What the Hill?! Ragnar Relay Recap Episode I

There are no words to describe last weekend’s 3-weekends’ago Jaw-Droppingly Epic Experience Called “Ragnar” but I’m gonna try. Brace yourself.

Participating in a Ragnar Relay long-distance race is like running race mixed with a slumber party on a roaptrip with a dash of nightclub party thrown in for good measure.  I was part of the Another Mother Runner teams, where I was one of 24 strangers to be picked to run a long-distance relay race, on a team of 12, and share a van with 6 other women… Hmmm, it’s starting to sound like the intro to MTV’s The Real World, and it kind of was, but with less alcohol poisoning and more cowbells. I would explain the race format and all, but I’m tired and I kinda already did that here. So go read it. Then come back. I’ll wait.

As one is wont to do the day before a race, I spent half of the day on my feet teaching and the other half on my butt driving 6 hours to Cumberland, MD, our starting point. After a group dinner and meeting, we headed out for one of the “party” parts of Ragnar: Decorating the vans. I got to write “Badass” on a van, which made me feel rebellious and…well, badass.

ragnar DC running van decorating

That’s me in the blue dot teacher dress and recovery flip-flops.

ragnar relay van decoration

My handiwork.

IMG_8580At Ragnar, you also get to decorate yourselves, apparently. Before the race, I had read reports of tutus and tiaras for our team (aren’t tiaras the the opposite of badass?), and I must admit I was a little UGH about it. I have a few of running rules for myself: I do not run in costume, mud, or while getting pelted with rainbow-colored chalk clouds. I kept my trap shut in the name of team spirit and all, and my fears only 1/2 came true: Turns out there were no tiaras, but I was handed a HOT PINK TUTU WITH BLACK TRIM. *Raises one eyebrow curiously*

Despite my nervous stomach getting nervouser and nervouser, I managed to get a few hours of sleep. Up at 5:30AM, we took some team photos and headed to the start area at Rocky Gap State Park. We were all smiley and bouncy as we entered the mandatory safety briefing corral, in which the director mentioned, “The heat index is predicted to be 99 degrees today, so hydrate. Someone will be leaving in an ambulance, don’t let it be you.” Whoa. Geez, dude, way to be a buzzkill.

ragnar relay start rocky gap

May I present to you…the Badass Mother Runners! (I kind of skipped the tutu for the group pic at the start.)

We saw our first runner off with a round of cheers at 7:30 AM (the race staggers the starts all day long) and as the 1st exchange also happens in the state park we got see the hand-off to Runner #2. I finally did put on the tutu, so that we could look uniform. The tutu has toggles on it in which to hold your race number. Hmmm, a functional tutu? Curious, indeed. *Raises other eyebrow* After Runner #2 took off, we wished Runners 1-6 in Van #1 well and headed off to buy ice, snacks, and get to the first major exchange, in a big field in the middle of rural Maryland.

While we waited for runner #6 (and Van#1) to arrive, I sat in the driver’s seat, put on some dulcet tones of Vampire Weekend, closed my eyes, and tried to make my gut behave out of sheer will, as it was tossing and turning something fierce. I also pulled out “The Stick” massage tool (yes, that it’s name) and my teammate Rebecca and I “sticked” each other. It was sooooo goooood.

ragnar relay DC

Stick pro quo.

I was starting to whither as Mother Earth’s furnace kicked on high, but then we got to cheer in Runner 6, and cheer out Runner 7, Renee, and I perked up a bit. This is where things got interesting.

By the time Renee took off, it was after 1:00 PM and it was SCORCHING. Renee’s leg was ONE LONG, SUNNY, UNFORGIVING HILL. She took it like a trooper and the badass that she is. The rest of us quickly realized that we needed to be “pit crews” to each other. Vans are not allowed to “pace” with runners, but we pulled over to the side several times to offer support.

ragnar relay DC

Don’t we look supportive? I don’t know what I’m doing, but THERE’S THE TUTU. Rebecca is studying her upcoming leg map. WHERE IS YOUR TUTU, REBECCA??

We really were like an expert pit crew: One person filled water bottles, one person held bag of ice, one person shoved the ice down Renee’s shirt, one wielded the misting bottle. I was super helpful by taking pictures.

Ragnar Relay DC

Ragnar? Or NASCAR?

It was so hot, we even helped rival teams.

ragnar relay DC

We help all fellow tutu wearers.

ragnar relay dc

This is Bethany from Van 1 spraying a random racer dude. WATCH OUT, SHE WILL SPRAY YOU WITH KINDNESS WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT.

By the time we got the the next exchange, MINE, my stomach was still not settled, it was 3PM, the heat index was easily 95, and we just got a text from the Ragnar folks:

ragnar relay DC

One of many we received that weekend.

Well then. I pulled on my tutu. It’s pretty light, and I didn’t have to put pinholes through my shirt for my race number. *Eyebrows starting too give look of approval*  I didn’t feel that nervous anymore, but I think that was LESS DUE to actually being nervous, and more due to the heat making me give a few less $h*ts about life in general. In fact, it was so hot, and my race number was already on my tutu, and I was in fact, giving so few $h*ts, that I decided to take off my shirt and RUN IN MY SPORTS BRA. Big whoop you might say. I say to that, yes…yes it is a big, fat, whoop to me. Here’s why.

Now, generally I am ok with my body. My need to live life and run for sanity > fretting about my body. But…I don’t have a easy shape to dress (apple-shaped, yo) and I’ve never loved my proportions, but I have enough body-love to be content. Still, I had a navel ring for many years that never saw the light of day, because I’m just not a belly baring-gal. No bikinis, ever, for me. My short waist has never been toned, and now after having kids, if I jump up and down it kind of resembles an angry muppet mouth, like when Bert gets mad at Ernie. Anyway, my point being it’s just not my favorite body part by a long shot. So that should give you some perspective on the effect that the heat had on my brain. “I’M SO HOT, NOT FIGURATIVELY, BUT LITERALLY. MUST HAVE ONE LESS LAYER!”, my brain was slurring to itself. My purple tank got handed to a teammate, who was probably temporarily blinded by my never-seen-the-sun torso.

In my zest for shirt liberation, I kind of forgot what my race leg would be like. So, while I waited at the exchange for Renee, I turned to look at THAT MOUNTAIN. Yes, I know technically I think it’s a hill, but WHAT THE HILL?? I’m going to run over that! Check out this sweet photo (thanks, Meryl!) of the hand-off from Renee to me in a bra, in a tutu, about ready to run over that THING in the background:

Untitled

I going to end this post now, as it’s taken me almost 3 weeks to write it, so I’m declaring this Part One. Come back again for Part Two, I may actually have it written by Thanksgiving!

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4 thoughts on “What the Hill?! Ragnar Relay Recap Episode I

  1. Lol! I love it! Brings back so many memories! I loved the tutu but I think I mostly just wore it during the runs because it was hot and I didn’t want to get my race number wrinkly. Somewhere there is a two tutu shot of the two teams and that was my still photogenic tutu, I’ll have you know! People, I was there- that was a mountain and Nancy is a badass!

  2. Pingback: “Only” 10 Miles + My Philadelphia Marathon Goals | See Nancy Run.

  3. Pingback: My Cup RUNneth Over | See Nancy Run.

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