Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wasatch Back Ragnar

Running Wasatch Back Ragnar with my bestest buddy Somer is the highlight of my running year.  I met Somer six years ago when I loved the Del Sol Ragnar so much I put my name in on the team finder for the Wasatch Back (Utah) Ragnar.  I am SO fortunate she picked me up for her team. We hit it off right away and through texting we've shared our worries and successes over the years. With the exception of one year when I was injured, I fly out to Utah each year to run with her.

I flew out on Thursday morning getting up at 3:30am. Ouch. That hurt but it was in preparation for getting up on race day at 3am. Double ouch. Running Ragnar means little or no sleep during the race but starting with serious sleep deprivation is really challenging.

We attended the safety briefing in which I assisted and had a great time.  The man never knew where or what I was doing.

Dan, runner one, started at 7:30am in Logan and had one serious hill to tackle. Nothing like waking you up out of your daze slumber from the early morning start.  Wait!  There was only a temporary wake up for Dan because right after his run he climbed into the back of the truck for his first of many naps.
Dan coming down from the one serious hill (up must have been impossible)
In the small towns the community really comes out for the race.  Children set up lemonade stands, high five runners and give out Popsicles.  Somer's leg ran through one of these communities and I always get jealous of her stories of getting popsicles.
Somer and Erika hanging out after their first run
I was runner five and climbed up the Avon Pass.  I love that 8 mile, up the dirt hill run. One team van at mile 2 gave me a goal to pass 20 people.  At mile 4 I yelled at the van as I passed them parked on the side that I had passed 22 people. They gave me a new goal of another 20 which I yelled no way. I was tired and couldn't see how I could pass another 20 people.   All the other runners were also tired and many set to walking and I surprised myself by passing 52 people in that 8 mile stretch.
I was woozy after finishing the leg but ecstatic my hammy held up
After my 8 miles I handed off to Steve, who I have run Wasatch with each year (and Vegas too).  Steve runs down the hill I just ran up.  I didn't feel my uphill was that dusty (although the grit on my teeth told a different story) but the downhill is one huge dust bath.
Steve and his downhill dust bath
After Steve finished we headed over to exchange 12, Snow Basin for a couple hours of rest and relaxation.  Somer switched legs with Dan and started from Snow Basin.  There are over 12,000 runners in this race and at this major exchange you can really get a feeling for just how large this race is.  For the most part it is extremely organized except for the fact that both exchange 11 and exchange 12 are in that location. We were waiting at exchange 11 for our runner before we realized we were in the wrong spot and needed exchange 12.  This was the first of many times we were late getting our runner to the exchange on time.  Somer had a miserable run ducking into the sparse bushes using leaves as toilet paper. Luckily it wasn't poison ivory leaves but unluckily she couldn't finish her leg and Steve jumped in for the last few miles. 
Steve rescues Somer from her unfortunate lurching stomach.
My next run came as the sun set in Morgan, Utah.  I donned my night gear along with my lighted Medusa hair. A local news camera man was filming and asked me for an interview because of my wacky hair.  I was a TOTAL dork and so glad I'm not local from the area.  A mile plus into the run the camera man had tracked me down and took a shot of me running by.  I have no idea what, if anything aired on TV.  I searched the web a couple days later but didn't find anything but I also don't know the local stations to even search.   Many people commented that they loved my hair...which I responded..."Thanks!  It's my natural color".
Steve's family has a cabin close to the race route and at 12:30am we arrived for a delicious spaghetti dinner prepared by Steve's wife Sue. It's always a trade off to shower or try to sleep; I opted for sleeping and actually think I fell asleep for little while. 

I switched my leg for Dan's leg (he's runner one) and started running my last and final 5 mile run at 6am.  Last year ( I also ran that first leg) I was completely exhausted. This year I was tired and felt like walking but wasn't as exhausted.  It is a wonderful feeling being done.  
Dan was still sleeping at this time. I think he must be sleep deprived in real life and unlike the normal person who drags through Ragnar with no sleep, Dan catches up on all his missed sleep.  Dan did surface from his cocoon during leg four when Somer was going to run (Dan was runner five at this point).  We were at the exchange plenty of time in advance but Erika was faster than we planned and stood at the exchange chute for 10 minutes before Somer showed up.  Oops...sorry Erika.  I know as experienced Ragnarites that shouldn't happen but I suppose we were getting lax.
Sleeping Beauty Dan
After we handed off to the other van, I drove to exchange 30.  Some made awesome waffles (note to anyone...the waffle make does NOT heat up using an adapter on the truck's power). After showering I laid down for a nap on the grass and heard womp, womp, womp and looked up.  A runner carrying a canoe came by; I think he ran the entire leg with the canoe and wish I had captured the moment with a picture.

My prediction spreadsheet was accurate up to the last few legs when van two had to run up Wasatch. An impossible hill to run and flew my estimates. We arrived at the finish line in Park City where they were having record high temperatures and there was no shade on the finishing field.  Respectfully trespassing, we quietly settled on a neighbors grass to wait impatiently for the final runner to come in. Two hours later our team finished and another successful Ragnar race was complete.
Relaxing waiting for runner 12 to finish

Team pictures

Here's some more pictures from the race
Dan and Somer sharing a special moment (he just took his pants off after running down the hill on his first leg)

My awesome van...Steve, Natalie, Erika, Somer and Sleeping Beauty Dan
Erika blows by a runner
Somer's puts on her toe condoms before her downhill run


Running Through Phoenix said...

Cool post! I've skied up there but never been in the summer. Still looking forward to running AZ Ragnar. Ciao!

Giorgio said...

I really enjoyed that post! Beautiful report and nice photo of the team.

Johann said...

Really great feedback and awesome fun indeed. You really enjoy these relays don't you... They are certainly fun and one of the best ways to meet super running friends. Have a good week!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I haven't read this until now. Awesome post. I realize that during ragnar, Erika waited for me twice while I was in the honey bucket and Hussam had to wait as well. Oops. Good thing I'm el capitano. I miss you all ready and sorry about your fresca/beer incident. Yuck! xoxo.