Time Laps 24-hour relay – Charlotte, NC (2016)

When my friend Beth mentioned a 24-hour relay race, I told her of course I was interested. I ended up getting a spot on the team just a few weeks before the race when someone had to drop out and we weren’t too sure what to expect. This race was going to be different from the other relays I’ve done – we had 12 people on our team and 24 hours to cover as many miles and get as many points as possible. The team I joined had actually split into two teams from the previous year – a full team (12) and an ultra team (6). Not really knowing anyone before the race made finding all of our teammates a little difficult, but we had some awesome lime green team shirts that helped us stand out from the rest of the teams. 

The camp sites at the Whitewater Center weren’t formal, so I fit my 2-person tent in between our campsite and the one next to us – it was the perfect size to sneak in between the trees. 

Leg #1 – Blue Loop

The race started at 7:00pm on Friday night. Teams didn’t have to follow any specific format for runners, so since I was willing to run in the dark, I wasn’t going to start my run for a few more hours. One of the ways to get bonus points in this race was to complete all 6 legs within a 6-hour period, so I volunteered to run the longest leg in the dark. My first leg just over 6 miles and had a lot of up and down hills.

This leg was a lot harder than I expected it to be, but after traveling from Charlotte to Pittsburgh to Tampa to Pittsburgh and then back to Charlotte in the week leading up to the race, I wasn’t surprised that my legs were heavier than I was hoping they would feel. Since it was a trail run, I didn’t follow a standard walk:run ratio and just walked when I had to. 


  • Mile 1 – 11:51
  • Mile 2 – 14:40
  • Mile 3 – 15:50
  • Mile 4 – 16:57
  • Mile 5 – 15:31
  • Mile 6 – 12:02

Overall time: 1:27:23

I definitely struggled a little bit with the fact that I didn’t start this run until almost 10:00pm – I worked all day and didn’t eat a very good dinner, so I had to fuel more than I would have expected for a 6 mile run. I am glad that I did this run in the dark – there was quite a bit at the beginning and end that were unshaded, so once we got into the day on Saturday, I’m sure these areas were really hot. Instead, I got to run in the dark with temperatures in the 50’s – perfect running weather!

Leg #2 – Yellow Loop
Originally I was thinking I would have to run my second leg around 5:00am, but the team decided to stick with a 6-man crew for each 6-hour section, so I wouldn’t run again until the next 6-hour segment started at 7:00am. That meant that instead of being up at 4:30, I set an alarm for 6:30 and headed back up to the start line area to meet my teammates.

  • Mile 1 – 14:12
  • Mile 2 – 15:07
  • Mile 3 – 13:30
  • Mile 4 – 15:09
  • Mile 5 – 13:22

Overall time: 1:14:06

As part of this loop I had to take our team card and find two flags that had a hole punch on it so we could collect our extra points. Since this was the third time our team was looking for these, I was able to get clear directions on what to look for, which was really helpful when I got to the Burma Bridge because I knew the hole punch was on the first side of the bridge, so I was easily able to find it. When I got to the other side of the bridge I caught up with a girl who had passed me while I was taking pictures of the lake and she asked about the hole punch and was concerned about having to go across the bridge to get to it, so I was able to tell her where to look and feel better about the time I took to stop to take pictures!
The rest of the loop was pretty straightforward and was definitely easier than the Blue loop the night before.
After I finished my run, I just hung out with the rest of the team, grabbed some lunch and cheered on other teams as they continued running until 7:00pm. As we got closer to the time limit, you could see all the teams strategizing who they were going to send out on the 1-mile loop, trying to get as many points as possible. Our team finished with 190 points and came in 7th place. There were 43 teams in the race, include 10 in the solo category and runners covered over 3,800 miles combined over the course of the 24 hours. As part of the race we all got a race medal and a nice t-shirt – the back actually has a much better design with the same logo as the medal on the back.

Ragnar Trail Angel Fire – leg #3 – Angel Fire, NM (2015)

Check out part I and part II.

