I went into Ragnar much more prepared this year. I’m in the middle of Boston marathon training and my run fitness is improving on a weekly basis.
I’ve also made some significant changes to my lifestyle. I got rid of my TV and cable. No more wasting my life away with that garbage. It’s amazing how much more time I have in the day to do more productive things.
I’ve also been vegetarian for the past several weeks. So, far I really like it. My energy levels are so much better throughout the day and I have been crushing my training lately. I’m finally getting faster.
I got one of these. It is awesome.
I get a “bountiful basket” every week:
Back to Ragnar-
Last year, I was on the Durapulse Ultra Mixed team… which we placed first in the mixed ultra division. This year, I was put on the big boy team consisting of my Coach (Nick), Bryan, Joe, Stephen, and John. We wanted to not only win the ultra division, but be on the overall podium as well. I’ve been running A LOT lately. Many of my runs were “Ragnar-focused” …. 18-20 miles in the morning, following up with a 6-8 mile run at night. I was prepared for this race and I know my team was counting on me to perform.
The start times for the Ragnar teams were based on predicted paces. Slower teams started earlier, faster teams start later. We had a start time of 3pm, which was seven hours later than the earliest teams. We divided our team into two vans:
Van #1: Nick, Bryan, Joe
Van #2: Stephen, John, Me
My van didn’t even start until 7pm so I got nearly a full day of work in on Friday! Van #1 ran very strong first legs. We were two 2:00 up on the 2nd place ultra team (#330; Altitude Adjusted Ultra) when they finished their first legs.
Van #2 – First legs:
About four hours after our start time our van began. Stephen was our first runner. He put 5:00 on team #330 over his eight miles. He left them in the dust (literally). He ran on a dirt road that kicked up quite a bit of dust from all the vehicles. We were now leading by 7:00.
John was next. He ran hard as well. The other team’s runner was also very strong and the time gap was nearly the same going into my leg.
My first run (9:51 PM): Sun Valley Parkway in Surprise
14.62 miles, 1:33:51, 6:25 pace
It was 9:51PM, and it was my first run!!! I only saw three people during this segment. It was lonely and dark. I’m deathly afraid of snakes and being alone in the dark. I watched E.T. the other night and he creeps me out. I thought I saw him on this run. I cranked up the tunes and ran my ass off, trying to avoid the aliens. I gained 8:00 on team #330. We handed a 15:00 lead off to Van #1.
This is where the race truly begins. It’s when everyone gets tired and you really have to push yourself to the limits. I learned from last year that recovery is key to performing well on your subsequent legs. I spent an hour after each run to foam roll, stretch, eat, and hydrate. I did everything right, except sleep.
As we waited for Van #2 to finish around 4am, we knew something wasn’t right. We were shocked to see ultra team #330 arrive to the exchange before us. They had erased a 15:00 deficit and now led by 8:00! I started to get worried for Joe. He injured himself on his first leg. As he approached, I saw the grimace on his face and I knew he was in bad shape. Huge props to him for fighting through the pain and finishing that tough 13.1 mile leg. Unfortunately, he had to pull out of the race, leaving it up to the five of us to decide who would run his final leg.
Van #2- Second legs:
Stephen’s turn again. He ran his ASS off. We were pretty panicked after team #330 passed us. Stephen pulled off an EPIC run. He ran a blistering pace and caught the ultra team with a mile to go… and even gave us a 2:00 cushion!
John’s turn… He put about 3:00 on his runner so we were slowly getting some time back. 5:00 lead.
My run #2 (5:57AM)– A 7-mile fun run on Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Road
47:16, 7.02 miles, 6:44 pace
This run was hillier than my first, but I still averaged a decent pace. I was beginning to see more people on the course as we were slowly catching teams that started before us. I gained 6:48 on the last runner, giving us an 11:48 lead going into our team’s final legs. The big question: Who was going to run Joe’s legs???
Van #1 and #2 final legs:
I was in bad shape. I had no sleep, I felt myself getting irritable, my left calf was killing me, and my body felt pretty awful. Thank God I have teammates who were willing to take charge and dig deep through this horribleness and take the extra legs. Nick and Stephen broke up Joe’s third leg, leaving Nick with 40+ total miles and Stephen running three legs in a row! They wanted to rest me up for my final 11.5 miles. I wouldn’t let them down.
My final run (1PM) : Indian Bend down the Greenbelt to Tempe Town Lake
1:17:45, 11.5 miles, 6:46 average
Between Nick, Bryan, Stephen, and John, they had put in some serious time on team #330 and we had a 15:00 lead as I started my last leg. They didn’t tell me this, however. The race had been so close. I knew the other team wanted to win badly. As I waited for John to come into exchange 34, I felt like I could have fallen asleep standing up. 11.5 miles seemed like A LONG way. I was totally out of it.
John arrived around 1:00PM and I took off. I didn’t really have any kind of strategy for this final leg, except run hard. I surprised myself that I was still able to maintain sub 7s and was still passing people left and right. I saw friends along the course. I was in a daze. I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t talk. I had my head down. I focused on not puking. Whoever said Ragnar is fun is obviously full of shit.
One mile to go and I gave it everything. I looked back and I swear I saw a green bib (an ultra team) approaching. Team #330 was catching me!!! I closed my eyes and ran as fast as I could. About 100 feet from the finish line, I saw my team. They walked it in. I must have looked like a drunk; I was stumbling all over the place.
I crossed the line, puked, and went to medical… then had a beer. Puke and rally.
It turns out that wasn’t an ultra team that “I saw” and we ended up beating ultra team #330 by 36 minutes. I had put in 21 minutes on them on my final leg. Talk about dream crushing…
23 hours, 16 minutes… for the Ultra division win.
And, out of 400+ teams, we were THIRD overall!! Huge props to Jedi Master Dunn, Grand Master Nick, Little Dog Stephen, Mr. Consistent (JohN), and Dr. Joe. We each busted our ass and got the job done. All in all, it was a good time. I’m not sure the ultra will be my choice every year though. It puts a serious beat down on your body.
It even made Bryan Dunn “almost cry on his last leg”. His words, not mine!