The 24 hours following a long distance relay are weird. I wake up in the middle of night wanting to know where my runners are and how long we have until the other van arrives. I have separation anxiety from my vanmates. I feel I need to find them and make sure they’ve used a port-a-potty and know where their headlamp is. [This sentence makes me think of: There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is!] As I process the blurr of relay events and try to put them into sharable thoughts, I think I’ll remember Ragnar Relay SoCal 2013 by… being on the green, chasing green.
Organizing a Relay Team
So totally worth the uh-oh moments. We had four people on my team this year new to the game and to see how elated they were before/during/after makes my heart soar. But being a team captain has it’s ups and downs.
This year, it was finding out the night before that one of my runners had broken a toe, and another runner was going to have to leave mid-race, missing his second leg, and then return for his last leg. Uh huh. These guys had it all worked out, though, as to who was going to replace them, and it worked. The fact that they didn’t bother to tell me until 10 hours before the race…oh well.
Your pace or mine?
This was my 2nd Ragnar SoCal. Last year I was in Van 2, Runner 11. This year I was in Van 1, Runner 4. VAN 1 IS SO MUCH BETTER! Just due to the way the course is laid out and having a morning start time (8:15 AM), being in Van 1 is a lot more normal and convenient than being in Van 2. The only downside is a short rest period between your 2nd and 3rd leg.
Pace-wise, our team was a lot slower than last year, and a lot slower than projected. I really have no issues with that except for the fact that we actually rented vans this year and thought we were going to have to return them by a certain time. Again, it all worked out in the end, but not without causing me a minor headache over transportation logistics.
On the Green
The night run is really the best part of the relay. For me, anyway. I feel like a running cheetah ninja at night. A cheenja! My second leg (Leg 16) was 6.7 miles and I started at about 10:30 PM.
I had the best night leg, too. I’m sure of it. I got to run through a golf course! It was even obstacled-out with giant water sprinklers across the path that I had to dodge. I had been keeping pace with another gal who ran through most of the golf course with me. When we turned onto the golf cart path, it sort of zigged when my headlight zagged and I shouted something like “Where is the path?!” She heard me and said, “Two headlamps are better than one.” And on we went together.
At one point, we were supposed to leave the golf cart path and run across the green and up onto a dirt trail. At this point, there was a clearing with no trees around and the moonlight was pretty strong. It reminded me of my Hood to Coast night leg, so I dropped back and let my headlamp buddy go on. Then I turned my headlamp off. Let my eyes adjust. And it was beautiful. I even said a prayer in a moment of gratefulness for such an awesome atmosphere and run.
A few short but ugly-steep hills later (tight calves), I was back on the road and my light came back on. I figured it was best that oncoming traffic could see me. I was treated to quite a bit of downhill running at this point and feeling that good balance of working hard, legs are getting sore, but feeling energized and able to power on.
At some point, a tall fellow in a green shirt ran past me. He looked like he was running a bit better than me and I watched his light go on ahead, but never disappear. He wasn’t gaining any more ground. A bit later, his light got closer. Green shirt was walking. Pretty soon, I was passing him.
I take joy in passing people. Not the evil, I’m-better-than-you/in-your-face-loser/you-got-chicked kind of joy. More like the, “Wow, I can’t believe I’ve gotten so much better as a runner” kind of joy. I literally passed NO ONE on my first relay ever (more on that here) while my vanmates were racking up double-digit road kills, it was a tad bit disheartening. But that was then. This is now.
So I passed him. And he immediately started running again, passing me, and taking off down the road like he had before. Far enough ahead that I could still see him, but putting a sizable distance between us.
This happened again. And AGAIN! He started walking, I eventually caught up to him, and then he’d charge off ahead. I kept chasing down this guy in a green shirt and it was kind of getting awkward. Clearly he wasn’t feeling able to keep a steady pace, but CLEARLY he did not want me to get ahead of him. This is not a situation I have encountered before.
At one point, when Green Shirt was about 30 yards ahead and walking, I was passed by a guy about my size who was probably going at a pace at least 2 min. faster than I was. I watched as he came up behind Green Shirt. When he got close to Green Shirt, Green Shirt started running again to stay ahead of him. This lasted for about 1 whole minute before I saw Green Shirt’s headlamp turn in the direction of this new runner. Twice. He did a double-take, and when he saw that this guy wasn’t me, he let him pass and started walking again.
I had to laugh. I don’t want to speculate that this was a male-ego thing, although I do hear a lot of male runners at the exchanges teasing each other about “getting chicked”. Whatever. Leap frogging with Green Shirt was keeping me running at a steady pace and keeping me entertained. Had he not been there, I may not have ran as well. But once I realized we were going back and forth because he was stopping to walk, I never slowed.
With just over one mile to go, I passed Green Shirt for the last time. This time, I didn’t hear him react right away. I think I heard him start to run again and I think he tried to stay with me for a while, but he dropped back and I never saw him again. I thought about waiting at the exchange for a bit to cheer him in and say something nice, but I couldn’t think of anything that would sound good. “Thanks for giving me something to chase? Every time I saw you walk, it made me keep running so I could catch you again?” Sincere as I may be, I don’t think this is something anyone would like to hear.
Putting a bow on it.
I think this was the first long distance relay that I was zero nervous about and was the least prepared for, in terms of training. How is that possible? Anyway, I ran slower than I would’ve liked but I still ran well and not even a blister. Post-relay I am always motivated to run more, train better, and break through to the next level of speed.
When Van 1 finished at Torrey Pines, I was elated. It was warm, the sky was beautiful, our van had finished putting in our share of the work and we felt exhausted but accomplished and proud. We treated ourselves to an awesome brunch and relaxed at the finish area. I got to see a lot of my friend’s teams finish and nap in the shade.
There is already talk of next year’s team and next year’s plans. Some even want to try to do an ultra team. I think I could get down with that. [o: