Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ragnar report 2011

Almost two weeks ago I ran in the Wasatch Back, a Ragnar relay here in Utah that covered 192 miles this year. This was the third year I've run this, and I only needed 11 days to blog about it!

The Ragnar consists of 12-person teams (though some crazy teams just use six) split into two vans. For the third year in a row, I was in the second van, so I knew what to expect in terms of fatigue and sleep. Basically, I was always fatigued and barely slept. As runner No. 11, My first leg was a 3.2-mile leg halfway up to Snowbasin ski resort. I knew it would be arduous, but I was mostly pleased with how I slowly ran. My goal was to run more up the mountain than I walked, and that I achieved. I had been dreading this uphill for weeks, but it turned out I was in better shape than I thought.

Our team (organized through my wife's work) stopped to try to sleep before our van went back on the course. For the third year in a row, I never fell asleep, even though I was tired. I did manage to sleep for about an hour overnight in the van while teammates were running. Finally, around 4:45 a.m., I started my second leg, a 5.5-mile leg along Rockport Lake. The conditions were freezing (high 30s) and I was bundled up. Once I got going, I warmed up enough and felt good. The sky started to brighten as sunrise approached, and the lake in this light was pretty. I felt really good on this leg, only to be surprised how slow my time was. The course featured a gradual ascent, but not enough that I felt like I was slowing down too much. Maybe my body felt as good as it could after a long night. That's just a small complaint -- the best thing is that I felt good and enjoyed the run, particularly when a deer crossed the road.

I got about another hour of sleep in the morning before our van took off again for our last legs. My last run was a 7.3-mile trek from Guardsman Pass down to Deer Valley -- a 2,000-foot descent. My knees held up well, and I was again happy with how I ran. The only big obstacle in this leg was a 100-foot steep ascent smack-dab in the middle of the downhill. There were maybe eight runners on the hill when I was on it, and collectively, we all silently thought "F--- this!" and walked up the hill. I came into the exchange listening to "Badlands" on my Shuffle, which gave me energy to finish my third Ragnar strong.

Of my three Ragnars, running-wise, I was happiest with this one. I had an uphill leg my first Wasatch Back I wasn't pleased with, and last year, I was rushed on my first leg, had light malfunctions on my second leg and tightened up after tying my shoe on my third leg. Except for the infuriating hill on my last leg, I felt great this year (slow times notwithstanding). We had a great, relaxed van and really never felt that tired. One of these years, I will get more sleep (and next year, I won't drop my sleeping bag downwind from the Honey Pots!).

Coming down from Park City, I fell asleep in the van and later, fell asleep at 8:30 and got 10 hours sleep (then got a nap on Father's Day). I'm already looking forward to next year.

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