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May 21, 2013 / fionarwbl

Ragnar Cape Cod Recap: Part I

It’s been over two weeks since we finished up the Cape Cod Ragnar Relay. That’s probably a good thing because if I had tried to write  recap then, it would have taken me about as long again to recap the race. Instead, I’ll just share the edited highlights and stuff we learnt along the way.

Doesn't this look like a winning team to you?

Doesn’t this look like a winning team to you?

Second most-importantly: WE WON OUR DIVISION! Ok, we one of only two female ultra teams, so it was either winning or coming last. I’m actually quite surprised by the lack of all girl ultra teams, as I was sure I saw a lot more in Napa.

Most importantly – we had fun while doing it. Even the parts that we weren’t sure we were having fun at the time, turned out to be lots of fun in hindsight. Above all, this was our primary goal, as for everyone but me, it was our first relay race, so I consider this a major race win.

Stephanie was our awesome primary driver. She showed considerable skill at dealing with NYC traffic at commuter time. Beware Steph – if you are good at something you might be asked to do it again… We left NYC around 6.30pm and made it up to Weymouth by around 11pm. There were definite junk food stops along the way. Apparently my mid-Ragnar McDonalds last year left a lasting impression on me and I decided to pregame it. However, our poor vegetarian Katie was forced to consider a McFlurry dinner.

Katie was also our accommodations expert. She saved us from staying at a place where Yelp reviewers found “blood on the mattress”, “dirty cups on the floor”, and “bugs everywhere” (and yet they gave it two stars…), and found us a hotel just outside Boston which had a reassuringly large number of white vans parked in the parking lot. Relay time! Even better was the awesome early breakfast that we completely took advantage of. Yes, we were the people who took “bananas for the road”. I mean, just one each…


Bananas and whale art FTW

Bananas and whale art FTW

We had a 7am start, but since we weren’t “in it to win it” (next time – mwha ha ha!), we decided to get an extra 30 minutes of sleep rather than a 5am wake up call. We all figured that with the long day ahead of us with no sleep, any extra minutes we could sneak now would be worth it. Once we checked in, our first runner, Kim, was ready to start. Sort off. Actually, Kim timed it perfectly that she ran from the portapotty to the start line right on the 7.30am starting whistle. And we were off!

As an ultra team, we had decided to double up our legs, so Kim’s first leg was approximately 12 miles. Kim is a kick-ass speed demon, so we figured we had about 90 minutes to take care of business and get to the next exchange. And by take care of business I mean buy the largest coffees known to man at Dunkin Donuts and finally decorate our van. Of course I forgot all about the essence of relaying, which is vans pulling over on small roads to cheer to friends and strangers, and instead headed to the next exchange point. Major fail – sorry Kim for leaving you running solo. Kim was our team hare, and she came gambling in like a gazelle to her exchange, slapped the bracelet onto Shaya, and we were off again.

As we drove Shaya’s leg, it was clear it was a randomly hilly run. Who finds hills on Cape Cod? Ok, technically this wasn’t Cape Cod yet, but still, this was one of those roll-y Ragnar legs that goes on forever. We drove to the mid-exchange point to cheer Shaya on and make sure she had enough water etc. As she came tearing through the first exchange, disaster happened and she twisted her ankle. Needless to say, she was in lots of pain and our team was thrown into a state of confusion about what to do and how to continue.


Dr. Steph and injured Shaya

Dr. Steph and injured Shaya

This is the risk of running an ultra team. If something happens, then there is very little room for error, and the rest of the team members need to (a) be able to pick up the slack and (b) not get injured themselves. And we were only on mile 16 of a 196 mile odyssey. Yikes.

What now, Captain?

What now, Captain?

We didn’t really have a game plan at all for what to do next, so I impulsively decided to run. I already had 35m to run this weekend, what was another 8? Yes, great decisions are not made in the heat of the moment. I ran back to the van (an extra 0.08m!) and changed / flashed into a random run outfit. All that work ziplocking and labeling went out the window and I just pulled on whatever came out of my bag first. It turned out to be my “aye aye captain” themed outfit of striped top and sparkly skirt. Yay?


