed 4 runners, which made me feel good this late in the race. The photo below shows me passing off to Franklin in Van 2.
Once I finished, Van 1 was done! A photo below of us after my last leg: Thomas, Michael, me, Ashley, Vonn, and Melinda.
There was a community center just next door that was allowing runners to shower and change. That was so nice!
After that, we drove down to the Yards Park in Southeast DC where the finish line was to wait for Van 2. The traffic was horrible - of course! - but we got there a little after 3pm. We picked up some food and then settled in to wait.
And we waited a long time. It seems like Van 2 was getting slower and slower. We did get some updates, but it was pretty dull. (I'm sure they were bored when we were running!) Ragnar had a big party going on at the finish line, but it was really, really loud and just not my thing.
Eventually we gave up on sitting in the party and went back to the van to hang out. Van 2 had a runner get off-course, and there seemed to be other issues.
Finally, Van 2 arrived to park near us and their last runners (one had doubled up) were getting close! They arrived and we all crossed the finish line together a little after 7:00pm. We had changed into the Ragnar t-shirts and got some team photos and our medals. Below is a team photo, then all of the team medals together, which make a message.
We finished 28:51:34. It turns out that only two teams finished behind us, so that was a bit of a bummer.
Since it was getting dark and everyone was exhausted, we broke up pretty quickly. I came home on the metro.
It was a really fun and exhilarating experience! Being there to cheer on your team and having them cheer you into an exchange was really motivating! It made me want to work harder, even though I knew we weren't competitive.
I also really enjoyed meeting the people on the team. We were especially fortunate in Van 1 that there were no personality conflicts and everyone was mature enough to be tolerant for the few days we would be together. It was a bonus to meet some great people on the team!
I'm already thinking about Ragnar for next year, so we'll see if it works out.