Ragnar Trail Carolinas – part 2 – Rock Hill, SC (2016)

Miss part 1? Check it out here.

As expected, it continued to rain off and on throughout the day on Friday, though the heaviest rain definitely happened during my first leg in the morning, with it easing off into a lighter steady rain for most of the afternoon. My second leg was the Red and Green loops, starting 7:30pm.

At some point in the evening, the Ragnar SWAT added a sign around trail conditions and apparently someone didn’t quite agree that the Green loop was “fun.” 

I had packed some extra snacks for this run since it was going to be longer than my first run and I made sure my headlamp had new batteries since we definitely weren’t going to be getting any extra light from the moon. I was still wearing my visor to keep the rain off my face and this created a bit of a blind spot for me close to my feet – I kept adjusting my headlamp so that I could see far enough in front of me to run, but then I would have a halo closer to my body that was completely dark. Add that to the blue lights I had on my back that kept making me think that someone was catching up to me on the trail and I was working on some mind games for most of the Red loop.

The good news is that the slower rain throughout the day meant that some of the standing puddles that had been created during my first leg were no longer there by the time I ran my second leg. The Red loop was 7.6 miles and I really felt the length of that leg. I struggled mentally – my legs felt okay, but my head wasn’t completely in it and I couldn’t decide if I was hungry or I should stop eating. Since I had run the trails for this loop so many times in training, I just kept trying to visualize where I was on the trails if I could actually see anything in the darkness. There is a big loop around Lake Haigler and the trail is so close to the lake that you can see to the other side, so you could see the runners who were ahead of you (though I didn’t quite realize that at the time) and then the runners coming behind you as you crossed to the other side of the lake.

You can’t see the other runners in this picture, but the lights from the village let you know you’re headed back to transition!

There were sections of the Red loop that were as muddy and slippery as the Green loop which forced me to walk, but there were definitely still runnable sections as well. Once I got to the one mile to go mark and I reconnected with the other two loops, I started to feel a little better and soon I was headed up to the transition area again. As I came into the barn, I handed off my Red bracelet, filled up my water and then headed out on the Green loop. 

It was kind of nice heading back out on the Green loop – I knew what to expect, I knew it would be muddy and I was able to figure out where I was based on what I remembered from when I had run it in the daylight. After running the Red loop, it felt like the Green loop just flew by and before I knew it, I was heading back up the hill to the transition barn again. 

I was really glad I opted for my Salomon Speedcross shoes for my second leg – the tread on these helped keep me upright through the Red & Green loops 
I stayed up for a little bit to eat more food, but I was so tired after this leg that I headed to bed fairly quickly. We were expecting Matt to come in around 12:30am and I was planning to head out again around 5:30am. We knew that we would all probably slow down through the night, but we still had plenty of time to get through all of our legs before the cutoff. I woke up around 2:00am and heard that Matt still hadn’t finished his legs, so I went to wait with Sharon and to make sure everything was okay with Matt. As I made it up to the transition barn, Matt had just crossed the quarter mile to go mark, so I waited with Sharon in the barn to check on Matt when he came in. He gave an update on the trails (not getting any easier) and Sharon was on her way. With my new expected start time around 6:30am, I headed back to sleep and ended up waking up around 4:30am and didn’t see any updates from my teammates on our tracking spreadsheet, so I asked the timers to check our last runner for me. I updated the spreadsheet and headed back to sleep for a couple more hours. 
I got back up around 6:30am and headed back to the transition barn, only to find that there was a hold on for the race. Shortly after Michelle came in, there was an announcement made that there was a 1-hour hold for the race while the RD checked out the trails. Unfortunately, after an hour, with an updated forecast of sustained winds greater than 20 mph and gusts over 40, Ragnar decided to cancel the race. There were trees that had fallen on the course and the increased winds were definitely a potential hazard for everyone on the course. 
It took our team a surprising amount of time to pack up our campsite, but we had to separate everything that everyone brought and un-stake all of the tents, tarps and canopy, so it was a lot of undoing before we were ready to take our final team picture and head home to get dry!

3 y’alls and a yinz made it through 16 legs and 84.3 miles in just under 21 hours

So, I haven’t officially done an ultra yet. For Ragnar, I’m counting this as an ultra since all of us ran 4 legs (instead of the standard 3), but I only ran 19.5 miles over 2 legs, so it didn’t quite hit the ultra mark from that aspect. When I finished my second leg, I was really doubting I would be able to run another, even longer, set of loops, but I actually got a lot of sleep between my legs and I was starting to feel pretty good again, so I know my legs would have been able to handle more mileage. Now I just need to work on my mental game! 

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