After finishing my second leg a little after 1:30am, I stuck around the village to talk with our third runner for a little bit before I headed back to the condo to get showered, some food and a much needed nap. One of the things I typically struggle with on these relay races is staying awake long enough after my second run to get enough food and water into my system before I crash. Last year at the Ragnar Key West race, I learned that lesson the hard way when I immediately fell asleep after my second leg and slept for a couple of hours before waking up feeling awful! I grabbed some snacks at the condo and eventually made my way to bed. I knew it was going to be at least 5-6 hours before my next run, so I set my alarm for 4 hours, turned all of my alerts off, stuck in my ear plugs and slept hard until around 7:00 or 7:30am. 

When I woke up, there was some talk among my teammates about our team having to double-up our legs because we were now behind the overall race cutoff. We still had 3 of each leg left to run, so there was some confusion about what that would mean for us. Initially we thought we could still double-up and then one person would just run by themselves, but it turned out that we would either have to triple-up or wait until we only had 6 legs left to double-up. We decided to just go ahead and double-up for our last set of legs which meant my last run on the Yellow loop would be by myself.

I had heard that the Yellow loop was actually harder than the Red loop, and after comparing the two, I think I agree.

At least with the Red loop you knew that after the first 3 miles of uphill, you got 3 miles of downhill. This one seemed to be never-ending uphill! You still end up getting to the same elevation, 9,050′ (per my Garmin), but after that, you have another hill to climb! 

I did like the Yellow loop though – it was long enough to get into a groove (even if that was walk a lot, run a little) but short enough not to feel like too much. The course also had a great totem pole welcoming you to a section of woods.

There was only one time when I wasn’t sure where the course went – we had been on a large dirt road and it kind of dead-ended into what looked like someone’s driveway. At first, I thought I was supposed to continue down the road, but then I saw the little yellow sign pointing me off-road through some high grass and onto a trail. 

The Yellow loop had some great views of the surrounding valleys and at one point, I could see some neon “grass” up ahead and I was very confused why we were so close to a golf course, until I realized that what I was looking at was actually a green water tower. That’s about the point that I realized that I could probably use some more sleep!

  • Mile 1 – 10:45
  • Mile 2 – 17:33
  • Mile 3 – 17:30
  • Mile 4 – 15:08
  • Last .42 – 9:40

My IT band and ankle were still hurting me on the last downhill section, but I knew I didn’t have to run any more after this leg, so I picked up the speed and came across the line flying!

Since I was the first runner for our team, all of the rest of our runners had to go before our team would finish. Starting with runner #3, we were allowed to double-up our runners so that runner #3 and runner #6 ran together on the Green loop, followed by runners #4 and #7 on the Yellow loop. It was during the Yellow loop where we had another lightning delay. Our runners were still on the course and since this was our next-to-last leg, we had a couple of options. No one was going to be allowed back on the course after 4:00pm, but if the lightning delay lifted before then, our final two runners could run together on the Red leg, but their time would not count for our overall team time. Instead, they were technically “skipped” and our team was finished when our runners on the Yellow loop came in. Soon enough, runners #3 and #6 came in and we got our official team photo and our medals.

Our last runners still wanted to run their last leg, so while we waited for the lightning ban to be lifted, we tore down our campsite, which had started to blow away during the last bought of wind and rain.

Once the runners were off, we all headed back to the house to get warm, change and then we headed back to the village to cheer our final runners in. While we were waiting, we realized that we were one of the last teams on the course and the village was virtually deserted with the exception of one other team and all of the Ragnar employees. Someone must have liked country, because the music was all country while we were waiting and I got to serenade my teammates to “Friends in Low Places” while wearing my new Avex trucker hat with a long-sleeve shirt over my shoulders. For some reason this was apparently very funny. It’s too bad no one got a picture of that! We did, however, get some pictures of people crossing the finish line who we missed earlier due to the weather – here’s Kayla (runner #3) coming in…

We officially finished the race in 29:09:06 and came in 55th place in the regular open mixed division. Coming into this race, I was the only one who had done a relay race before and several members hadn’t run trail races before they started training for this race, so I think it was a great experience for everyone. As always when people are tired, hungry and kept in close quarters for long periods of time, we all had our moments when we needed our space, but overall, I think the team responded to all of the challenges thrown our way and I’m pretty sure I’ve convinced them to try out more relay races!

Ragnar Trail Angel Fire – leg #2 – Angel Fire, NM (2015)

Check out part 1 here.

