This is my second year in a row doing the Las Vegas Ragnar Relay, yet each year it was a completely different experience. The first time I did it with a group of wonderful friends. This year I just found a group on the Facebook page for this event that was looking for a replacement runner and stepped in pretty late in the game. It was also a completely different course from last year and being the 12th runner in the rotation vs. the 8th runner is a different perspective on everything that happens.
There was a last minute change to the course which made my first leg 4.2 miles instead of the 3.7 it initially was supposed to be. This picture was snapped before we received our Rag Mag and learned of the change. (For those of you not in the know… the Rag Mag is basically the bible for the event. It contains the map for the whole course and for every single leg. It contains the rules and regulations and contact information for officials. It contains ads for all kinds of goodies that you will feel like, “Yeah, I might need that!”
My team was 12 moms and most of the team was from Arizona. In fact, they were from the Phoenix area chapter of the Moms Run This Town organization. In my van of 6 we had 3 gals who had never done a Ragnar before (the virgins) and 3 of us who had done one (the experienced). I’m not going to lie… it was very strange to jump in with a group of people who pretty much all knew each other and were all from the same area and be the anomaly. But it was okay, we at least had the common denominators of running and motherhood, right?
They switched up the course quite a bit this year compared to last year. The biggest change was that instead of ending at Lake Las Vegas, which is way out in the boonies far away from any civilization, we finished at the Red Rock Resort/Casino. MUCH BETTER… except for how crowded the finish area was. But I’ll get to that in a moment. The course is extremely varied, as it starts at the top of Mt Charleston where the runners in Van 1 had snow around them. It continues throughout the city, making its way through city streets, paved running/cycling trails and dirt. I love that it’s an illustration to everyone that says, “YO! Las Vegas is so much more than skeevy weirdos handing out porn on a stretch of road with giant buildings made to look like other famous buildings around the world.”
It was a really warm weekend, so a lot of the legs ended up being pretty tough. My team had to run through the heat of the day a couple of times… except me. As the last runner in each rotation, I had to run in the dark every single time. I ran as the sunset on the first day, I ran in the wee hours of the morning before the sun came up and I ran as the sun was going down on the last day. I was amazed at how many people would be decked out in full costumes. Gotta give them props for committing to something… but yikes. Although, some people wore costumes that were pretty well ventilated.
My runs were as such:
- Leg 1 = 4.2 miles
This run felt fantastic. I was so happy to be running, I’d been waiting in the van or exchanges or midway points for my teammates too long. I was already getting sunburnt and a little bored with waiting. Plus it was dark and cooling off, I needed that because I’d been HOT. We were behind our estimated finishing times and I made up about 5 minutes for us on this leg. I didn’t need van support on this leg but van support was hard on this one anyway, I just told me teammates to meet me at the exchange.
- Leg 2 = 8.2 miles
Another great run! I’ve been up to run at 4:00 AM plenty in my life… but usually that’s after getting some sleep the night before. I got no sleep during my time in Ragnar. Yet another run I did faster than the estimated pace, I made up about 6 minutes of time on this leg. This leg had little van support possible, so I didn’t take any van support. No issue with that.
- Leg 3 = 7 miles
After a day of being hot waiting at the major exchange for Van 1, then go along the hot course with my van-mates, I was getting tired and a little cranky. Once more, I wanted to run. I knew this leg was all uphill and wasn’t quite sure how it would feel… but it turned out great. I only made up a couple of minutes of time, but that still means I ran it faster than estimated! No van support on this leg either, but there were two aid stations on the route!
I liked the new ending location much better, but it was super crowded. Last year it was a nightmare for vans to get in/out of Lake Las Vegas. This year it was extremely crowded in terms of vans driving to the parking from the freeway (from what I hear… I was running into the finish) but the actual finish line was so cramped at the Red Rock pool. And my team wanted to run into the finish together, but it was confusing to spot everyone. Then we were handed our medals and finishers stickers, which are handed out as bundles to the team. So my teammates tried to start separating them and passing them out but we were right in the midst of all the congestion of others finishing. I tried to usher them out of the way… but there was nowhere to go really. We missed out on getting an entire team finishers pic, because there was no room to breathe! That needs to be worked out for next year. Also, the only food at the finish (from what I found) was stuff you had to buy. And my money was locked in the van.
But at this point, I had zero desire to hang out and party. I wanted to get some food in my belly and see my baby. I missed her and she had been starting to get sick right before the event started. Naturally… cause nothing like making sure the mommy guilt is fully stocked up when taking time away, right? So I hoofed it to the van, got my stuff and called my hubby to get me.
I have no soreness, even after all my Ragnar miles and a 5K the following morning (which I will write about soon) and I’m extremely happy with how good my body felt throughout all of this. Now I’m just dealing with residual tiredness. I can deal with that!
Things I’ve learned from two Ragnar events…
You should have two team shirts. One to wear for the first leg and one for the finish line. It just seems fun to have some kind of matching element. There was a team wearing yellow sparkly skirts at our start, you could immediately tell they were one group. Plus, if you’re doing it with strangers, at least this way you can spot your teammates in the crowd as opposed to staring around and thinking, “Who was on my team and what did they look like?” (You will know this answer by the end of the event, don’t worry. You may know things about your teammates that you never wanted to know!)
Cheez-Its are pretty much amazing van food. I’d not eaten these things in eons, because there didn’t seem to be much about them that was redeeming nutritionally. I was wrong. They are salty and tasty and easy to digest. Eat those. Or something similar.
Try to eat some kind of meals. In the downtime while the other van is on the course, eat a meal. Not anything huge and heavy, but it should be more substantial than granola bars and crackers. I didn’t eat a lunch-ish meal on Saturday and I think that would have been the thing that gave me a little more boost for that final leg.
Laugh. You can cry or you can laugh over a lot of stuff that happens. Laughing is going to feel better. Plus crying drains your electrolytes.