Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ragar SoCal Ultra Recap - So Much Cooler Online!

Hey Guys.  So this weekend, I did this: 

6 girls, a van driver, and 203.5 miles.  

We each ran three legs ranging from 5.5 miles to 20 miles each across Southern California. 30-42 miles total.

This was a weekend I'll probably remember as the absolutely most ridiculous, painful, wonderful, heartbreaking, best-ever days I've had in a long time.  I think I finally understand why people do ultra-marathons (not that I just did one).  Apparently, there's a fine line between "worst and most painful experience" and "most uplifting experience" when it comes to running.  And that's what I felt this weekend. Here's my part of the team's story:



Van decoration and getting ready was pretty uneventful beyond some random rent-a-cop yelling at us to get our van out of the road.  Pam cut up about 15 pounds of fruit and we had plenty of toilet paper, so we were good to go.  At 1PM, SkinnyRunner was off.  (She killed 10 miles at a nearly 7 flat pace, by the way).

1st Leg

I was the third runner in the relay, and by the time I was running, it was about 3:30 PM.  I figured since I had the shortest leg of any of the girls, it would be no big deal.

Turns out...it was a big deal.  At least to me. 

I was in a lot of pain throughout most of my first leg.  The 500 ft hill wasn't really the worst part...it was the heat, and Friday rush-hour traffic, and the constant traffic lights were awful.   There's nothing more frustrating than losing a good ten minutes just standing at stop lights. 

By the time I was almost finished with the 5.5 mile leg, I was done.  I'm a pretty overly dramatic runner in general, but I think my performance as I finished this leg took the cake.  I ran off from my teammates, cursed up a storm, and almost cried.  I felt like a shitty team member.  "If I was THAT bad at a 5 mile leg, how bad of a team member am I going to be when I run the longer legs".

As I handed off to Chiara, I yelled in the most serious tone "BE CAREFUL OUT THERE" in an attempt to convey that the heat felt dangerous.  Apparently she took my warning literally and spent the next few miles wondering if there was a murderer on the loose in Southern California. 

Pam getting ready for her first leg

The afternoon wore on and the rest of the girls clicked off their legs, gradually marching uphill into Temecula and the Inland Empire.   They were rock stars for making it through the heat and the hills.

Us pigging out on pizza that Pam's husband brought us.  THANK YOU, Rocky!

2nd Leg

Sometime around 11PM, Nicole finished our last leg in our 1st rotation, and it was time for us to all roll again.  SkinnyRunner had a 19 mile long leg, and Pacer Dave (who is pretty much a running angel) came to join her. 

Reflective Vests:  SO in for Spring.
After clicking off 19 miles, it was time for SarahOual to run.  I was pretty scared of my next legs as they totaled somewhere between 14 and 15 miles, and were pretty hilly.  Also, running at 2AM is just weird. 

Turns out...they were the best part.

The first half of my run was really downhill.  So downhill that I was afraid of wrecking my quads by taking it out too hard.  It was still pretty fun to cruise down 800 ft over 4 or so miles....

As I started the second part of my leg, a small miracle happened: Saint Brian, Ouals's Husband joined me.   He was an amazing running buddy and we pretty much we just ran together in silence.  It was great just to have someone there. 

The whole time on my run, it was very foggy and cool.  And the fun thing about running late at night when you haven't slept is that you start to hallucinate a little.  Or at least I did.  Every shadow was weird and every tree movement freaked me out.

After a little under two hours, Brian and I pulled into the next exchange point and I felt sweet relief.  2/3 of my legs were done, and maybe I could catch an hour of sleep.

All done! 
3rd Third (it all falls apart)

This is the point in the relay when I realized I'd really underestimated this beast of a relay.  I'm pretty sure my teammates would say they felt the same as well!  I was lucky and caught about an hour of sleep in the van as we drove from location to location.

I saw SR and Sarah bring in their legs, and Sarah KILLED hers, bringing in her last 7+ at 7:40 something pace.

At one of these exchanges, Chiara, Nicole, and I were walking around and ran into this super cute girl who exclaimed "Omg, it's So Much Cooler Online!".  I just stared at her, confused and disoriented.  So..if you are reading.. here is my apology for not being friendlier!  I swear we are not "So Much Bitchier In Real Life!"  =).

Soon enough, it was time for me to run again.  The weather was cool in the early morning hours of my leg, but I was in total survival mode.  I set off on my first leg...
While this elevation doesn't appear as devastating as the earlier legs, I assume you, I wanted to stab myself running this leg. I also wanted to stab myself running down the hills because at this point, my quads were done and running was very painful.  I barely even looked at my garmin, but 9:xx was the lowest I saw throughout this leg. 

At the exchange point, I saw Lisa and Mason cheering me on, and I stared at them like they'd killed a puppy.  I kept on wanting to cry, but I knew that would make it harder to run.

And then... a miracle occurred.  I ran into Dave who was spectating.  I spoke with him as I ran up Torrey Pines the hill and our conversion went something like this:

Me: "Dave!  Why do we do these dumb races?" 

Cheerful Dave comes up with some nice response

Me: "Dave!  How far am I on this hill?"

Cheerful Dave tells me I'm halfway and that I'm doing good

::I consider whether throwing myself off the hill is a good idea or a bad idea::


 Dave tells me people alway say that during situations like this. 

"Yeah but I'M SERIOUS!"

 Needless to say, it will be a small miracle if Dave actually agrees to be my friend after this display, but I am forever grateful to him for being so encouraging and putting up with my antics.  What a nice dude.

