Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys
Miami to Key West, January 6-7, 2012

Team Nacho Typical runners left Sarasota in 2 vans Thursday evening around 6 pm. Van 1, my van, stopped to pick up Renee in North Port before continuing on to Miami. We had me, Sandy, our driver, Carl, Stacie, Dak and Renee. Our 6th runner, Krista was going to meet us in Miami at the hotel.

After a little confusion on the crazy roads of Miami, we arrived at our hotel in Coral Gables and were in bed by 11, with a wake-up call set for 5:30 am. I managed to get a pretty good nights sleep, only waking up briefly when Krista came in a couple hours after Renee and I went to sleep. The team met up in the lobby before heading to Starbucks for a much needed venti coffee. The Starbucks was right on the course, so we saw some Ragnar runners pass by. Some teams started as early as 5 am!

Our next stop was the starting area. We all went through the safety presentation before getting our bibs, shirts and little cooler filled with goodies. After a van 1 team photo, we headed over to the start area. Carl was leading us off as our runner 1. At 7:15 a small group of runners started their Ragnar journey under the giant orange arch. Carl had a 5.7 mile run that took him from the island we started on, over a couple of bridges to Coral Gables were he handed off to me.

I was so excited to get running! It was just before 8:30 am when I got started. I crossed two streets before remembering to turn on my Garmin. I ended up running past the Starbucks we stopped at earlier in the morning. I resisted the temptation to stop for another cup of joe. J This area is a super nice shopping area, but it soon turns into a not so great area. I could see one runner a few blocks in front of me and there was another runner a block or so behind me, so no running company when I hit the really bad area. It would be nice if they could change this section. A lot of sketchy looking men hanging out in front of the houses and on the sidewalk. Thankfully there were not many cars on the road because I was forced to run off the sidewalk. I ran a little faster to get through it. I’m so happy I wasn’t running through that area earlier when it was still dark! A few blocks later, we had to climb some stairs to take a pedestrian bridge over a busy road and then down the stairs again. I took it easy on this. I then came to the issue with the stop lights. I had caught up with the woman in front of me and the woman behind had caught up to us both. We all waited for the light to change and then crossed. At the other corner, we had to wait again for a green light. Well, I waited but the other two dashed across the road! I waited a bit then ran for it too. Of course it was just when the cars to my right got their green light. Thankfully I didn’t get hit! The two women got a good lead on me as they were lucky to get green lights at the next few corners when I got reds. I had to stop at a total of 5 lights. It cost me a few minutes. Near the end of my run, I was happy to see the sign at the corner telling us to turn instead of going strait. A guy way ahead of me had missed the turn though, so I stopped and yelled out to him a few times. Finally he turned around and saw me waving and pointing to where we should be running. We had just a little bit to go before running into the exchange. The guy had caught up to me and could have passed, but he was nice and held back letting me go in first. I handed off to Krista and then I was done with my run for about 12 hours! Total run: 4.27 miles in 39:56.

Krista ran her 3.1 and then handed off to Stacie. She ran her 5.2 and then handed off to Dak. He ran his 3.8 and then handed off to Renee who ran 8.7 to the Miami Zoo, where we handed off to Van 2. We managed to find a Starbucks while Renee was running. I got a nice cold Frap and then changed into dry clothes. It was fun catching up with Van 2, who we hadn’t seen since the night before. We hung out with them for just a little bit before they took off after their runner and we all went to lunch at Applebees.

After lunch, we headed to the Homestead Speedway, the location of the next major exchange were our van would take over running from van 2. We had a few hours to hang out and rest before Heather, runner 12, was expected to come in. A few of us wondered over to where Ragnar had set up some food booths. I ended up running into Gina and Linda at the little fire pit where they were roasting smores. I grabbed a stick and a couple of marshmallows and hung out with them for a while. I ended up going back to the van after a bit to rest, but it wasn’t easy to rest in the van. It soon got hot. So Renee and I headed back to the speedway and hung out in the middle section to watch the runners finishing up their leg. We met up with the rest of the team back at the van and then walked back to wait for Heather to run in. Van one had let us know that she would be coming in soon. We found Liz, Lynette and Erin hanging out near the entrance to the speedway, so we hung out with them for a bit waiting for Heather to run by. Carl, Sandy and Renee went up to where the exchange was. Soon we saw Carl running by us, heading out for his second leg! Heather had already run her 2 mile lap around the speedway and we missed that and the exchange! She was not happy that we missed it when we caught up to her a few minutes later. We chatted with van 2 for a bit before heading out.

We passed Carl a couple of miles into his run. He didn’t look like he was doing so great so we pulled off to the side a little ways down to check on him. He said he was doing just fine, so we headed to the next exchange were I would take over. By the time we got there it was pretty dark. I had my vest on, a light clipped to my visor and a headlamp that was on a stretchy band that I put around my waist. I wanted as much light as I could get! Soon enough Carl came into the exchange and I was off. 

This run was the one I was most worried about. It was just under 5 miles of dirt and gravel road ahead of me. The first part of the road was very uneven. Lots of deep  groves made from the tractor wheels. My lighting was good, but it was hard to get any depth of perception. I was happy to be off of that and onto the paved road. That lasted for only a few minutes. Soon we turned onto the Southern Glades trail road that would take us through the everglades. It was a very narrow road. We were told to stay to the left. Team vans would be passing us on our right. The road had lots of rocks. They were not tiny things either. I just focused on watching the road right in front of me highlighted by my headlight. About halfway down the road I passed my friend Karen. She was a pro on this road. She had ran the same legs for this race last year.  I talked with her for a minute before continuing on. Just before I got to my exchange a guy in skimpy shorts and no shirt passed me on my left. He distracted me for just a second, but it was enough time for me to misstep and twist my ankle a little. Thankfully it wasn’t bad and I ran it in to exchange with Krista.

