Let's see where we left off on Day One...
I was on the Cape - gorgeous! I was in a van with 5 strangers turned family - check!
More specifically I was snuggled up with my pillow and blanket soundly sleeping on the top of a wicked soft plastic belt buckle digging into my body. Yes I have a bruise from it. #VanLiving ;)
It was in the early hours of Saturday May 9 and we were trying to catch a little shut eye before our final legs. While we tried to catch a few Zzzzz, Van 2 were completing their second legs. Go Van 2 Go!
After that glorious slumber (hello sarcasm), it was time to get to work and meet up with Van 2. Since we had slept at the exchange point, all we had to do was drive across the street to meet the team. What a convenient commute. ;)
Rudy (Runner 1) was itching to get out there and complete his final miles. The man knows how to werk a camera.
With the handoff between Don (Runner 12) and Rudy complete, it was time for Van 1 to get the show on the road.
It was surreal that my final leg was quickly approaching. This amazing journey would be coming to a close. Who was I kidding. There would still be a good 4 hours or so between when I finished and when the team would officially Finish. So I had plenty of time to soak up the awesomeness of my vanmates. Phew!
While waiting at the exchange point for Rudy to finish, I bumped into some of my Tedy's Team friends! Yay! It is always a joy to see these amazing faces. Here are Nate, Lauren and Lisa (respectively). They have all completed the Boston Marathon in honor of their Stroke Heroes and motivate me to be a better person everyday!
With the slap bracelet passed on to Vicki (Runner 2), Rudy made his final check mark on the van.
Now it has been over 12 hours since our last group visit to Dunkins... and that wouldn't stand.
We got to the exchange point early and used the opportunity to roll it out. Now the funny thing is I was the first to foam roll on the ground and wanted a picture snapped. But it never happened. Instead I got pics of Mike and Ashley in action. #BloggerFail
While waiting for Vicki at the exchange point, we witnessed another team come in to the exchange. Now this seems normal except his team was nowhere to be found. Uh oh. Well he started yelling for his team and everyone at the exchange offered to yell too. We asked who the next runner was and he said Dennis. The masses started calling for Dennis, but he was nowhere to be found. Well that meant this lucky runner would be doing another leg. He threw his arms up in the air and set out. Nothing like coming off your final leg to find out you have to follow it up with an unexpected 9.4 mile leg. Oof.
It was at this point the phrase "Don't Be A Dennis" was formed. Never ever be a Dennis my friends.
After this little incident, Vicki came into the exchange and it was time for Mike (Runner 3) to knock out his final leg.
Now I had been giving Mike a hard time about his selfie game - or lack thereof! Apparently he took this to heart and spent his final leg sending the team selfie after selfie. Not gonna lie - I was proud! :) Mike is a speedster (like low 3 hour marathoner speedster) so he isn't normally one to slow down for a pic. I loved showing him what it can be like to peel back and enjoy the ride.
This also meant he was taking his sweet time (again still fast though) and delaying my last leg from starting. My nerves were all over the place. I distracted myself by admiring the amount of color Ashley and I were rocking on our lower half, including our matching Zensah compression socks.
After multiple trips to the port-o-potty - where let me tell you I could've made millions if I was business savvy enough to sell my extra toilet paper instead of just sharing - I was itching to get started.
Since this would be my longest leg (5.6 miles) I opted to bring a KIND bar with me in case I needed mid-run fuel.
While waiting for Mike, I also ran into some of my friends from the ZOOM Multisport tri team. We were talking about selfies, etc and my friend Michael suggested making a video while running and how that would up the game. Hmmm.... <<seed being planted>>
Again I can't stress how awesome it was having the GPS unit on our runner! We were able to really track Mike so I was in the exchange in plenty of time to meet him. I did NOT want to be a Dennis.
Clearly I didn't look like I was nervous or in a rush. Haha. It also looks like Mike is having some slap bracelet malfunctions. Womp womp! But we got the handoff complete and I was off...
Time for the final 5+ miles of my run. My legs were feeling good and I was determined to finish all 3 of my legs at a sub 8 min/mile pace. I laid the gauntlet down for myself.
But the selfie game would NOT be in jeopardy.
I began the run out on the lonely path without a sole around me really. After a quick look over my shoulder to confirm I was alone, I took the opportunity to film a quick video for my teammates. I am really shocked I was 1) able to do that without falling, 2) was audible and 3) didn't drop my phone while trying to share the scenery. I would share the video, but will keep it more as a team thing. That being said I will definitely be making another mid-run video to share with you all.
After completing the movie portion during Mile 1, it was time to get my selfie game on.
Yes there is an appearance from an adorable dog, who did NOT want to cooperate AND my fellow Slumbrew Happy Sole Andrew! Gotta love running into more friends during Ragnar!
After lots of selfie fun, I passed a sign that I had seen many times during Ragnar and knew this would be my last chance to take a pic with it.
I sent this pic to the team with the caption: "I run gayly forward!" HAHAHAHA! Oh boy I crack myself up. :P
I didn't totally look at the elevation chart on the leg (I know not shocking), but I didn't expect a permanent incline on the path plus a good set of hills at the tail end of the run.
I was trying to say "Hey these guys in their cars are cheating?" but it really just looks like I am trying to hitchhike. :P Also I have no idea what that means on the tree, but the eye matched my visor so I needed a pic.
The pace was holding just under 8 min/mile. The pause to get the pup to take a selfie with me hurt my time-wise a little, but it was totally worth it.
You can see in my pics above that I had my Garmin facing the ground. I really didn't want to focus on my pace or how many miles I had run, but focus on soaking up the experience. So I had the control to randomly check in on the pace and hear the Mile "bings."
We can see that this sign caught me off guard.