After my first leg, I headed back to our condo to shower and grab some food while the rest of my team hung out down in the village. I was just getting ready to head back down to the village when it started to hail! Our third runner was on the course and she had specifically requested that spot so that she could run her legs from hard to easy. She was really nervous about the first leg and since this was her first Ragnar, she was nervous about the whole concept of what we were doing. I texted one of my other teammates and said that she would never want to run another race with me again! Luckily, she was a good sport and after the rain and hail she was able to see blue skies at the top of the mountain which I shared on Instagram

My next run would be that same loop in the dark. Originally, I was expecting to start that run around 8:30pm, but with our 2-hour delay and with one of our runners getting injured on his first leg, I actually started just before midnight.

After the transition tent and a short stint down the sidewalk with the other two loops, we took a right and headed up the road toward the chair lift. I did a lot of walking in the first 3 miles, mostly due to how steep the trail was, but I was also struggling a little bit in just not feeling right – I don’t think my hydration and fueling was where it needed to be throughout the day on Friday. I felt great for my first leg, but it was an easy leg, and I didn’t really eat that much before I ran. I grabbed a breakfast bar and a Clif bar, but that was about it from 8:00am – 3:00pm and then after my run, I ate some chicken and pasta, but probably not enough to get me back to where I needed to be. I’m glad I had my GU with me for this run because I could definitely feel the energy draining and even getting hungry as I ran.

We had a full moon for the night run and it was beautiful, if not a little creepy coming down through the trees. At some points I thought I was getting close to an aid station or something because it seemed like there was a light up ahead, but it was just the moon filtering through the trees.

  • Mile 1 – 15:44 
  • Mile 2 – 20:23
  • Mile 3 – 21:51
  • Mile 4 – 13:25
  • Mile 5 – 14:22
  • Mile 6 – 18:31

Overall pace: 17:22
Overall time: 1:44:15

Once I hit the aid station which marked the halfway point and signaled the end of the uphill, I was able to pick up some speed going downhill. This leg was part of a mountain bike trail, so there were some switchbacks going uphill and then for the downhill portion, there were banked turns. Unfortunately since I was doing this one in the dark, it was hard for me to judge just how fast I could go. I also started having an issue with my right ankle – I think my shoes were a little too loose when I started the run, so by the time I did about half of the downhill, I had actually bruised my ankle from my foot moving around in my shoe and hitting the front outside part of the shoe. Between my left IT band starting to act up and my right ankle hurting, I took the last section of the downhill where all of the legs come together a lot slower than I did the first time. 

I got back to the transition tent about when I expected to after just under an hour and 45 minutes, but my teammates weren’t there! I had to leave the bib in the transition tent and I ran back to our tent, but no one was there either. I texted as many people as I could think of who would probably be awake at the time and no one answered me. After about 5 minutes of waiting, the next runner showed up and had to get his gear on before he started out on the Green loop. We had one other miscommunication about timing later in the race, but luckily we only had that happen to us twice where runners were waiting for the next person to get there before starting. 

The overnight runs were cold! It got down to about 35 degrees and the one thing that most of us forgot to bring was gloves. Luckily, I had lots of hand warmers to share, but gloves definitely would have made waiting more pleasant. I think everyone took advantage of the awesome bonfire that Ragnar had going throughout the night – drying out shoes and clothes and keeping warm while waiting on teammates to come into the transition tent. There were also smores and hot chocolate, but I have yet to partake in those during one of these races – I never want to before I run and by the time I’m done, I forget again!

One more leg to go!

Ragnar Trail Angel Fire – leg #1 – Angel Fire, NM (2015)

The Charlotte crew of our team flew into New Mexico on Wednesday night to give us plenty of time to pick up the cars, get organized and settle in before the rest of our teammates flew in the next morning. We made our obligatory stop at REI the next morning to pick up a couple of camp chairs and other essentials before heading to a local Walmart to stock up on food for our condo. The Angel Fire race is apparently one of the two trail races where you can actually stay in a hotel / condo / house and still be within walking distance of the village, so we got a condo for the 8 of us so that we could eat real meals between our running. Plus, a warm place to sleep and a shower are never bad things to have during a race in the mountains. We stopped outside of Santa Fe for lunch and found some dinosaurs!