 After Torrey Pines hills, it was slightly downhill from there.  I tried booking it in as much as I could, and felt pure elation when I saw the exchange site.  I handed off to Chiara and was done!


As Chiara ran, and then Pam, and then Nicole, it was amazing to see them push through their legs.  We were all toast at this point, and Nicole was battling an injury.  It was extremely humbling for all of us to see the slower paces than we're used to, but somehow awesome as well.

When Nicole got to the finish, we ran the relay in with her.  Actually...I was unable to run at that point, so I flailed around trying to get to the finish.  Next, we slammed down some delicious beers, met up with some of our awesome 12 man team, packed up, and rode back up to So Cal. 


You guys.....WE WON THE WOMEN'S ULTRA DIVISION!!!  We also got second women's overall group.  God that feels sweet to type.  

It's hard for me to express how great of an experience this was.  I love all the girls that I spent time in the van with and we had so much support.  To sum it up:

That was one of the most uncomfortable things I've ever done, but I can't wait to do it all over again.

As you know, we had a billion wonderful sponsors for our relay. It's always tough to balance giving sponsors credit without making the user experience bad for readers.   One of my best friends, Christina told me our Twitter handle was "One Big Commercial", which kind of made me laugh.  If you felt the same as her, sorry about that.

I'm going to review all of the products (and some others that I've gotten lately) in another post. But until then, a big thank you to:

Please check out some other blogs of my teammates (both ultra and 12 man).

Sarah   Once Upon a (L)ime
SarahSR   SkinnyRunner
Chacha   Chasing Imperfection
Nicole   Haute Running Mama  
Heather   365 Days of Awesome
Elisabeth   Running at the Speed of Me
Shannon  Hungry Gazelle
Sandy  BIC Bands
Becka   50 Half Marathons in 50 States
Madison   I’d Rather Be Eating
Danica   Girls That Run
Pam FineWineTakesTime 
Erica  Cajun Runner
Ashley   PrettyFittie
Linzay   Broke Runner  


  1. Y'all are just AWESOME!!!! You are such a tuff bunny, girl :)

  2. CONGRATS! You girls killed it. SO Awesome!

  3. Running that third leg without sleep is seriously torture. I was ok (using OK very loosely. OK, like you wouldn't need to have my committed) for the first 6 miles or so, then my mind felt apart when I knew I had 9 more miles to complete.

    1. I think this ultra stuff is super mental. In both senses of the word :)

  4. someone, i think in my van, although i can't 100% remember, had another participant come up to them and they were so excited that we were team smcol, but then disappointed when they realized we weren't the ultra girls.
    great recap, and awesome that you ladies won! i'm already plotting my next relay

    1. Haha :). Same thing happened to us, though she pretended to be interested in us after we gave her a let down talk. We can be each others super fans!

    2. We had someone looking for your team as well! So it's not one-sided.

    3. Oh yeah, she totally had no idea who we were and kept talking about Becka's blog. I felt bad we were not the ones she was interested in. Oh wells.

    4. Talking about MY blog??? LOL!! Why?? We had someone come to ours and was super disappointed we didn't have Skinny Runner with us :D

  5. Your legs were definitely killer, especially in the heat. You guys did so great!!
    Is it just me, or is Pacer Dave the most photogenic guy ever?

    1. Haha thanks. Yes they were killer.

      Actually I think Dave is really handsome in real life as well! As are all of the men affiliated with So Much Cooler Online...of course :)

  6. Great recap! Congrats girl!

  7. I am loving reading all of you ladies' recaps! You guys did seriously awesome!!

    1. I'm loving reading the recaps as well. It's fun to see how my teammates saw things (since we were not all together all the time).

  8. Those hills around Temecula are no joke and neither was the heat. I can't imagine doing all that running on almost zero sleep. Congrats on the great results!

    1. Thanks, Cindy! Yeah...So Cal is apparently no joke in general hill-wise!

  9. great re-cap bunny!! you did sooo awesome sweetie!! :) you're a champ & I'm so proud of you!!! looking forward to seeing you soon! :)) xo

    1. Thanks lady! You were so focused the whole time, it was awesome to watch :). Also thank you for all of that delicious fruit. haha.

  10. ummm what the heck...why hasn't your blog been updating in my blogroll? Glad we could be FB friends so I could hunt you down and make sure you are alive!!

    I am running my first Ultra Ragnar in July and I'd be lying if I didn't admit I am scared to death! You guys totally rocked it and how freaking cool it that you won. Awesome!!

  11. dude you were a beast. you BY FAR had the hardest legs.

  12. You did awesome!! Love hearing the ultra van's side of the story, I can only imagine how hard that must have been. Congrats on your victory, you deserve it!!

  13. You are AMAZING!! Seriously, to run double the distance of a relay = IMPRESSIVE! But it sounds like such a blast. It made me laugh out loud that part about yelling BE CAREFUL and thinking it meant a murderer was on the loose!

  14. Haha I was the girl who said hi! Commented on Nicole's blog the other day; felt really bad that I was more excited about recognizing you guys than helping you, but at least you can feel like a massive internets celeb ;)

    You guys were awesome. Im just amazed you werent crawling around on all fours by the time I saw you. Especially with your legs of the race - so impressed!

  15. you ladies were so awesome and i love your race recap! hilarious. I've really enjoyed reading this from all the Cooler Online team's different angles as well. Congratulations again x

  16. Congrats on running such an incredible race today in Eugene! Even after this relay! Awesome. and great meeting you briefly today after the race.

  17. did you get a medal or trophy? lets see pictures??!!!