My Ragnar Napa Valley adventure started Friday morning at 4am, alarm blasting me wide awake. Even though I wasn’t on deck to run my first leg of the race until 10:45am, I was immediately nervous. TNT team mate and BRF Erica picked me up at 4:45am and we headed to over to my good friend Anya’s apartment here in Oakland, meeting the rest of our team for the very first time: Jenn, Allison, Kevin, our driver Ken and our navigator Loren.
We packed/shoved/crammed the van full of our gear and snacks and by 5:30am, were headed to San Francisco to begin the race. We got to Chrissy Field, checked in, attended a safety talk, then waited for our 7am start.
OH SO READY TO RAGNAR!!!! (Van 1, left to right: Kevin, Ken, Erica, me, Jenn, Loren and Allison; photo credit: Anya)
As Ragnar is a crazy race, it attracts crazy runners and time went by quickly as we people watched, laughed at the costumes, asked “why??” of the practically naked people, and took pictures of the best specimens:
It was so cold and windy, I don’t get it either but I sure want a picture of it! (vrowr)
Finally, our wave started, and Erica was off for 4 miles…
… and we were off too- back in the van to the very first exchange of the race for our runner #2, Allison. Now Allison is brand new to running and as Ragnar-van-talk goes, this was her first race and her first attempt to run a distance over 3 miles. She was so excited and we were all so impressed with her bravery and happily cheered her on! Ragnar is all about doing the things you really shouldn’t do when running, and even as a running rookie, here was Allison, all raring to go with Ragnaritis.
Picked up Erica after she crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and we cheered like a bunch of crazies (which is totally encouraged) as Allison ran off. Then got back in the van and drove to the next exchange… you can see the pattern erupting here, I’m sure.
Out of San Francisco and into Milly Valley we drove, rooting on our next runner, #3, Kevin. Allison did a fantastic job and arrived pretty much right on schedule after 3 miles to smack that sweaty slap bracelet onto Kevin’s arm.
Slap it to me, baby!!! RAGNAR!!! (photo credit: Anya)
And off went Kevin for his 6 mile leg in THE shortest shorts of all running kind which he very proudly modeled for us throughout the race and during several up-close-and-personal-van-moments. As a result of all that extra ventilation, he flew, and Anya had just enough time to suck down a Gu before taking off for her first 5 mile leg through Tiburon .
Anya’s 4th Ragnar, she was more than ready! (photo credit: whoever had Anya’s camera)
Anya’s leg had its share of hills and with the sun starting to heat up, we waited at the next exchange sending good vibes to Anya and reassuring our next runner, Jenn, that all would be well as she stared at the first part of her run- about a 400 foot incline… with stairs.
Anya finally arrived and made it up the first part of this incredibly steep hill, slapped the bracelet on Jenn and Jenn was off…
And then, finally, it was my turn. As the last runner for our van, I had waited all day to run and I was freaking out- I am sure this was annoying to my van mates, sorry, guys! I knew that once I started running, it would be just like any other run- hot, hilly, not too long (4 miles)- but being a part of such a big team, I put a lot of pressure on myself to run well, I didn’t want to let anyone down by letting the heat or the hills get to me as they have so many times before in solo races. I was nervous…
We all waited for Jenn at the 5th exchange, she arrived, gave me the slap bracelet and I was off for 4 hot, happy miles through Larkspur.
Leg 6 of the race, leg 1 for me! (photo credit: Anya)
As I said, the sun was a mad, hot ball of flame as I began my run and it was immediately scorching without shade. It was also pretty hilly but as I wanted to do really well for my team, I pumped my tunes and killed the hills.
One of the other things that had me a nervous wreck at this race was that there weren’t any mile markers. The only signs placed along the route were directional (“turn right”, “stay straight”, “cross then turn left”) and I have never been more grateful for my Garmin! I was worried that I would miss a sign, get lost, thereby messing up the whole team. This, I am happy to say, did not happen.
After the first mile of my first leg, I came to a point where I could either go either straight, right or left yet there were no race signs around to direct me. Uh oh. Luckily, there were some other runners around me and we collectively asked non-running passers by where we should go and thank goodness they pointed us in the correct direction. So I never got entirely lost, just that one where-the-heck-do-I-go-now- thank goodness!
Having never met anyone from Van 2, I had no idea who I was passing off to. Luckily, with my Van 1 peeps screaming, “GO LAURA GOOOO!” it was easy enough to find Julie, so I sprinted it in, handed off the bracelet, and hit the all-you-can-eat Ragnar candy bar.
What a funny way to meet someone for the fist time! LOL! Hi Julie! (photo credit: Anya)
I finished around 11:30am and it was super hot, everyone was hungry and tired, so we went to out to a lunch of Mexican food and beer and then went to a friend’s house to shower and watch “Office Space” until Van 2 was done and it was our turn to run again.
Van 1 fueled by chips, salsa and Tecate! (photo credit: Van 1 team mate, Jenn)
There’s no way I can fit this whole entire race recap into one post, so stay tuned for leg 2 of our Ragnar Napa Valley journey… tomorrow, I swear…