To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ragnar Northwest Passage - Leg 1

It was 0'dark thirty and our van was waking up Friday morning after a very short sleep in a motel parking lot. The sounds of snoring were a blessing for me and helped me get a couple minutes of sleep now and then. Imagine 6 adults sleeping in one van. Now make one of those 6 feet tall and another one 6 feet 7 inches. Okay? And then a cooler, backpacks... now imagine all of this and trying to get comfortable sleep. HA! That's basically NOT possible, BUT it is all part of the experience when you do a relay! We popped across the street to the gas street bathroom where I was very happy to brush my teeth. I did freshen up my face, brush my hair and put on deodorant. That's about all I could do every day seeing as we wouldn't have showers until Saturday night!

The sun was starting to rise as we got to Peace Arch Park right at the border, where we would start this 200ish mile race. Before we could begin our Captain got us checked in, bringing back our bibs and race numbers for the van. Then all 6 of us had to head over the safety meeting. I'll sum up what it told us... don't litter, wear your night vest and headlamps, don't wake sleeping babies in neighborhoods... and don't forget breaking and entering is illegal. I can't make this up, guys!

At 6am Kari started us off as our team began the race with the official first wave of runners leaving the park! Once she was gone we were on a mission for coffee, unless you are me. I was on a mission for a bathroom to wash my hands after accidentally getting muscle rub all over myself instead of the anti-chafing lotion I meant to apply. Time flew by and we were welcoming Kari back at the first exchange... which is when my nerves turned on. I was runner 3, the next one to go!

Still in Blaine, Washington, I was standing in a parking lot with my full water bottle, music playing, a Garmin getting its signal and antsy to get going on my first leg of the relay. 8.2 miles was my distance and I knew I was in for hills. I tried to not freak myself out, so I think I underestimated how serious these would be. It felt like no time at all and Katy was coming up and handing off the sweaty slap bracelet to me. I was off!

My legs were feeling awesome, no doubt due to the fact that I had major adrenaline and they certainly weren't tired from over-training since I didn't even do a single run after agreeing to participate. I was going at a pretty awesome pace and determined to run until the team van passed me. Uh, yeah, I never saw them. The vans didn't pass by the first section of my leg, so that was a failed plan.

After maybe 1 straight mile I made a turn and I never turned again for 4 miles. What else did I do for that 4 mile stretch? Continuously go uphill! Leg 3 is classified as "very hard" and had a 509' gain. A downhill every now and then would have been nice. I kept making destination points ahead of me as a goal to run to before taking a short walk break. I would think I had crested "the hill", but each time I'd think that I'd see that it just keeps going and going. Leg 3 was the Energizer Bunny, and I was starting to feel like a draining battery.

How did I cope? I took in the views! When would I ever get to see this again? Maybe never. So I kept my phone handy to capture photos you are seeing in this blog right now! What else did I do? I texted with my mom and sent her photos. No shame in my game! Running is mental, too, and I needed my Mommy! Later in the run I actually gave in and called her on speaker phone to talk while running and wish her a Happy Birthday!

This leg was also one with no van support, so I was out there on my own, relying on myself, fellow runners and the super sweet girls that set up water stations at their homes! The first girl I met up with was such a dear and helped me figure out where I was. I was standing there facing Canada and looking at its snowy mountains (photo above)! I even saw Vancouver, BC!! While running I was running right toward Mount Baker, and WOW! That was an impressive sight for sure! At some point after I had made another turn up another hill I was met by two girls with their own version of a lemonade stand, except this was free Gatorade in a variety of flavors, as well as 3 bowls with various snacks. This made me so giddy! I was more than happy to pause and enjoy some red Gatorade and have a brief chat, thanking them profusely for being there.

Other things that stand out from this run.... smells! As I recall I documented them on facebook so I'd remember them for this post. It started out with standard farmland smell. I totally don't mind the smell of farm animal poop, believe it or not! Then it went to the same smell as the Frontierland section of the Utilidor in Walt Disney World. The worst part, oh my gosh, it was awful. Sulfur. Terrible. I almost threw up. For real. Just no!

With regard to my running, I don't know that there is much to say. I was feeling strong and then started to crash when my mind gave out on me. I persisted and kept trying to run as best as I could, but also made sure to never feel bad when I was passed. There were some great runners out there! At one point though, something bizarre happened. I was running at a lovely pace and it felt like someone punched my right calf. I even turned to look behind me, and found nobody there. I immediately started walking because I had no idea what was going on and wondered if maybe I was getting a cramp. **Nothing ever came of it during that or the last two legs!

Time to finish this bad boy off... I made the last turn and got to do a small downhill before going back up again. At the final corner I was greeted by the best sight ever - the exchange and runners cheering us all on. I was more than happy to see Amanda waiting for me and forced that bracelet on her so she could take off and I could be DONE!!

With all the whining I felt I did during and after, I never once wished I wasn't doing it. Part of the Ragnar experience is pushing yourself and having those hard moments that really test you. I loved being tested!

*Ignore those numbers on that chart. I have yet to figure them out since I had a 509' elevation gain.

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