Wednesday, July 2, 2014

#Nuunjas at Ragnar Wasatch Back: Part 1

Wednesday: 4.8 easy miles w/Laura, Kevin & Clay

Going to Utah last weekend to run 200 miles at elevation through the mountains with 11 strangers was one of the best decision of my life. Seriously. 

I'm so thankful that I was given the opportunity to run the Ragnar Wasatch Relay with Nuun.

I'm not even sure that I can recap it all in one blog post - there are too many pictures - so many inside jokes, so many stories and just too much fun. So - this is going to be my relay post PART 1!

Relays really are an experience that all runners should have because it is so different than anything else. The delirium from lack of sleep, the tight muscles from being cramped in a van, the getting very close to each other very quickly, and usually learning more about someone than you normally would. 

I flew into Salt Lake City Thursday evening after just a minor delay and cabbed it directly to meet the majority of the Nuunjas at dinner at a local brew pub. It was fun to walk into the restaurant and not actually know a large group of people that I was supposed to meet. Hands were shaken and hugs passed out, stories shared, and food was eaten. I loved how easily we were all able to just come together and enjoy each others company. 
Cameron, Meggan, Sanita, Me, Tiffany, George, Carmen, Steve, Megan (not pictured: Katie, Lisa, Keri)
One of our runmates, Katie, was having definite travel issues. Her plane was cancelled multiple times and we didn't think that she was going to make it to Utah at all. We finally found out that she would make it, but not in time to make it to the start with Van 1. So I switched first legs with her. I would run leg 2 in Van 1 and she would run leg 11 in Van 2. Then we would switch at Major Exchange #12 and I would finish up runner 11's legs and she would finish up runner #2's legs. That way she would be able to run three legs instead of two and no one would have to add on the 8.7 miles to their own leg in Van 1.
Tiffany & I, now IRL friends :)
Part of the team stayed in a condo in Park City, where the relay would end, and part of us stayed at the Double Tree near the airport in SLC. George and I roomed together and stayed up until midnight chatting even though we had a 5 am wake up call. I mean, we were going to run a 200 mile relay, who needs sleep?

We woke up, packed up, got ready… and then waited. Because, why did we wake up so early? Oh ya, because George and I are weird and like to be up at 5am. 
Then George and I headed out to meet up with Van 1.
George and I!
I immediately got very excited when everyone arrived… this should not surprise most of you, but I literally began running in circles around all my run mates. They were very unsure what they were getting into, and made comments about being nervous about getting in the Van with me. Until they realized that I was the best van mate. The 1.5 hour drive to the start was torture because I was so excited.

We got to Logan and parked in a near dead parking lot. We were one of the later teams to start and there were NOT many other teams. It seemed weird to me. I've never been part of Van 1 before but I have seen pictures from starts and to only have about 8 teams starting seemed so small and everything was very quiet.

Regardless we checked in, listened to the safety briefing, picked up our bibs and shirts, tatted up...
… took team pictures...
Meggan, George, Carmen, Me, Cameron, Megan
..posed near the Nuun poster… because we are the Nuunjas after all...
...Then cheered Meggan through the start! We were finally on our way - 200 miles through mountains all the way to Park City!
My first leg was the second overall leg. So once Meggan was off, I had to get ready to go. It was 8.7 miles and I started around 1:30pm. We had the MOST EPIC FAILED hand off. Can't wait to share that video with you!
Man, it was already hot for this Portlander out there. Not to mention, elevation was hard for this Sea Leveler's lungs. Sea level to 4,000+ feet made me feel as if I was out of shape, it took me about 3.5 miles to warm up and get into my stride and feel comfortable. I was happy to still come under my 8 min goal pace at a 7'45" for the 8.7 miles. But it was not the easiest work. There was a good uphill toward the end. Not to mention this being my first Ragnar, I was not used to such fewer number of runners and volunteers. I went miles without seeing anyone else. I only saw (and passed) 4 runners on my first leg, which is unheard of in my times at Hood to Coast. I think that the possibility of road kills usually helps me keep a quicker pace.
After finishing my leg early I was able to cheer on all of the other runners. I love being able to share that special skill of mine with others. It was a blast to hang out the window and pump everyone up. At the first exchange to Van #2 (exchange #6) We grabbed some grub. Eating on a relay is such a hard balance. But since I was switching to van #2 I was going to have a much longer break than normal… so I figured some real food wouldn't be a bad idea.
Then we headed to the next major exchange (#12) and waited for Van #2 to get in. All of the teams met at a snow park, but since it was summer the hills were covered in green.  It was BEAUTIFUL there. The weather started to cool down, as we were at a higher elevation. I sat with George and Cameron for a long time just watching runners come in and listening to the live music that they had playing.
We were there until dark and donned our reflective gear. I was pretty disappointed that with the switch from Van 1 to Van 2 I would skip having a night run. I LOVE running in the dark, but there is always Hood to Coast this August to make up for it.
It was fun to cheer for the other runners and spend some last minutes goofing off with Van 1. We made a Christmas Tree out of reflective runners!
The Nuunjas soon learned about my addiction to the Snap and made it their goal to photo bomb my snaps. I secretly was hoping that I could get them in alllll of my snaps. This is one of my FAVORITE pictures from the entire relay!
Parting with Van 1 to get into Van 2 felt like I was moving away to another state! It was amazing how close we got in just a day together! Relay Run Mates become family almost instantly! We had two rounds of goodbye hugs before I grabbed my bags and had to walk away to Van 2. Luckily EVERYONE on this trip was incredible and Van 2 was an amazing experience also. 

But, since this is almost a novel as it is, Van 2 will come with Part 2 of #Nuunjas at Ragnar Wasatch Back! So check back later gator!

Have you run a relay? Any Ragnars?
Have you been to Utah?