Monday, September 19, 2011

Ragnar Napa Valley Relay


I took part in my first relay race this past weekend. It was quite the experience with many highs and some lows.

Me and 10 running friends (one running friend got sick the week of the race and had to back out) took part in this relay. We had two vans. I was in van 2 and we had six runners, but we had the longer miles and, I would say, harder run times. So have 1 less runner in van 1 seemed to make sense.

Van 1 started at 9am in SF and we met Van 1 at exchange 6 in Kentfield (the College of Marin). We got there in time to write on our van and get all ready for this journey. Then, we waited and waited and waited. We found out that van 1 went to a wrong exchange point and this caused a 45 min delay. But, finally they arrived - the extra time allowed us to have a little fun with another van. Another van did not lose a van, but lost a runner (they found their "runner 6") and had a little spelling problem.

Our legs started. And, once our van started running I was excited and ready for my leg 10 to start. My leg 10 was in Petaluma and was 7.8 miles. It was 717 feet of elevation gain and started about 4pm. I was excited and ready to go. I started off fast and gave it all I got. Then I got to a stop sign with a cop watching traffic. I had to slow down to a stop. I cross the street but not where the cop wanted me to so I got yelled at (at least no ticket). That was a low point. I then started picking up my pace and hit a large tough hill. I tried as hard as I could but had to walk for 30 seconds or so and then struggle running slow to the top. My avg pace had risen. I picked it back up and came in about an 8:30 pace. However, I was down 1 or 2 runners (I can't recall any more).

I'm not sure how it started, but from the get go we started keep track of the runners we passed (our kills) and runners that passed us (killed).

We started out in the deficit. So for my first leg, I wanted to help get us out of the defiicit, but also ended up in the negative. But, it was still fun to be out there.  And, I had two more legs to get positive.
We ended our first shift about 7pm or so. I went to eat and then tried to get a little sleep before we had to start over again. By the time we eat and got to the exchange point I only had a little rest (and no sleep). About 11:30pm we started our next shift. We had some strong women on our team, as our ladies were racking up the kills. By the time my next leg started - maybe about 1:40am or so, I believe we were well into the positive kills so my goal was to add some more. I had a 6.2 mile run for leg 22 in Santa Rosa. This was the first time I ran with a headlight.

I was very tired to start the run but after a while you get energy and get into the grove. It was actually nice to be out there. This leg I think was a positive 2 or 3. I believe after this leg I was up 1 (worse case I was even). I enjoyed running at night. A negative was that because other runners would stop at lights, I had to stop as well even though it was going on 2:30am and there were hardly any cars around. That cost me a little bit of time, but still came in about 8:15 pace.

As our last runner was running his leg in our second shift, I was getting tired. We all were. We went to exchange 24 and decided to take a nap. We set the alarm for 5:15am; we all feel asleep (our van) and then are woken up by a phone call. Our runner came in earlier than 5:15am. A runner in van 1 was at the exchange and ready to go so we did not have to be there, but we all felt a little bad as no one was there to cheer him on or to tell him where the van was at.
We then went and had something to eat. Before our next shift, we crashed for another 1/2 an hour or so.

I think most of us were tired and not really looking forward to running this next leg other than to run it to get it over with. Then, a very high point for the relay occurred. One of our strong female runners was the first one out for the third and final shift. We went over to the end the leg to cheer her in. She passed a struggling male runner and he tried to pick up speed to pass her. This video shows what occurred:

It was classic.  He was okay . . . except for the pride.

This just made us all feel good and excited for this last shift.  My last leg was leg 34 in St. Helena.  It was mid-afternoon at this point in time and very hot for this 6.8 mile leg.  I went out fast and hard, but the heat was tough.  I had to slow down.  I pushed hard at the end and ended up positive 1 or 2 in this leg with about an 8:30 pace - not bad for me as I hate running in heat (maybe it is mental, but I just get exhausted).  Most everyone out there felt the heat at that time of the day.

Soon - we would finish:

It was quite an experience.

This Highs:
1.  The man falling.
2.  We ended up well in the positive in roadkills thanks to our amazing women.
3.  Some great running experiences
4.  Great times hanging out with running friends.

The Lows:
1.  Being away from brooklyn
2.  The heat and hills with slowed me down
3.  The mean cop
4.  Very little sleep

It was worth doing and something I will remember.