So this race recap about Ragnar Relay SoCal is a bit overdue. It was a 2-day event which is more than your average race. It was more of an experience than a race. At least it was for me. But then, I was so overwhelmed with writing about it, I never got around to actually blogging the race recap.
Like I wrote on my first post about Ragnar Relay in May,
“Six strangers (bloggers), picked to drive around in a van, for 30+ hours, running a relay race, for 195 miles,
finding out when people stop being polite, and getting real”
First of all, I like to use this theory when taking trips with people, there are are people whom; 1. You go out for drinks with and have a good time, and 2. You take a trip to Vegas with, have great stories, and still talk to the people the next day. You might want to pick people from group #2 to do a relay race with. When you spend 30+ hours in a van with five other people, it gets a little cozy.
So here it goes:
It started off as a cool cold morning in Huntington Beach in the springtime. We got our race instructions, decorated our van, did the safety inspection, and started on our way.
I was runner #5 so I did not start my first leg until mid-afternoon. I chose to drive the van because I was local to the area and I had also been on the race course in 2012. Or maybe cause I’m a crazy driver, with my angry music!
Runner #5, Leg #1:
Outfit for leg 1: Gunmetal Sparkle Athletic visor, Blue Lululemon CRB, Nike neon sports bra, Lululemon Run Shorty Shorts (not pictured, under skirt), Gunmetal Sparkle Athletic skirt, and Brooks PureFlow2.
I wore this outfit at the race start and until after my leg was done. I also had a ton of sunscreen on too. It was getting quite warm.
So that was the map for my leg. It is hard to picture the giant hill that I ran on. GIANT! I knew that there was a huge hill on my leg, and I sorta expected the heat. It was probably a good thing that I had ran in Palm Springs several times a few weeks prior. And I had to survive only 2.5 miles with a moderate ranking.
Not the best picture of my backside, but Dre captured me and the hill! It was tough. I passed a ton of people whom were walking up it. I might have run slowly, but I still conquered it. I was quite delighted to complete it!
Photo via Lauren
I was also quite ecstatic about handing off the slap bracelet to Dre. I was now going to enjoy a little break. We did a little shopping at exchange #6, and then we went hunting for some food! I also saw some friends at the exchange, which was super fun!
We ended up at Chili’s in Corona. I used to live in that area a few years ago, and I knew that there were some restaurants in the area.
Photo via Lauren
After lunch/early dinner, we headed towards the next major exchange (exchange #12), which is where we would take over again, and van #2 would take a break.
I kid you not, that unicorn was my husband. What a weirdo!
I saw my husband whom was driving the van for Team Sparkle, briefly, as in passing by. And I also saw some of my friends again. It was great to see everyone’s costumes, and decorated vans. The sun started to set while we were at this exchange. This exchange was at a different location in 2012, so I made sure to pay attention to the directions this time.
If I had not mentioned before, I was doing most of the driving, and was ok with it. I did not drive to the exchange before, or after mine. But I did drive most of the rest of the race. I used my iPhone and Google maps to maneuver around the course. I remember almost getting lost when I was navigating in 2012, and did not want to get lost this time, or lose our runners. So for anyone doing these races in the future, make sure you have a smart phone on hand, you might have to use it for directions and/or finding restrooms and food locations.
While our runners were on the course, I started having a full-on allergy sinus attack. We drove around and found a drugstore for me to get some drugs. I had to get them from the pharmacy and luckily they kicked in before I had to run my second leg.
Runner #5, Leg #2 (17):
Outfit for leg 2 (17): Nuun hydration hat, Blue longsleeve Nike shirt, Nike black sports bra (not pictured), Lululemon pants, Gunmetal Sparkle Athletic skirt, Brooks PureFlow2, Petzel headlamp, and Nathan LED reflective vest.
Even though my leg was rated as VERY HARD-NO VAN SUPPORT, I was super excited to do this leg. I have found that I run better and faster at night because the sun kills my speed, and I feel stronger at the end of a day. Although it was a bit eerie running so late at night. I think I started sometime at midnight.
