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Eat, Sleep, Run, Repeat. Ragnar of Bust!

Well it's done. Months of planning, training and stressing came down to last weekend and now it's over. Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage felt many times like an albatross around my neck and I could not wait to get it done an move on. But as with any awesome experience it's the little events that happen along the journey that make the experience so wonderful...but it was tough!

Lets talk about the run. I trained, ran good distances, ran multiple times a day on tired legs and even added strength training. I felt really prepared. I expected my run time to increase with each leg to some degree and I was OK with that. In hindsight I really should have worked on hills more. Hills are no one's favorite and despite how good I felt on them during previous races I was cocky and really should have worked harder on them. I also felt reasonably confident in my ability to run in warm weather. It definitely is not my favorite weather to run in (that would be about 30-40 degrees) but I have had very few issues lately with running in warmer weather. I wear my hydration vest and I generally feel OK. This year Ragnar was hot! It was humid and warm and it just took the wind out of my sails. Well that and the numerous blisters I was given while running on hot asphalt in my minimalist shoes. 4.1 miles on my first leg felt like 14.1. I later went through almost 2 boxes of blister Band-Aids trying to prep my feet for my 2nd leg.

Leg 2- The Disaster!

I worried about my second leg. I wasn't worried that it was at night or 8.9mi long or that I was tired. I was worried about my blistered feet and wondered to myself how they would fair.  The run did not start off well. When I got out of the car at Exchange 23 it was windy and very cold. I had used the portapotty before Emily came in and the wind went right through me on the walk of shame. Before I even walked the 100 yards or so my teeth were chattering. I quickly went through the small pile of running clothes I brought and was frantically thinking of what I should wear. I purchased a sweatshirt at Exchange 6 and was currently wearing it. The idea of wearing a sweatshirt on a run sounded like the worst idea possible but as I did a mental inventory of the clothes I brought- short sleeve tech shirt, short sleeve tech shirt, short sleeve tech shirt, sundress...the sweatshirt was sounding better and better. I decided to wear it. I threw my hydration vest on, my feet were bandaged and I wore my trail shoes for a cushier run. When Emily came in I started off and from the first few steps I knew it was going to be a lo-o-o-ong run. By the 1 mile mark I was sweating and very hot. The sweatshirt worked! It would have been so great to hand it off to my team but oh, the first few miles were a non-support leg. This means my team was not supposed to leapfrog me as I ran. My feet hurt. I was running on puss filled pillows on my feet. I was tired. How did that happen? We were at a major exchange that night. We were all in the van trying to lay down. Couldn't do it. Could-not-do-it. Donna and I ended up chit chatting then Micah was cracking jokes. We managed to scare a team member from another team who was trying to sneak up and tag our van. Donna and I saw her creeping up so when she went to tag our van I pounded on the window and yelled at her. Then she screamed, then Jamie screamed! Ooops I didn't realize Jamie's head was resting against that window I just pounded on. Sorry Jamie. We all had a good laugh after that. Everyone except Emily who WAS actually sleeping in the back of the van. Guess when you climb mountains you learn to fall asleep anywhere.  I digress though. Back to my run. I thought I would just leave my sweatshirt on until Mile 3 when my van could meet up with me. I had my vest on and it would have been a hassle to get everything off plus the hills were killing me. Saw a couple of dead rats. They must have tried to run some of those hills. I saw some vans pulling off in driveways or little gas stations along the way. I so hoped I was going to see my van but I didn't. I knew I wouldn't see them until the non-support section was over but as I kept passing team vans I kept hoping more and more plus did I tell you I was hot? I really wanted to just complain and tell someone how much my feet hurt or how hot I was. I finally passed Mile 3 when I realized I was not seeing  my van and I did not see a large parking area where vans were converging. Must not be Mile 3 when the non-support ends. I trudged on. I walked some of the hills and wondered if I would be able to make the whole run on these feet. Not really sure what the other option would have been. Finally, Mile 5 comes around and at this point I am so depressed and almost mad at my team because they didn't stop. I finally see them and they are huddled under a blanket on the street corner. I just wanted to yell at them "Where the fuck were you?" but I knew it wasn't their fault. I also knew I would start blubbering like a baby so I kept all talking to an absolute minimum. I did get to take off my sweatshirt. Finally! Ahhhh! That cool air felt nice. I took off after telling them to leapfrog me every mile. Between Mile 5 and 6 as I was running I felt the blisters in my feet go -POOF!- and I remember thinking that's gross and thank god I had my blister band-aids on. I wondered if all the puss was being contained and how gross it was either way. I also started to realize that my feet were feeling better and those Cliff Shots I took awhile back were finally starting to kick in.  I had been passed by a few people earlier on but then I was mostly by myself. Now there is a girl on the road, with her team van. I was a bit in a daze and not really sure what was happening but I noticed she was running. I decided to just pace her. I wasn't going to get any kills on this run. I think she felt me breathing down her neck so eventually she slowed a bit and I passed her. I GOT A KILL! I GOT A KILL! WTF?!? How did that happen? Whatever, she's passed and she was my kill. I was starting to feel like this could be doable but I was also starting to feel like I had to use the bathroom. Ugh! Will this run ever end?!? Thankfully I spied a Texaco. I argued a little bit with myself that maybe I should just keep going but then I argued that this could become an emergency situation and I would be kicking myself in the ass for passing up this golden opportunity. Fear won out and I stopped. Now I was feeling good. I had a kill so I headed out again through the town and I was starting to pick up my pace. After a short time I see this little guy come up along side me and pass me. He looked like he wasn't doing too well but he was traveling at a good clip so maybe he was doing OK. I thought to myself "Whatever. I'm your kill. So what?" and I kept going. Eventually I came up to this girl trudging along. She was definitely at the end of her rope so I decided to sidle up next to her and chat a little bit. We agreed the leg was long and were glad that it was going to be over soon. There was hope coming up on the horizon.  My team was still checking on me every mile now and I just waved them on. No need for tears at this point as I just passed that girl and now she was my SECOND KILL!  I was so elated that I came cruising through the town and come across that funny little guy that passed me earlier. We were nearing the end and we both felt it. I felt like I was tearing through there and as I round a corner & see a volunteer calling in runners. I am so close to the end! Woo hoo! I realize that volunteer was Jamie's husband Jason (oh yeah it's Exchange 24!) and I waved like a school girl. Look at me! Look at me! I'm finishing and I am going to pass that little funny guy. Coming through Burlington(?) High School towards the finish and I have my THIRD KILL (I think. I really don't remember now because I was just so happy to be finishing. So I either had 2 or 3 kills on this leg) and handed off to Corey. Never so glad to be done with a run in my life.
Leg 3- The Finish