We actually saw the dinosaurs from the highway and as soon as we decided to stop for lunch, we knew we had to go find them. They’re outside of what looked like a mechanic’s shop, so we just parked beside some other vehicles and wandered around for awhile, until it started to rain on us (a preview of things to come!). 

It took us about 2.5 hours to get to Angel Fire, but the check-in process was super easy and we were on our way to the condo to unpack and get our last full night’s sleep before the race. The one thing we didn’t realize about the condo was that it was four floors! The shared shower was down on the second floor and there were four of us sharing the top floor, with the living room and kitchen on the third floor – just walking up the steps with our suitcases was a challenge now that we were at 8,500′ elevation. We all came from just a couple hundred feet elevation, so we knew this was going to be a challenge for us throughout the race weekend.

I was our lead runner and we were set to start at 1:00pm. I was down at the village early to volunteer for our team, so I was there in plenty of time to see the first teams start off at 11 and the second group start at 12 and before long, it was just about time for me to get started… and then there was lightning! We ended up with a 2-hour delay for our start, but we were allowed to just start late and didn’t have to skip any runners (the teams that had already started had to skip the next two runners). So, I used the extra time to eat some more food and we all put on our Ragnar tattoos. Then, at 3:00, I was in a large group of runners and away we went!

I started off on the Green loop, which was the shortest loop at only 3.6 miles. All of the loops had hills to them, but the Green loop started out with a significant downhill portion. That partnered with the fact that there were so many other people on the course meant that I was flying for the first mile.

  • Mile 1: 8:56
  • Mile 2: 11:00
  • Mile 3: 15:11
  • Last .6: 8:32
I knew after the first mile that I wouldn’t be able to keep up that pace, but I also knew I had some hills coming, so I figured I could bank some time for when I had to walk, which didn’t take too long. There were a lot of people walking the uphill to mile 3 and we commented that this wasn’t a good sign of things to come on the Red loop. 
I don’t think anyone on our team got any pictures of the Green loop, but we wandered down a dirt road, along a smaller bike trail, then off-trail onto a patch of mowed grass before heading to run on the road against traffic and then back off road and up, up, uphill. The Yellow loop merges with the Green loop somewhere on the uphill and stays together through the rest of the course, eventually joining with the Red loop on the steep downhill section. I passed 12 people on the Green loop, but I was almost caught at the very end. I had a really good pace going down the hill, but there was a section where we had to go up and down steps as we went through the Angel Fire Resort where I slowed down before we ended up back on the sidewalk that lead back to the transition tent. I was going as fast as I could down the sidewalk and I could hear one of the guys I had passed on the downhill coming up from behind me.
We gave each other high-fives after we finished, him just a few seconds behind me. I told him I could hear him catching up to me and I wasn’t going to let him pass me. It’s great to get pushed at the end of the race and still have the energy to make yourself go faster! After we got our second runner onto the course, my teammates met me and asked me how I thought it went – the picture sums it up best!
 Up next: leg 2, my overnight run on the Red loop.

Race #14 – Blue Ridge Relay – part III

Check out part I and part II.

When we got to exchange zone 30, it was around 5:00am and we were all exhausted, but also starving, so the idea of a pancake breakfast was really enticing! We actually got to the breakfast area before they were ready, so we hung out at the picnic tables for a few minutes and then we got a plateful of pancakes and a big sausage patty along with a fruit cup and orange juice – well worth the $5 price! As we dug into the great food, we quickly realized that sleep was going to win out very shortly. They had opened up a church for us to sleep in and half of us went into the church with some people sleeping on pews and two of us sleeping in what we thought was an alcove at the back of church – as we found out a few hours later, we were actually sleeping in the main entrance of the church, but luckily neither of us got stepped on when the door opened. 