Noooo I want to run more! I want to run all the miles.
Special thanks to the cop (you can see her shoes at the top of the pic) for being patient with me finally crossing the street. Must get the selfie first. :P
I thanked her profusely and was on my way to focus on the final mile.
There weren't too many signs after this so I was asking people passing by if they had seen other runners going in the same direction. Thankfully they had.
Word of wisdom: Take a pic of your leg map and directions before you leave the exchange.
Then I looked up and saw this.
Oh snap! Hello little "incline" to the exchange. I actually said "you have to be kidding me" outloud when I started chugging up this bad boy.
I wasn't about to slow down now. I dug deep and OWNED this hill. As I crested the top, I could see my teammates and other Ragnar crazies cheering me in. Woo! I handed the GSP and slap bracelet off to Dacia and was ready to celebrate!
Not sure why it looks like I am air humping Dacia. I guess I was just coming in to the exchange at a blazing speed. :)
Sorry the pic is a little blurry, but the final leg was 5.68 miles in 44:17.
Even after making my final check mark on the van, it didn't register that my time was up. I was done with my Ragnar experience.
My final Ragnar Relay Series stats:
Leg 1: 4.06 - 31:44 (7:50 pace)
Leg 2: 3.92 - 30:36 (7:48 pace)
Leg 3: 5.68 - 44:17 (7:48 pace)
Total: 13.66 miles ... 1:46:37 of running
With four runners done in Van 1, we had just 2 left. We were unable to be at the exchange between Dacia (Runner 5) and Ashley (Runner 6) so we waited at the appropriate spot. It was a great time to get a little dancing on, help Ashley work out the nerves and share our story with more folks.
Oh and finally finish off our big bag of peanut m&ms!
Van 1 ran on Dunkins and peanut M&Ms. We are open for sponsorship from both companies. ;) Justin sayin'! :)
After Dacia met us at the assigned location, we headed out to the final exchange point between Van 1 and Van 2. Absolutely crazy how quickly this was winding down for Van 1.
We knew Van 2 was at the exchange having breakfast so we hoped they would eat quickly enough to meet Ashley who was kicking some SERIOUS booty in her final leg.
Well I can tell you they were slightly late. The group did a joint effort to get Rik prepped to take over. I wish we had video of people just yanking off Rik's pants (yes he had shorts on), putting on the slap bracelet and transferring the GPS tracker. It was truly a team effort.
But we made sure Rik wouldn't pull a Dennis. Phew!
Our bidding farewell to Van 2, we headed back to the van to let Dacia and Ashley check off their final legs.
Fine work Van 1! Fine work!
With questions about parking at the Finish Area, we opted to drive straight there. But first we needed a stop at Dunks. Duh!
This gave me the perfect opportunity to grab a group photo.
Thank you kind stranger who took this for me. It is one of my favorite pictures from the entire experience.
I am so proud of this group of folks. Lucky to have been stuck in a van with them for 36 hours and wish I could do it again tomorrow. Each person brought a special flare to what would become a special type of chemistry.
Since my legs were done, I thought it was okay to finally put on the Ragnar jacket I had bought the day before.
Oohhh boy it felt good to put that on. While I was done, we still had 6 people to go to truly be RAGNAR FINISHERS!
After our pitstop, it was on to the Finish Area. We actually had no problem finding a parking lot within walking distance of the festivities. Woo! We met up with Rik's wife and Dacia's fiance and headed out to lunch. Mmmm non-van food. :P I had a yummy grilled chicken sandwich with fries. While I drank my water, I dreamed of the beer I could finally have after our whole team finished. No booze during Ragnar - rough rule.
When we walked into the parking lot from lunch, the wife was pulling in. What are the odds! YAY! It was soooo good to see her. We took this opportunity to unload our stuff from the van, which was a great use of time. Seriously.
Once the van was in a good spot, we all headed to check out the Finish Area. Thankfully Rik's wife Cynthia offered to help stretch us out on the lawn in front of the high school. Oh friends - it was heaven.
I even ran into more Tedy's Team friends. Hi Larissa and Brielle!
Van 2 met up with us after awhile and we awaited our final runner Don. He was texting pics to Rik as he went so we could tell he was enjoying himself... but we were all ready to Finish! :P
There was a hill leading up to the Finish chute. The 11 of us were waiting at the top ready to cross the Finish as a team. I have never been so excited to see someone as when Don started coming up the hill. (Okay I have been but you know what I mean). ;)
All 12 of us were in our Running Down A Dream gear crossing as one.
The hugs were plenty. The smiles were big. The bling was gorgeous!!
And I was ready to celebrate!
But first we made sure to sign the big inflatable wall.
We headed up to the post-race party area to enjoy our one free beer and check out the free spread.
I opted to give my food to my wife since I wasn't in the mood for clam chowder or a turkey wrap.
It was an absolutely gorgeous end to an amazing 36 hours. Our team ended up finishing 3rd to last with a time of 35 hours 59 minutes and 10.3 seconds. WHY couldn't we wait just 49.7 more seconds? WHY? :P
As I bid farewell to the teammates - they heading back to a rented house to continue celebrating and me heading back home - the tears welled up, but the bond grew stronger.
While I didn't get to know the members of Van 2 as well as I would've liked (thankfully I did see many of them for dinner the following night in Boston), we were connected through this experience.
To my Van 1 mates: you all have a piece of my heart. I learned something from each of you and I left that day inspired, motivated and ready to be a better person! Thank you all for never letting me be a Dennis and pushing me to be stronger than I thought. Love you all.
I've been asked if I would do another Ragnar. Quick answer? Sure, but it will NEVER be able to replicate the life-changing experience of my first Ragnar with Running Down A Dream!