I know I have a few other posts/race recaps to catch up on, but I want to review this race as soon as possible – and even that is delayed! I ran Ragnar Colorado the beginning of this month, the 8th – 9th of August!
I had such an incredible experience, I don’t even know if I can express it through writing and pictures! I feel like so much happens in a relay and I want to remember it all, but when it comes time to recap, it’s hard to collect all of your thoughts. I don’t want to forget the small things, but it happens. Writing my blog helps me retain most of the memories. One idea I heard people talking about was keeping a “journal” in the van to write down funny lines, quotes, and memories! Maybe next year! So where do I start??
I guess I’ll start at the beginning.
Early Friday morning, and I mean EARLY, like 3:00 AM early, I woke up after only 3 hours of sleep to head up to Copper Mountain in Colorado. I had only gotten three hours of sleep because I am the biggest procrastinator and after volunteering for 3W the previous evening, I went home to start packing and hang out with a friend from out-of-town. Waking up that early was rough, but luckily all I had to do was load up my car and drive to the Park n’ Ride.
I was the last one to arrive, and once my stuff was in the van, we closed the doors and we were on our way. I assumed I would just sleep in the van on the way to Copper, but I was enjoying talking with my fellow ambassadors and the new people who joined our teams.
As 3W Ambassadors, the race directors sponsored two teams to participate in Ragnar Road Relay – Colorado. The only thing we had to contribute was a little bit for the gas and van rental and if we were staying in condos before or after the race. Since I had already signed up to volunteer that Thursday night, I just elected to stay in Snowmass (where the race ended) after we were all done.
Anyway, half our team drove up the night before and was already (sleeping soundly) in Copper. The rest of us got up at that god awful hour to meet them because one of the teams had to start at 7am!
Our two teams were called “3WTF? – Where’s The Finish?” and “Breckin’ our Aspens Off.” I was on the former. The later was named that because originally the race started in Breckenridge but was changed to Copper. As far as the “Aspens” part goes: Snowmass is pretty much the same thing as Aspen. It’s a good thing I wasn’t in charge of driving, because I was under the assumption that it was still Breckenridge that we started in. I even said that in my pre race post!
Once we made it to the mountains, we woke up our fellow teammates, rearranged the vans to put everyone’s stuff in their respective vans and we went to the starting line to see off Breckin’ Our Aspens Off!
Once they were off and running, we signed our team in, went to the Safety Meeting and I prepared myself to run.
Yep, I was the first runner for 3WTF! I dressed myself for the brisk weather, caffeinated myself for the early morning, and mentally prepared myself for the 9 miles ahead of me.
I always have trouble dressing myself for runs, especially if it’s just slightly chilly. I finally ended up with long socks, shorts and a long-sleeved shirt over a tank. I had a tank top under the long-sleeved in case I got too warm and I was debating on gloves but ended up without them. I would give my outfit a 4/5 because my hands were pretty cold in the beginning as we were running through the shade.
Once they announced all the teams starting at 8am, they gave us a count down and I was off, with my teammates cheering along the side! I watched a speedy guy take off in front and everyone around me laughed thinking he was starting off way too fast! I never saw him again, so I’m guessing that was his pace! Once people fell into their own pace, I settled in mine around three individuals. We all had similar paces and when one of the guys next to me’s garmin went off, I asked what time we were looking at. “we’re at an 8:15 pace,” he said!
Wait. What!? I felt great, how could that be for a 9 mile run. I told me team about a 9 min pace. I just kept running, chatting with the people around me.
The four of us altered lead person back and forth for a bit, but we all stayed pretty close together. The 9 miles had an overall decline with a little bit of a hill at the end. I originally had thought this leg was 7 miles (I was confusing it with my other legs) and when I saw a false one mile to go sign, I was pretty excited. But we also found another one mile to go sign about a quarter-mile later. Neither were correct, and I was wrong on the mileage. We still had two miles. Up hill. And it was brutal.
One of my fellow runners took off up the hill. The other two fell slightly behind. The runner in front of me was still within ear shot as I bantered about crying if I saw another one mile to go sign. The path seemed to go on forever. At one point, we saw a cone, thinking it was the exchange zone, but it was basically a mirage. There was a cone there, it just wasn’t for anything. Such a let down!
Finally, we got over the hill and saw the exchange zone and our teammates waiting for us. I was ecstatic to see them! I still can’t believe how fast I ran those 9 miles. I did get a bit of knee pain (that tight IT band knee pain I’ve mentioned in pervious posts) with about 1/3 of the run left. I tried to fix my stride and concentrate on breathing. It did help, but I knew I’d better foam roll and stretch a ton if I wanted to make it through the weekend in one piece.
I marked my “kills” on the window, and hopped back in the van.
(For the Non Relay-ers – A Kill = someone your pass while running. I count all the people I pass, but if someone I passed ends up passing me, it’s a wash, and neither of us get the kill. It’s a pretty fun tradition of Relay Runners. But, when I did my first one, the Wild West a few years ago, we didn’t really keep track. This was super motivational for me to keep running especially as my knee pain developed).
If you have done a relay before, you know what’s next. You hop in the van and drive to the next exchange zone. The next runner hops out, takes the “baton” (or slap bracelet in this case) and you repeat. So that’s what we did for five more exchanges.
The first five legs of the relay went from Copper up to Breckenridge, around Dillon Reservoir, and into Frisco.
