Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ragnar Relay Great River 2009

Wow, what a crazy week+.

Last weekend I was out in CO and did a race up Pikes Peak. Came back Monday and floated the idea to a friend* that maybe I could try to get on a Ragnar team - be a sub on a team that lost a runner to injury. By Tue noon I was on a team... though I was a little concerned as it was a FAST team. yikes! Oh well, they took me so they must've figured adding me was better than going 1 runner short. :) [*Thanks for the help, Lisa... but I didn't have anything to do with you ending up on a fast team so you really didn't have to put me in the same 'predicament'!]

Team Picture (before)
from Kim, one of our super-studs
should've stood by someone else

Ragnar Relay - Great River 2009 was a running event that started in Winona and finished at a park in Mpls, some 194.4 miles later. The idea is to have 12 people on the team... unless you are one of the super-stud teams that decide that would be too easy so you go with less, like an ultra team with 6 runners who each run 2 legs before passing the 'baton' to a teammate. There were a couple ultra teams out there and they were very impressive, and friendly, and fun to 'compete' with.

There are specific exchange zones set up so each leg of the race is defined, and you have to run in order, stick to your assigned legs, and everyone runs 3 times. I was given what I'd consider the easiest assignment [Thanks, Mark!] - runner 12. Which means I ran the 12th, 24th, and the final 36th leg. My runs were: 3.2mi Easy, 3.0mi Easy, 5.4mi Hard for a total of 11.6 miles. For comparison, runner 5 had: 6.6mi Hard, 6.8mi Very Hard, 7.2mi Very Hard for a total of 20.6 miles. Wow!! [Thanks again, Mark!!]

Each 12-person team would have two vans of 6 runners each. I was in van 2, runners 7-12. After the start we had a bunch of hours to wait/waste until our first runner started. We went to a grocery store and got some food, drove to the first major exchange and ate... and waited. It was fun and relaxing... and then it was our turn. From then on it was a mad crazy tiring event! My first leg started around 11:30pm and then we went to the next major exchange and tried to get some sleep (2.5 hours??). We were all up by 4am and waiting for runner 6 to come in so we could do it again. I think my 2nd leg started about 8am and then we went to (runner 11) Dave's house for showers and a little more sleep (45 minutes??), and then back to the next major exchange to do it all over again. My 3rd leg started about 3pm. While our van was 'on'... we'd see our runner off at the exchange, usually stop part way into their leg to cheer, then on to the next exchange to pick them up and see our next runner off. Repeat ad infinitum, or so it seemed by the end. We started at 3pm Fri and finished before 4pm on Sat for a total time of 24 hours 39 minutes and 56 seconds (avg of 7:41s)!

So how did I do on the FAST team? Well, way better than I thought I'd do. In my email to Mark I told him about my Douglas Trail Run (flat, 11 miles, avg ~8:50s with a couple 8:30s, very good day). I said I'd run hard and that's all I could offer. I was hoping for another very good day and figured I'd be way happy with 8:30s for the two 3 milers. I believe the goal for our team was to average 7:45s. If anyone had suggested I could run under 8s I truthfully would've told them they were nuts, and had they suggested under 7:30s I would've told them they were delusional. So what did I do? According to my Garmin which came up with the correct mileage - 7:28s, 7:22s, 8:29s. What?? Really?? I was amped up waiting all day for my turn, the adrenaline was pumping, I was inspired and challenged by the event and everybody else on the team coming in minutes under their projected times... so I ran harder than I've run in years. 3 times. (It also helped that I mostly ran by myself, especially in the dark, so I didn't care that my breathing sounded like a wind storm!)

If I hadn't done it and timed it myself I wouldn't believe it. This is fast for me, way fast, so I'm blown away and a little perplexed. Now what should I think about my running? Well, the ultra training I'm doing seems to be helping, in ways I didn't expect... so I think I'll keep doing it. And maybe I should run 'harder than I've run in years' more often! :) In this case it worked out great and was a lot of fun.

The Ragnar Relay was a great event and I highly recommend it. Thank you to the organization and all the volunteers that were out there making the whole event possible! And Thank You to Mark and all my teammates - it was blast getting to know you (mainly Van 2 because of the logistics). Thanks for having me!


Blogger Mark H. said...

Great report Wayne! I'm glad you enjoyed the race an it was a pleasure to have you on our team. About your speed... like I said in my email to you 'Running hard is all we ask'. Well, you sure ran hard and I think we all ran a little bit faster than usual because the whole team was counting on us.

Hope to see you on the trails sometime.

7:42 PM  
Blogger wildknits said...

Wow, got that report up quick!!

Awesome job out there! And a week after Pike's Peak!

It is amazing what the body can do when called to action - and good to stretch the outer boundaries of what we think is possible from time to time.

It was fun meeting your teammates and exchanging some friendly rivalry.

Thanks for coming out at 4 in the morning to see me off on my adrenaline charged 2nd leg - what a pleasant surprise (and I was too freaked out by the unexpected arrival of Sam to say so at the time).

And then to get out today and run some more... You are ready for Superior!

8:32 PM  
Blogger Mike W. said...

Another nice report and you got this one up quick. Your speed may have come from your hill and altitude training ;-).You must've recovered from the long day real quick. S

8:42 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Way to go, speedy!

I also had a great time at my first Ragnar. I had committed to just doing 10 minute miles, but pushed myself and came up with 8:30min/mi for my first leg, 9:00min/mi (average) on the 2nd leg, and 9:30min/mi (average) for the 3rd leg. I'm stressing "average" because I got the "hard" legs of being the runner 5 that you mentioned, and the last 2 legs were long and HILLY (and the 3rd leg was in the sun).

Our last runner came in about 3:45p, and I took off right away. Too bad, because otherwise we might have seen each other!

1:18 AM  
Blogger Karen G said...

Glad you had fun.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Helen said...

great report. and way to run those legs!! nothing like a bit of peer pressure to get the legs moving :)

2:05 PM  
Blogger wildknits said...

the blog... you had "nothing to do with me ending up on a fast team" eh?! Hmmm, encouraging me to run ultras just opened that door to running this relay (or so I will claim). If I hadn't been training for an ultra I may have said "No - running three times in 24 hours and not sleeping much if at all does not sound like a good idea".


I still say you started it all. And with friends like your's who needs enemies ;->

Now that the results are out: Northland Runner folks (readers, bloggers, psrticipants) rocked Ragnar- Great River! Members on at least three teams all that ran well and, most importantly, had fun doing so.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Kel said...

Sounds like you've been busy lately! You may have gotten more miles in the last 2 weeks than I've run all month ;)

1:50 PM  
Blogger keith said...

Nice job! You're doing some awesome stuff this year!

12:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sounds like you are ready for another race against Rod... :-)

4:13 PM  

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