Thursday, July 24, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage

So after recovering and thinking about this past weekend for a few days I decided I don't want to draw out a 3 or 4 part recap and I'm just going to shove it all in one super long blog post…so get ready!  Plus, you really only need to hear MY recap, you can go read my teammates blogs for their recaps:

This was my second year doing Ragnar ultra style and my 6th year running the Northwest Passage race. This course NEVER gets old and I got to run on some new ground this year due to our kind of complicated running schedule.  Nicole manipulated an excel spreadsheet so each of us ran 4 times and that we all got our longest run over with in the beginning of the relay. I ended up covering 35.1 miles over the course which included long gradual uphills on major roads that oil tankers speed by on, long flat river winding roads, running over deception pass, and one super duper long downhill to finish off the 35.1 miles <---you could think that would be glorious but after that many miles the pounding on the road from the downhill did not feel pleasant!  #runnerproblems I know ;)

Start line jump pic!
Team Six Pack With Racks (#199) started at 9AM Friday morning and began the long journey towards Langley on Whidbey Island full of excitement, some nerves, and a van FULL of food, water, and Nuun!

Run #1 - 12.1 miles (started at 11AM Friday) - 2:01:13 - 10:00 pace
My first run was leg 3 and 4 of the course and while the elevation chart may look intimidating it's pretty gradual and rolling really not as hard as it looks.  It was HOT and a bit humid during this run and for most of it you are running on the shoulder of a major road that oil tankers drive down…meaning you get all kinds of road dirt on you.  

Off I go!
I consistently ran about 10:00 miles (my goal!) and ran through the first exchange a little after 8 miles in and received a quick water refill from my teammates. I felt strong the whole way and the last few miles were slightly downhill so that was nice.  I handed off to Marilyn just outside of Bellingham, chugged some coconut water, ate a sandwich and wiped all the road dirt off of me...I felt like a new woman after all of that :).
Coming in to handoff to Marilyn. Ragnar has FREE race photos BTW, just one more reason they are awesome!


Unfortunately, my body did not recover property and I started to get a headache after this run that kind of ruined the rest of Friday. I managed to still cheer for my teammates, but the small headache turned into a light migraine and I got increasingly nervous I would be miserable running my next run.  I stayed super hydrated, caffeinated, and made sure to eat properly but nothing was really working :(.

Myself, Robyn, Travis, Nicole and Jordanne at the Bellingham High exchange

#teamlauren at at exchange! It was run running into Oiselle's Birdmachine team!


Run #2 - 10.66 miles (started about 9PM Friday) - 1:47:27 - 10:05 pace



These miles covered leg 15 and 16 and took our team south through Mount Vernon on very FLAT road.  I decided to listen to podcasts to try and get my mind off my headache and just hoped that running magically cured my migraine.  GOOD NEWS...it kind of did. My head didn't hurt during the run and I just got in a groove and ticked away the miles.  I ran by a lot of farms and saw cows and alpacas sleeping and only heard a couple of scary rustling in the bushes next to me.  Oh and it rained...the rain started just as I started running and was basically a drizzle storm for the first 5-6 miles.  Luckily, it felt nice since it was so humid out and once it stopped I ran enough after to dry off.

After I handed off to Marilyn, I got dry and settled into one of the van seats to try and just close my eyes to kick the rest of my migraine out of my head for good.  I may have slept for about 30 minutes but remaining vertical for about an hour helped.  As most of us (who weren't running of course) tried to sleep a bit Travis (van driver and husband extraordinaire to Marilyn) made sure the next runner got to the exchange and picked up the one coming in...he rocked!  I ended up having a very life changing cup of coffee at a gas station around 3AM and felt totally cured of my headache!

