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Ragnar Las Vegas Part 2: The Night Before and Leg 1

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The arrangement for Thursday night was that we would meet everyone in the lobby of the hotel where we were staying at 5 p.m. and we'd make a decision there as to where to go for dinner. All but two of our team, Jana and John, had arrived by then, so there were 11 of us altogether, 10 runners and one driver. Van 1 was the lucky one to have a designated driver; we hadn't found another person to do just the driving, so Van 2 would have to take turns on the driving.

We initially headed to the Irish pub in the hotel, thinking that would be a good place to eat. After ordering drinks and looking at the menu, however, we realized we were going to be subjected to a lot of cigar and cigarette smoke and really didn't see much on the menu that anyone wanted. We opted to just have drinks and move on. Stepping out of the pub, we talked about different restaurant options, then someone mentioned that Macaroni Grill was just across the street. Instant agreement: we headed out. It took awhile for the restaurant to seat us since we were a large group and had no reservations, but no one minded; we were having a good time talking and getting to know one another.

After a delicious meal, a lot of laughter, and some pizza ordered to go for each van, we all headed back to the hotel, where we met up with our remaining two team members; they had just driven in from Utah. With a 6 a.m. start time and the resort where the race started a good 45 minutes away, Van 1 agreed to meet in the lobby at 4 a.m., while Van 2 would meet at 9 a.m. to do some shopping, load the van, and head to Exchange 6 where they would start.

We had been watching the weather forecast for Las Vegas and the resort where we would be starting all week. "Let's do Ragnar Las Vegas," we said. "It's Las Vegas, how bad can it be?" we said. When I think of Las Vegas, I think of sunshine and warm weather; that is NOT what the weather forecast was predicting. The race started at Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort on Mount Charleston, and the forecast called for temperatures in the high 20s, the potential of SNOW, and there was a high wind warning with winds expected near 40MPH with gusts to 60MPH. It's a good thing we had been watching the weather forecast and packed accordingly; we needed everything we brought and then some!

There is a mandatory safety meeting before each van starts their first set of legs for Ragnar, and we arrived just in time for that. Standing outside in the cold wind with light snow blowing around while listening to the safety briefing was like standing in your birthday suit; it was COLD! Thankfully they kept it short and to the point, then we could go inside for one last pit stop before heading to the start line. It took long enough that we managed to miss seeing off Runner 1, my husband, start, and in fact he started without the slap bracelet that is used to hand off to the next runner--oops! We quickly piled into the van and headed out to find him so we could make sure he had everything he needed for his first leg and get the slap bracelet to him.

The first few legs of Ragnar Las Vegas were virtually all downhill, so we anticipated those going well. What we couldn't anticipate was that we would have a tailwind to push us down the hill as well! We drove a mile or so to where we though Dale might be and kept an eye out for him. We found him slightly ahead of schedule and got ahead of him in time to drop off one person with the slap bracelet to hand him and to check on how he was doing, running downhill in a tailwind with blowing snow(!) on the road. Here's a picture of him on his first leg:



He was doing fine, so we headed on to find a couple of points along the way to cheer him on before heading to the exchange.

I was Runner #2 for our team, so I got my gear together and jumped out of the van to get in the chute for the exchange. I could have used a pit stop, but there wasn't really time, so I hoped for the best and took the slap bracelet from my husband (along with a quick kiss) and took off.

I wasn't worried about the first leg; it was downhill, not too far (4.7 miles), and I was fresh. Let me just say that running downhill with a tailwind was, um, interesting. I finished my first mile in 9:43--my fastest mile on the road ever! The wind was biting cold, and I had to pay close attention to avoid getting pushed so fast that I'd lose control. Here's the map and elevation chart for my first leg:



I finished my leg ahead of schedule and nearly lost my breakfast (what little I'd had) after handing off the bracelet. I've never had that happen before; whether it was the lack of my normal pre-run food, the cold, the excitement, or the cold I had picked up just before this trip, I had a brief moment of dry heaves before things settled down. After a quick trip to the porta potties, it was time to jump in the van to support our next runner, Brad, followed by Amy, Craig, and Penny.

All of our first legs were basically downhill, so by the time we handed off to Van 2 and headed to get something to eat, we were well ahead of schedule, by over 40 minutes. Our team captain had the foresight to make sure we all had one another's cell phone numbers and had designated people in each van to text back and forth as to when each van would finish, so Van 2 was aware and ready when runner #6 arrived to hand of the slap bracelet. Having a tailwind definitely helped us start out fast, but that would not last, unfortunately . . .

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