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Ragnar Tennessee race report – part 1 November 18, 2012

Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Running.
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As I mentioned previously, Ragnar kind of snuck up on us.  Even though we had a team meeting and generally knew what our plan was, I woke up the Thursday we were supposed to depart and I was VERY nervous.  Thankfully, I had taken the day off, so I had plenty of time to pack and prepare.  I baked some pumpkin muffins for the team, dropped the pupster off at doggie camp, and worked for far too many hours on the shockingly difficult process of packing for an overnight race.  Seriously, it is HARD to pack for two days in a van.  I ended up bringing a completely different outfit for each leg (awesome idea), and some extra clothes for lounging (totally unnecessary, as there was not as much time/opportunity to change as I thought), but overall I tried to bring as little as possible.  I am a chronic overpacker, so it was quite challenging!

We met at our captain’s house around 6:30 PM, as not everyone had the luxury of not working.  We distributed some gear and goodies, and we were on our way.  By the time we arrived in Chattanooga, it was pretty late and everyone just wanted to get to sleep, so we decided to decorate the van the following morning.  Unfortunately, I slept TERRIBLY – I don’t know if it was excitement or terror or what, but I just did not get any quality rest.  Boo.  Soon enough, it was race morning – time to head to the start line and see Van 1 off!  Well, after a team picture, of course…

As soon as we sent Van 1 on its way, we headed to the Cracker Barrel for a good solid breakfast.  As soon as we ordered, I got a text from one of our Van 1 compatriots – turns out that Runner #1 decided to attempt a “running moon” and, well, it did not turn out so great.  Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt (well, I still maintain that we were all mentally scarred), but it definitely set the tone for the crazy journey ahead of us.  I mean, really – 30 minutes in and we were already talking about someone’s naked ass?  Oy…

With full tummies, we headed to exchange 6 for our Van 2 safety briefing.  Before we knew it, it was time for the handoff and for our van to take over.  Shawn was our first runner up, and after we passed him coming out of the park, we realized he was in for a MONSTER challenge.  As we drove his leg, our jaws just dropped farther and farther open – it was a really steep incline, and it just never seemed to end.  We got to the exchange and waited, and we were all so proud and impressed when Shawn crested the hill and passed the bracelet on.  Whew!  The next few legs were easy to moderate – Jason, Jeremy, Raphael, and Stephanie all did great, and we enjoyed cheering them on as we passed them on the road AND met them at the exchange points.  We also enjoyed a lot of funny looks AND mad respect for our injured comrades – Raph was running in his sling (dislocated shoulder), and Jaclyn was driving us around in her boot (stress fracture)!

Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, it was time for my first leg.  It was already full-on dark.  I was full-on panicking.  I got geared up in my reflective vest, two blinky rear lights, and head lamp.  Stephanie ended up running the previous leg faster than we anticipated, so I had to bust ass to go get the bracelet from her – it totally wasn’t her fault, but it just added extra anxiety to an already nerve-wracking situation.  My heart rate was all over the place.  The first little bit was uphill, but then there was a serious and steady decline, and it. Was. HORRIFYING.  I mean, I am not trying to be melodramatic, but it may have been the scariest thing I have ever done.  Think about it – as a woman, you are always told, don’t run in the dark, don’t run by yourself, don’t run in areas you don’t know.  Well, I was knocking out all three of those no-no’s all at once.  Every noise made me worry that I was going to be attacked by wild animals.  Every curve or bump in the road made me terrified that I was going to fall and break my ankle (again).  INTENSE.  Thankfully, a lovely young lady from another team paced with me for a couple of miles, and it really helped.  After the long downhill, the leg become more challenging – a lot more climbing than I had anticipated.  Between the darkness, the terrain, and the solitude, I really think those 7.9 miles may have been harder, at least mentally, than either of the two marathons I’ve completed.

When I saw the “one mile to go” sign, I was super duper happy.  When I saw the lights and heard the cheers from the exchange point, I was even MORE super duper happy!  I passed the bracelet to Runner #1, and the rotation started all over again.  After hugs all around, it was time to find a shower…

 

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