Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys

What happens when you throw 12 people (many of them strangers) into a van and tell them to run 200 miles from Miami to Florida Keys?  You get
Ballistic Buttercups at a Ragnar Relay

This race was by far my best Ragnar race yet. The people in the van, the scenery and the after party in Key West made the Ragnar experience fantastic.

A month before the race the team was off to a bumpy start. Our team captain had put together two teams, primarily consisting of runners from Tampa and a few other runners from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona. Two years ago I ran Central Florida with them and was invited to run the Keys with them. A month before the race the team captain became AWOL and wouldn't return phone calls and emails. Mike stepped up and became team captain for Ballistic Buttercups and I became team captain for Ballistic Buttercups Too.  Mike finalized all the arrangements and pulled everything together.

I met the team after I arrived in Miami for dinner and met everyone on the two 12 person teams and our 4 drivers. Having run Ragnars before with some of the people, I already knew 6 of the people. This is better than some other Ragnars where I know one or even none of the people I'm running with.   Later that night we squeezed 6 people into a room.  3 in one bed, 2 on a very uncomfortable pull out and one on the floor (probably better than the pull-out).
Most of the two teams at the start line in Miami
Of the two teams, team one was faster (I was on team 2) and projected to finish 45 minutes ahead of us.  Team 2 started at 10:30am and Team 1 started at 11am which left the question when would team one zoom by us?
Petey hangs on for dear life on our van
As runner 7, I was the first runner in van 2 and we had some time to kill before starting our running. In the grocery store parking lot we taped Petey(blow up parrot) to the antenna and van hood, put more decorations on our van including the pink straw hat on the roof and made our way to exchange 6 at the Miami zoo.  While I was waiting for our runner, team 1's runner 7 showed up to wait for their runner.  Matt was going to run 5:30's compared to my 8's.  If I could have enough lead I would finish my 5.3 miles before he caught me.  Throughout my run I looked over my shoulder.  When I crossed the exchange I shouted Matt didn't pass me!  Success.
Lori, Carrie and me at the start
 I don't worry if I'll get along with my van mates because we all have running in common and can put up with each other for 30 hours. I had run Florida Central and Chicago with Lori whose from Wisconsin.   Emily and Carrie were from Minnesota with  Bryan and Vu from Tampa.  I was very fortunate we got along so well and had many, many laughs...many at Bryan's expense. Poor Bryan...aka Bry Bry, as a 19 year old, entertaining young man, he was perfect playdoh for the 4 "older" women and we embarrassed him more than once.
Carrie and cute Bry Bry.  He looks so big.
After my second leg of 10 miles, I learned the first team was 20 minutes behind projections. One runner went a mile off course and another runner unfortunately was injured. We weren't in the clear though because they had some awesome runners and could EASILY make up time but I still did a happy dance for holding off the other team.

The third leg of 4+ miles was around 11am and in the full sun it was hot, hot, hot. I was grumpy.  In the distance I saw the lights of a cop car (which isn't unusual because they help monitor traffic and cross runners at some exchanges).  It seemed way too soon for the exchange but I could also see the port-a-potties, which meant that was the exchange.  Finally I reached the cop and port-a-potties. "It's just across the bridge" the cop called out.  Just across means something totally different to me running in the heat as compared to a cop standing there. Just across means, I cross the bridge and the exchange is there.  RIGHT there; not another half mile down the road.

I finished my 3rd leg with a 7:50 pace and jumped in the van. The last set of legs were only 2-3 miles and there was no time for wasting at the exchanges. We had to get moving to get to the next exchange quickly.  For each runner after that (except Bry Bry who ran the team in) I had an ice pack waiting for them when they finished.  Everyone did really well in the heat and no one passed out.

My exchange wasn't the only one with misplaced port-a-potties. The next set of legs we saw port-a-potties on the wrong side of bridges and one set was in the middle of no-where..probably a mile from where they should have been.
Mike and me with our team captain hats and finisher medals.
Our team finished at 2:15pm and then waited for the first team to come in. You know, the one that was going to pass us during the race?   They didn't pass us but the question is who would win.   The other team started 30 minutes after us and if they came in before 2:45, they would beat us. On the other side of the road the other team hung out talking while they waited for their final runner to come in.  I watched carefully for signs they were expecting him.   At 2:44 I looked at my watch and declared if they didn't come in the next minute, we won.   2:45 came and we high fived for beating the other team.
Two for the Keys finish and a second one for running any other race in 2011 and the 2012 keys
As the underdogs we were expecting to be beat by 45 minutes and we ended up beating the other team by 10 minutes with a  final time 27:57:03. You just never know what is going to happen in a Ragnar race.
At the finish line on the beach in Key West
Happy Running!


Melanie said...

sounds like a blast!! and the idea of finishing on a beach...amazing. love the medals too!

Ewa said...

Congrats to the underdogs!!!
Sounds like tons of fun. It is amazing how often we find we can bond with total strangers.
I loved the van decor and the medals.
OK, enough of that flat running. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ah! You are so beautiful! I'm glad to read that you are well and running. :) Makes me very happy inside.

lindsay said...

I'm so jealous! I loved this race last year. Glad you had a good time and love the extra medal!

Giorgio said...

What a beautiful beach! Great run Christina!

Lesley Looper said...

Sounds like a lot of Fun in an awesome location! Congrats!

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