We were expecting the other van to finish somewhere between 9:30 – 10:00, so when I woke up around 8:00, feeling amazingly refreshed, I decided I would just get up and see if I could get ahold of the other van to see how they were doing. One of the challenges with this race is that it’s in the middle of the mountains, so cell phone coverage is spotty and internet connection is virtually non-existent, so while we had a spreadsheet that we could update after every runner finished and it would let us know the estimated time the next runner would be coming in, we weren’t able to use it too much and relied on texts and phone calls instead. The van was right on track and came in at 9:45am – only 6 more legs to go! Our van had two Mountain Goat Hard legs in our last set and the ladies who ran them definitely crushed it! First up was a 6.5 miler which started going uphill around mile 1.5 and never stopped with the grade ranging from 5-6% for 5 miles. Driving up that hill I was glad I was going to be starting at the top and not doing the switchbacks (it reminded me a lot of The Bear). While we were waiting at the top, we got to see someone make it to the top, handoff to their teammate and immediately throw up… this leg was no joke and our runner did an amazing job! I was up next and I had 9.5 miles of almost pure downhill. I was keeping a really good pace and stuck with my 4 minutes running and 1 minute walking as I started the leg. The good news is that the downhill half I did this summer turned out to be really good training for this leg! I passed two people while we were in the woods, but after about 5 miles, we came out of the woods and into the mid-day sun which really slowed me down. I ended up adjusting my run/walk ratio to take advantage of the shade as much as possible and the two people I passed ended up catching up with me around mile 7 or 8. It was disappointing not to be able to hang on those last few miles, but I think it was the right strategy for me because I would have struggled in the heat regardless of how fast I had run in the first few miles. 

  • Mile 1 – 8:05
  • Mile 2 – 8:20
  • Mile 3 – 8:31
  • Mile 4 – 9:10 <– GU
  • Mile 5 – 7:59
  • Mile 6 – 9:40
  • Mile 7 – 9:45
  • Mile 8 – 10:10 <– GU
  • Mile 9 – 10:59
  • Last .5 – 8:00
Overall average: 9:09

After my leg was the other Mountain Goat Hard leg that was about 3.5 miles of uphill to start the run, including about a mile of 8-13% grade, followed by 1.7 miles of downhill… talk about another rough leg! We made our way through the last few legs and ended in downtown Asheville trying to dodge the impending rain storm. We met up with the rest of our team and waited for our final runner and crossed the line together. We ended up finishing the 208 miles in 33:22:35 with an overall pace of 9:35 / mile, just 15 minutes behind our 10k pace! 

Overall, there was great scenery throughout the course and awesome volunteers at each of the exchange zones. The few downsides to this race would be the one exchange zone that was at a fire station that had traffic backed up along the road, the lack of any type of actual finish line festival and only getting a magnet for finishing (where’s my medal?). Definitely nothing that would stop me from doing the race again if I was asked to! 

Have you ever done the Blue Ridge Relay or another relay race? 

Race #14 – Blue Ridge Relay – part II

Check out part I here.

After we finished our first set of legs, Van 2 trekked into Boone to grab dinner at Subway and pick up a few supplies at Wal-Mart. I have to say, there’s really nothing quite like people watching at Wal-Mart in a rural town. Since all 6 of us had gotten rained on during our first legs, we decided to pick up some towels along with some additional bagels and bananas before we headed to exchange zone #18. 

Van 1 had over 40 miles to cover before we would run again, so we set up camp at the exchange zone and tried to get a few hours of rest. We also re-decorated our van since the rain had washed almost everything off.
The tent ended up being a great idea – it gave us plenty of room to stretch out and allowed more people to actually get sleep than we’ve had in previous relay races. That’s definitely something we will add to our packing list for future relays! 

As we were heading to the exchange zone where I would be starting out from, we could see red flashing lights in the distance and a lot of cars backed up on the road. It was a little scary at first because it looked like we were coming up on the scene of an accident, but it turned out to be the fire station where my exchange zone was – all of the relay vans had to park along the side of the road, so the firemen were holding up traffic so that the vans could back into spots next to the road. After we told the first fireman we needed to park, he directed us to a second fireman up the road a couple hundred yards who asked “Yinz gonna park here or go through?” … I didn’t expect to hear any Pittsburghese in the middle of the woods in NC! 

Runner #7 only had 4.4 miles to do on her leg, so I was a little nervous about not being able to get out and stretched in time to meet her, but we ended up having an extra 10 minutes or so after we parked before she came in, so that was fine. My second leg was 7.3 miles with a hill that lasted just over a mile and ranged from 5-7% grade. Of course, this hill was also at the end of this leg, very similar to my first leg. I got on the road just before midnight.

