Well hello there! As promised, here is the 1st of 3 Ragnar DC race recaps. (Yea, I have THAT MUCH to write about.) Let me start at the beginning of what was to become a very fun, very interesting, a bit painful, unforgettable experience.
12 friends, 200 miles, 33 hours 49 minutes (our actual completion time) and a LIFETIME of memories. Trite, yea a little… but true. It’s over a week after the race and I’m still flashing back to moments, waiting to have a bracelet slapped onto my wrist, waiting for someone to yell out “209!!!”, waiting to pass one of my teammates in the van so we can SCREAM encouragement out the drivers window for a brief second.
But wait… I’m ALREADY jumped ahead… This journey started at midnight (12:01am) on Friday September 12th, when my boyfriend and I sluggishly dragged out half asleep bodies and all of our gear to the car, to make the 90 minute drive to the rendezvous point to meet our team. Our team captain made the decision to meet at a park and ride 15 minutes from the FINISH LINE, so we wouldn’t have to drive a long way after running for 33 hours. (Good call btw!) So, we get to the park and ride, early… 🙂 We wait… and wait… and wait some more. At about 10 of (1:50am) 2am was our meeting time… we texted the captain thinking Oh shit, is this the wrong place?! But all was well, people started showing up. 🙂 Some (most) of the runners we’re new faces to me. I’d only met person to person 4 people on my team (including the boyfriend), however though facebook and twitter, some of the faces looked familiar. Everyone did brief introductions, and went to the vans.
Once we all packed into the vans, we headed to the START!! (another 2.5 hours away) The finish line was in DC, the start was in Cumberland, MD. Luckily, I was able to get a bit of sleep during this trip… which was VERY beneficial, because I was RUNNER 1. Without the sleep, I, well… yea, it wouldn’t have been good. However, before I dozed off, I took a quick shot of my “vanmates”
And we were off. I slept until we pulled into the site… waving lights would probably wake anyone up. The starting point was VERY organized. (as a stickler for organization, I was impressed!! – I’ll post later about how I packed, lol) We went to team sign in (both captain and co captain), got our shirts (AWESOME), and then proceeded to the safety briefing. Having sat through my fair share of safety briefings in the military, and having read through the Ragnar Bible like it was my JOB, I figured I already know everything this woman in BRIGHT orange was going to tell me. Nope. What she said made me laugh and made me cringe at the same time… “We encourage tattle tailing At Ragnar” – oh lord… you’re kidding me… Now, don’t get me wrong… if someone is being unsafe, yea, let someone know… but making a blanket statement telling EVERYONE that tattle tailing is ENCOURAGED?! Not smart. And, it bit my team in the ass later on. Another team didn’t appreciate that we were driving on the side of the road OPPOSITE the runners, and away from the dust in order to NOT spit dust and rocks in the runners faces… this apparently (to them) looked like we wanted to pass them. No… we wanted to be safe. However when they stopped the van and put their flashers on, we proceeded to cautiously drive around them. So what happens?? Within 20 minutes, we get a text from Ragnar stating we have a strike (3 strikes you’re out) because we’re driving recklessly. /facepalm Ok!! Sorry!! I put no blame on Ragnar EXCEPT the blanket tattle tail statement. The other team just wanted to whine. *hops off soap box* Austin (the BF) and I took our mandatory pre-race “runfie” and then parted ways.
As I walked to the start line (like I mentioned, I was the first runner) I get this overwhelming sense of fear, excitement, and ohmygod, its fucking dark!!! I had my head light, my ass light (yea, its funnier that way), and my reflective gear, however, it was VERY VERY dark. So dark, I couldn’t see my shoes unless I pushed my lamp DOWN on them. Yep, I’m gonna bust my ass on this trail… That’s a GREAT thought to have before I even start running right?? Well, I wasn’t wrong.
