All of these words describe the Ragnar Relay Race I participated in this weekend.
This is a 200 mile relay race from Huntington Beach to Coronado.
We had 12 team members in two vans. I was the driver for Van 1 and my teammates were Maricela, Itzel, Joey, Kim, and Fred. By the end of the two days, I consider them family.
We met at the church at 5:45 a.m. on Friday morning and drove to Huntington Beach to arrive in plenty of time for our 8:15 check-in, and then 9:15 start time. In hindsight, we all wish we would've started earlier, and we will next year (so many things we learned!). Van 2 didn't leave San Diego until 9:15 to meet up with us after our 6th runner.
This was the starting line. Maricela is right in the middle, with the black top on.
The first leg was Maricela and she had a 4.9 mile run up the coast and then inland along the Santa Ana river. She was awesome and strong! We drove to Exchange 1 where Itzel took over for her 5.1 run through Santa Ana. It was starting to really get hot and Itzel was feeling it, but she was the strongest runner of all of us and we were ending each run ahead of schedule. At exchange 2, Itzel handed off to Fred for his 5.4 mile run through Anaheim. We realized we forgot some stuff, so we quickly ran to Walmart. Joey and I both needed headphones and I needed a auxiliary cable so we could listen to my ipod in the car. Then we headed to exchange 3, which happened to be at Angel Stadium which was way cool! Fred told me later that Sharley was there but I didn't get to see her or say hi!
This began Leg 4, where I ran through Orange, along the Santa Ana riverbed. I can't even describe how hot it felt. Even though I was well hydrated, I couldn't even swallow. Mark explained later that along that riverbed the Santa Ana winds blow (which they DID) which makes the humidity down to 15%. It was a very hard 4.3 run. It had a slight hill at the end, but I was able to run the whole way, thankfully.
At exchange 4, I handed off to Joey where he ran what we all thought would be a little tough, but mostly cake, 2.5 mile run. It wasn't cake at all because it was pretty much all uphill and super hot. We were sweating (literally) for him because as we drove it, we felt his hill pain (but not as much as he did!). Then Joey handed off to Kim for her 2.7, mostly downhill, run through Yorba Linda. We arrived at exchange 6, which was a major exchange, where Kim handed off to Alan, which began our time "off" and Van 2's time "on".
During our time off, we drove to Grandma and Grandpa's house and ate our subway sandwiches, showered and rested for a couple of hours. It was a much needed respite from the heat and running. Thanks so much to them! Then back in the car to fight the Friday afternoon traffic through Orange and Riverside Counties. It took us nearly two hours to get to the major exchange in Lake Elsinore. All the time we were driving, Van 2 was running -
Alan - leg 7 - 7.3 miles through Corona
Scott - leg 8 - 5.4 miles through Corona
Robin - leg 9 - 6.1 miles through Corona
Brent - leg 10 - 5.4 miles still through Corona
Chelsea - leg 11 - 6.0 very hilly miles, Corona
Chris - leg 12 - a brutal 8.0 miles in Lake Elsinore through farmland
Then we met at the major exchange where Van 2 handed off to us, Van 1. It was crazy crowded and very disorganized. We were so bummed. There seemed to be hundreds of vans, the port-a-potties were full, in a gross way (more information than you wanted) and there was no toilet paper. The parking and traffic was so bad, it took us close to an hour to get our van out. We even started way earlier than the runner's exchanged because we knew it would. Chris arrived and handed off to Maricela where she ran 5.3 miles through Lake Elsinore. It was dark by now and we were required to wear a reflective vest, a flashing red light on our back, and a headlamp. As we drove to meet her, we were stopped at a DUI check point. We thought "Are you serious? Didn't the Lake Elsinore police know about the Ragnar event". Sheesh! Maricela wasn't effected by it and was very strong and kicked that run. It was so nice to be running in the cool of the night. Then leg 14 where Itzel took a very hard 9.3 run through Murrieta (including a couple of miles on a horse trail), then Fred, leg 15, a super easy 2.7 run through Murrieta, then ME, leg 16, 5.6 miles through Temecula. This was my best run of all because it was cool and I felt strong. I was so worried about running late at night because I usually go to bed so early, but I was never so grateful for my ever-adapting body. It did what I asked of it! The best part of the run was running through old Temecula. It was very pretty and very lively as there were tons of Country Western bars blaring their music. About a half mile to my exchange, I misjudged a curb and tripped and fell. It was super embarrassing because people stopped to help me, but I wasn't hurt and I got up and finished. I felt good about that run, and again, was very grateful my body rose to the occasion. Then I handed off to Joey who ran a 5 plus mile leg through Fallbrook, part of which was on a golf course, and a lot of it was uphill. As we drove up that dark highway, watching those runners, I was in awe of the event. It was grueling. We were now past midnight and we were all still going. Well, Itzel was asleep in the back of the van, and Maricela was trying to sleep. Joey handed off to Kim who ran a tough, dark 5.4 miles through Fallbrook. The major exchange was again insane, so we parked outside the campground and Fred and Joey went in to look for our teammates and Van 2, where they had been trying to get some sleep. When they left the van, I leaned against the driver's window and fell dead asleep until Fred texted me to tell me Kim was back. I was really getting very tired, it was 1:00 a.m. We loaded up and drove to Carlsbad, which would be our next major exchange. Van 2 took over -
Alan - leg 19 - 8.2 miles through Fallbrook
Scott - leg 20 - 6.5 miles through Escondido
Robin - leg 21 - 2.4 miles through Escondido
Brent - leg 22 - 3.8 miles through San Marcos
Chelsea - 2.1 miles through San Marcos
Chris - leg 24 - 4.9 miles through Carlsbad
When we arrived at the exchange in Carlsbad, it was 2:30 a.m. Fred, Kim, and Maricela headed over to the grass to sleep with their sleeping bags. Itzel, Joey, and I camped in the van. I just leaned the driver's seat back, leaned to the side with my pillow and slept like a rock from 2:44 until I looked at my watch at 4:44. Our estimate was that Maricela would need to start running at 5:00 a.m., but we were now behind schedule, so she didn't start running until around 7:00. Two hours of sleep wasn't much, but it was balm to my very tired body, and I was ready to go again. I got up, brushed my teeth with some of our drinking water, changed my clothes in the port-a-potty (very difficult, I might add), and ate a banana. We were ready to start the day!
