Month: June 2012

Ragnar Relay Chicago

This past weekend I participated in my first Ragnar. It is a race from Madison, WI to Chicago, IL for a total of 198.3 miles. Now, I didn’t run this by myself but instead with 11 other runners. Why did I want to do this? Well, I’ve done pretty much every kind of race that is out there from a 5K to an ultra marathon and I wanted to do something different.

I did not know all of the team members. I did meet for lunch one of the captains and she gave me an idea of what to expect. There was another team meeting that I went and met 5 additional members. There was constant email communication prior to the race so I felt a little better before the race.

The night before I gathered my stuff to pack. I had various lists to consult. One was provided by the captain and I also checked out Lazy Bones Running’s blog.  Even with so much information I knew I was bound to forget something.  Oh well.  I hoped one of the other team members will have it.  On Thursday morning I went over my stuff again and packed it in a hiking backpack.  Whew!  Heavy bag!!

The team was scheduled to be on the road to Madison by 1:30 pm.  Unfortunately, as we all waited to make sure we were all there, one of the vans was towed.  I remember hearing that it was parked in an illegal spot thinking that it would only be for a few minutes.  In fact it was only a few minutes and we were all shocked when we found out it was gone.  While we waited to get the van back we decorated the other van.  I know, one picture is simply not enough.  Finally, the van arrived and off we went.


It was a nice ride to Madison.  I relaxed and talked to a few of the team members.  I tried to take a nap but I couldn’t.  We arrived at Madison at about 5:30 pm.  We checked into the hotel and had plenty of time to unpack and unwind before dinner at 7 pm.

For dinner we went to Monk’s Bar and Grill.  I had a buffalo chicken sandwich with fries.  It was delicious!  After dinner it was back to the hotel.  By then it was about 8:30 or so.  I still had to get my stuff together for the next day.   I was runner #6 and my first run (10.9 miles) was at about 10am.  Since I was in Van #1 we were scheduled to start at 6am but check in at 5:30 so that meant being up at 4:30.  Lights were off by 9:30.


Van #1 left the hotel at 5am.  Check in was a breeze.  Perfect morning weather.  However, we had been warned that it would be up to 100 degrees with the heat index.  That freaked me out!  I was ready runner-wise but anything could go wrong with the heat.  Our first runner took off at 6am for a  4.4 mile run.  Dang, next time I want to be runner #1.

It was fun driving to the various exchanges.  It was also fun being there when the runners arrived and took off to the next exchange.  Finally, my turn came.  I was nervous because by then it was HOT.  The path was mostly straight but lonely.  There was also various up hills.  I was doing OK for the first few miles but then had to stop because it was so HOT!!!  I carried my own water but that was gone.  There was no water support like there usually is during a half or full marathon.  I was annoyed.  There were a few vans along the way that gave me water.



My goal was to pass a girl that had been ahead of me since the beginning.  It wasn’t because I really wanted to pass her up but it was more of a motivation for me.  As you can see, it isn’t like a regular race where there are runners left and right.  Finally, I saw that magical “One Mile To Go” sign.  Time to let my team members know I was almost done.


There I am!!!  Yes, I am happy to be done!!!  Can you tell?


Van #1 was done for the moment.  It was about 12:30 and we were all tired, hot, and hungry.  We went to get something to eat.  I had a grilled cheese sandwich that came with crackers.  Seriously?  No french fries?  I also drank a big glass of chocolate milk.  It was delicious and hit the spot.

We had about 5 hours to “kill” before it was our turn  to run again.  We went to Sports Authority because one of the girls had chafed and needed another pair of shorts.  We also bought more ice and water.  Off we went to the next exchange.  There were so many people there.  I took out my yoga mat and blanket and found a spot to rest and take a nap.  However, I was too tired and hot to sleep.  It just felt good not to be sitting in the van.  Besides, I was still hungry.  I was not going to run till close to midnight so I knew I had to eat something else.  Luckily, the Girls Scout were there selling burgers.  I bought one and eat it in probably two bites.

It was pretty neat to be at the exchange area.  There were many other vans and it was cool to see how they were decorated.  Also, it was during this time that one of the team members put up lost posters outside the van.  I think mine is pretty cool.