  • Mile 1 – 9:35
  • Mile 2 – 9:35
  • Mile 3 – 10:20
  • Mile 4 – 11:30
  • Mile 5 – 10:57
  • Mile 6 – 13:19
  • Mile 7 – 10:04
  • Last .3 – 8:30

Overall pace: 10:41

I really struggled on Mile 6 and it definitely shows in my numbers… overall, I think the leg went well considering the terrain and I was definitely glad to be running that one at night – I can’t imagine running that hill in the heat of the day! I did get yelled at by some locals in a pickup truck as I was climbing on of the hills. The good news is that their truck was so loud I could hear which direction it was going, so I would have had plenty of warning if they decided to turn around and come back to bother me. Apparently on one of the legs there was someone on the course jumping out to scare people – I didn’t hear anything about it from any of our runners, but that’s definitely not something you like to hear.

After my leg, I made a point to be the navigator for the rest of our van’s legs so that I would force myself to stay awake and keep hydrating and it worked out well. One of the most interesting exchange zone setups was at a garage and all of the vans just parked along the side of the road (we had to be careful not to hit runners as we entered & exited the van) and the one portapotty that they had was still set up on the trailer that it was brought in on, so it was like walking on stage to go up to the bathroom – it was very weird and I saw a few teams taking pictures as if their runner was on a stage.

We, thankfully, had an uneventful night and after everyone had done their second leg, we were still hanging onto a 3 minute lead over our original estimated finish time. One caveat to the estimated finish time is that we were using our 10k pace, which is what everyone is asked to submit in order to figure out when your team will start running and while we padded our time slightly because we knew we would all be running double or triple that distance, everyone put in a pace they were comfortable training at for 8-10 miles (which, again, is about half of the total distance we would run over the course of the race). 

We handed off to Van 1 at exchange zone 24 and headed on to exchange zone 30 where we were all looking forward to a pancake breakfast and more sleep while Van 1 ran a little over 37 miles on their final legs of the race.

Check back tomorrow for the final part of the Blue Ridge Relay recap!

Race #14: Blue Ridge Relay – part I

Last weekend was the Blue Ridge Relay which starts near Mount Rogers in Virginia and ends 208 miles later in Asheville, NC. I was the captain of the team for this round and we officially changed our name from the Key West Relay to Gotta Crush on You for this race and I designed the logo for our shirts (on the left). 

Since our team was able to meet in Charlotte and we were only a couple of hours from the start of the race, our vans split up with only Van 1 traveling to the start line and Van 2 stayed in Charlotte the night before. Our start time was 6:30am, so it was still a very early start for that van and the ran into a few issues with the directions and the windy country roads leading to the start line, so they got there just in time to sprint to the starting line and run after the 6:30 starting wave. Our van, Van 2, started at exchange zone 6 which was near West Jefferson, NC. We got there early and spent some time decorating our van while we waited for our teammates to arrive.

I was runner #8 for our team, which meant I had almost 20 miles over my 3 legs and the third longest distance on the team. Some of my teammates had a lot more elevation gain than I did (especially after my third leg), so I was more than willing to trade more miles for fewer hills! 

Our team came in strong after Van 1’s first set of legs and by the time it was my turn, we were 20 minutes ahead of where we expected to be. I started off just before noon and it was 73 degrees and rainy. My first leg was by far my easiest, with only 3.1 miles to do:

Mile 1 – 8:51
Mile 2 – 10:02
Mile 3 – 9:37
Last .1 – 7:30

Overall pace: 9:24

It really was a good leg to start off on and I tried to keep myself in check and not go out too fast since I knew that I would have over 16.5 miles to run after that. I stuck with my 4 minutes running, 1 minute walking routine throughout the leg and it definitely helped on that 9% grade of a hill near the end and I got to enjoy a little bit of a downhill at the end of the leg to finish strong. 

By the end of everyone’s first leg, we were still 20 minutes ahead of our estimated finish time and we were going strong as we headed into the evening hours. 

Stay tuned for a recap of legs #2 and #3 coming soon!

