While this past weekend was my 3rd time participating in the Ragnar Relay series, this will be my first official blog wrap up. I love the experience that is Ragnar, but leave the weekend exhausted. This time, however, I want to put some thoughts into words before I forget.
Team captain Amy, of Girls Just Wanna Go Run with Boys too, arrived on Thursday to scout out our home for the next couple of days and set up camp. This allowed Todd (her husband), Gretchen, and I to arrive late Friday morning. While this meant each of us got to spend the night in the comfort of our own homes, it also meant a 3am alarm for me.
We experienced heavy traffic thanks to a total lane closure on I-75, and the rain began shortly into the drive. Our team start time was noon, so we had plenty of time to get there and get our stuff unloaded before the first runner was off.
Unlike the 12 person road relays, Ragnar Trail teams are made up of 8 runners, plus a volunteer. Amy, Gretchen, and I were left from the original Van on the Run van 2/GJWGR van 1 crew. (Kelly’s injury sidelined her this round.) Added to our team were Amy’s husband Todd, Kelly’s husband Bob, and 3 people we’d never met before: Whitney, Pam, and Nicole.
GJWGR van 2 had their own 8 person team, but they shared camp space with us. Because they assembled their team first, they were GJWGR with Boys. We added the “too.”
While waiting for my turn to run – I was runner #6 – I took advantage of my free time and caught a bit of a nap. It wasn’t much, but I knew sleep would be little and far between for the next 36 hours.
I ate a normal lunch, knowing I would have several hours before my first leg. Being one of the last runners to start was enjoyable for me. Of course Gretchen, runner #7, had an entirely different perspective. But more on that later.
Bob handed off to me and I got my first leg started around 5PM. The air was warm and humid, and by mile 2 I was already wheezing. Our weather in Tennessee hasn’t allowed for heat acclimation yet. By the time I hit the actual trail portion, however, I reminded myself this was a “for fun” event, so I slowed down and enjoyed the trails.
Each runner tackles the same 3 trails, but in different order. Red, or the longest, most technical trail, was my first of the event. The picture above shows the mats for transition. The runner on the green trail always hands off to her teammate running the yellow trail. The yellow always hands off to the red, and the red always hands off to green. By that evening, the mats were so muddy the color was indistinguishable. But more on that later.
While most of the red trail reminded me of those here in the Smokies, it also had a super-cool granite feature. Jay and I had encountered similar in Acadia National Park (in Maine), but I had never ran over it. Turns out it was my favorite part of this favorite leg.
I ended this leg feeling like a bad ass. I’m not sure if it was the endorphins or what, but I cruised into the finish line, handed off to Gretchen, and headed back to our base camp beaming.
My decision to change into fresh clothes before heading to the mess hall tent for dinner turned out to be one I regretted.