How does one sum up the Ragnar Relay experience? Can it be done in a word? Can it be done in a sentence? Can it even be done within a blog post or two?
i really don't think so. Or rather I don't think I can put into words how much this race changed me... for the better. But I am open to trying my best! Are you ready to take the journey with me?
This marked my fourth Ragnar Relay race: 2015 Cape Cod, 2015 Reach The Beach (Ragnar NH) and 2016 Ragnar Trail New England.
Ragnar Cape Cod was 12 people covering 192 miles from Hull, MA to Provincetown, MA. There were teams that had as few as 2 members to the max of 12. We had 6 people per van, which is the typical Ragnar team (12 people, 2 vans).
I was wicked excited to return to Ragnar Cape Cod with people I knew! Haha. All 3 of the Ragnars I had done previously were with people I didn't know or barely knew (for the most part).
In 2017, I would be tackling Ragnar Cape Cod with my fellow Tedy's Team friends on #TeamBringIt!
Big thanks to my friend Jenn for hosting this rag tag group of runners the night before the run so we could carbo load and all be in the same location to load the vans in the morning.
It was great catching up with my Tedy's Team teammates and meeting new friends as well.
Since we had an early start time (8:15am) and would be heading from Dunstable (a couple hour drive to the Start area (Hull, MA) of the race.
We of course had to make a stop at Dunkin on the way. #TeamBringItRunsOnDunkin ;)
I would be in Van 2 for this race. It was actually the first time I have been in Van 2. I was Runner 12, which had a little over 22 total miles and would be the final runner of the race. I was excited to be the person that would bring the team over the Finish Line. BUT it is rough waiting all day to start my first leg.
For Ragnar, each runner runs 3 legs of varying distances. The app was telling me I had a 9.6 mile run (very hard), a 2.8 mile run (easy) and a 9.6 mile run (very hard). Oh friends what did I get myself into volunteering for this role?????
Our van hung out while Van 1 checked in and watched their safety video. We were even surprised by Chris and Jenny from Tedy's Team, which was a fun treat!
In a non-shocking event, our team started late. :P The race was kind enough to let us start in between official start times (they normally go off every 15-30 minutes)! Nate (Runner 1) even got his own countdown including a "Tttttt-today Junior!"
Meet Van 2 (97.73 miles):
Runner 7: Meg (19.88 miles)
Runner 8: Dan (18.37 miles)
Runner 9: Melissa (11.9 miles)
Runner 10: Kendra (13.65 miles)
Runner 11: Brielle (11.93 miles)
Runner 12: Me (22.0 miles)
Yes we have Dan and his ladies in Van 2! Meg was the only non-Tedy's Team member in our van. She is friends with Kendra, but quickly fit in with the group.
Once Nate was on the road, it was time to bid farewell to Van 1 and head to find some breakfast... oh and decorate our van as well.
Our team hit up a local breakfast spot before making a pit stop at Ocean State Job Lot for some necessary van decorations.
We then made sure to drive straight to the exchange point and decorate there. The last thing you want to do is arrive late to an exchange point. Well we got there in plenty of time to pick up Van 2's bibs, safety flags and the entire team's t-shirts.
We were waiting on Van 1 to arrive and somehow missed them in the parking lot. As a result our 6th runner arrived in and we weren't ready for it. Thankfully we were able to get there in less than a minute and our first runner (Meg, Runner 7) took the handoff and sped off for her first leg.
This was a learning time for both vans to make sure we made sure to get a text when the last runner of the other van is at least a mile out so everyone would be at the exchange with plenty of time to spare.
I'm not sure how people tackled Ragnar before cell phones! Haha. We had a special Facebook group for our entire Ragnar team and a separate Facebook group and text chain for Van 2.
Our plan was for everyone to run with their phone and text/Facebook the van when they were about 1 mile out. It worked out perfectly for our van!
Meg was our first runner out and we made our way to the next transition area.
A lot of people assume you have a ton of downtime while in the van, but you really don't. You support the runner out on the course (if permitted on that leg), you are navigating to the next exchange, as well as driving. Some teams have a designated driver that is not a runner, but we would be taking turns driving when not running.
Our van was crushing it. Melissa had a great idea to surprise Dan with a flower after his run. Can you tell he loved it? Also does Kendra know comfort with her adult onesie or what?
It was finally MY time to get to running. As I mentioned our team started just after 8:30am and I was starting my first leg right around 5pm. Oof! I tried to nap when possible and eat sensibly, but it is hard to know when to eat when you are waiting 9 hours to run. Right?