When in doubt, sparkle

When in doubt, sparkle

I just sort of took off on this run without a watch or idea of route and hoped it would be ok. Of course, drinking a GIANT iced coffee with cream and eating a donut about 20 minutes before left me feeling … uncomfortable for most of the run. I ran a lot of it with a woman who also lived on the Upper West Side, so we talked neighborhood chat for a while, before I told her to go on without me. I talked myself into enjoying the moment, not thinking about the gazillion more miles I had to run, and ignoring the fact that my legs were cursing me for last week’s marathon. Doesn’t it sound like I was having a good time? But really, I was! I loved the New England scenery and smells, the quiet roads, and the sheer joy of “ohmigod-I’m-running-a-relay-with-my-friends-wheeeee!”. And then I asked someone how long we had to go and we still had 4 miles and that put a little bit of a dampener on things. Running watchless can be such a risky approach to runs.

My first leg ended up running through some sea marsh and a cute little village. I would show you pictures, but spoiler alert – a van drove over my phone – so there is no evidence of my run. However, my team were awesome at cheering my in and I handed off my slap to Stephanie who charged off with a flurry of excitement and instructions which we proceeded to forget.

Steph is probably asking for water, but we are so excited to see her we don't listen. #teamawesome

Steph is probably asking for water, but we are so excited to see her we don’t listen. #teamawesome

I now got my team to drive dangerously around small roads pulling in at opportunities to yell encouragement and wait for Steph to run by us. We sort of had a rule: if you were were headphones, you didn’t get a cheer, because we couldn’t be sure you heard us. But everyone else got harassed and yelled for along the way. Gotta love the Ragnar cheer bombs! And yes, somehow in the midst of this I dropped my phone, and then by the time we found it, it looked like this. That is one gone phone. Sidebar – Apple replaced it no questions asked for $229. Expensive, but not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Of course, I hadn’t backed it up properly.

The start of America

The start of America

At this point we were sort of ignoring Shaya’s ankle injury hoping it would go away. Because you know, that’s the best way to deal with problems. We were also doing things like discovering the Plymouth Rock (American Studies MA geek out time!!!), and compulsively hydrating. (Thanks Nuun for the goodies!). Steph ran her legs like a champ, who handed off to Katie, and then it was back to me running again. This time I had a 13m leg, and it was about 5pm.


Can I stop please?

Can I stop please?

This was one of the most miserable runs that I’ve had in a long time.

Even though my team mates were awesome – especially Kim and Elena – who were there for me every 4 miles to give me water and margarita shot bloks, I just could not get any rhythm. The road wasn’t particularly pretty, and there was school-run commuter traffic, and instead of kills I was being killed. I kept thinking I had so many more miles to run, and had already run too many miles and wah-wah-wah-wah-wah. As it was two legs, I broke it up into 7m, 1m, 3m, 1m in my head. Finally, somewhere around mile 10, I started to have a good time. Maybe my legs started to feel looser, or was it to do with the crazy menopause weather cooling down, or the route turning into a cute little residential area? I don’t know, but my legs started to spring again. The last mile was along the canal, while the sun was starting to go down, under the Bourne Bridge. Oh, and randomly, after not seeing anyone for about an hour, I started to get some kills. We also set up a super picturesque exchange. Don’t you just want to be there?


Soooo pretty. And not just Elena :)

Soooo pretty. And not just Elena 🙂

It was 5.30pm, and we were at the Bourne Bridge, aka Cape traffic hell. Since I’ve been to Cape a ton of times, I would randomly shout directions. This time, I shouted us away from the traffic (yay!) towards Boston (boo!). Rookie error, mostly due to the completely terrible maps that Ragnar use in the Race Bible. Can someone please develop a Ragnar app? Anyway, it turned out to be a fun adventure for the van, as we got offered sandwiches from a van of shirtless Cali firefighters, but not so fun for Elena who ran through her first exchange and then was left to arrive solo at the next exchange and freeze for 10 minutes. And that girl feels the cold.

So concludes everyone’s first run at Cape Cod. Up next: NIGHT RUNNING!!!


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