Monday, February 10, 2014

I have a Ragnover (ragnar +hangover) the Ragnar Report aka marathon monday

I was part of a team for Ragnar Florida Keys this weekend.

It has officially become my longest duration event because it took us 32 hours to finish. A team of 12 runners runs 36 different relay legs starting in Virginia Key (on Key Biscayne in Miami) and finishing on the beach in Key West for a total of 196 miles.

It is quite the production. There are 500 teams participating which means there are just under 6000 participants not including that each team has 3 volunteers somewhere on the course for another 1500 people milling around. As I was a first timer I didn't know exactly what to expect but a few of the folks we ran with had done it before. So it wasn't quite the blind leading the blind but kind of close.

The Vans
Each 12 person team has 2 vans. I rented one of the vans. This thing is giant. I drive a big car but this is huge. My kids loved it and think we should have one of our own.  
We rented 2-15 passenger vans. I picked one up and this is on the way to get one of our teammates to start the day.
 We had a very civilized start time in van 2 of 10:30. The first van started at 7:30. I was the first runner in van2 and I was picking up the baton from somebody I'd never actually met :-)

I took about 15 photos of us in the van. This is 5/6 of us we're waiting outside our 6th runners house getting ready to head to the start. Notice how we're all clean and peppy.
This is 5/6th of the way through our first leg. The only clean and peppy is the runner bottom right. She's about to run :-)
Here we're waiting for the van exchange at homestead speedway. It's about 5 o'clock and the last runner from van2 trades off to the first runner in van1. Then all of Van2 gets about a 5-6 hour break. 
During the break we actually came back to my house and rested, ate pizza and watched the olympics. What we should have done was nap. But I didn't know that then. At 9:30 we headed south to Tavernier in the Florida Keys to pick up the relay.

Communicating during the middle of the night between the vans is confusing and I was not sure exactly when she'd be arriving. I made a last minute pee break and she had to wait two minutes for me to get there - I felt bad about that. This was my longest run 9.9 miles starting at 1:00 am. I have the best van support they leapfrogged me about every mile the whole way so I never really felt alone. It was a good run. Perhaps I should do all my tempo runs at 1:00 am?
This is after my run. Look how totally spent I look. That is exactly how I felt.
I learned that Van 1 has a harder time getting meals. We had no trouble getting meals. But Van 2 has a harder time sleeping. Our first break was from 5-1:00 am. I should have forced myself to nap between like 10-12 but I didn't know. Our second break was 7:30 am - 12:30. Impossible to sleep it seemed.
When you run at night you have to wear this reflective vest and headlamp. This is just after Benji finished his leg and Carolyn started our final overnight run. I'm a little over peppy.
Overnight runs almost done. Van1 is taking over for the early morning segment. 
We in van2 thought showering was important. We showered between each van swap. Not so much van1. They were mighty stinky by the end. After this picture we exchanged the baton and went to breakfast. Then we headed to Sugarloaf Key where we showered and awaited our final legs and the last portion of the race.

It was daytime so while some slept I just rested. I'm a super light sleeper so this was tough for me. If I do it again making sleep a priority has to be part of the equation. I didn't know it but there is a dark/quiet room at this stop - I could have gone there and rested. I started my next leg at 12:30 and it was brutally hot. 4.4 miles. Sadly very slow. My mental mantra was, look around it's beautiful. Which is was. But that was immediately followed by holy crap it's blazing hot. I would say to myself okay just 4 miles pick up the pace but it didn't work. I also walked a teeny bit just to keep my temp down.
This is at the very close to end we had painted the windows of our van to track our progress. In those boxes my fellow runners put toilet paper for the girls and yup those are turd piles for the boys. The team name was We've got the Runs. Tasteless ... yes.
The whole team runs across the finish line together. It's fun.
It took us 32 hours to finish. I have no idea how that compares to other teams. I was so tired that shortly after this picture was taken when I checked into the hotel I had a hard time understanding the basic instructions the desk clerk was giving me. I was exhausted. We went to dinner and I was back to the hotel and in bed at 9:30. Now I've had 2 nights of good sleep and I'm feeling much more human.
Cleaning the van windows waiting for traffic to move.
Driving back it was just 2 of us in the van. Sadly there was a terrible accident that blocked the road for about 2 hours. But we made good use of the time getting lunch and I bought a totally overpriced bottle of windex so cleaned the windows while we waited. Which was good because since we were delayed I made it back to the car rental return with like a minute to spare.

It was a good weekend with some good friends and I made some new friends too. 

It is a little like a large running city moving down toward the keys. Ragnar has it's own sort of party culture and it's very fun. I can see why people do it over and over again. I would really love to be a part of a team again next year. 

Lessons learned: Overall I packed pretty well. I should have taken one more set of dry run clothes just as a change because of the wait while others run. Also an air mattress, and earplugs and eye cover to try and get some actual sleep during the event. Many teams run this in costume. I think that would be un-fun. But matching shirts would be good next time. Lastly, one thing that really worked in our favor was that all of our runners were very trained for the distance. We just put people in various spots without planning but you could really strategize for this putting your faster runners in longer runs. We had 2 very fast runners and in our van we didn't have them in the longest legs. I had the longest leg and while I ran quickly for me it's not very fast. If I do it again I'd like to start the planning trying to really have 14 committed people where one is the "driver" who could become a runner if somebody is injured.

I don't know if they publish the results. I think that there are some teams that are out to win it which would be fun. I have a friend who won in the masters- female group in 32 hours which is impressive.

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