Ragnar Relay Great River - RunOther

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Minneapolis, Minnesota
United States
Ragnar Relay Series
Total Time = 31h 51m 8s
Overall Rank = 237/280
Age Group = Open Male
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

(Because our team had only 4 women, we were in the Male category. In order to be "mixed" you need 6 or more women).

We met up at the ridiculous time of 3:45 am to drive from Bloomington to Winona for a 7:30 start time, so chalk that one up to the first hit on our sleep pattern. Although I am not sure I would trade the perfect sunrise view over the river as we drove south. We enjoyed a delicious pit stop at the Kwik Trip somewhere... Lake City? We arrived at Levee Park in Winona at 6:30, right on time for what we were told. We checked in, had a "safety training" (which was really just overall race info) and had a quick minute to buy some Ragnar gear. We got our first runner to the line with about 5 minutes to spare, took a picture, and cheered the group as they started off.
  • 1h 53m
  • 11.72 miles
  • 09m 38s  min/mile

(I ran 11.72 miles in 1:53)

Overall for our team we had a great time. Everyone put forth a fantastic effort and I enjoyed their company. I only knew 2 of my 5 vanmates and none of the other van (other than one quick meeting), which is kind of a nice way to go about things since there aren't preconceived ideas about people. When you are sleep deprived bad thoughts can happen... :) I have a lot to tell about this race, but I will stick to what I did.

Run 1: 5.32 miles, 52:00. This was the hardest of my runs, due to distance and time of day. The run started off kind of hectic since my relay partner arrived early, so I had to run to the chute to do the handoff. This worked out well to get the heart rate cranking! I had a mostly flat route so I just pushed as hard as I could. I had very little shade, but fortunately it was early enough that it wasn't crazy hot. Because I had one of the easiest running assignments, the other people assigned to my legs were sort of slow. I passed several people which is a huge confidence booster. My main goal was to stay just under my 10:00 projected pace, knowing that if I could make up a few minutes on my short runs we could use them later if we ran into trouble. I was thrilled to see my average right around 9:45. I arrived at the park, handed off to runner #4 and attempted a very quick cool down. We had about an hour to reach the next handoff, but I did get about 10 minutes to cool down/off before we had to leave.

Run #2: 3 miles, 28:00
This run was off to an exciting start again. We had a pretty good idea of when our runner would come in since we saw that he was hauling ass on his leg and the last half was downhill. So, I am standing around for a good 10 minutes ready to go. We heard a volunteer announcing 218 frantically, wondering where the runner was since the other runner was very close to coming in. I wondered, "Does she mean 210 (our number?)" and then I see Eric fly by. I ran into the chute behind him, grabbed the slap bracelet, and headed back out. This was after 9 pm and it was lovely and cool and I felt like a rockstar. This route had some undulating hills, but it was pitch black and I couldn't see them coming until I felt them. For at least 1.5 miles I was totally alone on the route, I checked behind me several times for runners. I did see several vans drive by, so I knew I was on the right route, but still it was freaky. I definitely ran faster due to this feeling of fear and also the nicer weather. I finally started to see (and pass) a few people and the last 1/2 mile was a total cluster with two-way runner and van traffic. This was a VERY fast 3 miles! After a very quick walk around, we got in the van to get to our next stop so we'd have some time to check on our runner along the way.

Run #3: 3.4 miles, 33:00
The last run is always hard because you're just plain tired. I had gotten maybe 2 hours of sleep in the van, and it was in and out. Fortunately this was a short leg and I knew my mom would be spectating, so I was jazzed to get going. Fortunately it was late enough (7:15 am) to ditch the nighttime gear. I took the handoff from Eric and headed off on a secluded road, on a path under 94, and then back up to a path along 95 for the majority of my very flat run. Early on I heard footsteps behind me and a guy joined me and said "I am going to try to hang with you." Ok, so we chatted a bit and ran together the rest of the way. He was struggling much more than me, so I thought I could run ahead at the end and said "I'll see you at the finish". Well, the guy responded and really gave me a run for my money! He was built like a runner (I am NOT), so I felt pretty proud of my effort. This was my fastest run over, and probably the most fun, so I was really pleased. And nothing beats the feeling of being done with my assignment.

After that we finished up the last few runs, cleaned out the van, and I headed back home to shower and go to the finish. The finish line was located on the river by the U of MN so parking was expensive/annoying, but that's my only complaint. We had a great time talking with teammates, eating pizza, drinking beer, and waiting for our last runner to arrive. We met him with a human arch to run through and then trotted with him the finish. I felt really good about our effort and had a ton of fun.
What would you do differently?:

I learned a few more lessons this time around:
1. Van 1 is the BOMB. The timing of the runs is so much better.
2. If I do an early start in Van 1, I will do whatever it takes to stay overnight by the start line.
3. I might consider a sleeping pad.
4. I would make sure my teammates knew the course. My team has done the race before and they took some convincing when it came to exchanges that were different from year's past. Wasted breath, but when folks are sleep deprived it's hard to talk to them.
5. Make sure van renter leaves car at rental place, to smooth van dropoff plans. Preferably rent van from a location near the finish...
6. If you don't have a driver, work out a driving schedule. I offered to drive at several points, was told I didn't need to, and then heard things like "Oh, I guess I am driving again..." from the two guys that drove. Um, ok.

Honestly, that's all I can think off.. This all went very smoothly and I was left with a much better impression of the race. I would definitely do this again. Oh wait, I guess I am doing it again in January! Yay. And I would definitely do Great River again or any other race, depending on the circumstances. It's a pretty exceptional experience.
Post race
Event comments:

If you plan it right, this is a fantastic event. The route is mostly beautiful and the whole experience is special.

Last updated: 2011-04-14 12:00 AM
01:53:00 | 11.72 miles | 09m 38s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/280
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5