Our first runner was Maricela, with a 5.5 mile run through Carlsbad. Then, Itzel ran a hard 7.4 miler through Carlsbad with lots of hills, ending at Legoland. Then Fred a beautiful 5.7 mile run to the coast and along the water through Encinitas. Where he handed off to me right at the Solana Beach train station where I started my 6.1 mile run through Solana Beach.
This was a tough one because I was tired and the day was really heating up. A happy moment came when I turned onto El Camino Real, running right by the horse stables, and saw Mark and Jayce up ahead waiting for me. Jayce was holding a little sign he made that said "Go Mom!"
I knew I would have a tough hill near the end of my run, and I felt strong all up until the base of that hill, my last mile and a half. I was physically and mentally challenged and I ended up running and walking up that hill. I was so bummed because I like to beat hills like that and I kind of feel like it beat me. But Mark said I never quit and that was what mattered. The best part (and I get tears in my eyes to remember it) was seeing my team at the top of the hill.
Itzel met me at the corner with a small bottle of water, which I desperately needed. I drank half of it, and dumped the rest over my head. Then she ran with me for a little bit. She was my angel at that moment!
Even after that super hard hill up El Camino Real, I had to run uphill through the neighborhood to the exchange point. It was mentally defeating, I tell ya. I want to run that thing again until I can do it without stopping! Oh, I saw the sweetest thing, though, as I neared the end. A runner ahead of me was met by his waiting wife and apparently his dog. His dog was so excited to see him as the dog jumped up happily to see his master. That got me through to the end. I love those people and their dog even though I don't know them. This is me handing off to Joey at exchange 28.
Then Joey ran a sweet 3.0 mile run through Torrey Pines. It was hillier than I thought it would be but he handled it, no problem. It was super awesome to see his family waiting for him at the bottom of the hill. He has the cutest two little boys, that look just like him!
The exchange point from Joey to Kim was at Torrey PInes State Beach. It was a beautiful place to wait! We met up with Allison Chen who ran on another team. It was fun to see her! Also, I rode with Mark and Jayce over to this exchange and we had fun hanging out on the beach for a few minutes while we waited for Kim. It was an absolutely beautiful day at the beach! We even saw a seal playing around right in front of us in the water!!
Then Kim had to run up Torrey Pines hill. And she kicked it! We drove past her and she was bookin it up the hill! We headed to the glider port (which is a beautiful place I hadn't known about but will visit again) for the next major exchange. We finally got the two vans together to document madness -
On Van 2, they had listed all the legs, and we marked them off as they were completed. The other numbers, up to 36, were on the back window. That was a satisfying thing to watch.
Van 2 took over - The first leg was Alan - leg 31 - 9.7 miles through La Jolla. And we were so tired and glad to be done and HUNGRY that we decided to find food. We went to Jamba Juice (my favorite) and Chipotle (Joey's favorite) and stuffed ourselves. Just as we were finishing up, Alan called and said he had reach his next exchange but no runner was there to meet him and he couldn't reach them on the cell phones. We quickly called Robin and they had mistakenly gone to the NEXT exchange point. It was a huge bummer and cost us some time, but hey, in a race like this, we just roll with it! Then Scott started - leg 32 - 5.9 miles through Mission Beach, but ran at least an extra mile because a lot of the signs were down. That was a huge bummer for him! I don't know the details, but I think he had the Ragnar van drive him back. Scott handed off to Robin - leg 33 - 8.3 miles through San Diego, which, after the huge hill, was a beautiful run along Harbor Drive and the water.
She handed off to Brent for his 6.4 mile run along the harbor. We stopped and cheered him on! His run was fun as he passed the Convention Center and Petco Park, and then it got very industrial and icky. But Brent was steady into 32nd Street down by the water.
Then he handed off to Chelsea for her 5.2 miles through Chula Vista. And, finally, she handed off to Chris for the final 6.1 miles through Coronado. We hurried on to the finish line to wait for him and Van 2 to arrive.
It was a beautiful ending spot...absolutely beautiful! After Chris arrived, we put on our Ragnar shirts and all ran across the finish line together. It was an incredible feeling. This event is obviously about training and running, but it's also about working together and battling the logistics of driving, sleeping, being in a van together for 36 hours, etc. As we crossed the finish line, all of that came rushing to my mind as a triumph of perseverance. I really loved the experience (now that it's over :), and I'd do it again. And I really came to love my teammates. A huge thank you to all of you, especially Alan, for working through all the headaches to make it happen.
And this is what we earned:
Side note: I know Fred got a lot of pictures, better than mine. And I know some of us got video. I think Joey has a video of us crossing the finish line. I'll post more when I get more. I hope that's not anti-climactic, but I needed to blog while I still remembered the details.
Now, to catch up my sleep! I slept 10 1/2 hours last night and I need another long one tonight! I hope all of my teammates find this and comment. And help me get the details I missed :).