Tag Archives: Ragnar Relays

Ragnar Keys. Teamwork makes the dream work

As you all know (because I’ve been talking about it forever), I along with 11 other team mates, (all members of the group Black Girls Run!) completed the Ragnar Relay in Key West last weekend. There is so much to share, but I don’t want to do multiple post, so I’ll try to summarize it here.

The basics:

We were a 12 member team who took turns running 198 miles, relay style from Miami to Key West. Each runner ran a set amount of miles, then tagged the next runner and so on. We ran 3 different legs each. We were divided in two vans based on the legs we’d be running. We also had an additional non running driver for each van. Runners 1-6 were in van 1, runners 7-12 were in van 2. I was runner 11.

Ragnar team H&S

This was our very first Ragnar experience so we were pretty green. The race started in waves and we had the earliest start time possible…  the 5 am start. After a safety briefing, we cheered as runner 1 took off, then our van drove ahead to meet them at the exchange area where van 2 would take over.

My first leg:

After waiting for runners 1-10 to finish, by the time my turn came to run my first leg, it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon. My first leg was labeled “Hard 5.9 miles”. I blogged about kicking butt at Ragnar… Well, I’d have you know that the only butt kicked was mine. That distance is usually a piece of cake for me, but not at Ragnar. It was about 90 degrees, but it felt like 110. My run started on a gravel road…very difficult for me to run fast. I felt every rock and stone under my feet. I’m used to running in the Florida heat, but this was different. There was absolutely no shade. The sun was giving me such a beat down, I was begging for mercy. ( A week later and I’m still sporting my Ragnar tan lines :) . I quickly depleted my hand-held hydration. It was brutal and I was mentally unprepared for it.The team met me at 3.5 miles to give me water…I scarfed down half the bottle and poured the rest on my head. It felt like I’d been running for 20 miles.

Ragnar exchange 1 Collage

When a team member is out running, the rest of the team offers van support along the way by giving hydration, a cool towel, energy supplements etc. So there’s basically no rest for the runners on or off the pavement.

Ragnar highlightsCollage

Every one pretty much had a death match with the heat.  Some of my team mates ran in the Everglades, in the dust, near the swamps, with the snakes and gators, during the wee hours of the night…

My second leg was an easy 2.9 miles. It was a welcomed one. It was supposed to be during the dark early morning hours, but because the team fell behind with such a difficult first leg, it pushed my run to the break of dawn. Hallelujah. The sun was just coming up and it was a tad bit cooler. I was able to keep with my expected pace and ran this leg with no issues… Soon it was van 1’s turn again.

A highlight:

While van 1 ran, van 2 had an opportunity to “rest”. We headed to a high school gymnasium (a rest area designated by the race directors). We were able to pay $3.00 to shower in a filthy, nasty bathroom with weak water pressure and barely any warm water. It was the best $3.00 I spent in a long time :) .

Finally, it was time for us to finish our final 6 legs (about 19 miles)…which would have been perfect except (because of the unexpected delays) we had to rush to beat the 8:00pm finish line cut off. Now it wasn’t about making a certain time, it was about avoiding disqualification. By this time, we’d covered a total of about 180 miles. Extremely tired and delirious, we had to give it all we had to finish on time.

All Heart.

This was one example were the spirit of our team shone through. One of our runner was injured. She had already completed over 16 miles in excruciating pain and her final leg was less than 2 miles. The way the team stepped up was amazing. One teammate ran her leg, while another runner gave up her own easy leg and took a harder leg so that the driver…can you believe it? Our driver stepped up and ran a leg.

My final and fastest leg:

I still had another 3.5 miles to go, over a bridge with no van support. After 36 hours of extreme fatigue and little food, I ran my third and fastest leg. It took everything we had, but we did it. We left it all on the pavement and reunited with the entire team to cross the finish line together.

Teamwork really made this dream work. 

Ragnar offical finish pic edited

This was my experience in a nut shell. It was an amazing experience with an incredible group of women and an awesome team captain. Initially I vowed never to do it again, but after getting a good night’s rest, I’m thinking about ways to better prepare for the next one.

  • Have you ever or would you ever run a Ragnar Relay?
  • Would you pay $3.00 to shower?
  • What was your most difficult endurance experience?

Birthday vlog

Surprise!!! Today I’m Defining Happiness with my fist vlog! Whaaat? Yep. It’s my birthday and I’m trying something new. It’s been on my “to accomplish” list since Joi hosted her first blog challenge, so now I can cross it off.

Not only is it NOT my regular posting day, it was NOT an easy task. The most difficult part for was finding the proper lighting and keeping my eyes from appearing closed -_- . I had to do quite a few takes…I think my voice may actually be an octave lower from talking so much :) .

Once I got the lighting and position down though, it was kinda fun. Check it out. It’s a short 1:22 long clip.

I  encourage you to Define Happiness by visualizing the future you want. Regardless of your current circumstance, envision your dream and write them down.I believe that through Faith and with God’s Grace, He will fulfill your dreams even from seemingly impossible life scenes.