Ragnar Relay – Key West part III

Check out part I and part II here

As we were preparing for our last legs of the relay race, we knew Van 1 would have a rough morning. They started their last legs around 8:30am (about 2 hours behind original projections) and they had 33 miles to cover before we would start our legs, including two runners with 9.5 mile legs – talk about rough! Our longest leg during the heat of the day was my 8 miler the day before. Luckily, our team was able to camp out at another school, grab some food and take advantage of the nice weather to get in another nap. As we expected, the other team struggled as much as we did with the heat (low 80’s), so our van started about 3 hours behind schedule. Our goal for the day was just to make sure that everyone stayed safe and would be able to enjoy our time in Key West. 

I had the shortest leg of our van for this portion, with only 1.8 miles to cover, so around 3:15, I started my last leg of the race with the temperature hovering around 82.

  • Mile 1 – 10:12
  • Last .77 – 9:21
I felt really good during this leg. I kept up the 3:1 ratio again and was even able to get 1 kill, bringing my total up to 13 (6 in both of my other legs). 

My three legs totaled 15.9 miles, with an average of 10:22 pace. Considering I’ve been focusing on longer, slower runs, I’m really happy with that pace and it turned out to be a lot faster than I felt when I was actually doing the runs! 

Our last runner had 5 miles to get to the finish line and we almost missed being able to cross the finish with him! As we got into Key West, we were trying to find parking and ended up having to circle the block to be able to get into the parking area – which lead to an unfortunate incident where we ran over a chicken that was being chased by a dog into the middle of the street (roosters & chickens roam free in Key West). After all of the chaos, we were finally able to park and hurry to get to the finish line to await our runner. We only had to wait about 2 minutes before we saw our runner coming in and we all finished together! Ragnar provided us with the awesome photos below for free (who doesn’t love free race pictures)! 

Even though we finished about 3.5 hours after we expected to, our team had a ton of fun and we’ve already started discussing what our next relay should be!

Have you ever done a relay race? Does my experience entice you to try one or scare you off altogether? 

Ragnar Relay – Key West part II

Check out part I here

When we finished leg #12, we decided to try to find a grocery store on our way to the next exchange zone. While we were there, we ran into another team, Running Wild, who helped us decorate our very plain, though easily findable, red van (98% of the other vans were white). Their dinosaur inspired us to find our own markers to keep track of the legs we ran as well as our kills. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, kills are counted when you pass a runner from another team.  We didn’t end up finishing our decorations, but we did keep track of the kills for each of our Van 2 members and it added up to 86! Most of the teams had at least partially decorated vans and at each major exchange zone, they would spend time “tagging” other vans. A few, like our grocery store friends, would tag other vans with markers, but a lot of teams had magnets that they would put on other vans. One of our teammates actually had some magnets made up for our team as well (that’s the little white circle in the middle of the dinosaur tag) which we were able to put on other vans. Here’s a few of the vans that we saw on the trip:

  • Top left: We ran with your mom last night – Your mom has skillz
  • Top right: Beach slapped – Olympic jokes are Sochiesey
  • Middle: Jurassic Parkour – the front of their van had a city on it with magnetic dinosaurs
  • Bottom: our van after getting tagged and posting our kills after our first set of legs

My second leg was originally supposed to start around 1:30am, but with the heat we ran in during our first legs and Van 1’s second legs, we ended up a bit behind our original schedule. With the extra time, I was able to get dinner at the school that was hosting us at exchange zone 18 followed by about an hour’s nap on the grass and even a shower! An hour isn’t a lot of time, but some of my teammates only got about 10-15 minutes at a time, so I’m definitely grateful for the sleep I was able to get. 

Luckily after the sun went down, it did cool down a bit, but it was still 75° when I started leg #20 around 3:15am. My goal for this leg was to keep a 3:1 run / walk ratio, and I did much better at keeping this pace throughout the 6.2 miles. 

  • Mile 1 – 9:53
  • Mile 2 – 10:17
  • Mile 3 – 9:25
  • Mile 4 – 10:38 
  • Mile 5 – 9:40
  • Mile 6 – 10:09
  • Last .15 – 7:47
I love the overnight portion of these relay races – there’s nothing like being on a course in the middle of the night and while I couldn’t see any of the water as I was going over the bridges, the stars were amazing! The highlight of this portion of my leg was seeing Ragnar, Ruh Roh! (team #96) with The Mystery Machine (their van) parked beside the road blasting music, projecting disco lights into the trees and all of their team members outside dancing – it was a great inspiration to keep running. During one of my walk breaks, I came across another team who told me “Don’t walk in the dark” to which I responded “Yeah, you never know who you’ll find!” 