I was pleasantly surprised with my pace during this leg. Ok maybe, I was a bit shocked. I was flying down the hill when I started running, and honestly, I had to slow myself down a bit. I was almost hitting sub-8 minute miles which was way too fast for me. I was running around 10-minute miles when I was training prior to Ragnar. I think the combination of the cool night, the downhill leg, and the cool weather led to awesomeness. I had a couple of moments were I had to really watch the road, because I could have easily tripped on a rock or pothole, and had a really bad accident. I finished way faster than my anticipated time, and I was exhausted after running. I wanted to change my clothes, and take a nap, immediately after.
Photo via Lauren
No seriously, I did. After I did the hand off to Dre, I went to our van, changed my clothes, yanked out my contacts, and crashed on the backseat of the van. I think I woke up sometime around 4am with my van mates shrieking about van #2 moving faster than expected. I enjoyed my nap but it was time to move on again, to the next legs of the race.
We had this beautiful ocean view while we were waiting for one of our runners. It was a little chilly, but a fantastic morning to race! I love mornings at the beach!
Runner #5, Leg #3 (29):
So Leg #3 for me. I was all prepped and ready. We were waiting at the exchange. I knew that Lauren, whom was running before me was a pretty speedy runner. But we kept waiting and waiting for Lauren, and she never arrived. We then realized that we had missed an exchange point. I totally blame myself because I was driving, and the exchanges can get super confusing. After we made it to the right exchange point, I was ready to run.
This leg was full of hills. I started with a climb up, and then I had to cross several major signals over the freeway, which slowed down my time, then I had another huge hill. After that, I headed downhill, which can be fast, but you have to watch yourself. It was also starting to get very warm outside. Even though we were near the ocean, I could feel the warm heat creeping up.
Photo via Lauren
Yay! That was my last leg to run. I was sore from all of those hills, and super tired, but my first Ragnar Relay was complete! Now we just had to wait for the second van to finish so that we could get our medals.
Photo via Lauren
And we ate some post-race pizza, we headed to the hotel to shower and change. I really need a shower, like bad. It felt so good. And then I relaxed before we could decide on dinner.
Dear Restaurants: Please do not mess with runners who have ran many many miles, barely slept, eaten random food, and have been stuck in a van for 30+ hours. The restaurant at Hard Rock Hotel completely messed up our food, like almost everyone at our table. It was ridiculous.
I have so much that I could write about my Ragnar Relay experience, but I will just end this with photographs, which capture the entire experience:
And of course, the medal. So pretty!
Relay Race Tips:
1. Research the race. Find tips online. Read race recaps and blog posts.
2. Pack/Layout your outfits. Put them in ziplock bags. After you run, and your clothes are stinky, you can put the used clothing back in the bag. It minimizes the stench in the van. Plus, plan for different tempuratures. It might get cold when you are expecting heat. Bring clothes to wear when you are not running; sweatpants, a track jacket, and flip flops.
3. Plan out your nutrition. Don’t depend or plan on your team to stop for food. Yes, you might have time to stop for a meal or even two. But know what type of nutrition, snacks, food and anything else you may need to fuel yourself. And bring it with you!
4. Think ahead. Van rentals need to be planned ahead. Everyone doing the race is looking to rent the same type of vehicle. Make your reservation as soon as you sign up for the race. Get alternates in case someone drops out.
5. Train for your legs. Look at the elevation maps. If you have hills on your legs, train on hills. If you have to run at night in the darkness, do some night training.
6. Have Fun and Expect the Unexpected! Things can and will go wrong. People get injured. People get tired. People get hungry. It is human nature. And sometimes vehicles break down!
Disclosure: I was asked to participate on a Ragnar Relay Team sponsored by Ragnar Relay. All opinions, thoughts, and most of the photographs (unless otherwise noted) are mine. I was not compensated financially but with free race entry, a van, some snacks, and tons of fun by the company.