Thank you all for your thoughtful comments from my last post. I love how supportive this running/blogging community can be and I really appreciate it.
Are you ready for more Ragnar?
When we left off, I had just finished my 1st leg. After my emergency trip to the bathroom, I was handed a fresh bottle of Nuun (never tasted better!) and confined to the “hot seat”. (We designated the seat right inside the van door as the only place anyone could sit following their runs. We were all so unbelievably sweaty after our legs that we tried to confine the soaking wet seat to one location.)
Then I was followed by my awesome Van 2 teammates…
Confession: The pic of Vishal was taken on Leg #3, because this is the only shot I got of him “running” for his first leg:
After the speedy Vishal took off on his run, we unexpectedly had one of my favorite moments from the whole weekend. As we promised him, we stopped on the side of the road around mile 3, for a little hydration support, but once we were there, we had an impromptu Cupid Shuffle dance party. Check it out:
(warning: there isn’t much to this video, but its kinda cool to see our reflective gear only while we are dancing…)
Runners were stopping to join in and laughing as they ran by. We knew this energy wouldn’t last all night, but it was so much fun!
Eventually we made our way to the 2nd major exchange at the Homestead Speedway.
I finally had a chance to meet all of our teammates from Van 1. We chatted, shared relay stories and I learned that our Nuun pride in Van 2 was clearly being outdone by Van 1…
Once Ola took off for her 2nd leg, we only had one thing on our minds: FOOD. All day, Julie had talked about the s’mores at this exchange. We bolted straight for the s’mores, only to find out that there was no chocolate left…womp, womp. So we settled for perfectly toasted marshmallows and graham crackers.
Real food was next on the agenda and after driving around aimlessly for a bit, Google-queen Char found a local Italian restaurant. We were the youngest people by 20 years, but they fed us quickly so we could get to the next major exchange and sleep.
The parking lot of the high school was packed so we didn’t even attempt to use the gym where they were letting people sleep. Rhonda and Char opted to sleep on the grass outside, so the rest of us each had a bench in the van. I can’t say I slept much, but I definitely rested for the next 4 or so hours until it was time to get ready to run again. Being the first runner in your van definitely makes it hard to sleep, as I was constantly on edge thinking I wouldn’t be ready when it was time.
We got the call that I should expect Eli around 3:30, so while everyone else collected themselves and woke up, I headed over to the exchange by myself and at 3:25 a.m., I set off for my 9.9 mile leg #2.
Once again, I started off feeling really good. My legs felt surprisingly fresh and I settled in to an 8:00 pace. Unfortunately, I wasn’t 1/2 a mile in before the side cramp came on again. This time it didn’t catch me off guard, and I just kept pinching and massaging it, hoping it would subside by mile 2-3 like it did before. Like clockwork, it became manageable and dull around mile 2 and I was able to just focus on running. The van leapfrogged with me every half mile or so to cheer, which was nice since it was really dark and quiet. I was also able to get a fresh bottle of Nuun and a Gu around mile 5, which is when Vishal jumped out and ran a mile or so with me.
Miles 1 – 5: 8:00, 8:02, 8:04, 8:08, 8:15
I still felt pretty good through mile 5, although you can see that the splits were slowly creeping up. I told Vishal that I appreciated his company but not to be offended if I didn’t talk to him. Although it was cooler without the sun, it was super humid and I was already starting to feel pretty fatigued.
When Vishal got back in the Van, I have to admit I was relieved. It was nice to have company, but having someone (fast) there felt like pressure to keep the pace up and I was fading. The next few miles were a blur. I remember the road being slanted, then turning to uneven gravel, which was annoying and only added to the feeling that I was just barely shuffling.
The whole leg felt like a death march for everyone. I saw one guy puking and a ton of people walking. Everyone was very encouraging as I passed (or for 2 people, when they passed me) and when I asked one lady to not shine her headlamp on me if she saw me duck off behind a bush…she thought that was pretty funny.
I did have to stop behind a bush around mile 8.5, but at that point, I didn’t even care about losing time. I had stopped caring about pace and the run had become about survival. It was one foot in front of the other and continuing to move forward. I repeated “Never give up” to myself over and over and looked at my watch about 100 times, only to see that 0.05 miles would have passed since the last time I looked. When I finally saw the lights of the exchange, I didn’t even have a final push…I just continued to shuffle until I could get rid of that damn bracelet.
Miles 6 – 9.9: 8:35, 8:43, 9:18 (pit stop), 9:07, 9:14
Leg #2 – 9.9 miles, 1:24:20 (8:32 min/mile)
If those aren’t the most perfectly increasing splits you have ever seen, I don’t know what is?! Overall, the average pace isn’t actually horrific. It is about where I have been doing my long runs this winter, but I was definitely disappointed in how painful it was and the whole “start strong, finish slow”, which had apparently become my theme for Ragnar Florida Keys!
Stayed tuned for Leg #3…and for me finally finding some fight in my last run.