Friday, April 11, 2014

Ragnar Recap

I boarded the plane in Boise last Thursday morning both excited and a bit nervous about what was about to unfold within a couple hours. Here I was, after months of correspondence, planning and training, off to finally meet face-to-face with my 11 teammates. I tried to distract myself on the plane by reading and listening to music but that didn’t seem to be working. I think the guy in the seat next to me could tell I was fidgety, so he started talking with me. He wanted to know why I was headed to San Diego, so for the next 45 minutes I was able to explain to him everything about this Ragnar I was about to run and how the team, Strangers to Solemates, was formed. He was more excited than I think I was to get off that plane. He gave me his email and told me he’d love to hear all about it and how the team all meshed together and everything in between. In fact, he followed me outside wanting to see how my first interaction with my team went over. 
John (one of our team captains) was waiting outside by the curb as I walked out of the airport. He had already picked up several of the others and dropped them to either get the other van we were renting for the weekend or dropped them at his house. Bonnie was with him and had run in to look for me, but I hadn’t checked any bags so I wasn’t in the baggage claim area. Caitlin was the first person who greeted me with a hug. We loaded my bags in the van, I hopped in and climbed over the seat to give John a hug, and then Bonnie was there to claim hers shortly after. We drove around for about 15 minutes and then Katie arrived. I was really looking forward to hugging on her as she was the one who started this whole thing for me. She got in the van and was just as adorable as I imagined. 
We all got back to John’s house and waited for Thomas to arrive before heading north to the starting line. His flight was delayed but nobody seemed to mind as he was bringing everyone a Voodoo Donut from Portland. After Thomas had arrived and we’d given enough hugs to go around 5 times or so, we all loaded into the 2 vans and headed to our hotel near the starting line. We had gotten 3 rooms so we put 2 people from each van in a room to mix things up a bit. Caitlin and I were in the same van and got paired up with Bonnie and Martha. They were super fun and made it a perfect start to an even more perfect weekend. 
Before heading to bed we had all went to dinner as a group and then hit Party City to purchase van decorations and a few goofy things to wear along the way. 
I was in van #1 so we were up and out the door rather early. We needed to get signed in, pick up our race stuff, and have our first runner ready by 5:00am. Our running assignments were as follows: Runner 1 =Thomas, Runner 2 =Katie, Runner 3= John, Runner 4= Caitlin, Runner 5 = Hilary, and Runner 6= me. Those are the people I really spent the majority of my time with. 

Van 2 had Runner #7 = Dean, Runner #8= Tay, Runner #9 = Martha, Runner#10= Bonnie, Runner #11= Cat, and Runner #12= Colleen.  Van 2 got up and met us at the starting line just before 5:00 to see Thomas off.
That’s one of the things I loved about this team. It was all about support, bonding, and having fun.  Not winning Ragnar. In fact, one of my favorite parts about the whole race was offering van support and cheering one another on. 
It was inspiring to be a part of something like that. We didn’t care. We got out, made tunnels for our runner and others coming by, rang cow bells, cheered, gave other runners licorice as they were running past and whatever else we could think of to brighten someone else’s leg of the race. At one point I even ran after Thomas on one of his legs in my flip-flops ringing a cow bell down the street in the middle of the night. That’s just the kind of team we were. We wanted our runners to feel loved and we weren’t afraid to show it.
Now onto my legs of the race and how things played out for me. Like I said, I was runner 6 so I was the last to run in our van before passing off to van two. I actually really liked this position. I tend to be a nervous runner and having to go last gave me everything I needed to see how it all worked, relax, gear myself up, and be ready. My first leg was 8.7 miles. I remember seeing Hilary coming in towards me and I pressed the button on my I-pod to get my music going. She came in, passed off our bracelets, gave me a hug, and off I went. I rounded the first corner and the tears began to start. Here I was doing what I thought was never possible at one point in my life, let alone now being a part of a relay team. It was so moving to me in the moment, but I also knew I needed to pull it together because I had a long way to go and any time I get emotional I tend to be tired afterward. I certainly didn't want any setbacks my first leg out. I continued to run along at what seemed like a very fast pace for me so I glanced down at my Garmin and noticed I was just under a 9 minute mile! Yikes! I knew right then I needed to put on the brakes. I had no idea I was running that fast nor was I capable of such a thing. I NEVER run that fast. It's just not me. I just think the whole experience of finally being out there and the added adrenaline had me going for a few minutes there.  I was able to settle into a decent pace and trek along. Most of the first leg had a slight incline. It probably wouldn't have been noticeable for many, but I totally notice these things and it was an incline. Just about the time I was wondering if it was ever going to end, I came across a runner who had fallen/tripped over a crack in the curb. A few runners in front of me continued on and just passed him by. This being my first Ragnar, I had no idea what I was supposed to do or what the rules were but I didn't care. I stopped to help him. He didn't have a phone and I did, thanks to my team captain John, who counseled us to never run without a phone (I'll be planning to purchase a nifty phone pouch like a couple of team mates have as soon as I find one at the next expo I attend). He called his team and they were only a couple minutes away, so I stayed with him long enough to make sure he was okay and then off I went. When I got to the exchange and saw my whole team there (as van 2 was taking over) the excitement kicked in again. I got teary, and was moved by my own emotions that I was doing this. It was real. 

