Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bucket List: Completing a 200 mile running relay (ragnar)

You would think I would run out of bucket list ideas, but the answer is “no.” There are just so many cool things to do and experience in this world.   I tend to do a couple little things every year, but there is always that ONE thing that requires planning and is my special quest of the year.  Two years ago it was a volunteering on a surgical mission, last year it was cycling across Ireland...and this year.... it's something a little crazy.

For 2012, the one thing I really wanted to cross off my bucket list was “Complete a Ragnar.”

Some of you are probably wondering what a Ragnar is.  It’s basically a running relay where a team of 12 runs 200 miles all night long.  Yes, that’s right…200 miles. 

Here's how it work: There are two vans per team with 6 people in each van.  When it’s your turn, you run the miles for that leg. The van drives to the exchange and when you get there, you pass the relay band to your team mate. Then you try to rest until it’s your turn to run again.
Sound fun?  Um…yeah…none of my friends thought it sounded fun either, which is why I had to do it solo or not do it at all.

There’s just one problem with going solo on a ragnar: you need 11 other people.  Turns out, finding a team is easier than you think. 

STEP 1: The first thing I did was choose the ragnar I wanted to run in by visiting:

They have a bunch of them throughout the year. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but there are many crazy people like me that do these.  

You can run from San Francisco to Napa or run through Key West or run through scenic Cape Cod.  They are even doing their first ragnar in Canada in 2013.  It will be around the Niagara Falls area in June.  Gorgeous.
 I decided I was going to the Vegas ragnar where you run through the desert and end up in Vegas as your final destination.  Can’t beat feeling beat in Sin City!

STEP 2: Now I needed to find a team looking for a runner. 

So I did what every social media person does -- I went on Facebook and tried to find an event page for the Vegas Ragnar.  When I found it, I posted my name saying I was willing to run.

 Then I learned there was a much easier way.  On the site, there was a spot where you could post your name as a runner looking for a team. Yay! 

Within 20 minutes I had my first email back.  My team was found.  I was assigned as Runner 9. Whoohoo!
STEP 3: Find the van in Nevada on race day and run like the wind – again and again and again.

My entire team was from Utah so I didn’t know any of them when I met them at the starting point.  Thankfully, two other people were ragnar virgins too, which helped alleviate some of the stress.  Plus, I admit my three legs of the race weren’t bad. 

Leg 1 -- 3 miles all up hill
Leg 2 --  4 miles flat - but at 1:30 in the morning in the freezing cold.

Leg 3 -- 9.9 miles – killer, but I saw my first wild tarantula. He was as big as my palm and was crawling across the desert trail I was running on by Lake Mead.

While I knew I could pull off the running without a problem, what was hard for me was the cold temperature -- and the lack of sleep. 

I really didn’t expect it to be near freezing at night and it was not much warmer during the day.   While you warmed up a bit when running, you were then sweaty and wearing wet clothes – and you had to sleep in the van as we ran all night. No sleeping in a comfy bed after a hot shower.  Nope, I slept with my running shoes on and my jacket.  
Freezing my butt off, sleeping in a van and eating Lunchables and squished peanut butter sandwiches: For a city girl like me, this was as close to camping as I had come in years.  It was a blast!

Our team started running at 9 a.m. Friday morning and we were finished the final mile around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.  We ended up coming in 52nd out of over 500 teams (yes, we totally rocked). We were tired and starting to feel sore, but we did it.  Plus, my average pace on my final leg was 8:11 a mile which is better than the 8:30 a mile I usually do - Whoohoo!!

Cross another one off the list!