I was pretty nervous for my first leg even though there was no pressure from the team for a certain pace and I knew we weren't going to win Ragnar, but I still didn't want to let people down.
This run would include 2 things I was super excited about: 1) running through Onset (a town I love) and 2) running over the Bourne bridge. That's right I would be the person crossing the team on to the Cape.
Brielle came in HOT and we got in one last hug before it was my turn to head out.
I was lucky to have amazing weather for my run. I wore my vest just in case the sun was going to set while I was out there. I didn't want to get a strike against our team for not having it on. Playing it safe there.
Ahhh it was a wonderful feeling being out running without any knee pain. I was worried going into the weekend, but it seemed as if the dry needling was paying off.
I don't listen to music while running, but I used this run to catch up on some of my favorite podcasts. :)
As you make your way through cute little New England towns and maybe pass another runner, it is all about appreciating having the ability to take on a challenge like this.
It was great seeing my vanmates a couple of time out on the course, cheering me on and offering up water, biofreeze, snacks and encouragement.
I saw them just as I entered Onset. I have raced in Onset a few times during the Max Performance Escape The Cape triathlon so it was odd being back running on the same course, but in a totally different way. I had to run up the hill we normally bike down. I did get to run on a portion of the tri's run course, which brought a smile to my face.
Since the season wasn't open yet, there weren't too many shops open and I had to go the bathroom. There was no way I could hold it for the rest of my run.
A construction site port-o-potty to the rescue. The potty gods were looking down on me there.
I was greeted with an incline immediately upon leaving my little break.
All day we had been joking in our van about how I would be running over a bridge during my run. As a result, I had to photograph each bridge I ran over to show my van. I was really excited about the Bourne bridge, but then it was time to celebrate every single bridge! I ended up going over about 3 during the 9.6 miles.
I want to thank all of the volunteers and cops that were out on the course. It was great having a local cop escorting runners across some busy streets.
It was a little odd running along a major street without a sidewalk, but it is something you expect during a Ragnar.
This selfie was me celebrating catching my phone as I almost fell in pothole and my phone went flying, but I caught up by my headset cord and flipped it back into my hand. Yes I was impressed with myself and gave myself a celebratory fist pump.
Oh look - bridge #2... but not THE bridge just yet.
It's great running in a familiar area. My parents have a place on the Cape and I have hung out in the Bourne area and we even went to a Fourth of July party on this spot last year. Now it is a construction site. Interested to see how it turns out.
After a quick a water stop with the van, it was time to head over THE bridge!
Friends I had no idea Bourne bridge was as steep as it was... or at least it felt wicked steep. I have only gone over the Bourne bridge in a car and it didn't feel this tough.
I definitely ended up walking some over the bridge where I wish I had run the entire thing, but I am not beating myself up over that.
Plus I was greeted with the Cape... and I had a little over a mile to go.
Oh sorry - 1 mile to go. :P And my indicator to text the crew to let them know I was 1 mile out.
I was thrilled to have the run end on the Cape Cod Canal. For anyone that follows my running journey, I spend a ton of time training on the Canal with my wife and dad on their bikes. As soon as I hit the Canal, I had to text them a pic. Oh and I was greeted with a lovely headwind. Thanks Canal! #NothingNewThere
I was was definitely tired by this point. Thankfully my knee was holding up well, but overall I was ready to be done. My stomach wasn't that pleased with me with the food choices.
And just like that leg 1 was over. I handed the slap bracelet off to Nate and I was done.
9.68 miles - 9 kills
kills = number of people you pass during your leg
Once I figured out what was going on, I spotted our friend Diane! Ahhh this was a huge surprise!
It was great seeing and hugging everyone from Van 1 before we headed to Diane's house for some food, a beer, a real shower and a place to nap. Diane and her husband Roger are Tedy's Team family, they were the team photogs for the first 3 years I was on the team. They are phenomenal folks and lucky to call them family.
Van 2 made our way to Diane and Roger's house to enjoy some downtime and I was able to catch up on van antics while I was out running.
Cannot thank Diane and Roger enough for opening up their house to us. I went first and soaked up their shower that had so many jets.
It was finally time to collect our stuff and head back to van life. :P
We made it to the exchange spot with plenty of time to spare and were ready when Van 1 arrived. It was time for Meg to start Leg 2 for our van and our string of night runs.
There are quiet hours in place during the night runs to make sure to not annoy all of the neighbors/residents, but we were still able to pull over for our runners and support them quietly! Haha.
