Finally recovered and ready to tell the story of the Ragnar Relay last weekend. The Sick Sisters took on this race after conquering the Cascade Lakes Relay last year, as an all-women's ultra team. I was on the team last year until I got injured and had to drop out early spring. It all worked out though, since because of that Maggie got "sick" and this year we both got sick. Lisa did not run this year but was still sick by supporting fundraising at Title Nine and standing by as an alternate. Luckily everyone was reasonably healthy (sick) in time for the race. Or rather, physically healthy- mentally unstable!
On Thursday morning Pattric, of our brother team the Skeleton Crew (a 4-man ultra relay team), drove us up to Blaine WA where our race would start at 6am Friday. I was amazed at how organized everyone was, after doing this only once before! The car and driver logistics had to be settled, among many other things. We had 3 awesome drivers, Jeff, Joe and Francisco, that took us through our journey. We also had the seventh sister, appropriately named 'Seven", mounted to the top of the van.
Seven would turn out to be quite the attraction throughout the race! Ragner van decorations overall weren't quite as elaborate as Hood to Coast, so ours was pretty exceptional.
After a great meal courtesy of Maggie, we were down for a short night and 4am wake-up.
And then we were off for our 31-hour tour! We grouped some of the shorter legs together so that the total mileage for each person was more even, and we each ran 5 legs for a total of 190 miles. Everyone had trained smart and ran strong throughout. Unfortunately the leg into Bellingham was not well-marked, and Maggie got lost along with several other runners (and the Skeleton Crew many hours later). Disappointing and frustrating, although they did bonus back the time we lost so that was good. But there were other legs that were no so well-marked either.
I was a little worried as my mileage going in was fairly low, and the "doubles" I had planned on doing never happened. But I had at least run the distance of my longest leg (8 miles) and done 2-3 days in a row of running, so felt like I could make it at a slow but steady pace. My plan was to run the first leg at whatever pace felt easy, and just try to maintain that through the race. My average pace on my first leg was 8:30, after that my fastest was 8:20 and slowest was 8:33. So I am calling that success! I had the most elevation gain since I <3 hills :) Repeat, I <3 hills, <3 hills....F@%* that hill! (name of a team, not my personal quote). I had one dark run at 10:00pm or so. The leg was over 7 miles on the backroads, up and down hills, and I think I was at least 4 miles in before I saw another runner. Creepy. Next run, my fourth leg at 4:30am was my easiest and most downhill but felt the worse. My 5th leg, about 29 hours in and the most hilly, felt better. So it seems I had a recovery run followed by a quality run to finish off the race!
Overall the course was beautiful and we had fantastic weather!
I thought the hardest part about running as a 6-person team was the eating- you have to eat a lot but don't necessarily have enough time to digest it all. At least 3 of us were having stomach issues by the end of the race, and I drank a whole bottle of Pepto...yum. I was also sick going in, to the point of not sure I'd be able to run the Wednesday night before. By race day I was still sneezing and blowing my nose a lot, more annoying than anything. I don't think it affected my running, Except maybe scaring off my competition with some epic snot rockets- hah! The secret to a lot of roadkill :). Roadkill= how many people you pass minus number who pass you, for those not familiar with relay talk. On the plus side for going ultra: you don't have enough time between runs to completely stiffen up. On that note, I would highly recommend The Stick as an essential tool for the relay runner! Of course the downside of not having the big time gap is that you don't get much (any) sleep. And the whole digestion thing. Bleh.
And of course, as with any overnight relay event, hilarity ensued...
The Skeleton crew showed off their moves. We lost a mileage challenge with them so were forced to blast the song below from our van, but turned out to be quite entertaining! Especially for the team "Ghost Chickens in the Sky", who adopted it as their theme song. I still find this hilarious, even without the sleep deprivation!
The Sick SIsters were decked out in their sick costumes for the finish.
Thanks to Joe, Devone and others for the photos. I took none of these!