I did it! Or WE did it! I completed my first relay race!
Last year I was invited to run the Ragnar to Key West. Carlos and I have recently befriended a group of active folks we see frequently while running, biking, kayaking, and watching soccer games. We learned that they had a team registered in the upcoming Ragnar Relay from Miami to Key West. My husband has been looking forward to doing one; in fact he was signed up for one a couple years ago but had to drop out due to an injury. They had a full team but he asked to be considered for the future. I didn’t show interest for the race because the thought of running a race where people depended on my time sounded like a recipe for disaster.
Luck would have it that two out-of-towners dropped out of the race and they had two openings. They asked Carlos and I if we would like to participate. I hesitated but after some encouragement and a plan to do some speed training I said yes.
I continued my training to prepare for my upcoming half-marathon. It was that race that I fell less than one minute short of a PR (ugggh). However I did get to meet most of my Ragnar team (of the ones I didn’t already know). Below is a picture of most of our group at that race.
Only had 5k’s on the schedule after the Orlando Half so it was important that I still kept up with my long runs. December was tough but I felt like I got back on track in January with the exception of my last long run being terrible (I had to walk almost 1/3 of it).
In addition to my long runs, I added 2-3 sessions of speedwork. I typically skip this part of my training because I don’t like it. This time around people are counting on me to make some time improvement. So I pushed through and did the work.
In no time at all it seemed like it was time for the race. Thursday morning most of us met up in Orlando with our rented vans to head down to Miami to meet the rest of the team and rest for the night.
|We were sure to tag our van early on with Orlando City Magnets (Go Lions!).|
While in Miami we checked into our hotel and headed to a Cuban dinner.
|We all fit in one van!|
After the team meal it was time to prepare our gear and get some sleep. Van 1 has an early start.
|Early start time|
Van 1 has to check in to get all the info and show proof of safety gear of all 6 participants.
|Modeling the required reflective vest|
|Angelique keeping warm for her run.|
And the race begins at 5:15 am.
After runner 1 starts we rush off to first find coffee and then to meet up with our runner at the first exchange.
It is a beautiful sunrise in Miami as we meet runner one by one until my turn as runner 6.
|Carlos ready for his first run|
While waiting we have time to decorate our van properly. The run happens to coincide with Carlos’s birthday so we decorate the van to celebrate. You will also notice random magnets. Teams have them made and tag the other vehicles. Sounds like a fun idea for the future.
Soon it was time for my run. It was an less than exciting run through Miami. The most interesting part about it was running on the wrong side of the road because I decided to follow a runner ahead of me instead of following my instincts (and the signs). Luckily I got a call from Carlos to tell me to cross the street. My pace was much better than I expected, even considering that I lost over a minute waiting for a cross walk signal that never came. Miami stinks. It was this first run that I discovered that my speed work had paid off. I finished ahead of schedule.
Carlos was surprised by van 2 carrying his big head. Matt made a big head of Carlos for his birthday and van 2 stayed up late assembling his big head. Thanks van 2!
Our van had a long break so we decided to get a nice big breakfast before we took some time to relax. I settled for some yummy salmon and cream cheese on a bagel. One of my favorites!
We headed to exchange 12 to wait for van 2 to finish. It was a cool spot. We got to rest in the sun and watch cars go real fast around the track. They had nice bathrooms so it gave me a good opportunity to change and cleanup before sitting in the van for hours before my next run. I also took advantage of the free biofreeze on my sore ankle.
|Miami Homestead Speedway|
|Van 1 poses for a group photo.|
|We got slimed.|
We start again. Leg 2 is where most of the group is doing their longest runs. We get to watch the sun start setting over canals. We drive down access roads along side of the runners. None of my runs are in this stretch but it seems challenging. Lots of dust from the vans and at one point there is an offensive stench from rotting squash.
And it gets dark and it is time for my run. I don’t have any pics from the run since it is very dark. My head lamp is essential. The course is mostly flat so the only reason why it might be considered very hard is because it is very dark, there are scary noises in the bushes, and you could be by yourself for much of the run. I was by myself for at least a mile and a half before someone passed me. It was kind of creepy and dark. I started off at a good long run pace but then I slowed considerably. I was tired and finding it hard to be motivated to push through this run.
When I arrived at the exchange it was dark and everyone was glowing. I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating. Turned out there was a bunch of black lights. Cool look but I was too delirious to enjoy it. My team rushed me off to our motel we had booked for a nap and showers since they were all tired waiting for me. We showered and got a nice 4 hour nap before we got an early call from van 2 that their last runner had started. It was time to take off again.
Somewhere in this stretch we attempted to get coffee and pee at a Dunkin Donuts. They were overwhelmed. I waited in a 30 minute line for the bathroom and others waited for 45 minutes for coffee. It prompted the decree below. “No fancy coffee” at Ragnar. Get your standard coffee and go! Your fancy skinny mocha latte is holding everyone up!
I hitchhiked for the what I believe is the first time in my life at one of the exchanges. The port-a- potties were very far down this road. I jogged there but a nice van of non-murderers took me back.
We are in the final stretch for van 1. Jessica gets to compete a beautiful run across the 7 mile bridge not at all soiled by the sight of runner’s poops along the bridge (those runners don’t know how to time their poops like our team!). The day gets warmer and it is time for my last run. It is warmer than I like but I am pumped up for the end. I have a virtual exchange (the runner is on the other side of the road and I start with the bracelet.
|My last run. Begins with 1/2 mile of a scenic trail|
My last run starts on a lovely trail with a nice view of some mangroves. It is only lasts about 1/2 a mile before I am back on an eventual run along the road with traffic. I make the mistake of running on the grass and gravel instead of on the pavement. It sucks too much energy from me so I move to the side of the road and hope the cars don’t swipe me by accident.
I finally get to the one mile sign and want to take my only selfie opportunity for the run. I can’t get it right. It takes me many tries and many seconds. I give up and keep running.
Finally van 1 is done. Even with the selfie delay my pace comes in faster than I expected. The speed workouts really do work!
I mark off my box for our final run and we are off for some grub and and cold beverage while we wait for the rest of the team to finish.
Hogshead fish sandwich
I am feeling adventurous so I eat some greasy fried food post-run.
Last runner has started so we head to the finish so the entire team can cross the finish line together with our hulk mode shirts.
|Right around the corner is the finish and we are done!|
We cross the finish line and get our bling.
We think they are cheaply made of old metal pieces with lettering until we discover another team putting them together like a puzzle.
We get our finish line beer and head into our condos to get ready for dinner. We meet up for some food and make an appearance and the post race party at Ricks. The crowd was thick and music a little loud for our liking but we found some couches and made our own little party.
The next morning we met down at the southernmost point for a team picture in our Orlando City gear.
My bloody mary wanted to make sure she had a picture too.
We decided upon the most popular place in town for brunch. For our 3 hour wait we found this relaxing bar across the street. I got to relax in a hammock for a while.
Luckily we weren’t starving. We had plenty of chickens to entertain us.
We finally got our seats and ordered some food and more drinks.
|LBLT Benedict (Lobster Bacon Benedict)|
Some of the team had to take off early and some of us stayed an extra day or two to extend the fun. The team was great and our team captain was amazing. She was able to keep us all organized and kept her cool the entire time. It was a memorable experience. I will not hesitate to say yes if I am asked back.
*Some of the photos are borrowed from my teammates.