First, thank you to everyone who commented on my last blog, particularly about my less than graceful fall. It hurt like the dickens at the time, but I couldn't imagine NOT finishing the race at that point; it was going to hurt whether I finished or not, and I wanted my medal, champagne, and chocolate, LOL!
Ragnar; what can I say about this experience? It would take several posts to begin to describe Ragnar Northwest Passage, but I'll try to keep it to just one and summarize. There is nothing quite like it; one of our team compared it to summer camp in a van, and that's a good start, but it doesn't begin to cover it all!
This was my third Ragnar, and it was by far the best one to date in spite of heat, mosquitoes, lack of sleep, and really slow running (on my part). This year I was part of the Kindred Spirits team, which has been together more or less for at least three or four years. It is captained by the amazing Penny K., who put together the teams I was on last year, but this is HER team, the one she runs on. My husband and I knew two people in our van (Van 2), Craig (her brother-in-law), from Ragnar Las Vegas, and Shana from Ragnar NWP last year (although she was in the other van). The others had all run together on KS before at least a couple of times, so they were well acquainted with one another.
The short story: Best. Team. Ever. The slogan on the back of our shirts says it all: My kind of crazy. Zero drama/personality conflict in our van (Van 2), completely supportive and encouraging even to slow runners like my husband and me, and just plain fun to hang out with. I feel like I have new best friends for life in these people, and we're already talking about future Ragnars together (NWP and Adirondacks next year, and who knows what else?).
We had a new person driving this year, the awesome Kellie Jo, who has driven school bus, done catering, and crews for the 3-Day Walk each year. At dinner during our first down time, she sat across from my husband and me and asked us why we wanted to do Ragnar. My immediate response: this right here--the friendships, the camaraderie, is probably the number one reason. You build relationships unlike anywhere else; there's something about sharing an out of the box experience together that builds connections for life if you'll let them. It's also a chance to do something that pushes my limits and challenges me, physically, mentally and emotionally. I need that; I don't want to settle for an ordinary life any more, and Ragnar is anything but ordinary!
As far as the actual running is concerned, it was hard, and I felt like I did not do well at all. My first leg (6.1 miles rated hard) was in the heat of the day, and that zapped my energy. I could not get my heart rate to settle down, so I walked way more than I expected and thus was s-l-o-w. That was the case for several of us, which meant that our team (already one of the slower ones) fell behind on our projected times. Here's a picture from my first leg, head down, going up one of the many hills:
The second leg, my night leg, was better; I still was slower than I had hoped, but it was not as bad. The fun part of the night leg was my outfit: Penny had found lighted pink tutus for the women, so I wore that, which increased my visibility (can't have too much of that when running at night) and got lots of comments; everyone loved it. Oh yes, that's one of the things about Ragnar--the costumes. The most, uh, interesting costume I saw was a guy wearing a speedo with a sheer tutu over the top and a silver cape. Um, yeah. You just never know what you'll see or hear with Ragnar!
During our second rest break, Penny made some calls and got permission for our team to leapfrog runners to make up time because the whole team had fallen behind enough that we would finish much too late. The way leapfrogging worked this year was to take two runners in a van and have them run just one of their two legs together, in essence skipping a leg but giving everyone a chance to run three legs. Since Dale and I run together regularly, it made the most sense (and saved the most time) to have us run the shortest of our two legs (his) together. What a relief! That meant I had one less mile and an easier route to run, and running together pushed us both just a little to do more. We actually finished our run about 2 minutes ahead of our projected time. That gave us the luxury of taking a moment to pose with one of the most beautiful sights in Ragnar:
The 'One mile to go' sign is always such a welcome sight, even though the 'mile' is a rather loose measurement--sometimes it's less, often it's more. Close enough; you know you're nearing the end of your leg when you see that! The time we saved by leapfrogging allowed us to finish early enough to enjoy the finish line refreshments (pizza and beer) and one another's company for awhile.
Oh, here's the 'bling' we got for finishing:
Like I say, this was the best team ever. I enjoyed the two Ragnar teams we were on before, but this one is something special. I consider myself truly blessed to have somehow connected with this group. They are an amazing group of people. Is Ragnar easy? No. It's worth it, though, especially with the right team; the relationships and the experiences are something I will treasure the rest of my life. Who would have thought three years ago when I started losing weight and running barely 30 seconds at a time that I'd ever be doing something like this?