We headed out from there to get some food and stop off at a local school to visit a reader of Katie's blog who had contacted her and wanted us to stop by. We then went to the next exchange, and I set up my hammock and tried to nap for a while. 




It was cold and windy so I didn't rest well, but it was nice to put my feet up for a while nonetheless. Once Colleen (runner 12) made it to the exchange, Thomas (runner 1) took over again and we were off for our night legs. Mine wasn't too bad and only a few miles long. I'm usually not hip about being in the dark, but my team decked me out in glow apparel and most of the area I was in was not overly creepy. There was one sketchy area, but I just paced the guy in front of me and stuck with him until we were down along the beach again.
After I came in, we headed to our half-way hotel, showered, and got to climb in bed and sleep for 1.5 hours before we were up and back at it. I know that doesn't seem like much sleep but it was. And to have a real bed was even better. Gave me just what I needed to go out and finish strong the next morning. 
We started our last legs in the early hours of the morning. We had so much fun cheering one another along on the last legs. Part of it I'm sure was that we were all so tired and just giddy, so anything really, was entertainment. And then also, we just liked supporting one another. Didn't matter with what, the support system was just who we were made of. 
I remember being a little nervous for my last leg. I knew it involved a hill that went on for just over 2 miles. I tried not to think about it too much but occasionally it would creep up on me. When we pulled into the exchange and I looked to the left, I saw Torry Pines....the HILL I was going to have to go up. 

It was beautiful in looks but to run up it? Umm, didn't look so pretty (and this picture makes it look rather small in size compared to real life).  Hilary passed off to me and off I went. I maintained a decent pace until I got to the base of the hill and then I slowed things WAY down. My first line of attack was to walk it. Then I got there and thought, let's see how I do at a slow pace. And so I did. Up and over, up and over. I kept telling myself that as I ran along. At one point I noticed the gal behind me flagging me down. I turned off my music to see if she needed something and if she was okay. The words out of her mouth were... "You're a  beast! I'm trying to keep up with you but I can't!" I guess I must have needed that because from then on, there was no way I was walking. I trudged, as my team van passed by honking the horn and waving (they later told me the van was down-shifting and their ears were popping and here I was trekking up the side of the mountain). When I made it to the top, I knew I only had a few miles left and I just took off. I didn't care how fast I went or if I was going to burn out.  I just went. It was so empowering. It felt like I could do anything I put my mind to, regardless of how hard it felt.
I rounded the corner and saw Dean standing there for the 3rd and final time as I ran in and once again, the tears began to come. He just was beaming, smiling, like he always does. He gave be a big bear hug and off he went on his last leg. Our van followed him for a while, surprising him in different spots and cheering him on as we were finished with our portion of the race. 
We headed to get a bite to eat at In and Out Burger (yep, I ate naughty and it tasted SO good), went back to John's and rested for a bit, and waited until Van 2 was close to the finish line before we headed out. 

When Colleen (runner 12) was about a mile out, she sent us a text and we all got ready to run the last part of her leg and through the finish line together. There we were all 12 of us, running along in our matching blue shirts, having just run nearly 200 miles toghether. We did it! 



It was such an amazing feeling of accomplishment. Not just for me personally but as a team. We all had to do our part in order to make it happen and that is what I grew to love about Ragnar. It's not about speed and who gets there first. It's about working together as a team, to get you to that finish line. 
That night after the race we had a dinner at John's house.


