I went out to dinner with some friends last night and was talking about my Ragnar Napa experience. Upon hearing my story, they crinkled their noses and shook their heads, saying, “Ugh, that sounds horrible! Why would you want to do that?”
Well, why wouldn’t I? Not only do I love running but to do it amongst a team of 11 other happy, funny, joyful people was just so much fun, an experience I will never forget. I admit it was hard at times but anyone can endure anything for 36 hours, right? We bonded, we laughed, we sang, we danced, we ate, we talked almost non-stop and we ran- I consider myself very lucky to have the physical ability as well as the means to participate in an event as huge as this. So yes, I would most definitely do it again.
And now for leg 2…
“Office Space” and our subsequent discussion on Jennifer Aniston’s body of work (hahaha) finished just in time for us to head off to the exchange in Petaluma to meet the Van 2 runners for our second leg of the race. In ran Ali, off ran Erica for 6 miles, and we piled back in the van to head to exchange #14, the 13th leg of the entire race.
Each van consists of 6 runners, 1 non-running driver and 1 non-running navigator. Our driver, Ken, and our navigator Loren also helped make our Ragnar experience such a good one. Ken seriously handled that van, parking that 12 person behemoth in some pretty tight spots and just driving very smoothly the entire 200+ miles. Loren did an amazing job giving directions and recording our times and just generally keeping us on schedule the whole time. Ken and Loren are both very mellow and down to earth people- how they put up with our screaming, singing, dancing antics I do not know, (I only hope we were somewhat entertaining!) and am so grateful for all they did.
Still in Petaluma, we waited for Erica to come in while giving Allison the you-got-this-girl pep talk, off she went, and on we drove.
I forget who had the idea to start giving everyone a finish line but someone did and since Ragnar gives you a roll of toilet paper in your schwag bag, someone else decided that would be the best finish line ever, especially since the majority of our conversations revolved around who needed to use the porta potty and when.
Our next runner, Kevin, suited up in his night gear (reflective vest and head lamp) and we waited with our homemade finish line. Allison came in and Kevin ran off, and- you guessed it- off we drove to the next exchange.
At this point, it was starting to get dark and being in a valley the sun set really fast. Anya was next up to run so she suited up and waited for Kevin at the exchange while the sun sank into the sky.
As the sky grew darker and the weather colder, I got more and more nervous for my next leg of the race starting at 11pm. Anya completed her leg, then Jenn took off for hers and then it was my turn.
I found it very hard to fuel for this 11pm run. My stomach was full of butterflies so I couldn’t really eat, but I knew I had to so I chomped a bunch of Goldfish crackers and downed a 5 Hour Energy drink while my heart raced and my palms sweated. I was so anxious to get started.
Kevin told me later that he just wanted me OUT of the van at that point because I was so crazed and I sincerely apologize to my team mates for being annoying! I just really wanted to do well for the team!
When we got to my exchange, Jenn was just a block away. She arrived almost immediately and off I went for 8 miles at 11pm. Crazy.
I didn’t take any self-portraits-while-running this time because I was just so focused on the actual running that I didn’t want the distraction. As soon as I started, I felt really good! My legs were already warmed up from the morning run and I just flew through the streets of Santa Rosa, road killing people right and left. (At Ragnar, if you pass someone, you call that road kill, some teams even keep a running tally of their road kills on the side of their van! Hilarious!)
By mile 4, halfway through, my tummy started to cramp up and something was happening in the back of my throat with all the Gatorade I drank prior, so my pace slowed a bit. While the streets were pretty much empty and fairly well-lit, the shadows were very deceiving and I found myself very distracted by my physical issues as well as my is-that-a-ditch-I’m-about-to-fall-into-or-a-just-a-shadow thoughts.
And then that song Some Nights started up on my iPod and I was more than motivated to finish strong- my first ever time running at night, I had to show myself what I was made of.
After my leg, Van 2 runners started up and it was our turn again to rest and recover before our last leg of the race. We drove about a half hour to a friend’s home in Sonoma where we took turns showering and claiming some sort of sleeping space on the floor or couches. Even though it was 3am and I was beyond exhausted and super hungry, I chatted with Anya and Erica until we decided lights out… until 5am…
Leg 3 recap up next but in the meantime, some Ragnar Van Words of Wisdom:
- Race Recap: Ragnar Napa, Leg 1 (running4thereason.com)