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La Crosse, Wisconsin
United States
Total Time = 00m
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

This is a weird situation and so I'm leaving a lot of things blank. Will try to put majority of actually important details in the comment boxes.

We met the night before our Van 1 team left town, for the Friday 7:30 AM start in Winona. We had a nice dinner, which was good because we didn't all know each other and it helped to build camraderie. We also took a picture with Van 1, which had been decorated already. I am glad we did because it was our only real chance for a group photo by the van.

My friend Carrie spent the night, so after dinner we did a little shopping, went home and packed/organized, and had dessert and wine :) We weren't racing until 2:30 or so, so it was a safe gamble.

We were up on Friday morning and drove to the van rental location. I was only able to get a big SUV (Cadillac Escalade), because I flubbed the car rental initially and by the time I figured it out, the vans were all gone. My only option then was to call each rental place individually and decided it wasn't worth it. The Cadillac was pretty huge and lots of storage room, and fortunately it wasn't very new so we didn't feel bad about making a mess. Carrie and I met the rest of the team in a nearby parking lot to leave a few cars and get finished loading up. (Tip: chose a meeting point easily accessible to the person dropping off the rental - it's hard to drive a lot after the race)

Then we hit the road for our first meeting point in Modena, Wi. It was about a 1.5 hour drive, with one bathroom stop at a gas station. We had fun, listening to the mixed CD our team leader made for us. The group seemed to get along well and everyone was in a good mood. We found the Modena town hall (holy remote location, Batman) in a very pretty (read: hilly) part of Wisconsin. We were about the 15th van to arrive and we basically just hung around, used the potties, drank/ate, and felt the pressure build as we got reports from Van 1. The agreement was that they'd let us know when each runner started, so we could adjust timing expectations. Text messages were extremely useful. As the morning wore on, we saw that Van 1 was FAR exceeding their time expectations. They were going to be about 45 minutes ahead of schedule. I was the first runner from van 2, so I started to get ready as soon as runner 6 (last runner of van 1) was started off.

Tip: Pay attention to the time of day and don't forget to eat. After breafkast, I only had a handful of trail mix and a banana. Not enough lunch for a mid-afternoon run.
Event warmup:

Just like any other race I've been to, warming up consisted of lots of milling about. In this case a warm-up would have been useful, but I was afraid that I'd miss the handoff. I waited near the transfer chute and they called our number (186) when our runner was 100 yards away. I ran over and waited for runner 6 to arrive...
  • 2h 38m
  • 15.5 miles
  • 10m 11s  min/mile

Run 1 - 6.3 miles, rating "Very Hard": 1:05

Runner 6 handed me the slap bracelet and I started off. I knew the run profile was fairly flat until about mile 3 and then from mile 3.5 to 4 it was a 400 foot climb (seriously?!). I started off probably much too fast. My van cheered as they drove by, but I knew they would be stopping for me along the route. The hill was SO HARD. I was forced to walk and my pace was barely 20 min/mile. Eventually I saw two guys behind me, also walking. My team stopped near the top of the hill and played a song (Eye of the Tiger - awesome) and cheered, which was very necessary. I didn't say much, just waved and persevered. I finally reached the top of the hill and knew the rest was a steep descent. I got a terrible breathtaking side stitch after about a half mile of cruising down, which I assume was caused by my body trying to recover while also pushing the pace. It hurt and breathing was difficult and I could not run through it like I usually can. A quick walk break and I was okay, and I cruised to the finish. My estimated time using the Ragnar pace calculator was 1:02 so I was 3 minutes behind. I was happy with that, although felt a little bad since the other team had made up so much time. However, we were obligated to be within a certain time range. If we all were ahead of pace, we'd eventually be held and penalized. Tip: It's important to state a truthful 10k pace for your profile. They will adjust for difficulty and length of run and it's pretty accurate. I gave 9:30 for my 10k pace, but they gave me nearly 10 m/m for my harder runs. So it works out correctly. Anyway, I was really glad to be done.