Run #3 - 6.44 miles (started about 5AM Saturday) - 1:03:56 - 9:56 pace
I was pretty excited about this leg. It was leg 23 over Deception Pass and it felt so awesome to not only run over this beautiful bridge, but be the one who took my team from the "mainland" to Whidbey Island.  
Deception Pass selfie
After I ran over the bridge it started raining pretty hard and then the wind came and I started to get a little pissed that I drew the major short end of the stick when it came to running in the rain.  I don't mind the rain but when you add the wind I just got too cold.  I ran the last couple of miles as fast as I could so I could just get dry and warm again.  Poor Marilyn had to run in the rain for the first part of her run but I think it stopped shortly after.  My legs were actually hurting pretty bad at this point in the relay and I had some hip pain that was making me a little nervous.  Add to that 3 blisters forming from running with wet socks and I was turning into a mess.  BUT, the fact that I only had 5.7 miles left left me very hopeful that I would complete all my miles relatively unscathed.  
 
Run #4 - 5.86 miles (started about 1PM Saturday) - 57:50:70 - 9:54 pace
As I took off on my last run I'm pretty sure I had a smile on my face the whole time.  It didn't matter that my hip was hurting, my blisters were rubbing on my toes, or that I nauseous from no sleep...nothing was stopping me from running these last miles as fast as I could.  The majority of this run, leg 32, was downhill and while normally I would love that it made the pounding on my very tired body a bit more painful.
Funny how I really thought I was sprinting to the finish, but this photo makes me look like a snail...haha!
Handing off to Marilyn for the last time was the best feeling in the world and knowing I ran every single one of those 35.1 miles as strong as I could made the sense of accomplishment that much more gratifying!
I took my last Shower Pill shower and got ready to watch Bethany bring it all home for us!!
Come on Bethany!
And just like that, a little over 32 hours after we started we crossed the finish line together and wrapped up an amazing 196 mile journey full of laughs, new friendships, a little bit of pain, but mostly a huge sense of accomplishment as a team.


And then we ate pizza!

 I've said it before and I'll say it again...the best thing about Ragnar is that is takes a normally very individualized sport and turns it into a team sport.  Sometimes the most memorable moments from the whole experience don't happen while running...they may happen while just driving along in the van and learning one of your teammates brothers is a New Kids on the Block member (yes...it is TRUE!), sharing upcoming new life changes with each other (cryptic I know!), and planning the next relay only minutes after finishing this one.

Every single year I've run this race I haven't known one or more of my teammates beforehand and every single year I end the weekend with new friendships, lasting memories, and a huge smile on my face. Thank you Robyn, Marilyn, Nicole, Jordanne, Bethany and Travis for making the weekend one for the record books!

QUESTION: Who is already excited for 2015 Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage?

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I Quit Sugar Update:

Okay, I'm done being sappy...just a quick I Quit Sugar update for you all if you are curious. Next week is the final week of the program and the past two weeks I've really just focused on making no sugar part of my life now. I successfully navigated Ragnar without sugar and even without running fuel (minus Nuun of course...that is as necessary as blood!) and am confident that eliminating sugar from my diet is definitely the life for me.  I plan on posting a week 6, 7, 8 recap at the end so stay tuned. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Six Pack With Racks Success

I plan on posting a recap or two or three soon but I just have to post some photos real quick and say what an amazing experience this was.  Even though it was my second year on an ultra Ragnar team, I didn't feel any less nervous about running 35.1 miles over this past weekend and sitting on my couch tonight I still can't quite believe what my team accomplished this weekend. 

Things weren't always pretty and I battled a migraine, blisters, some pretty intense hip pain and running in heat and pouring rain...but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.  As I powered through my last mile on Whidbey Island on Saturday afternoon I couldn't help but smile at the amazing accomplishment and be thankful that I am even able to endure an adventure like Ragnar! Being able to share it with 5 other amazing ladies and 1 insanely supportive driver was the best part and I couldn't have done it without each one of them.

Robyn, me, Marilyn, Nicole, Jordanne, and Bethany!


Team Six Pack With Racks finished Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage in 32 hours, 17 minutes!


This experience was even more memorable being an ambassador for both Nuun and Ragnar.  Nuun kept myself and my team hydrated, caffeinated, and energized throughout the whole relay and Ragnar put on yet again a flawless event.  They had more teams than ever this year but you would have never known...more port-o-potties, larger exchanges, and amazing volunteers made everything run seamlessly!

