Fact: A lot can (and will) happen in 30-something hours. Lace up and get ready, because here is my mile long Ragnar Relay Las Vegas Recap…
All races are not the same, that is a fact. There are the different distances, there are roads and trails and then.. There are relays.
So, what is a relay race?
Running is often looked upon as a solo sport. One where we all run our own race, from start to finish and the result are reflecting one persons journey from point A to B. We runners often train together, however racing is usually something we do on our own (with a little help from cowbells and cheers, of course).
For a relay, you team up with some of your running friends (might be your best running buddies, or even complete strangers – it really doesn’t matter) and tag team it up. With one runner on the course at a time, you will take turns running and together you will cover x amount of miles from Start to Finish.
Looking at the dry facts for this race:
Leading up to the event I spent some time chatting with other runners who had already experienced relay races for themselves, and I learned a lot. I learned what to pack, what to think about when it comes to running the three legs within a relatively short period of time, some hints on recovery in between runs and so on.
Little did I know that there is NO WAY of being 100% prepared for what is to come once actually entering the relay zone.
Meet the team:
Based on the estimated pace our team, Viva Los Electrolitos, had been assigned with start time 8:30am Friday November 6th. We left our hotel on The Strip 6:30am and drove up. Up up up, till we reached Mt Charleston, ~19F and.. SNOW! Running short on time before our first runner was supposed to be on the starting line and ready to go we all still took the time to actually enjoy the snowy ground and the chilly air.
8:37am came around (yes, for some reason the start time changed from 8:30 to 8:37) and our runner #1 Kevin was OFF. With a steep decline he was absolutely cruising down through the road through the fantastic mountain scenery.
I did my cowbell duty as we passed runners with the van and we got to stop and cheer Kevin on at one point before meeting him at the first exchange where he handed the slap bracelet off to George, runner #2. With Kevin we had already done quite a lot of downhill, it was obvious when George started his leg the we still had quite a bit of incline to do.
Exchange 2, between George and our third runner Laura, happened and there was even more downhill cruising happening. Lots of cowbelling and smiles, and by this time I started to realize that things move pretty quickly with a relay. One by one, our runners did their thing and we were halfway through our first legs already!
Laura passed the bracelet over to the Sponsorship Marketing Manager at Nuun Hydration Brian (who used to work at SKORA and ran in his TEMPOs), and Brian to Sean. And then, as Sean quickly put his 9.5mi behind him, suddenly it was go-time for me! My relay debut!
Although my first leg was the shortest one only 3.6mi I admit I was kind of nervous. Seeing the amazing runner Sean coming flying toward the exchange, I knew that it would look like I was barely moving when taking over the slap bracelet and heading out for my run.. And I was indeed right, I was a lot slower than Sean.. I mean, can’t blame me – the dude is a total RUN MACHINE (some might even call him Superman!). Nah, I ended up running well and finished a bit ahead of my estimated time.. However, most importantly, I had so much fun out on the course, getting my “kills” (a roadkill equals a runner passed on the course) and chatting with some other ladies out there (whom I of course happened to pass in the end… Whoops?).
Since I was runner #6 my leg ended Van 1’s first round, and we saw Van 2 off for their adventure before heading to our next exchange for food (falafel sandwich for me) and some rest. Summerlin was a great spot to hang out for some sleep (I couldn’t sleep), R8 Roll Recovery (Thank you for bringing this little ‘torture device’ along George – I love love love it & obviously NEED one for myself now!) and fun times with other teams, tagging vans etc. Time flew by!
As we entered night hours, we were all ready to go with reflective gear and pretty I admit I was pretty pumped for my night time run. Our van kept cruising through the darkness and I admit the sleepiness was nowhere to be found, as it was too much fun keeping track on our progress and cheer runners on. My night run started at 9:35pm and it looked a little something like this:
Little did I know, as I set out for my 4.7mi that my headlamp would die after just over .5mi. Seriously?! How could I forget to swap out the batteries before the exchange? I do not know. However what I do know is that the spirit of the running community is pretty amazing! As I was standing at a street corner, hoping for my van to magically show up with extra batteries, two runners came cruising by. I asked if they happened to have extra batteries with them (very unlikely, yes but I figured it was worth a shot!) . They did not. However they offered to ‘sandwich’ me and let me run in between them through this pretty sketchy dark area! I was so thankful for this, and I still today feel pretty bad that I ended up killing them about .8mi from the exchange…
Lesson learned: Make sure you have good batteries in your headlamp (or keep it fully charged if it’s the rechargeable kind)!
One of the things I was really impressed by with the race and our team captain Brian was how well organized everything felt. There was never a time during the race when I felt uneasy or confused about what was actually going on around us. Well OK, maybe that one time when I sprinted to get one last roadkill just before the exchange of my night time run, and.. The next runner to whom I was supposed to hand the bracelet to was nowhere to be found?! Haha, no problems of course – shit happens! She found her way to me and was quickly off on her way to meet her Van 2 runners out there in the dark.
After my second leg was where my one and only Ragnar struggle started.. My belly. Yup, I definitely had my moments of fear leading up to this racecation – knowing that my sensitive stomach might become somewhat a hassle. It did. When finishing my 2nd run I felt slightly uneasy. I decided to clean up a bit (Thank you Shower Pill!) before the Van headed off into the night to find some food. As we finally sat down at a restaurant, all of us pretty beat, I felt straight up sick to my stomach. However, I knew that I needed to eat so I ordered some french friends and a roasted beat/arugula salad. I didn’t get much of the food down, and as we parked at the next exchange..
Yeah, it got worse. I totally ended up hiding behind the school, where the exchange happened, puking my guts out. Yup. Oh well, after emptying my belly I did almost instantaneously feel better. Although HUNGRY![Insert imaginary picture of me eating ALL THE SNACKS]
Lesson learned: Take nutrition somewhat seriously if you know that you have a sensitive stomach.
We started our last round of legs with Kevin again, heading out for his second dark leg. But it wasn’t going to take long before the sunrise was upon us and we got to really see the scenery around us as we waited for our second runner George to come into the exchange at Lake Mead. I was in awe watching the sunrise here! George cruised through his leg, and while Laura was out on the course we stopped to look at the surroundings. I have always had a thing for deserts and I got to say I absolutely loved the scenery.
Brian, the shirtless runner, had a tough uphill leg yet he came cruising into exchange # to hand off to Superman Sean.
While Sean was out running I admit I had a bit of anxiety bubbling, my body didn’t feel completely ready to go and I was worried about my stomach. Had I been able to re-fuel and recover enough to actually get a good run in? While seeing Sean come towards the exchange with the slap bracelet ready to go, I shook the bad thoughts off – focused on just telling myself to move forward, do my thing.. Well, I ended up struggling during this leg. >7 minutes stuck at traffic lights, and cramps made the 4.8mi not completely enjoyable. However I kept truckin’, keeping the team in mind, and did in fact finish with a smile after all!
With that exchange Van 1 was done! We had finished our 18 legs of the relay and we did in fact feel good about it! We headed to get a well deserved meal, and then to the finish line at the Red Rock to wait for Van 2 to finished the race for up and bring that baton/bracelet across the finish line. As we hung out by the pool at the Red Rock Resort I couldn’t stop thinking about just how incredibly grateful I was for the opportunity to not just do this race, but to experience it with such fine peeps and awesome runners. So. Much. Love.
Thank you Nuun Hydration!