  • Do I look or sound different from what you imagined?
  • Are you where you envisioned you’d be in life?
  • What do you like most/least about vlogging?

DON’T FORGET I’ll be at running Ragnar Keys this weekend. Please send your prayers and positive vibes for our team. This quote sums up what we’re in for.

Ragnar summed up

Last thing. Please forgive me. I’m behind showing comment love on some of my fav blogs…but I read when every tiny chance I get :)

From Wogging to Jogging

On my last post I mentioned that one of my goals was to run my best and my fastest at Ragnar next month by maintaining the 11 min/mile required for our team. I realize that for some folks, an 11min/mile isn’t that fast. But for me that pace is achievable only for a 3 miles or less, but anything longer than that is a “kick butt”  pace for me. iRUN collage

Somewhat recently (about 9 months ago), I set a goal  to become a faster runner. Of course, the word “faster” is relative. When I began training for my first and last marathon (26.2 miles) 10 years ago, the goal was to get moving. Speed was never an important factor for me. So I took it slow… and by slow I mean molasses slow…like a turtle in peanut butter slow.. you get my drift. Slow got me across the finish line in 6hrs 28min and I was happy with that.

Two years ago when I started running again consistently (after giving it up for nearly 8 years), “slow” was still ingrained in my running DNA. I enjoyed running wogging (jogging so slow I might have well be walking) 5 miles at a 13+ pace. I could laugh and talk and not get too winded. In the end I burned a few hundred calories, broke a nice sweat and felt accomplished.

It wasn’t until about 9 months ago after signing up for Ragnar Key West  (200 mile overnight relay race) that I realized my kind of slow was not going to cut it. The team is required to have an overall 11 minute pace. I was in trouble! So I enlisted the help of a running coach and signed up for several races to keep me motivated. The coach, in addition to giving me a running plan, monitored my progress weekly and made modifications and suggestions as needed.Two of the most important lessons he taught me was 1. Run Faster 2: Don’t take walk breaks just because you’re tired. That was foreign to me. Why would I want to run faster and ruin my fun? Being tired seemed like the perfect reason for a walk break. My coach advised that brief walk breaks should be predetermined…such as for water stations. Ok, I get it… I think.

Anyway, once I began applying those two principles, running changed for me. The conversations and laughter pretty much was exchanged for regular  breathlessness and side stitches. Leisure runs became the exception, not the norm. Running was no longer as fun for me, but it became so much more rewarding. My 13+ pace for longer miles is now a low 11 and sub 10 when I push. It wasn’t easy, but I’m excited with the progress I’ve made from “wogging” to actually jogging :) Hopefully next stop: Running…fast!

So I’m excited that next month I’ll have an opportunity to put all my training to the test when I complete my 3 legs (about 16 miles total) running with an overall 11 minute/mile pace.

This year I want to maintain a sub 11 running pace, diversify my workouts by adding more strength training (which I’ve recently fallen in love <3 with BODYPUMP) and fun classes like spinning and Zumba.

Ragnar was my motivation for achieving a faster running pace. It was a constant physical reminder of the goal I wanted to achieve.

  • What’s your motivator for achieving your goal? It doesn’t have to be fitness related…
  • Are you a wogger, a jogger or a runner?

Gotta Start Somewhere.

Over the weekend on my usual run, I decided to tackle some hills in preparation for my upcoming 5K which has a few bridges. Not only did I attempt to tackle the hills, I attempted to run at a pace much faster than I’m used to. The first mile was fairly challenging. By the time I has halfway through my second mile, headed up another incline; I was huffing and puffing, out of breath, my body was tingling, my quads were on fire, and I had multiple side stitches.  I could totally relate to the picture below.

How I feel vs look when running

I thought to myself, why on earth am I doing this to myself. This is crazy! Then the overwhelming reality came to mind that I am actually registered for the Miami to Key West Ragnar RelaysIf you’re not familiar with the Ragnar Relay Series, it’s an overnight running relay race.  

Ragnar summary

The two things that make me the most nervous are the 200 miles and the overnight running. Every time I hear the word Ragnar, it sends me straight to the potty. This weekend’s run confirmed that I’d temporarily misplaced my sense of rationality when I signed up. It made me realize how unprepared I am and how  much hard work and training I’ll have to put in. It’s rather daunting and intimidating, to say the least. Well, the deed is already done, the registration complete and I guess I have to (wo)MAN up and face this challenge. I’ve always wanted to become leaner, stronger and faster as a runner; what better way to do it than to train for an ultra race (I think).

every-one-starts-somewhere

My hope is that Ragnar will be my motivation to get out of my comfort zone and get serious. No doubt it’s going to be tough, but I’m excited to see the changes that my body will experience over the next several months of cross training, resistance training and running.

I pray that I’ll emerge on the other side of Ragnar, injury free, more disciplined and fit. I know that it will be a slow and steady process and I’ll have lots more dreaded runs like this weekend, but I have to start somewhere…

Do you have a huge challenge, goal or event  that you’re nervous or excited about overcoming? What’s your starting plan? If you’ve already began working towards it, how was your start?