Saturday, June 15, 2013

It's not about the run

Here's the thing.  On paper, last weekend sounds like it would have been hell:  driving to and from West Virginia, running 21 muddy miles in the fog, camping in the wet with probably 3 dry sleeping bags between the 8 of us, losing the 3 toenails I had loosened at the Marathon in DC, one of our runners spraining a toe and the organizers running out of everything from coffee and hot chocolate to toilet paper.  But the reality was a truly fabulous weekend

Last weekend, I did my first Ragnar Relay.  This was no ordinary Ragnar though, this was a trail ragnar in rural WV.  Unlike the road Ragnars which are point to point, this race centered at the campground, with 3 loops (3.6, 6.2, 6.0), and we each took turns running different legs.

Months ago when we signed up this sounded fantastic, but the weather had other ideas.  It was wet when we got in on Thursday night (after 10 hours of driving), and then it rained more, and then it rained again.  And then the fog rolled in.

Our first runner P, before it started to really rain , note the ground

Our second runner L, before the fog rolled in

By the time I made it out on the run (as the 5th runner), the trails were a mess.  Two different kinds of mud:  sticky and slippery.  Usually the slippery was darker than the sticky, but sometimes, the sticky was hiding under the slippery.  6.2 miles and I averaged 11:40 per mile.  It was tough going.  A little more Any trail running may have been good.  But it was also gorgeous.  When I got back, it was starting to get dark, my shoes were soaked, and I was ready for dinner.

The darker it got, the foggier.  Headlamps only made it worse:  they just lit up the fog in front of your eyes.  Runners started carrying their headlamps in their hands.  Our team opted to have two runners on the trail together and to slow down, like many other teams.  After the first rotation through all 8 runners, we were hours behind where we had estimated (we had estimated about a minute slower per mile than our road 10K times, so maybe we were a little overzealous).

Pretty much captures the whole event, so many muddy sneakers steaming dry by the fire

In the morning the organizers announced that we could get credit for multiple team members running legs together.  We did some quick math and figured we could finish up a little early and get on the road back to New England that day.  It also meant, I would run the 6.0 leg twice with two different teammates.  This was the highlight of the trip for me.  After the first loop, the lack of sleep was starting to catch up with me, I napped for about 45 minutes, then went back out again.  On the second loop, we caught 22 people, and the fog had finally cleared, so the breathtaking view of the area which had been obscured throughout the rest of the race was finally visible.  It was spectacular.

And that's what made the weekend so great:  just fun people.  Singing at the tops of our lungs along to 80s karaoke in the car, and It'smaking friendship bracelets.

I'd love to do another one of these (though maybe without the drive to WV).  I think the best thing I did in packing was to individually ziplock bag clothes for each of my runs.  I could stash the bag for the next run in the transition area and put on dry clothes on as soon as I returned from the first run.  Also while everything else in my bag got damp, my run clothes were dry when I put them on at least.  Things I wish I had brought:  galoshes.

All done!!!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

As expected

Not quite a PR, but geez it was hot.  The first mile felt good, I even held my pace and HR.  Then the second mile happened.  No point in looking at my pace, the rest of the race was guided by HR.

Most because it's been several years since I did a stand-alone 10K, I did actually set a PR.  Still a few more minutes to trim to be a true PR.

This weekend though, instead of PR-ing, I'll be running a trail relay, in the rain, in West Virginia.  Bring on the mud!

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