There was a countdown, ya know building suspense (like I needed to hear my heartbeat any louder in my head!!!) and we were off!! I could hear my team cheering for me and i had a HUGE smile on my face. (After reading a few other recaps, it looks like Van 2 from other teams just kind of left their first Van and went to exchange 6… My team watched me take off. It was inspiring, and made me love them just a bit more. <3) I ran, and ran, BAM!!! Got my first kill. (In Ragnar, when you pass someone, it’s considered a kill – don’t ask me why because I can’t answer you.) Felt pretty damn good about myself!! And then I took my first turn… Oh shit… WHAT AM I RUNNING ON RIGHT NOW?!!!! NO SERIOUSLY WHERE DID THE GROUND GO!!! All of my confidence went the way of the dodo, and I went right back to fear. The terrain was treacherous. I’ve run on trails before, and I’ve almost fallen, MANY times. However, I’ve NEVER done a trail run, on a bitch of a trail, IN THE MOTHER F’IN BITCH DARK!!! Oh my goodness… I could hear footsteps behind me, but they weren’t getting closer, Ok, no worries, they’re going slower too… and then I hear a thud… Oh good lord, what the hell?! I turned around only to be face-to face with another head lamp. Not afraid to admit, I almost crapped my pants. Both of us screamed (which was hilarious, because HE was a large man), laughed, and kept moving… still don’t know what the thud was. Kept running for (what my nike tracker said was a mile) and BAM, fall #1. well shit… that hurt! Checked for blood, nope, good… kept going. Made it another .36 miles… BAM fall #2 Jesus mother of … ok, now I’m bleeding… OK, time to slow the pace a bit. By this point, I’d lost sight of “screamer man” anyway, so it was me, the dark, and the trail… grrrrrrrreat. Of course, my mind goes to THE WORST PLACE POSSIBLE I’m all alone out here, bleeding from both knees… I’m going to get eaten by a bear. I’m laughing at myself typing this… Really Stace?? A Bear?? But in retrospect, I was petrified. I was indeed alone, and it was DARK!!! The adrenaline started to kick in and the pain started to ease up in the knees, so I picked up the pace a bit again… Ok, awesome!! Did Nike just say 3?? HELL YEA!!! BAM fall #3… FUCK!!!! This fall was hard… I fell and slid… hands got messed up, knees torn more… just… Ouch. I stood up slowly and started to cry… very softly, at the same time muttering ever terrible word I could think of. I texted my boyfriend something about how awful the terrain was, so he wasn’t surprised when I came out of the shoot bleeding. He texts me back “You’ve got this, keep going babe!” But do I?? Do I have this?! The Leg map said 4.88 miles… At this point I was at 4.2 and I didn’t see ANY sign of the finish. I was starting think I’d gotten lost somewhere… and then I saw this beaut…
THANK YOU LORD!!! I’m not lost!! And then, wait… could it be?!! It’s another runner!! HA!!! Ok, I’m good, I can do this!! PIcked up the pace (you’re seeing a pattern here right?? Well you should be because…) BAM!! Fall #4 you have GOT to be kidding me. This is just ridiculous. Fuck it, I’m walking the rest. I walked for a good 10 minutes. almost falling 6-7 more time over random vines and roots, a stump here and there. They best part, however, I was maintaining the same speed as the runner ahead of me. Apparently she was JUST as apprehensive about the terrain as I was!! Maybe she’d gone ass over tea kettle a few times??? I dunno, but at least I wasn’t alone out there anymore. Nike tracker said 5 miles. Ummm… Ok? Since I Was walking I decided to take a picture of the lake that my “leg” was around. Even in the darkness (the sun was just atarting to peak its little head up), the lake was beautiful.
Kept on trucking it… I figured, I’ve gone 5 miles already, it can’t be much further, the map said 4.88! Yea well, I was trucking for a bit. I came to a clearing and the sun had come up. I was able to run again (b/c the terrain was better, not because my knees were better)
And then I heard it… the music… THE EXCHANGE IS COMING!!!! I was so excited I almost forgot to have the slap bracelet ready to give to runner two (Kristen) who was about to start her first leg. I came running through the shoot, slapped Kristens wrist the bracelet and went (slowly) to my team. I was immediately embrace with hugs and then “Oh my goodness!!!” (when they saw my knees) To which, I started to cry again. They of course thought it was because I was in pain. I quickly told them I was angry. I felt like I’d let everyone down. The terrain was AWFUL and because of it my pace was abysmal. Of course, because (I do’t know how I got this lucky) I was on a team with THE NICEST, more sincere people to have ever walked the planet. They were rushing about trying to clean off my knees, getting me water (even after I told them I was fine), offering me food, telling me this was a relay, not a race, assuring me that all that mattered was that I was ok.
About half way through my leg I wanted to throw in the towel, just go home. After the amazing camaraderie (which was epic considering some of us had JUST met that morning), and kindness shown by my teammates, I knew I was in this for the long haul… regardless of my silly knees.
That’s what I ran, however, the distance I covered, was 5.61 miles. When they said “VERY RUGGED”… THEY AREN’T KIDDING!!! Here are my knees an hour after my leg was complete…
Over a week later, I’m still bruised, and the scabs from the scrapes are JUST falling off. IMHO, leg one should be upgraded to HARD, not moderate… especially having run to other moderate legs. That trail, no matter the time of day, is NOT moderate. It’s quick difficult. Having met up with another “Runner 1” in a medic tent latter on in the day, I found out that I was one of MANY that were injured on that first leg. The girl I was speaking with was seated having her knees bandaged, looked right at me and says “Leg 1?!” I just nodded. She informed me that another runner had injured themselves so badly, the required stitched on both hands, and both knees wrapped. After my conversation with the other “Runner 1” I was thankful I came out with ONLY what I did!!
Hope you guys enjoyed part 1 of 3!!! MUCH MUCH MORE to come!!! 🙂