My night run was set for 2.8 miles and was basically entirely on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which limited my chances of getting lost. For some reason I brought a Gu with me. I still cant figure out why - I think because it was just in my hand, but by the time I ended the run... it was gone. So I hope someone picked it up and enjoyed it. :P
I tried to selfie while running, but I was having some technical difficulties and I was trying to get away form a fellow runner who was breathing really heavily and throwing off my rhythm.
I enjoyed seeing everyone's creative costumes and how they opted to wear their lights - light up headpieces, light up shoe accessories and more.
It was super nice to have a such a short run in between my 2 longer legs.
2.78 miles - 7 kills
Once I handed the bracelet over to Nate, it was time for Van 2 to get some shut eye. We drove to the next exchange point and crashed for about 3 hours, which is a lot of sleep time in Ragnar speak.
Since we slept in the parking lot where we needed to meet Van 1, it was stress free to get ready for the exchange. We even had enough time for another Dunkin trip.
I was a little jealous that as Van 1 came in, they had already completed their final legs of the weekend. I still had hours before my final leg. Haha. A benefit of being in Van 1 for sure.
Meg took the slap bracelet from Tim (Runner 6) and it was our turn to start the third and final leg.
Finally at 12:20pm, it was time for me to start my final run. 9.6 miles into Ptown.
I was super nervous for this run. Everyone was crushing their legs and we were a couple hours ahead of our estimated finish time. I really didn't want to be the person to ruin it for everyone.
Yes I was putting some odd pressure on myself and I couldn't figure out why. Dan even said to me: "Why are you so positive and supportive of everyone else and not yourself?" Great question Dan and fuel for my final run.
The run leg started with a trail/sand run for the first mile.
It was cool to cheer on the runners that were passing me as they came into the exchange.
The race guide wasn't lying when they said rolling hills during this leg.
Since the team had to meet me in P-town and parking was tight, they wouldn't be supporting me on this run. Which I was bummed about. Knowing you will see your teammates during the run definitely helps in the motivation category, but I knew they would all be there to run with me over the Finish Line.
Luckily Ragnar set up a water stop for the runners about half way through the run.
The entire race is a cup free zone so Ragnar asks each participant to bring their own water bottle or hydration belts. #HelpingThePlanet
There was a fellow runner having some heart rate issues so I stopped to walk with him and offer him some of my water and GUs. I made sure to text the team so they knew why my pace was slowing down. Once he told me he was feeling better, I headed off.
There were a few other folks struggling. I made sure to ask if they needed anything, because I knew their teams couldn't get to them either.
Then I finally saw the sign I was waiting for... Welcome to Provincetown. I had a little over a 5k left to go and I knew the final bit of the course would feature another hill.
I felt like I was running on a treadmill though. I wasn't sure I could go 3+ more miles. Really it was in my head. I was just feeling the repurcussions of poor eating, bad sleep and overall being off my normal running schedule. But I had my team waiting for me.
I leapfrogged the same couple of runners during the final few miles. We were pushing each other to keep going and focused on putting one foot in front of the other.
Before I knew it there was just 1 mile left in this outstanding adventure.
It was time to turn off my podcast and soak in the sounds. You could hear the Finish Line announcer as we wrapped our way towards the Finish.
One final hill to go and as I approached, I could see my teammates ready to run the final stretch together.
9.56 miles - 9 kills
And with that final push the adventure was over.
The entire 12 person Team Bring It crew was back together again.
We had done it... together!
We ended up finishing in 30 hours and 5 minutes!
Our captain Nate did an amazing job handing out the medals and saying a little something about each member of the team. Smiles. Tears. Hugs. High-fives. Love surrounded this group.
We headed to grab some lunch and find me some warm clothes.
After a little relaxation, it was time for the wife (who drove down to pick me up and meet us for food), Dan and I had to head home. You know I had a 5k the next day. Oops! :P
Overall, it was an awesome time running with Team Bring It for Ragnar Cape Cod. I can't wait for all of us to be reunited for Reach The Beach this Fall in NH.
Thanks to Nate and Jenn for being kickass captains.
To my Van 2 mates, there was no crankiness and no hissy fits when or tempers. We were full of love, support and ridiculous inside jokes.
To the entire crew, you are all inspirations and motivators to me. THank you for being in my life and pushing me to be the best person I can be.
And last but never least, to my wife for supporting me through this adventure and spending 6 hours in the car to pick me up and get me home... while I slept the entire time.