Running in the dark this time was much less creepy than during the Tuna Run – we were in a more residential area and there were no dogs / coyotes howling during my run! I did get a little spooked by what I thought was a guy standing beside the road at one point, but as I got closer, I realized it was a manatee mailbox holder (still a little disturbing in the daylight). 

I felt really good when I finished my run, but I was definitely tired. As we were heading to the next exchange zone (about 8 miles away), I fell asleep riding shotgun and then once we got to the exchange zone, I jumped into the back seat to grab some more sleep, which turned out to be a bad move. I woke up as the last runner in our van was starting leg #24, so I probably slept for about 2 hours, but I was disoriented when I woke up. I grabbed a Clif Bar because I hadn’t eaten anything in the last 12 hours and almost immediately started to feel nauseous. I think the problem was not eating after I ran and not staying hydrated enough – after staying in the shade and drinking 2 bottles of water, I felt much better. That’s definitely something I’ll have to keep in mind for the next time I try something like this – staying well hydrated has never been a strength of mine, so with the heat, it was definitely something I should have been paying more attention to.

Tune in tomorrow for part III.

Ragnar Relay – Key West part I

Our team flew into Miami on Thursday, February 6 – most of our team was coming from Charlotte, but we also had team members flying in from New York City, Chicago and Louisville. For the most part, it was an uneventful trip into Miami, with the exception of our team member, Craig, who flew into Fort Lauderdale and took the train to Miami. He was delayed when there was a shooting at one of the train stations. Luckily, he made it to us safe and sound and we were able to head out for a team dinner.

I was in Van 2, so we were able to sleep in on Friday morning while Van 1 headed to the start line around 6:00am for a 7:30 start time. One of the guys on our team put together a spreadsheet so that we could track how everyone was doing on their legs and know when to expect them at the major exchange zones. Van 1 finished their legs (1-6, 23.16 miles) within 2 minutes of our predicted time and then it was time for Van 2 to get started, right around 11:00am. I was runner #8, which meant I had to run second in our van. Runner 7 had 4.2 miles to run, so after about 35 minutes, it was time for my longest run. I knew that I wanted to continue my run-walk-run training throughout this race, but I also wanted to increase my running time to increase my speed, so I opted for a 3:1 ratio. What I wasn’t counting on was the heat! It was about 8-10 degrees warmer than we originally expected, so it hit about 80 while I was running. This part of the race was still through Miami and it was open to traffic, so there were some times when runners would have to wait at stoplights until they could safely cross the street and that definitely happened to me at least once if not a couple times. 

Mile 1 – 9:06 pace <– too fast, but feeling good
Mile 2 – 10:30
Mile 3 – 11:12 <– waiting for stoplights
Mile 4 – 10:30
Mile 5 – 11:24 <– really slowing down
Mile 6 – 11:17
Mile 7 – 11:28
Last .98 – 10:33

I ended up changing my run / walk ratio around mile 5 because of the heat – I would run for 1:00, walk for :30, run for 1:30 then walk for 1:00. My overall pace for the 7.98 miles was 10:46, which was definitely slower than the 10:00 pace I was hoping for, but considering the heat, I felt it was a good pace for me. 

Overall, Van 2 had 35.93 miles in legs 7-12 and while we definitely were slower than we originally expected, we kept moving and finished around 5:30pm. Once we finished our legs, we headed to a grocery store to stock up on some more water, Gatorade and peanut butter and then headed to the next major exchange zone to grab a hot pasta dinner and showers at the school who was hosting us. This is also where we were planning to grab some shut eye before our next legs which were expected to start around midnight. 

Tune in tomorrow for part II.

Nike Women’s Half Marathon
Interested in trying to get a free entry for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC? Nuun is hosting a contest for 5 free entries – follow this link and help me get some extra entries in the process (you’ll get your own code to share with friends after you register).