Continued from HERE.
Before I get into the next loop, the Yellow loop, there’s a background story I need to tell. Throughout the weekend, I kept hearing chatter about a bird on the yellow loop. None of my team members ever encountered it but all I knew from people was there was a bird guarding a nest right on the trail.
One story I heard left a girl scrambling through the bushes, around the bird, and another guy said he jumped right over it.
I had no idea was to expect, but it was becoming a key topic point among all the teams.
Another story about me: I don’t like birds. Not really. I used to volunteer at an animal sanctuary back in the day and was chased by a huge turkey until I had to quickly retreat into a barn and close the door before it could get me. Birds are freaky. They make sudden darting moves.
Anyway, where was I…..
The sun had just risen, but it was still a little chilly, so I went with shorts and a long sleeved shirt. I was feeling pretty tired still and not 100%. Not going to lie, if I was just at home, feeling the way I did, I wouldn’t have run. But, I was there for my team! I was the first one to start all of our 3rd loops. I had 4 miles ahead of me and then I was done.
I left my sweats on until the last possible minute, but It might have been a minute too late. I was just struggling to get my sweats over my shoes while the girl handing off to me help tug them down! It was probably quite the spectacle.
I took off out of the exchange zone and almost went the wrong way! It was a good thing this race was almost over because clearly my mind was running on fumes! When you get out of the exchange zone, the Red and Green Loops go to the left and the Yellow loop to the right. Being in a habit already, I took off left but only made a few feet before I realized I wasn’t seeing the yellow signs on the ground!
The yellow loop starts you off in a quiet neighborhood with cookie cutter houses and well manicured lawns. I bet those residents weren’t prepared for a bunch of crazy runners to come running through their back yards day and night (not literally, of course). However, you’re only on the street for maybe a quarter-mile when you finally find the dirt.
Out of all the loops, I would say this had the steepest terrain. I thought it was just because my legs were tired from the whole weekend, but other people confirmed my suspicions and said they struggled with this loop the most as well. The first mile or two was pretty steep with lots of switch backs. I was struggling and had to walk a few times.
But finally, the trail evened out with nice and easy rolling ascents and descents. I caught some pretty fantastics views with the newly risen sun. This area is beautiful, Even though I’m a native, I had never been to this part of the state.
Then it happened. I was just trudging along enjoying the trail and as I rounded the corner, IT came at me. Right for me! As soon as it saw me, it made a bee line for me, determined to take me out! I’m pretty sure I let out a little scream. What is it you ask?!
Just Kidding, it was the sage grouse. I just told everyone at first it was a velociraptor so that I didn’t look like a pansy.
And it was literally only the size of a chicken. But it was definitely on a mission to kill me and I didn’t want to mess with that bird! She gunned it for me! Making me run back wards down the trail and she wasn’t stopping! Finally, I kicked some dirt at her (no, I didn’t kick her, I swear). She stopped charging at least but I wasn’t about to go forward again. Instead, I jumped in the bushes to the side of the trail and made a huge arch around where I thought her nest might be. I’m glad I decided to wear knee-high socks for this loop!
Once that terrifying moment was over, I continued along the trail. It wasn’t much further from that point until I reached the downhill. Excited to the decline, I started on my way down. The yellow loop and the red loop shared the same last two downhill miles. So I got some redemption on this trail from having to run it at night.
Well, sort of. I was going at a nice even pace but was then attacked by another monster: the dreaded Side Stitch. I haven’t had a side stitch in ages. AGES I tell ya! And this one was bad, like so sharp it brought tears to my eyes. Usually I can run through them and focus on my breathing, but this time it wasn’t helping. I pulled off to the side of the trail, bent over in pain. Another runner passed me and asked if I was ok.
It took awhile for the stitch to go away, but I had to keep running. So I started off slow again, with the pain still faintly in my side and tried to take deep, even breathes. It eventually went away, but I feel a little cheated that I didn’t get to enjoy that trail again. When I knew I only had less than a mile left, I raced “home.”
Exhausted, hungry and in pain, I handed off the bib to the next guy as he asked me how my run was. The first thing I could stammer out was, “That stupid bird attacked me!” and everyone in the exchange zone was laughing.
And when I say I was tired, I don’t think I’ve ever been that tired before. As I come out the exchange zone, I was greeted by our team captain who gave me a huge hug and said, “nice job, now let me make you breakfast.” It was the perfect, most comforting, motherly-like things to hear that that time. I melted! And breakfast was good: eggs and hash browns!
The rest of the day was pretty relaxing. Since I was the first runner out of our team, I had a lot of time to kill. After breakfast, I went over to the rec center that was close by to sit in the hot tub and then shower to clean up. I was in desperate need of a shower. I basically paid $10 for a shower – but it was well worth it!
We were one of the last teams to finish, so we watched as others packed up and left. While our teammates were running, we cleaned up camp and loaded the cars. Then finally our last runner, Team Captain, came around the corner! We all joined her to the finish line and cheered as we crossed!
Fantastic experience! We’ll organized! Fun event! I mean, you just read all about it…if that’s not a 5/5 event, then I don’t know how to please you! But seriously, The only complaint I can think of is not about the event itself but the campers….Come on people! Do you have to let the port-o-potty doors slam shut at 3 AM!? Every 5 secs, SLAM! You would just be getting asleep and then…SLAM!
But besides the constant noise, I think I had the best schedule of running. I was the first runner, so I went at 3pm, 11pm, and about 6am…pretty close to my normal sleep schedule anyway. I lucked out.
Race Organization – 5/5:
No complaint there. Everything was well marked and laid out. The announcer did a great job (did he even get to sleep??). They even had a TV screen that would show you when your teammate was about a quarter-mile from the exchanged zone! It was super convenience, when it worked. But I heard someone say this was the first race they tried it at….. I’m not sure how true that is.
Cost – ??:
I don’t know how much it cost. 3W Races paid for all over out expenses. I brought a lot of my own food and pitched a few bucks for gas and that’s about it. But with your team’s entry, you all get shirts, one free meal, yoga if you would like, s’mores, free hot beverages, plus when you consider how much organization goes into this event, I think the price is well worth it.
Post Run – 1/5:
There wasn’t a big post-race party like most big events, but that is kind of common for relay events since everyone is finishing at different times. I’m not even sure if they had a “beer garden.” Oh well. I had a “victory beer” while I waited for the rest of the team to finish. By the time our whole team finished, we literally loaded the car and got back on the road to Denver. I don’t mind though. At this relay in particular, you’re pretty much just having fun and partying with your team the whole time.
And that’s about all I got for you! It was long post, but it was also a long event. I will be doing Road Ragnar here in August as well. Compared to my last relay, I like this Trail version better. It’s more relaxing and controlled versus getting right in a van after you run.
YOUR TURN: Have you ever done a relay race, or the Ragnar Trail in particular?