I passed the bracelet to runner #8 (Carrie) and she was off on her 5+ mile run. So, I took a minute to walk it off and drink my G2. I gave my teammates the blow by blow and after about 10 minutes got back into the van. We drove halfway up my teammate's route and stopped to cheer, which is when I was able to stretch, grab a clean shirt and put myself together a bit. After that it was the same thing, again and again, for each teammate. Some handled it better than others and pace was constantly an issue. Two other girls were close like me, one was running WAY too fast, and two were consistently behind schedule. Overall our van ate away most of our lead. We finished by picking up our last runner around 7:00 pm and saying hi to Van 1 as they set off on their second batch of runs.

We then drove to the next major exchange. Everyone wanted a burger or bar-type food, so we skipped the spaghetti dinner at the exchange (not free, so no biggie) and found a restaurant. In a small town it's hard to accommodate many racers, so we had to wait a while. But I think everyone enjoyed it since we'd not had real food in a while. Then we headed to the exchange and parked. 5 of us tried to sleep in the Caddie and 2 went into the high school gym. Sounds like neither group found much rest. It was constant in and out in the gym, and constant chatter outside. I just tried to convince myself that resting my eyes was worthwhile, and not get caught up in worrying about actual sleep. I know I slept a tiny bit, but pretty soon I overheard a phone conversation with van 1 that their last runner had set out and they were ahead of time AGAIN. I had about an hour to get ready. My teammate's husband was going to run with me and her, so he showed up and we went about the business of arranging our bike rack (we would get bike from other van), getting our lights on, etc. What a cluster! Tip: Make sure all headlamps and taillights have new batteries. No matter if you just bought them, buy new batteries. Turns out several lights recently purchased must have been used in the store, because about half died after little use. At the very least, bring batteries. I would recommend securely attaching a taillight to a race number belt and switching the number belt at exchanges. Have other taillights in reserve if you wish. There were some pretty awesome lit vests out there, and I would probably buy something like that if I did this again. In general, don't take the lights "lightly" and test your plan. They caused us the most trouble.

Run 2 - 3 miles, rating "Easy": Approx 28 mins

Once again, runner 6 flew through her leg and I heard my number called while I was still standing off to the side a ways. My pacer wasn't ready yet, so I just darted off. This exchange struck me as very funny, since runner 6 seemed really confused and stumbled a bit. She had just finished a nearly 8 mile "very hard" route with monster hills in the middle of the night. I wish I could have congratulated her more and heard about it!. I didn't feel time was of the essence at this point, but she apparently did. I almost had to grab her and we actually swapped the bracelet in front of the chute. We did both run through the chute, though, so hopefully we won't get into trouble.

This time more teams had caught up and it was busier on the road, which was nice. After about 5 minutes of running, Jesse (night pacer, allowed 7pm-7am, teammate's husband) caught up with me. It was a tremendous help. Even though my leg was short, it was pitch black and cold and creepy. Imagine cornfields and country highways in shadow. The conversation made it go fast. I wore pants, although I really wished I hadn't - I was plenty warm after a few minutes. We arrived at the exchange very quickly and I passed off to Carrie and she and Jesse started out for a much harder and long leg. I had my Garmin and was watching the pace, but neglected to check the time when I finished the route, hence the approximation of time. It was really cold, so we just packed up and headed out quickly.

My run lifted my weary spirits and left me with a ton of needed energy for the rest of our runs. After the next leg, our driver (another teammate's boyfriend and invaluable help) was going to ride the bike alongside his girlfriend. We got him set up and I prepared to drive. We picked up Carrie, and after a light related snafu (I'm serious about those taillights), we packed her up and headed off. We didn't stop to cheer along these night routes, but did quietly cheer from the Caddy as we drove by, mindful of the communities we drove through. I bicycle paced the next runner, which took us into Hudson. It was really fun and made such a difference not to be alone. I would definitely recommend doing this, it's worth the effort. Two more legs and we ended up in Stillwater, finally with the home stretch in sight.

