Time for The Ragnar Trail Relay Smackdown!
A little running nerd talk today…
We finished the Ragnar Trail Relay race!
There were 8 of us and each person had to run 3 different loops of the trail for a total of 24 legs. 120 MILES!! And camping was involved. Which means 3 tents and a whole-lotta STUFF.
But first a HUGE thank you to my super fun ‘Pretty in Pink’ team. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for encouraging and pushing me. Thank you for putting up with my need to write down every single runner’s time and organize when we needed to be at the transition tent!
Personally I was super worried about the distances… I was the 7th runner out of 8 on our team taking turns. It became really clear from the early runners that the hills of the loops were kind of killer. Much less tree roots and wonky bridges and a lot of twists and hairpin turns! They had me scared and I hadn’t run yet…
I’m happy (and surprised) to report I finished each loop pretty strong. I was right in the middle as far as speed on the team. 2 of our runners regularly average an 8 1/2 mile road pace(!)… wow, what? And a couple of the moms on the team run long relay road races several times per year… But anyway.
My First Loop : Green, Shortest One
The first loop for me was just under 4 miles and I finished in 45 minutes. It had the least amount of crazy hills/turns etc. though. So I didn’t know if I ran a good time or maybe it was the ‘easy’ loop? Plus it had cooled off in the early evening.
My Second Loop : Red, Longest One
7 hours later my turn was up for the LONGEST loop at just under 7 miles at 3:40 AM (IN THE DARK). Each team has an estimate for when the previous runner is going to come in so I had to be over at the ‘start/finish’ tent 15 minutes early scanning the tracking screen (the previous runner’s micro-chip would light up the screen .25 miles before she got to the transition tent). So after only 3 hours of sleep… I was off.
The first 2 miles were sort of flat. Then a whole lot of ups and downs and a crazy hill of GRANITE for the rest of it. One team member suggested I eat a ‘gel chew’ energy thing every time I felt like I was lagging. Which was about every 10 minutes. I walked up every hill (as all the team members were doing). But since it was dark I also walked down a lot of hills too. We all had headlamps and for mine I held a small flashlight in my hand as well. About half way through when the crazy starts to hit, you’re like… WHAT AM I DOING out here in the middle of the night with a flashlight?
Plus all the ‘ultra’ runners are passing by like there isn’t a slick MOUNTAIN of granite under our feet! Okay bunches of regular runners are also passing me. (SHUTUP.)
I felt like I was running only BARELY faster than a walk… my poor teammate back at the transition tent waiting was going to be waiting a LONG time for me to pass the ‘micro chip’ belt thingy to her…
Right about the point where I was mentally done… probably around the 1 hour 20 minute point… Still jogging, still moving and my lungs were surprisingly fine (plus it was strangely warm out on the trail?) my phone said it was 49 degrees though… anyway, a fast runner dude was coming up behind me and when he passed me I asked if he had any idea what the current distance was? The trail race isn’t marked except for the loop color you are on and at the end the last mile is marked.
He said he wasn’t sure but by his calculations he had about 10 minutes left so maybe close to a mile left? And then about 20 yards up ahead of me he hollered back: Hey! The final mile marker is right here…. If he had been closer I would have hugged him!
Sadly, that last mile nearly killed me. I think my hopes were up or something? Plus there were 3 more fairly large hills before I saw the quarter mile mark! How rude.
I finally passed off the belt/microchip to the next runner around 5:15AM… I officially hated that RED LOOP! But I was so pleased at my 1 hour, 35 minute time!
Back at the tents I changed and washed down with baby wipes (weird) and happily crawled back into my sleeping bag + blowup mattress for 2 more hours.
As a team we tried to head over at the transition tent as much as we could to cheer on our runner coming in and the new one taking off, but during the night not a lot of us were awake for that!
My Third and Final Loop : Yellow, Middle Distance
My last leg started at 12:30PM in mid-day sun. Probably about 70 degrees when I left and not super humid but the direct sun sort of gets to you anyway, even in the trees on the trail there wasn’t much shade because it was mid-day. That was the just under 5 mile leg and it was the one everyone had been complaining the most about because of the hills on it. My muscles were starting to get pretty sore by this point, so I was worried. But once I got started I was surprised at the pace I seemed to be able to keep up. By this point in the ‘race’ it’s clear we were in the bottom 20% of the teams because I was the only one out there for most of the loop. Many teams finished in 17-19 hours total. 7 and 8 hours earlier than us!
I finished that leg in just about exactly 1 hour. Which completely shocked me. I figure I ran the two short legs in daylight at about a 12 minute pace. But the long one in the dark was more like a 13 minute pace… even though I felt like I was running SO SLOW?? People figured that they were about a minute slower per mile on the trails… if that’s true am I really capable of an 11 minute mile pace on roads? Maybe, if we are talking about a long distance, more than 7 miles, I wonder if I could keep that pace?
So What’s Next for Me?
And a few questions…
- There is a Warrior Dash in May. I signed my poor husband up to run it with me. It’s ‘only’ a 5K, but it is more like a mud-run with a crazy obstacle course??
- Also I’m ready to own some sort of device to keep track of distance/pace/time? Most of the women had a ‘Garmin 10’ they were using. But it’s about $129 on Amazon—I just looked it up. Ouch. Anyone have other suggestions?
- Also water, energy gel/chews? I don’t usually drink water on my runs. But am considering buying a hydrating belt. Mostly because it’s fun to say ‘hydration belt’.
- Recovery Food? What does that mean?
This was a whole new culture for me and I had no idea what to bring? I ended up with bananas, chocolate milk and little beef sticks.
Oh and my NEW favorite thing in the WORLD! I bought bakery homemade high butter bread and was looking for a small jar of peanut butter already mixed with honey in it. But instead I found a small jar of Biscoff Butter… what is that?
Oh it’s COOKIES. Spreadable cookie butter on amazing bakery white bread? BEST. PRE. POST. Middle of the night. WHENEVER snack.
I figure if I’m running 15 miles in 26 hours, then I get to eat anything I want, right!
- But seriously the chocolate milk was divine after my legs. I don’t care for Gatorade and I was drinking a lot of water before the races and then peeing a lot too (I was scared I’d need to pee during one of the loops?!).
- I need to have a chaffing discussion as well. But TMI for now eh?
- Also the mouth breathing thing and super fluffy gas after all this? Is this a common runner’s problem or just me?
- Can we talk about Canker Sores? I developed several on my tongue after the race. I’m wondering if this happens to others after long distance or all nighter relays like this?
Would I run another Trail Relay race?
(Or a regular road relay race?)
I totally would, just not for a long time. I still can’t walk down stairs without wincing each step! It would be great to get 2 teams together to run this same trail race next year. What a huge camp site THAT would be, eh?!