Last weekend I ran the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay. This was actually my 4th time running this race. I love it because it is SO challenging, which I will get more into in just a minute. First, a little bit about the race:
There are Ragnar Relays all over the U.S. This particular race starts in Logan, Utah and ends in Park City, Utah and goes over 2 days. It is always around 200 miles. This year it was 197 miles of fun. You have 12 people on your team and you are split into two vans-van 1 and van 2. Each person in the van runs their first leg, then you switch vans, and that repeats until everyone has ran 3 legs of the race. The race does not stop-you sleep, eat, etc. only when you are the “off” van.
All of the legs of the race are different and are labelled from “easy” to “very hard”. The shortest leg was 2 miles and the longest was 11.6 miles. After very little sleep, not eating real well, running at all times of the day and night, and running 3 different times in less than 36 hours, the race is challenging on so many different levels, but that is part of what makes it so fun for me! I love to see how much my body can do and prove to myself that I can push through things that I am unsure of.
Onto this years race:
I was in van 2 and was runner 10. I ran the race on a team of 12 girls and our name was “Wonder Women.”
Here is a breakdown of the legs I ran:
Leg 1: My first leg was 3.1 miles and I started it at about 6:30-7:00pm. It was labelled “easy” so I really wanted to push myself and go faster than my average pace. It was pretty flat and went around a reservoir, so it was a really pretty run. I don’t know if it was because I thought it would be a really easy run or what, but I actually didn’t feel as great during it as I thought I would. I sort of mentally struggled with it halfway through, but knew it was only 3 miles so I pushed through it. I ended with an 8:03 average pace which is about 30 seconds faster than my normal pace.
Leg 2: After 2 hours of sleep, it was time to start running again! I started this run at 6:00am. The sun had just come up so it was still just a little chilly, but felt good once I got going. This leg was 7.5 miles and was labelled “hard” because it was slightly uphill the entire way. The run was on a dirt trail the entire time. For some reason, I was really nervous for the distance of the run even though I go that far all the time and knew I could do it. It went really well though and I felt good the entire time. By the end of it I was feeling that slight uphill and was getting sick of it, but by that time I didn’t have much farther to go. I tried to pace myself and keep it slower since I didn’t feel good on my first run. I finished with a 9 minute average pace which I was fine with since it was considered a hard run.
Leg 3: This was the leg I have been worried about since I decided to do this race. A little background on it first-I have watched my dad run this leg during 3 previous years and swore I would never run it because it was too hard. The run is literally straight uphill and does not ever give up. Each corner you turn, the hill gets steeper until you finally reach the top of the mountain. It is INTENSE.
So back to this year, in my mind, I really had no idea how I was going to make it through this run. I was planning on having to walk the majority of it, but still doubted myself so much. I wanted to get going on it just because I wanted to know how I was going to make it happen. I was extremely nervous once our van started on our third legs.
I started this leg around 5:00pm after still only having that 2 hours of sleep that I got before my 2nd run. The leg was 4.0 miles and was labelled “very hard,” it gains 1723 feet in the 4 miles. This is what the map of it shows:
My friend Jenni handed off to me and as I started, I kept repeating the words my dad had told me over and over in preparation for the race: start slow and keep going. I was going slow but at least I was running, most people ahead of me were walking it, even to start out. After I passed the first few people and made it 0.5 miles without walking, it really gave me a mental push to keep running at least the first mile. After that first mile, I was determined to run as long as I could without walking. I just kept thinking that I really wanted to prove that I was strong enough to do it. IT WAS ALL A MENTAL GAME. My van was awesome and kept getting out to give me water and cheer me on along the way. I would walk to get a drink from them and then put in my headphones and keep going. I passed everyone that I saw ahead of me (a few freakishly fast people passed me but once they passed I never even saw them again). The farther I got, the more determined I was to finish it strong. I don’t remember ever feeling as relieved as I did when I got to that “one mile left” sign. Whew I was almost there! After a few more ridiculous hills, I could see the finish line at the top of a hill. Suddenly, I was so tired I felt like I needed to stop. I started walking and right then a runner came up from behind me and said, “Come on! We are almost there!” That was just the push I needed and I sprinted past him through the finish haha :).
I finished in 53 minutes, which was 3 minutes faster than my predicted time from Ragnar. That was a 13:17 pace, which I was proud of for that hard of a run!
I really have never felt as accomplished in running than at that moment. I knew I did my absolute best and I was shocked that I actually was able to do that. You guys, our bodies are amazing and can do so much more than we think!
Overall it was a great year for me. I felt really strong and my van did really good on all of our legs. We all killed it :).
After running this for my 4th time, here are a few things that I have learned through the years:
- Your attitude makes or breaks the race. If you complain about everything, it will not be fun for you. Basically everything about the race is inconvenient and weird crazy stuff always happens, but you just have to go with it. Make it fun and it will make lasting memories.
- Getting out of the van and supporting your runner helps a lot. It makes the race fun and exciting and helps everyone do their best.
- Eat good food and make sure you eat (and drink!) enough. Use your food as your fuel. Eat about an hour before you run and make sure you are getting a good mix of carbs and protein. I switch to white bread to limit my fiber (for obvious reasons, haha). Drink enough water and be sure you are getting enough electrolytes.
- Sleep whenever you can when you are the off van. No matter what you do, you aren’t going to get much sleep so you really need to take advantage when you can. Lay your sleeping bag out on the grass and relax!
- Make the hard parts fun. Yes you don’t get to shower, you poop in a porta potty where 2,000 other people have pooped (ok, that is an exaggeration but you get it…), you change in the car in front of 6 other people, and you basically stink for 2 days straight. That is part of the experience and that is usually the funniest parts of the race.
- Remember, the race is not just about the run, it is the entire experience. Put away the cell phones and the worries and live in the moment!
Thanks for reading my recap, I hope you enjoyed it!