This was basically a very hard period for all of us. We'd finished two runs on very little sleep, the day seemed endless, and most of us struggled with tummy issues. There was a pancake breakfast at a local restaurant, which a few of us bought but didn't enjoy. We did see the sunrise while we ate. Three others wanted McDonald's, so we headed out to the final exchange with a McD detour. Then we got lost getting to the final exchange. I gave the correct directions, but no one listed to me (for the record - I was right! So there). But we finally figured it out. One teammate had a mini meltdown along the way, which actually diffused the tension a bit. We then stuck together to try and make everyone feel better and it took us out of our own heads a little. FINALLY we reached the final major exchange and parked the van. I think I fell asleep almost immediately and it was so good. 3 teammates layed out a tarp and slept outside, while the other 4 of us spread out in the Caddy. After a few hours, we got yet ANOTHER call from van 1 that they were ahead! We had estimated I would start my final run at 10:45, but they were estimating she'd arrive at 9:15. Geesh. I called my mom, who was planning to cheer, as well as meet me at the next exchange, to give her the news. She was surprised, but fortunately could still make it. Then I proceeded to get up from my napping spot...

OUCH and DOUBLE OUCH. Everything hurt: my quads, my hamstrings, my feet, and my stomach. My contacts were glued to eyes (tip: bring change of glasses) and I generally was disgusting. I walked, hunched over, to the portapotties with my change of clothes. After a short break I felt a lot better. I brushed my teeth over the grass with bottled water (heaven!) and finally felt awake. Upon reflection, I don't believe I ate anything… should have had shot bloks or banana. Filled my water bottle and drank some of that. I found another friend who was racing and it was nice to see someone new that I knew. Getting a little sick of the teammates at this point!  Time flew by and pretty soon we were driving close to the exchange so I could get out and wait.

Run 3 - 6.2 miles, rating "Moderate": 1:05

Runner 6 turned up at 9:25 and for the first time, we managed the slap bracelet the right way! I was off and the first bit was pretty flat and I felt surprisingly great. The air was still pretty crisp and the sun at enough of an angle to not be killing me. I was stunned by how good I felt. About 2 miles in was a fairly big hill, although nothing to compare with my first route, and the whole route overall was uphill. Nice. At least looking at it now I feel better. I thought it just felt uphill, due to fatigue.

My van cheered me along on the hardest of the hills and I actually managed to pass one person for the first time!!! (I was passed countless times). Shortly, my mom and niece drove by and honked and waved. I thought they'd go straight to the exchange, but they actually drove by several times. It was the best feeling. My mom and my team stopped on the same side street about half way, but didn't realize it until I arrived. That was funny. The team then went to the finish and my mom drove by at least 3 more times. She wins the best spectator award, certainly. This route was, imho, at least "hard". There should be a factor for fatigue. Once I was about 2 miles from the finish I was done. I had reached my wall and I knew I was falling way off pace, but I did the best I could with a few walk breaks more than I had planned. I finally saw the guy at the 100 yard point, who announced me to the exchange, and I was ELATED. Wow, what a huge rush of adrenaline. I blew through the exchange for the last time and almost cried from the relief. I talked to my mom for a few minutes and then had to head off to finish the rotation.
Post race
Warm down:

Finished off the rotations and ended up at the finish to wait for our final runner. We gathered the whole team and ran across the line with her, received a very cool medal/bottle opener, and took a team picture. Then we unfortunately had to sort out the crap in the car and ultimately got home around 6:30. I was in bed by 8:30 and had a blissful 11 hours of sleep. Was very glad to be home and done.

Final overall time: 31:41:41, 11/12 in division, which was expected. We were very close to the a handful of the teams, which did surprise me.

Event comments:

I doubt I will do this again, I don't have any desire to repeat it or improve any part of it. The worst part was the sleep deprivation, not the running, and it was brutal. However, I would consider filling in for a team at the last minute next year. The second worst part was the advance planning headache :)

Last updated: 2009-04-05 12:00 AM
02:38:00 | 15.5 miles | 10m 11s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Course: You can see maps here: (runner 7)
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]