The next morning we had a brunch together and then from then on out it was time to start saying goodbye to one another one by one. 

I didn't think it was going to be hard but it was. I remember thinking, I can't talk or I'll start crying. It's crazy to think that you could grow to love 11 random people like I did but when you share something so personal as weight-loss and changing your life, it's a bond that is nearly instant. Not many people can truly relate to you unless they've been in your shoes and have lived it. These guys had. 

I am so grateful I was invited to be a part of something so wonderful and great. It hardly feels fair that it's over and done already but a few of the things I am walking away with are courage to try new things, a love for running when I can enjoy the atmosphere and not care about time and pace, team building and lifting others up, and best of all, 11 new friends who will forever be a part of me. 










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18 comments:

  1. Very good race report. Thanks for sharing. Did I miss the post about how you met up with this group? I will have to go back and check.

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    1. I didn't mention much about this on the blog until recently Jared. I actually met the group through a gal that reads my blog. It was awesome!

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  2. Awww, this whole post gave me chills. I am SO SO SO happy that you were able to join us on this adventure. You are, as corny a word as it is, DELIGHTFUL. You're sweet and adorable, and I loved having you in my van! You did awesome climbing that mountain, too ;)

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    1. I love you Katie Foster! The whole experience was wonderful. Thank you for having me be apart of it with you.

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  3. Colleen (Runner 12)April 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    YAY! Paige! Such a fun adventure! Here's what I use to hold my iphone. It's starting to show some wear, but I've had it for well over a year, and the price is right: http://www.amazon.com/Fosmon-Adjustable-Neoprene-Running-Jogging/dp/B00HESIX4G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397230739&sr=8-1&keywords=iphone+holder+running+pink

    Miss your cute face!

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    1. Thanks Colleen! Miss your face too!

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  4. Doubt I'm the only teammate who had a tear or two in his eye as he read this blog. I'm so proud of you and so very grateful that I was able to experience this with you. You are truly amazing!

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    1. Thanks John! I loved everything about Ragnar!

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  5. Love reading everyone's perspective on Ragnar and our team but we all agree it was an incredible and unforgettable experience! Sorry I was such a bed hog :) I will never forget Sir Wafflelot and, even though we didn't get to spend much time together, I loved getting to finally meet you and hope our paths will cross again some day!

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    1. Lol! Sir Waffleot will always make me laugh now. I loved Ragnar! It's hard when we have to split in two vans but I'm so grateful for the time I was able to spend with you. Even if you were a bit of a bed hog. Ha. ha.. :)

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  6. Awesome recap Paige! You captured the spirit, joy, and bonding of Ragnar so very well. Until next time! :)

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    1. Thanks MaryFran....it was amazing!

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  8. Paige you are truly awesome! you rocked that last leg! My only regret is we didn't get to spend more time together!

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    1. Thanks Dean! I loved having you on the team and always looked forward to our exchanges. It was just long enough to see your smile and steal a hug.

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  9. Ok, well... I don't even know you but a lady I work with told me about your blog today, so I thought I would check it out. She had told me about your weight loss but nothing about you being a runner. Little did I know that I would sit here balling my eyes out and feeling so inspired! I have been running or I like to call shuffling for a about a year now. And have done a few 5k, but my dream is to do Ragner. I tell myself that once I become a 'real runner' maybe someday I will do it. This weekend was one of our big races where I live, The Race to Robie Creek, another big dream of mine. I was watching the results and saying to myself, there are no fat people in this race, so when I loose some weight, maybe I will do that one. I don't know why I think I have to be a size 5 and run a 8 minute mile to do these races. After reading this post, I want to feel like you and that feeling that I can do anything! Thank you so much for inspiring me today with this post. I can't wait to check out the rest of your blog to see how you went about getting on a team.

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    1. Cynthia...I'm so glad you found me! I loved reading your comments, thank you. It definitely has been an adventure but one that is so well worth it. I'm sure that you will find as you make yourself more at home on my blog that I didn't become a runner until later on in my journey. Ragnar was the best! You should definitely plan for one someday if that's on your dream list. My team was syre unique as we came from all over the USA but the bonds that were formed were amazing.

      Also, The Race to Robie Creek is in my hometown too. Believe it or not, I think we're neighbors!

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