In Chicago, it was more for me about fun. This year, I really wanted to push myself. In training, I feel I failed at my possible growth. I did become a stronger, more efficient runner, yet my speed did not improve.
Then you look at the hills, stop lights, darkness, and people dodged on the pier, my time was better. When you train for a road race, it unfortunately isn’t a bubble you run through. In Chicago we battled awful conditions, so I don’t equate my time in those runs as accurate, but in the last year, my average pace is still in the same ball park.
So what was Cali like? It was highs and lows, so I broke it all down for you.
My heart rate wasn’t syncing to my watch, which frustrated me in the moment. Before I left, I had disconnected my transmitter from myself to loan to someone else. I think, in the end, that it helped me. When mentally I’m drained, it is easy to take a break when my heart rate is high. When I can’t see where my heart rate is, then I don’t allow myself the extra breaks, I just push through.
Physically, I feel my body held up great. It wasn’t until I was 9 miles into my third leg before my knees started screaming at me. At the Hot Chocolate in November, they were troublesome by 7.5 miles into the race.
The hardest part for me, by a long shot, is the nutrition. It just isn’t possible to replicate my at home nutrition on the road. And when so much upsets my stomach, I almost have to under eat. When I’m not properly fueled, it makes my sleep less restorative and my legs slower to recover. The experience is so awesome that I don’t want it a once in a lifetime experience, so I am just going to keep getting better with fueling myself.
The people in my van were Ah-May-Zing! We bonded over poop, kills, u-turns, and a lack of sleep. I have such an admiration for each of the six ladies who rode with me. Technically, five rode with me and one was a rockstar driver. We had some pretty kick butt friends in van 1, but you don’t quite get the same bonding with the other van. It was nice to see them at the major exchanges and to message each other between exchanges.
The weather was a little chilly, which was great for the runners. The week before the race, it was expected to be in the 80s. That would of made the long midday runs even more taxing. Fridays run already did not feel chilly, at all. Hilly, that is for sure. I ran through Laguna Nigel, which I can honestly say, I had no way of replicating that elevation at home. Even if I owned a treadmill, I still would of struggled re-creating the steepness of those monstrosities. The run started uphill, but, luckily, the stoplights didn’t start until we went down. Not sure I’d of had the momentum to keep going if I hit a red light going up. Then the last incline, that was a beast! I did a combo of power walking and jogging, it is often encouraged to walk the inclines at Ragnar. I just felt I would of lost all steam settling for a straight walk. As I was on that last one, I passed one guy and a van at the top congratulated each person for making it up. Both made me feel great and gave me a boost to finish the run.
Overnight I was worried. I was fatigued, even though I slept more than the rest of my team, my thighs were ON FIRE, and it was chilly. And then I took off through San Marcos. Well, intuition was spot on. I really struggled to get up to my pace. Even though there wasn’t traffic, the stop lights were just long enough that I didn’t ever take off on green. I never felt myself get in a groove. I was dodging overnight sprinkler systems. So I just told myself if I kept moving, I’d finish faster.
Then we got to sleep for an extended time. But it was daylight, I was in the co-pilot seat, and sleep wouldn’t come to me. I suppose it was partly because I got extra sleep before my second run. I entertained myself with people watching, and it was quite fun. The Goonies team walked around with a giant cut out on a broom stick. They were walking up to vans and putting the guy in the windows. An 80s rap team was strolling down the street with an inflatable boom box on their shoulder belting music. And of course there was this guy, with plastic goldfish swimming in water in his platform heels, dancing and grooving away…
My last run was amazing and challenging and gratifying and craze-inducing all at once. I ran through the downtown area of San Diego, where I have visited on a few occasions. We ran along the water, by the airport, and I was keeping my eyes on a girl running about a 10 minute mile. Once her van stopped and gave her water, I had my chance to catch her. We chatted and ran as we approached the pier. There were so many people to dodge. They clearly didn’t know we were running a race, so we had stares as well as people not moving out of the way. When Ty was little, we went to San Diego. As part of our stay, we went on the USS Midway and out whale watching. It was fun to run past all that as we weaved through the pier. We also increased our speed, and by the time we turned off, we were running closer to a 9 minute mile. I was questioning why I allowed myself to buddy up with her, but figured I shouldn’t lose her. It was great for my motivation. As we approached the Marriott convention center, I was reminded of the memories when Ty and I went while I was in college. I actually received an award at the convention center my fourth year of college. I was busy with sessions and booths, but Ty and I still found time to hit up the zoo, among other tourist things. Then our run brought us to some not so nice scenery areas, and by mile 6, I was taking walk breaks, and then running to catch up to my buddy. She was a good pacer, even in my intervals for another mile or so. Around mile 7, I told her to go on ahead with out me, and I slowed my running pace to 10 minute miles, and then we approached the Coronado toll bridge. In order to cross the street, we had to climb 2 flights of stairs, walk across the overpass, and then climb down 2 flights of stairs. Man, did my knees dislike that! We ran under the bridge and along there were buildings between us and the water. And with all the Navy property, most of it had high fences with trespassing signs. As I ran, I just kept setting milestones for how far I would make it before I walked again. Around 9 miles, I realized running was not in my best interest. Once my knees start bugging me, I change my gait to compensate, and I didn’t want that change to cause me more injury elsewhere in my body. I promised myself to walk a 15-16 minute mile, kept my arms swinging at my sides, and kept plugging along. As I got to 10 miles, I knew it was less than a mile to go, and I told myself I needed to maintain sub 20 minute miles. I knew that the leg was assigned to take 2 hours and 15 minutes, and was set at 11 minute miles. I didn’t realize how close I was to maintaining that pace. I’d like to think I’d of pushed a little harder had I known. By the time I was 10.5 miles in, I was very nervous. They always have a 1 mile to go sign, and I hadn’t seen one. I knew I weaved a lot on the pier, but I was hoping it hadn’t been a half mile of distance worth. A couple minutes later, I heard the cow bells and I knew the end was in sight. I finished in just under 2 hours 19 minutes, and oh man, if I only would of taken 4 minutes off and kept that 11 minute average.
The finish line was cold and windy, but it was so amazing to cross together, as a team. We did awesome on time, many of us ran, at least once, ahead of projected pace. We had gotten matching tanks to wear at the finish, but it was so chilly, that many of us put our sweatshirts back on for team photos on the beach. Finishing the race, as the sun set over the ocean, was pretty picturesque, even though the pictures did not do it justice. (Not that the photos aren’t amazing. Just so much more awesome in person.)
Now that the race is over, I get to focus on my dance performance at the end of the month. Running will happen, as time permits. I’ve started staying up later, thanks to the teenage son, so I won’t be getting up at 4 for work outs. Makes it hard to commit to a run when I have the little guy at home too. So for now, I shall make do with more infrequent runs.
What has been your experience with Ragnar? If you have never ran, would you ever consider doing one? I am already looking towards next year, and deciding that over half of them look awesome : )