Part 2 of the race recaps of my experience running Ragnar Relay: Las Vegas.
Before I left to run Ragnar Las Vegas, a lot of people who weren’t really into the whole running thing were confused about what a relay is. Some thought I was running 200 miles myself, others thought I was on a track team, and some thought I was straight up lying just so I could go to Vegas. Basically it is 12 people, 2 vans, split into legs and each person runs 3 times. Here is a great photo that former HTC teammate, Running Hutch, created that might help out a little in case you’re a tad out of the loop.
Since we were van one, we had to wake up early and hit the road to head to the start line. We grabbed some breakfast at the Starbucks in The Luxor to fill our bellies and hold us over until later. By the way, my breakfast was a croissant…cost 4 dollars. That’s all I will say about that.
There were six of us in the van which meant we each had our own seat which was wonderful! I took the very back since I don’t get car sick. We headed out and I kept taking in all the sights as we passed each hotel and headed for the desert. The landscape outside of Vegas was gorgeous. Dusty desert and rocky exposed mountains were something I had never seen before. As we were driving down the freeway we saw lots of relay runners running on the opposite side of the road and soon figured out that this is where we would be running in a few hours. We finally made it to the turn off and headed up that mountain. Yes, up. The start line was at 8500 ft elevation. We passed runners and would roll down the windows with the cowbell and scream and holler. It was so exciting.
By the time we made it to the top not only had the temperature seemed to drop, but there was snow on the ground. It snows in Tennessee but not very often so this was very exciting! Our team made the trek from the parking lot to the starting line to use indoor bathrooms, check in, and attend the safety meeting. Afterwards we took advantage of the cutest little replica sign at the ski resort.
We went to put stuff in the van and paint the windows. For some reason our markers didn’t show up very well but we got the job done. Half an hour later and Nicole was ready to start us off and run down the mountain. I was so nervous for her but I was more nervous because I knew that right after her I would be running. The start line had a lot of enthusiasm and loud music so it was impossible to be not excited. With a dramatic countdown, she was off! That is when it sat in that holy cow this is really happening and there is no turning back now.
Nicole’s leg was over 7 miles so we stopped several times to cheer her on. She was running so strong every time we saw her. Finally it was my turn to run and I felt sick to my stomach with nerves as I stood in the exchange and saw her in the distance. She flew in with sparkle skirt flying and then I was off!
My first leg was 4.8 miles downhill. I have never ran downhill before other than what is offered on the local greenway. This was totally new for me. I had told the girls that I probably wouldn’t go any faster than I would on flat land because my body wasn’t capable of it. My mind was also naive and thought that people for some reason lied when they said running downhill trashes your quads. LOL of the century.
When I began running there was no one in sight in front of me or behind me so it was just me and my thoughts out in the dusty desert. I tried to reign back but I was so excited to be running. A few times I glanced at my watch to see numbers in the 8. In the 8 people, which means hello I’m running faster than normal. My van was great about pulling over at the pull offs and giving me water, cowbell, and high fives. Since I could literally see for miles when running it was nice to look forward to running to them since I could see them in the distance. Van support is awesome.
A smile was literally on my face the entire leg. I was running strong and running was fun and I liked it. I hit mile 1 in 9:02 (WHAT?) and mile 2 in 9:18. After mile 2 I could feel the elevation burn in my lungs and my quads were screaming. I took a few walk breaks each mile after that but it didn’t really help much since I was still going downhill and my legs wanted to go faster. From there my pace dropped but I was still having fun and loving it. It was so peaceful but so strange to be running completely by yourself with nobody in sight through the Nevada desert. I’ll never forget that.
I finally see the exchange in sight and I try to pick up the pace to have a strong finish. Sandy was waiting for me and she is a super fast runner. I barreled through smiling from ear to ear then promptly felt like death. My poor legs hurt and I was out of breath. Despite how I felt, it was a brilliant run. I enjoyed it, it felt good, and I was proud of myself. Overall pace for the 4.8 miles was 10:13. Holla for a dolla.
There wasn’t much time to walk around before hopping back in the van to go cheer on Sandy. Being van support on leg 1 was probably one of the most fun experiences of the relay. We got to encourage our fellow runners and make them feel like the most important and fastest runners in the world. I sure was thankful when they cheered for me.
Each person ran their respective leg. Caroline had a long flat leg on the freeway and unfortunately there was no van support so it was a little worrisome. Lucky for us she posted videos of herself on Instagram so we were able to check in and digitally cheer her on. Zoe had a super long and tough leg right before the sun went down. Again, no van support but she still rocked it out and finished with a smile on her face. We were able to stop once and cheer and I hope she liked that.
More often than not, I will get really bad GI issues about an hour following a run. They leave me having to go to the bathroom and really nauseous. Thankfully using the bathroom helps but when you are stuck in a van it is sort of hard. When Zoe was running her leg I started to feel the pain so I laid down in the backseat and put my legs up. I felt really stupid for feeling sick and didn’t want my teammates to think I was a party pooper (pun intended) but they were supportive and kept asking what they could do for me. They also found me a bathroom. Thanks, ladies.
Vanessa finished strong for us even though her leg got rerouted and had some distance added to it. At the major exchange we got to see Mason, the CEO of Nuun! He is always so kind whenever I see him. Hugs galore. This was the first time on the course we got to see the other van and we all loved chatting for the brief minutes we were with them. They really brought the party.
Our legs were done for the time being so we did what any normal team would do…we went to Chili’s and ate! I was craving a steak. Don’t judge because little Vanessa wanted ribs. I ended up getting pretzels because I didn’t want anything else not agreeing with my stomach.
Stay tuned for the next installment in the Ragnar Recap. I would put it all in one post but there is so much that I want to remember making it suuuuper long and then y’all would hate me for making such a long single post. More coming soon!