So....I ran the Ragnar Las Vegas Ultra last week with some friends. And it's about time to recap it.
I'm going to focus the most on my legs, because these girls (linked below) have already written awesome (or are in the process of writing) recaps of their own.
Presenting Undecided 2:
Emily - Sweat Once A Day
Sarah - Skinny Runner (Although sometimes I forget her name isn't just SR!)
Sarah - Once Upon A Lime
Kristina - The Blogless Wonder
Lauren - Health on the Run
The experience was awesome, beautiful and painful all at once. And I cannot freaking wait to do another.
I'm gonna have to face it I'm addicted to relays.
(Disclaimer. All these photos are stolen from my much more diligent teammates photo dump. You make me want to be a better blogger, y'all! Thanks!)
The whole thing started with a long drive up to Vegas. If you've seen my car, you know it's a small miracle it even made it. By hour three into the drive, I was saved by caffeine in the form of a giant bottle of Mocha Frappuccino from the local truck stop. I usually try to avoid those things because they are like 300 calories for three gulps, but I figured, F it, I'm running 31 miles tomorrow I think it'll be just fine.
I picked up Em at the airport and after making about 5 wrong turns, I finally got us to the hotel where the girls were staying and we fell asleep in 5 minutes flat. The next day, we got the van, decorated it with some #undecided2 hashtags and went on our way.
Not I, friends.
After a safety meeting and a massive amount of peanut butter consumption, we were off! Emily was our number 1 leg and dude that girl killed her leg.
In fact, she went so fast (something like 12 minutes at a 6 flat pace?), I was totally counting on more time before my first leg (I was #2 runner).
But before I knew it, Emily came charging down the hill and it was go time. It is hard to imagine faster or better conditions than the ones I experienced in the first half of my leg. It was ridiculously downhill (1800ft drop or so?), cool weather, and I am positive there was a tailwind as well.
Which is why I had a nice fake 10k PR during that time. Looking down at my Garmin, mile after mile clicked off like it was an easy run in the 6:30 - 6:40 range. I kept thinking "This is what Kara Goucher must feel like ALL the time!".
The only problem was the peanut butter sloshing around in my stomach, so I also spent the first part of my leg deathly afraid I would get a terrible cramp.
"Breathe deep...stand up straight...arms over your head...". Uh yeah.
I came to the first exchange and I felt amazing. And then I was in for a rude awakening. I turned onto a highway into a crazy headwind and saw my awesome Garmin stats go to nearly an 8 minute pace for the second half. It was so barren, and there were no runners around. I entertained myself by counting these white posts that lined the highway. There are about 13.5 to each mile, if you were wondering. Just when I was about to throw myself into the path of a charging buffalo, I saw the "one mile left" marker and handed off to the unstoppable SR.
She took off into the wind and went off to kill her miles as I jumped into the van and tried to get out of my sweaty cold clothes as quickly as possible.
I think I finished this 11.2 mile leg in around a 7:20 average.
After my first leg, I pretty much felt like crap. The wind had taken a lot out of me, and I spent the next couple hours either huddled in the van, or about to pass out at a Subway from a lack of sugar (or something? I felt much better after drinking some Sierra Mist). SR and SarahOual came in from their challenging but tough legs, and Emily was up again much sooner than I wanted her to be.
I was pretty worried about how the rest of the legs would go given how much the first leg had taken out of me.
Luckily I had these wonderful people to cheer me up and remind me that all I needed to do is just run my own race.
So for the 11.6 or so miles coming up, I decided I would just try to relax. It was around 11 PM or so when poor Emily came up to the handoff. She'd climbed a billion feet up so that I could have a nice and flat leg. Thanks for that, Emily!
As I ran off, it took me almost a mile to even get loose. The stiffness from the last leg coupled with the cold made it hard to run at first. The miles ticked by quickly, and I felt really peaceful. There were a bunch of "wild donkey" crossing signs which were really awesome. It even started to snow a little bit! I thought "Man. How lucky am I to be running in the middle of Nevada in the middle of the night with snow coming down?" Soon enough, it was time to hand off, and I saw SR in the distance. "You're gonna love this leg" I yelled and handed off to her as she took off into the night.
I think night legs are my favourite of relay legs. I know this is not everyone's dream weekend night, but for me, it was. Of course, I went super slow (for my expectations). I think my average pace for this 11.5 or so leg was somewhere around 8:20 to 8:30. Don't call all at once, Olympics.
The next hours after my leg are kind of a blur. I Compexed twice, changed, and tried to get a few minutes of sleep. Brian and Lee our saintly drivers listened to a lot of Barenaked Ladies and Tom Petty.
I was lucky in my legs in that the timing was great. Leg three wasn't supposed to go until around 8 AM which gave me the luxury of not having to run in the middle of the night like this girl and this girl and this girl.
I was also oddly not hungry at all throughout so I was drinking a lot of sugary drinks just to get calories and liquid. My dentist will thank me later, I'm sure.
Lauren finished up our second rotation as the sun came up, and it was time for all of us to start our third legs. I was nervous, but relieved that I only had 8 miles to go. Emily took off for her last leg, and I got ready like Desi.
By around 9 AM or so, it was my turn again. I took off and couldn't get much faster than an 8:30 pace or so....DOWNHILL. Crazy. My legs were gone and it hurt to move them.
I told myself to focus and that the first exchange was only 3.5 miles in. That's like nothing right? I also was blasting Macklemore (one of his songs about battling drug addiction-I forget the title) and kept thinking "Dude however much you're hurting right now right now, it's nothing compared to what he had to go through." I'm not an overly dramatic runner at all...
I got to the 3.5 mile mark and the exchange was nowhere in sight. In my super tired state I started to semi-panic. I finally saw the exchange point a mile further. As I passed my cheering teammates I yelled something crazy like "THIS NEXT EXCHANGE BETTER NOT BE A MILE TOO LONG!"
(Turns out, I got the exchanges distances totally wrong. Blame the lack of sleep please?)
I felt demoralized and kept thinking things like "What if the next exchange is a mile long too?" And then I'd think "Screw you, Margot, if it's a mile long you'll run that extra mile and you'll learn to like it".
I turned onto a bike path and tried to push through the final couple miles. What felt like a 7 minute pace was more like a 9:30. I saw the final exchange and my teammates and did one last handoff to SR. And she took off and killed it like the iron-legged girl she is.
Then I proceeded to not be able to walk normally for the rest of the day. I have no idea what my pace was for this leg and that's probably a good thing.
Afterward and Thoughts
SarahOual, Kristina, and Lauren finished up really well. I want to give them an extra shoutout. Sarah ran uphill for pretty much ALL of her legs, Kristina had a 17 mile third leg (good lord), and Lauren was the perfect anchor. Going last is tough in any relay and in an ultra I think it's even harder. And she still killed it. Actually...she ran so well, we totally missed her finish.
Sorry Lauren. Although...I'm kind of glad that if we were going to miss an exchange, at least you don't lose any time if you miss the last one!
25:58 (7:53 overall pace).
1st Ultra. 1st Women's team. 10th Overall.
A major thank you to ProCompression and Compex as well as our drivers Brian and Lee.
Also a thank you to the other girls who had way harder legs than I did. There is a major difference between going uphill and going downhill, and I appreciate that. This relay was tough for me, but I didn't find myself questioning my sanity or swearing to never do a relay again, so it's safe to say, I had things pretty easy.
And a thank you to the Nevada landscape. It is much more rugged and much more beautiful than I imagined.
To all of you - In the wise words of Miley Cyrus: "I can't wait to see you again."