My second run was much better.  It was only 3 miles but in the dark.  It was my first time running in the dark.  I had a reflective vest, a head lamp, and a light blinking in my back.  No way anyone would not see me.  When I was done I received my prize from Pacifico for running the longest leg.  Anxious to know what it was?  A pair of sunglasses.  Yep, a pair of bright yellow sunglasses.   I got over my slight disappointment.  Now it was time to shower and sleep.

At about 5:30 we arrived at the next exchange just in time for a beautiful sunrise.  Not much later runner #1 took off again for her last run.



It was hot again.  Luckily my last run was 5.8 miles.  By the time my turn came it was hot and sunny again.  Ugh!  No backing out.  I could do it.  While waiting for my turn we used the bathroom at the YMCA.  I did not want to use another port-a-potty.  There are more people at my exchanges (this is when both vans had to be together) and the potties were getting kind of smelly.

Time to run again.  The course took me through a bike path and then through Waukegan and North Chicago.  Definitely not pretty areas.  Oh well.  I ran but made a few stops along the way.  I was so happy when I was finally done.  Now it was Van #2’s turn to run.  We went to eat (I had a delicious cheeseburger with fries) and then off we went to Chicago.  I slept along the way.  I had not had a good night sleep since Thursday night.

We arrived at one of the team members’ house and we unloaded and cleaned the van.  Then she was nice enough to let us shower.  I felt much better afterwards.  We hung around for a little bit till about 3 or so and then went to Montrose Harbor to reunite with the rest of the members.  Our last runner was still on the path and our plan was to meet up with him and cross the finish line together.  When we finally saw him we were screaming and yelling.  It was so good to see him!!  What a great feeling to cross the finish line.

We took a group picture together then enjoyed our free beer and pizza!!!



I had a great time during the relay.  It was tiring but so worth it.  I might do another one next year but at least now I know what to expect.  By the way, I overpacked.  I did have pretty much everything I needed and more.  Next time I will take a smaller backpack.

I encourage you to do a Ragnar Relay.  You’ll meet so many great people and it will be a wonderful experience!!!


Three Things Thursday

1.  Finally done with school.  Time to travel, run, and have fun.  Enough said.

2.  I am leaving this afternoon to Madison, WI for the Ragnar Relay.  When I joined the team I was Runner #2.  I was responsible for running the following: 4.5 (Moderate); 4.4 (Moderate); and 6.2 (Hard).  Not bad right?  Well, I found out Sunday that now I am Runner #6 and have to run, ready….10.9 (Very Hard); 3 (Easy); and 5.8 (Hard).   Gulp!  I don’t mind too much running 11 miles but very hard?  I really, really hope they’re not very hard at all.  On a good note, I found out that “Runners who run leg 6 at the Ragnar Chicago have something extra to be excited about – besides conquering the longest leg on the course.  Be prepared to receive a special gift from Pacifico as you finish Leg 6!”  Free beer for a year?  I hope so!!

3.  I am debating whether to run the Women’s Half Marathon in Minnesota on August 26, the Philadelphia Half Marathon on November 18, or The Space Coast Half Marathon in Florida on November 25. Decisions, decisions.  Have you done any of  these races?  What did you think?

Run Happy!

May 2012 in Review

I am a little late with this post.  Blame it on “feeling blah” and “ready to end this school year” attitude.  This month I ran 81.4 miles compared to 35.3 last month. Total this year is 421.18 miles.

I ran four races in May: Run to Remember 5K, First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon, Y-Me Race at Your Pace,  and Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10 Mile.  I did not finish the Chicago Spring Half Marathon.  I did all of these races last year and managed to not only PR on the 10 mile race but also to improve my finish time from last year on 3 out of 4 races.  Yay me!!!

Upcoming races this month include.

Ragnar Relay Chicago
Late Night 6 Glo Run
Guaranteed Rate Disco Dash 5k/10K

I will also be doing a duathlon on the 24th.  I’ve never done a duathlon and am super excited about it.  First, I will run 2 miles, a friend will bike 11 miles, and then I will run 2 more miles.  I don’t own a bike and have not been on one in years.  Well, except for an 18 mile ride last year in Ecuador in which I fell and told myself I would never get on a bike again.  Maybe next year I can do both portions.  I don’t have a time goal for the duathlon except for us to finish it.  I can’t imagine why we wouldn’t but you just never know.

Run Happy!!