It’s a bit surreal – one week ago I was in Hull, MA preparing to run 36 miles over the course of a day and a half – not because zombies were chasing me but because I had agreed to be part of Team Sexy, Sexy Cheetahs, a 6 person Ultra Team preparing to participate Ragnar Cape Cod.
After months of planning, talking, and wondering what I had gotten myself into – I along with 5 other Sexy Sexy Cheetahs (and one Sexy Driver) met Thursday evening, loaded up our “essential” gear, and hit the road for the start of our crazy Ultra Ragnar Relay adventure in Hull, MA.
If you read my last post (and why wouldn’t you have :)) you would know that I have been a part of several “regular” Ragnar Relay Teams, but when Sean Duffy (or Cheetah 4) messaged me about an opening on his Ultra team “Sexy, Sexy Cheetahs” I was intrigued. Running 3 times over the course of 30 or so hours is challenging but cut the number of team members in half and double the running…..SIGN ME UP!
After our team meeting, when I was dubbed “Cheetah 3”, did I realize “Holy Crap – I am going to be running a total of 36 miles over the course of a day in a half”. Reality set in quick, especially due to the fact that I was not really running much at the time.
However over the weeks I slowly (and smartly) built up my mileage and did a couple of 2 a days to try and mimic how I would feel.
My concern, on top of tired and cranky legs, was how I would feel with even less sleep than I had during the other Ragnar’s I had participated in. Usually your van has a couple of hours of down time, which gives you a chance to eat, sleep, shower, etc. On an Ultra team – not so much – as you are constantly traveling from Exchange to Exchange heading (eventually) to the finish.
But Thursday rolled around & I along with my “essentials” (including our driver) loaded up and headed out.
Ragnar has their Orientation down to a science AND because the presenting sponsor this year was Reebok – team whom were able could grab their shirts, flags, shop and complete the safety orientation inside their world headquarters. It worked out great because our team was able to get a bit more sleep AND not have to worry about watching the safety video at the start!
We scored an immense amount of Kind bars and our shirts, headed to our slightly sketchy hotel (very Psycho-esque), ate some grub, and grabbed as much shut eye as possible.
Although we had a 6:30am start time – we rolled up at 8:30am – I mean there was only 6 of us so it’s not like there was another van waiting for us at the first Major Exchange.
We took some obligatory “happy to be here” starting line pics and then Bob Urban (Cheetah 1) was off.
Van decorated and coffee obtained we headed to the first exchange – only to find out that Bob was wicked fast and was waiting for Kate M. (Cheetah 2) – Whoops! Luckily that was the only “van drop” by our driver whom was steady and a great navigator during the whole race.
I won’t bore you with an entire blow by blow accounting of the race but break it down to some of my favorite moments.
- Leg 1 – 8.62 Miles (The Beginning) After grabbing coffee pimping out our van our motley crew actually “slightly” missed Ultra Bob Urban at the exchange but this was quickly remedied and Kate took off. Good thing that our “miss” happened at the beginning, who knows what would have happened if Team 99 did not make it to the later exchanges. For me – these first miles were an eye opener. I was still a bit tight and jacked up and it took a bit to loosen up and get into a stride. Shout out to Fred Henning (a prior Ragnar Relay Teammate) whom randomly found me at the half way point and gave me some water. It was humid and that water tasted like sweet nectar from the Gods. Also – shout out to my training this spring – I felt comfortable enough to wear “booty shorts” during this run – the earliest in the season I felt comfortable doing so for a while.
- Leg 2 – 4.74 Miles (I got this)Even with the cloud cover, it was humid for everyone. We were smart and grabbed Subway (our only “real meal) while Kate (Cheetah 2) was running. I was able to avoid the rain during my run, literally running toward my sandwich. Best sandwich ever! At this point I felt like a bit of a bad ass – I mean I already ran 2x and almost everyone else was still on their first leg. Liz (Cheetah 5) and Dave (Cheetah 6) were true rock stars as it just began and continued to rain during their runs. Also – the temperature dropped fast but they were still keeping a good pace.
- Leg 3 – 4.21 Miles (Soaked to the Bone)The wettest of my runs and on top of that I huge semi drove right past me and splashed an exorbitant amount of water over me. Soaked to the bone all I could do was continue on to hand off to Cheetah 4. It was also during this run that I decided to use the second pair of shoes I brought, I wanted to make sure that my “better” shoes remained dry for my later runs. Also the best moment was getting back into the van and seeing Cheetah 5 figuring out how to light up her tutu – truely put a smile on my face.
- Leg 4 – 5.66 Miles (Sunrise Run)Still dark but it finally stopped raining and I got to see the sun set. This was my best run and favorite run but it started to get humid again. I could see the clouds going out to sea and knew that the sun was going to be brutal for the last legs. I also “attempted” to sleep – not sure but I think I did not. Even after all that ran Cheetah 1 still had his tail on!
- Leg 5 – 9.45 (My WTF – Leg)I was dreading this leg – I already ran 8 for my first leg and now this. I tried to “suck it up” but in reality this leg SUCKED. I got a huge blister and my playlist kept playing crappy songs. Saving grace – the van “mysteriously” finding me and handing me some water – provided me with a breather and hydration.
- Leg 6 – 3.3 (LAST LEG!!!)Last Leg! And the best part – I got to be shadowed by Mark (Van Driver). We rarely run together and it was great to be out there with him. He even got to experience some “kills” (i.e. passing other runners). I apologized for not being faster but honestly putting one foot in front of the other was all I had at that point, especially given the fact that the first part of the run was UPHILL!!!! In all honestly we all had to grind through those final legs – don’t let anyone tell you Cape Cod is flat – NOT TRUE. Just ask anyone on our team. Dave brought us home (even after missing a turn :)) and finally we were done – Ultra tired but Ultra Accomplished.
At the end, yes I was sore and tired but really I was more tired than sore. It’s strange and I never thought I would feel that way. Maybe because you are running on less rest – the lactic acid does not have as much chance to build as it would running on a non-Ultra Team.
So – now that I am no longer a “Newbie” Ultra Ragar Relay runner, would I do it again?
In a heartbeat but with a caveat – it would have to be on a special team and group of people. As I mentioned in my last post – if one person has a bad attitude it can make the whole van miserable.
Luckily that was certainly not the case – Sexy, Sexy Cheetahs were tired and sore and hungry but we never lost our sense of humor. Grinding out those miles and hills was hard (don’t let people tell you Cape Cod is flat!) but knowing that I was running to Cheetah 4 or that Cheetah 2 was coming round the bend make the experience all the more enjoyable.
To each of my Sexy, Sexy Cheetahs – it was an honor to run with all of you. We were #bettertogether and definitely found our #innerwild.
Now when does Ragnar Cape Cod 2017 registration open?