Planes, trains and automobiles… and ferries and my own two legs

…aka the Race Report for Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage

Thursday morning, we were up at O-dark thirty to head to the airport. The trip started out on a good note, with me losing my wallet somewhere in the airport. Luckily, my ID was in my fleece pocket and I had some checks stashed elsewhere. Crisis averted, cards cancelled, wallet found in airport (but I still haven’t picked it up!). One layover and a minor delay later, and we were at Sea-Tac!

Our team slowly assembled at the airport bar. After picking up our vans, we headed to our first hotel. Apparently in the Pacific Northwest, $99 gets you a big room in a hotel with a pool and a hot tub! We headed out to Target to pick up the extremely necessary supply of food for the van. Van 1, my van, randomly wandered the aisles… Van 2 had a list! Van 2 also slipped a self-enema package into our cart. Hilarious. We went out to dinner at a local burger place, and headed back to the hotel. Van 1 was assembling at 4:45 am, so we pretty much went right to bed!

We met in the lobby and found out that the hotel was nice enough to have breakfast out early for all of the Ragnar runners! Way to earn some bonus points, Quality Inn. Van 1 headed to the start line that was literally next to the Canadian border. The announcer kept telling us to scream loud enough to wake up Canada. We took some awesome pictures of our sexy race gear and headed to the start line.

Our first runner, Eric, donned the infamous pink camouflage shorts and started off team F*** That Hill.

By the way, when designing out shirts, we got Ragnar’s permission to use their logo. So, our shirts became F-Ragnar That Hill.

I was runner #3, so I had plenty of time to hit the many, many port-a-potties located at the exchanges. My first run was 8.5 miles, with about 550 ft of total elevation gain, 283 net elevation gain. That might not sound like a lot, but the biggest “hill” (in Florida, hill = bridge) that I run regularly is 25’, a local causeway is 55’, and my largest option within an hour drive is 78’. For real. Anyway, my run went really well! The roads were awesome, and the rolling hills made me wishing I had my bike! I had a running buddy for about 3 miles somewhere in the middle of the run, but he left me in the dust when he powered up a hill. I saw a dead deer in a ditch, and a lot of signs saying shotguns were allowed, but not rifles or handguns were. Should I have been concerned? I made it to my next exchange just under 10 minute miles and with a pretty angry IT band.

Luckily, while I still had 2 runs left, I was over halfway through my mileage! I broke out the foam roller in quite a few parking lots and fields along the way…

After all of the runners in our van had completed our first legs, we met up with Van 2 at the first big exchange. We handed off the slap bracelet (our “baton”) to them, and hit Olive Garden for lunch. Unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks? Yes, please! We headed to the next big exchange where we’d meet Van 2, and spread out in the grass for some naps. I changed into my sweet Odwalla kit! I didn’t wear it on the first  run because the top chafes on long runs, but I wanted to rep Odwalla! Thanks to them, both of our vans were stocked with Odwalla bars for us and for other teams!

My next run was 3.5 miles, and FLAT! I altered stride lengths to find one that was comfortable for my IT band. Oddly enough, long strides hurt the least. So, I bounded through the miles. I got stopped at a traffic light while my team’s van was next to me, so I entertained them with exaggerated stretches that really accentuated my butt. You’re welcome. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this.  They moved on to the next exchange. Little did I know, my boyfriend was donning the infamous pink camo shorts…

Yup. He’s mine. Check out those tan lines. I flew with an average pace of 8:20. I handed off to my boyfriend in those awesome shorts… and I distributed a TON of Odwalla bars! We followed our runners along, and eventually made our way to the next big exchange. It was at a park, and it was just starting to get dark. Van 2 was doing pretty well, and was ready to run again! We got some food, and went right to the next big exchange to get some sleep in!

By the time Van 2 met us, it was just after midnight. I LOVE the middle-of-the-night runs at Ragnar. Eric was off first, for a really long up-hill run. We stopped twice to offer water and make sure he didn’t disappear. Luckily, my run was only 2.9 miles. I averaged a 9:05 pace. I struggled with the first uphill, but flew down the downhill sections. I kept seeing red blinking lights ahead of me and, thinking they were runners, I’d chase them down. Every time, they turned out to be the lights on the signs that were giving us directions!. I didn’t see a single person on that entire run. There was much RICE after I finished, and we hurried along to pick up Patrick after his leg, which was short, too.  I was happy to be done, but I was secretly jealous of Chrissy’s final run. It had two 250ft hills, started at night, and was greeted with sunrise and an AMAZING view at the top of the second hill. I don’t think she enjoyed it too much though…

We dropped off our final runner, and stopped to meet her. We got a glorious sunrise view.

We picked her up – and we  were done! We headed to a grocery store for some beer, and hit the finish line. We drank, napped and wandered while waiting for Van 2 and our final runner to arrive. We crossed the finish line as a team and got our bottle opener medals.

Our captain, Aaron, then informed us that we could save $300 if we got the vans back in three hours. That a lot of beer money – so we headed right to the ferry dock! We took a ferry from Whidbey Island, and drove the vans back to the airport.

From the airport, we took light rail up to the hotel in downtown Seattle. We showered, napped, and started partying.

It was an awesome weekend with some really fun people. I highly recommend doing a Ragnar Relay (or something similar) at some point. The beauty of them lies in the fact that runners of any ability level can participate. Our shortest leg covered just 11.5 miles (3.1m, 4.2m, 4.2m) in the 28.5 hours it took us to complete it. The longest distance ran was 21.5, so there really is something for everyone.

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