 Back at the van I grabbed my towel and foam roller and got down on that road in front of the van to stretch and roll. My IT band was feeling just a little sore from the uneven surface. There will be no trail runs in the near future for me. Krista had one of the hardest runs. She ran the same road I did, but her run was twice as long! She ended up having a great run. She handed off to Stacie, who had an 11 mile run that was unsupported by the vans. Thankfully for her, she was now off the gravel road and onto the Overseas highway leading into Key Largo. I slept through most of Dak’s 7 mile run. It felt good to catch a little nap. He handed off to Renee at around 1:30am. We all made our way to the next major exchange at Coral Shores high school. It was a mad house there. We drove around a bit, trying to find a place to park. Sandy found us a nice and quiet side street. We all pilled out in search of bathrooms and our van 2 team. Soon enough Renee was running into the exchange, where she once again handed off to Lynette. We made another pit stop before heading to the van. 

I was so tired at this point! I climbed into the last seat in the van, pulled my snuggie over me, put in my ear plugs and went to sleep. The rest of the team discussed whether or not we should stay at the school or drive to the next exchange to sleep. I didn’t care. I just wanted to sleep! Sandy and Carl set up their sleeping bags outside, while Renee slept on the middle seat and Dak slept on the front row seat. Krista and Stacie slept in the driver and passenger seats. We got a couple of hours of sleep before getting up and heading toward Marathon. We decided to stop at IHop for breakfast. It was so great to get another meal! I hadn’t had a real meal since lunch the day before. There were two other teams from Sarasota having breakfast there. One team was the Sarasota Storm and the other was Shane's team who had my physical therapist, Michael, on it. He asked how my IT band was doing and I told him it felt tight, but OK.

After breakfast we headed over to the next major exchange point. We were all ready to run our third and last run. Carl started us off again after Heather ran in and slapped the band on his wrist, he had a short 3 mile run, so we didn’t waste much time getting on the road. I got going around 10 am. It was a nice temp out, but I knew once I got running, I would be hot. I had just a 12 ounce bottle of water with me, some cliff blocks and 4 endurolytes. My left IT band was pretty stiff from the get go, so I took short walking breaks the first two miles. I kept my pace up, so my mile splits were still around 9:30 min miles. At the base of the bridge, I stopped to take a couple of pictures before climbing up the stairs, to get to the parking area of the old 7 mile bridge. After the parking area, we ran down stairs to get under the 7 mile bridge. I stopped for another photo there. The woman I asked to take the photo, had a little trouble figuring out how to do it, so my time for that mile ended up being about 12 minutes! Oops. J My IT band was feeling better now, so I decided to run without breaks for a while. I climbed the last few stairs and started running on the long bridge. It was beautiful out there, but so hot without any shade. We had a bike lanes width of road to run on going against the traffic. I felt pretty good until I got to the hill part of the bridge. I was making my way through my water pretty fast by then and started to get worried. I ran a little more than half way up the hill before stopping for another walking break. I also posted my status on facebook and posted a photo. Not sure I’ve done that before in a race, but what the heck, this was not your average race. J By mile 7.5 I used the last little bit of water I had to swallow a couple of endurolytes. I knew it was going to be rough for the last part of the run and my knee was starting to hurt, so I decided to start taking a short walking break every half mile. This seemed to work out pretty good. I thought I only had a total of 9.1 miles to run but I passed that mile and still hadn’t hit the exchange. I ended up running 9.54 before handing off to Krista. Total time: 1:40:03. Much slower than past runs. The last two miles really brought down my overall average.

Krista had a brutal 9.3 miles to run. While she was out there toughing it out, we stopped at a gas station, where I got another Gatorade (finished the first one fast) and a Nestle Crunch Ice Cream bar. The best tasting post run snack! We drove back towards Krista to check up on her before turning around and heading south to the next exchange. Krista handed off to Stacie, who had a shorter 4.1 mile run. She then handed off to Dak who ran a very speedy 3 miles before handing off to Renee. She had said she was going to take it easy because of the heat, but that didn’t happen. She ran her run superfast.  A little after 2 pm and we were done! Very happy Nacho Typical Runners were ready to get to Key West and check into the hotel.

We got checked into the Southernmost Hotel, which was right next to the finish line and after party. Renee and I got to our room and showered before heading out to check out what was going on. We didn’t expect Van 2 until 6:15 pm. I wasn’t feeling so great at this point. I should have eaten something real after my 9.5 mile run! I had snacked on beef jerky and a small pack of cashews and the ice cream after the run and that was all I had had since breakfast! I picked up a bag of M&M’s which seemed to help, but really, I was ready to pass out. I was so happy when the rest of the team showed up and we were all ready to run in to the finish!

Finish time: 35 hours and 31 seconds.  213 out of 246 teams in the mixed category. The winning team finished in 23 hours! Wow.

We all gathered together and hung out for a little bit trying to figure out dinner plans. The plan was to meet up at 7:30 and go to dinner somewhere. I knew I couldn’t wait that long. I ended up just eating a bagel with peanut butter and honey and an apple for dinner then going to bed at 8:30. So happy that I did, because I felt so much better the next morning after 9.5 hours of sleep!

 I would recommend this race to others. It was very organized, with great attention to details that made the race run smoothly. Kudos to Cary and Carrie! Overall I had a great time and it was a fun experience. I’m not sure I would do it again though. I love my sleep!

Nacho Typical Runners team dinner at Blue Heaven Sunday night.

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