Part of my team reppin Nuun and Ragnar!  Sorry your head got cut off Travis :)
As we rode the ferry home on Saturday evening we brainstormed our next relay and even creating our own cross country relay (craziness I know!) and sang "for he's a jolly good fellow" to our driver all I thought was that I never wanted this feeling of accomplishment, friendship and fun to end!

For now I'll just have to re-live the experience with photos, memories, texts and tweets from teammates and hope that this Ragnar hangover never ends!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - The WEATHER!

We are only a couple days away from the start of the 2014 Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage so it's pretty safe to give a forecast now.  For those of you not living in the Pacific Northwest, it has been HOT HOT HOT here over the past week. And by hot I mean 80-90, which is basically like being in the center of the Earth to us mild weathered Pacific North-westerners. Well the good news…IT IS GOING TO COOL OFF FOR RAGNAR! I'll admit the potential hot weather was the only thing really stressing me out about Ragnar this week, but now I feel a bit more relieved.

That year it rained for the first 4 hours!
And less than 24 hours later, sun and warmth!

I've picked three points along the course to give you a forecast that should cover most of the race.  Like I stated in my packing post it gets COLD at night.  Even if the temps only say mid 50's being along the water and breezes make it feel much colder than that….pack accordingly!

The key to reading the below graphs:
RED - temperature
BLUE - % sky cover
BROWN - Precipitation potential
GREEN bars - potential inches of rain

Bellingham, WA Forecast for Friday, July 18 - 6AM to 8PM


Temperatures look pretty good in the 60's for when most teams start and only reaching the lower 70's for the heat of the day.  80% sky cover will offer good cloud protection from the sun, making running more more enjoyable.  And here is where the potential bad news comes in…the chance of rain increases throughout the day and with a 44% chance in the afternoon you are most definitely going to want to be prepare to run and sit around in rain. Bring that extra pair of shoes, a rain jacket, and a towel!  You may get lucky and not feel a single drop, but be prepared anyways!

Anacortes, WA Forecast for Friday, July 18 at NOON to Saturday, July 19 at 5AM



Friday evening is when the rain is supposed to come in from the Pacific Ocean but it shouldn't amount to much and you might not even feel a drop…you just never know.  Evening temps will dip into the upper 50's which isn't really that cold but since we have been HOT HOT HOT here in the PNW for the past couple weeks this could be a bit of a shock to the system.  Just bring one pair of sweats and a good jacket and you should be good to go.

Langley, WA Forecast for Saturday, July 19 - Midnight to 8PM



Saturday on Whidbey Island should see temps in the 60's with a lower chance of rain.  The 94% sky cover makes me think you won't see the sun, but don't quote me on that.  Looks like perfect running weather to me.  This is the most scenic part of the course in my opinion so grab your iphones and cameras and get some pictures of your runners in this stretch!

DISCLAIMER: I was discussing this forecast with my co-worker (a meteorologist by training) and he said that is always really hard for rain to start again after such a long dry spell (I'm sure there is a super sciency explanation for this but I didn't inquire) so that he would take the percentage change of rain forecasted with a grain of salt as it will probably be lower…so take that advice as you wish and plan accordingly :).  Additionally, rain in the summer is never  an all day downpour so don't get too bummed and think you'll be wet the whole time…you won't!

So in summary:

  • Running temps from 50-70 will be perfect for running…pack whatever you normal wear for these temps.
  • There is enough of a chance of rain that you should be prepared with a rain jacket, towel, dry clothes and an extra pair of dry running shoes.
  • Skies should remain pretty cloudy throughout so that will make things feel a bit chillier, pack those layers for night and consider bringing a more winterish weather running outfit for night hours if those night time temps will shock your system :). That doesn't mean leave the sunscreen at home, you will still be outside most of the time so slather it on for safety!
And remember to follow Six Pack With Racks on twitter and instagram with #sixpackrack and all the Ragnar runners with #ragnarnwp.