Once we were at exchange six, the runner ran from Frisco back to Copper. Exchange 6 is a big one because this is where you switch vans. It was still early in the race and teams weren’t that spread out yet, so Copper Viliage was crazy busy!
Our 6th runner came in and Van two started their legs. Once we saw them off, we had lunch before making it to the next big exchange where we would start all of our second legs. (In case you’re curious, we had lunch at this Mac N’ Cheese place in Copper. DELICIOUS! I had cheeseburger mac n’ cheese and now Kraft will never taste the same again).
The next major exchange was in a town called Edwards, west of Copper. This is where I would begin running again. Even after lunching, we still had awhile before Van 2 would be meeting us.
We parked our van, rolled out our respective sleeping bags and took some naps. I think I got about an hours nap in before my body decided to wake up again. I think it was the chatter and noise around, plus we were laying in the sun, so maybe I got too hot. I don’t know, but it was super relaxing to lay in the sun with the cool mountain air.
I ate some food and started getting ready for my next run. The sun began to set, and I tried to pick out an outfit again. It’s even harder to dress yourself in the night-time in the mountains. It can get pretty chilly up there! Luckily it was just past sun set, so it wasn’t too bad.
I actually hated this leg. I talked to a few other runners that was the same runner as me, and they loved it.
Just before heading out for the run, I nervously got ready. My knee was bothering me (now the tendons behind the knee) and I liberally applied BioFreeze all over, much to my teammates’ dismay. I prepared to run, and my nervous bladder told me I should pee before even though it’s only a 3 mile run. Of course as soon as I decided to go, runner number 12 showed up and as I exited the bathroom, I heard all my team calling my name. I ran over, literally, stripped off my sweats and took the slap bracelet.
I started off down the path, glow sticks in hand, just for fun. I followed the directions that the volunteer shouted at me as I ran away, and found myself setting into a decent pace, even with the immediate knee pain (and no, clearly the BioFreeze didn’t help. Oh well).
About a half mile into the run, I nearly crapped my pants as two mean dogs tried to attack me! I was just running along, minding my own business and I hear barking and growling off to my left. I look over and two dogs about 50 pounds each were tearing off after me. I was right near some hotels and the owner obviously didn’t have them on a leash. I turned to face the dogs, knowing that if I kept running they may keep chasing me, like a game. I yelled at them to STAY and GO AWAY! I tried to shoe them away, but the kept charging me, hackles up!
I used to be a vet tech, but I am terrified of getting bit. With no leashes or anything around I don’t really know what to do. Finally I heard the owner off in the distance. She wasn’t even making a move to come get them and was just yelling at them to come to her. She yelled at me and said, “oh, You’re fine!” as if I was the one in the wrong. One of the dogs got close enough to sniff me, touched my leg with his nose (hackles still up, so I thought he was going to bite me), but finally they both ran off towards their owner. Needless to say I was pretty pissed – but glad I peed before my run and my bladder was empty! I turned back down the path, heart racing and kept going.
The run took you along side a main road in Edwards and on both sides of the road were trailer parks. I was honked at (not by other Ragnar people) whistled at and catcalled as I ran through the town. I actually didn’t really appreciated it this time! (Jk – I don’t ever appreciate the cat calling) because it was a very scuzzy part of town. With a half mile left to go, you finally get a little bit away from the city and along a bike path. I saw some lights up ahead not sure if it was a Ragnar sign, the exchange zone, or what I was hoping for – another runner I could catch!
Low and behold, it was another runner, and I TOTALLY got her! Muahahhaah! Of course I only laughed like that in my head and told her good job as I passed. When running at night, you have to wear a safety vest, head lamp and “blinky” light on your back. This runner had a super sweet light up vest/skirt thing! I want one! I tried desperately to find a picture of this online, but could not. You’ll just have to use your imagination.
After passing her, I only had a tiny bit left before I reached the exchange zone. There was my team, waiting for me, and off went the next runner!
This was a rough section for me. I was getting super tired, and every time we got in the van to go to the next stop I was close to falling asleep. I ate a little bit to keep my energy levels up to cheer on my team.
We saw off each runner. These were a little bit shorter legs, except the last one. Runner 6 had a longer leg that would take him about an hour. We made our way to that exchange, which is another big one, and all of us fell asleep in the car for a short 30 min nap. We set an alarm for right at 1am, I think, and when it went off and we all stumbled out of the car, our runner had already JUST finished. But this was one of the MAJOR exchange zones, so Van 2 was waiting for him in the exchange zone.
While runner 6 cooled down, I watched as the volunteers got blasted by the sprinkler systems accidentally coming on, nothing anyone could do about it, as they covered the sprinkler head with a cooler. In my sleepy, delirious state, I found it funny even though I probably shouldn’t have.
We finally all piled into the van to head to the next major exchange at Glenwood Springs High School. Ahhh…showers were here. And sleeping areas. I knew I would be running again soon, but I desperately wanted a quick shower so that I wasn’t sleeping feeling all skuzy (yes, that’s a word). I paid my $2 that went to the percussion ensemble (I’m guessing they played during the daylight hours) and quickly showered off two runs as fast as I could so I could get more sleep.
I ventured into the gym, laid my sleeping back down and tried to fall asleep, which is very hard on a gym floor with people making a bit of noise.
My next run was coming up at 5am, but none of us knew that…..