 My last leg was fun. It was fun because it was the end and spirits were high. Most of the team was very lucky because they had nice overcast skies for most of the day. I thought what a difference from the previous year where my last leg was blistering hot on the side of a highway. I still have the tan lines on the back of my calves from the sunburn I got from running those hills. This year I was runner 12 so I was bringing home the bacon for the team. I felt we were ahead on time and we were going to finish in the daylight. Two things I did not anticipate happening. Around Jamie's leg (runner 10) the sun made an appearance then decided to take the stage and it got warm and humid real fast. Jamie started off her leg in grey skies but ended her leg in full sun. This did not bode well for my all black outfit I was going to run in. By the time we got to the last leg we were in a woodsy area, I felt good because within an hour we were going to be done and I just felt right. Once Emily passed off the slap band to me I took off and it was hot. I thought to myself "It is hot" and told my van to meet me in 1 mile. I did not carry my hydration vest on this run because it was only 4.1 miles. Up the road and pretty quickly there is a hill. This is how this run was going to go. At the start of the 2nd mile I told my van to meet me at the top of the hill I was starting to ascend. It was definitely less than 1mi but the hill was steep and I was going to need water. As I am trudging up to the top I notice that the hill plateaus for a short bit then starts uphill some more. I just knew my team was going to go to the very top of the hill...and they did. Thankfully the Running Evolution Team "Superhero Alter Egos" was at the top of the first hill and they gave me bubbles and water and a little moment to chit chat in the shade. It was great! Thank you so much. The uphill continuation was pretty steep and I realized that it was completely in the shade so I decided to walk it. I wasn't sure how much more was in the shade or how many more hills there were but I thought it might be a good idea. I ran the last bit up the hill where my van was waiting. I grabbed some water and told them to meet me in another mile. They thought maybe they should just meet me at the end due to parking but it was hot and we agreed another half mile. I grabbed some sponges that were soaked in cold water, shoved 2 in the front of my bra & 1 in my back strap and headed out. Oh man it was hot. I eventually squeezed one sponge over my head and started a nice, long downhill decent. I ran into two other girls. One was going at a pretty good speed so I just kept going at my pace but I caught up to another girl, we chatted for a minute and then I passed her. Another kill! Woo hoo! At the bottom of the hill my van was waiting. I think that girl ended up passing me at the bottom because I stopped for my van but it didn't matter I already passed her. Once I left the van I was heading for home. I eventually passed that girl again and ran through town in Langley. I was noticing what a cute town it was and reminisced about the pizza place we ate at last year. I was getting hungry. The last mile up to the finish seemed to be all uphill. My van mates were waiting for me about .75mi away from the finish and they ran with me. I couldn't stop to walk now since they were all with me. Keep on going. As I get up another hill I see we are coming up to the finish and there is a tunnel waiting for me and a whole lot of cheering. Team Superhero Alter Egos and Van 1 were there cheering us on! What great motivation. We high fived our way through and I was headed through the gate into the finish. Then I hear "Susan wait!". My team was trying to catch up from the tunnel and once I saw most everyone I headed off again through the finish and I was done. We were done and it felt great. There was pizza and beer at the finish. I saw it. All we needed was our medals and to snap a few pics. We were done!