If I got paid to blog for a living this probably would have been up a lot sooner, but I’m not so I procrastinated a little bit and we’ve been busy. Yet, here it is the Ragnar Napa post you’ve all been waiting for!
Aside from captaining a Ragnar this was the most intensive planning I’ve done for a Ragnar. It started back in June when my MBA program director told me her runner friend Micheal from UCI was looking for a runner for his Napa Ultra team. We chatted back and forth and i told him I REALLY wanted to join the team, but it was contingent upon me getting this job i had been interviewing for at the LA Phil. Welp I didn’t get the job and 11 interviews later I still don’t have a job, but I am the proud owner 6 Ragnar medals, and 1 double medal, the Gold Rush, for doing both Napa and SoCal. I knew in June, the money wasn’t going to stop me from running, I figured it out, and managed to make my way to Napa.
My flight left out of Long Beach Airport at 7am Thursday morning, early only because it was the only time Chris could take me to the airport and not miss work. A little over 2.5 hours later I landed at SFO and was off to find my team at the Hertz counter. After a little confusion I found Ernesto and Tamra, said out hellos, voiced our race worries and were off on our journey! A quick stop at Target for snacks, Gatorade, and water for the race, and a delicious lunch and beer at BJ’s we went back to the airport to pick up Mike. By this time was soooo tired from only 5 hours of sleep I passed out and slept through my nap alarm. Luckily no harm, no foul, I woke up and we decorate out amazing gold van. I didn’t even realize how cool having a gold van was considering we were running for the Gold Rush medal!
Soon the van was spectacular in only a Ragnar van can be and we left to pick up Fiona at the airport. Fast forward 3 hours, a delayed flight and a search for carbs we met up with Steve at the hotel, scarfed down out pasta and calzones and made our final plans for the morning. 4am the next morning my alarm went off and Fiona and I crawled out of bed to begin out 200 mile run through NorCal. Packing the car was quick, and it wasn’t until hour later after my first run that I realized someone had forgotten to pack my laptop, and left it on the concrete near housekeeping. (thank god for good honest people who picked it up and kept it in the safe for me until Sunday, 1st disaster averted!)
A 4 mile drive to the start line from the hotel, quick buzz through safety briefing and Tamra was soon running the first leg of the race over the very dark and very foggy Golden Gate Bridge. The crazy early start time, made the bridge view less than ideal but finishing early the next day would be very welcome. Cue the 2nd leg and our (and many others) first mishap of the race, Ernesto getting a little bit lost turning his 3 miler into a 4ish miler. Soon it was my turn for run 1 of 6! Decked out in head to toe neon and my hot pink RunTeamSparkle Skirt! I took off on my 5.4 miler through SF. Mostly suburban it was cool and misty and I think I ran about 8:52’s, which with some baby hills I was happy with! I handed off to Steve and hopped in the van to go to what we THOUGHT was the next exchange… turns out instead of exchange 5 we drove our happy little selves to Exhcange 6, leaving Steve waiting for us for 30 mins before just busting out the next leg too! An hour and a half later, and a few more worry lines on our team’s faces Steve rounded the corner and we realized out mistake. So now two hour back from our goal time, every tried to pick up the pace a little to catch up. Luckily for us this is a for fun race to time isn’t really too much of a factor, as long as there was time for wine at the end!
The next few legs were a blur of dancing, honking, cow bell, and sunscreen re-application as Fiona, Ernesto, and Tamra ran some hot and hilly legs. Next come the shortest leg of Ragnar I’ve ever run, 2.8 miles. Yet, even running all downhill at 8 min pace I managed to finished in about 40 mins because of all the stop lights through downtown Petulama, beyond frustrating! My team was late meeting me due to traffic and apparently getting t-boned by another van! From what I heard it was ridiculous that they even cam close to hitting us due to the major space on the other side. The things you learn driving a 15 passenger van!
I wish I could tell you more about the next 5-6 legs but I can’t, because I was passed out in the back of the van from about 4-7. When I woke up, we had stopped at McDonalds for a quick bite and were picking up Tamra and dropping off Mike at a super cute Catholic Church were the exchange was located. I also got to meet Steve from Ragnar, the safety director at this exchange because he commented on my awesome UofA blanket/cape that follows me to every Ragnar.
The night just kept creeping up on us and soon I was getting ready for my night legs. These legs were also my longest of the whole race, 6.5 and 9.1 respectively. I felt good starting my 6.5 miler and ran through a downtown district past bars and nightclubs with people stumbling out of them and bouncers giving me funny looks. The leg was great, flat and fast until the last mile, literally STRAIGHT UP HILL. When I finished my team was late again and I may have gotten a little snippy calling them to get there now, but it smoothed over quickly. Half way through my legs and I was definitely feeling my hamstring, I’ve been battling piriformis for the last few months and lack of foam rolling and stretching during this race was not exactly helping. I couldn’t worry about it too much and popped some Ibuprofen with my recovery Coke Zero, and stretched the best I could in the van before my longest leg, 9.1 miles.
A quick phone call to the BF and it was time. I’m not sure why I was worried about this leg, I think because it was long, dark through a place I had no idea where I was, and my knee kept acting up. I love running at night and it was a really fantastic run. I wish I could of seen the landscape a little better I have a feeling it was gorgeous during the day! I sprinted into the exchange point and handed off the baton and was ready for another nap post night time legs. I crawled back to the back but could hardly sit still my piriformis hurt so bad so I tried to stretch my butt, and eventually remembered I had a tube of icy/hot in my bag. I slathered that stuff all over the top of my hip, butt, and hamstring and the menthol quickly soothed me to sleep as well. Who knew?
I think this was the first time I actually fell asleep at a Ragnar but I woke up relatively refreshed for my 5th leg of 6. I’m glad I slept, because I wouldn’t of wanted to sleep run through this leg. It was the most beautiful Ragnar leg I have ever run. It started out through rolling hills past the vineyards and continued through to tiny farms with pumpkins, black berries and sun flowers growing on the side of the road. I knew I wasn’t running fast but I didn’t care, I was to busy snapping quick pics of the gorgeous landscape around me. By the last mile (it was only 3.9) I had found my stride and felt great, I passed some ladies which made me feel awesome considering how tired my legs were, and per usual I sprinted to the exchange past a few more people! I got cheers from everyone there and a twitter friend even snapped an awesome pic of me! Too bad my team missed me again! It was just a little frustrating because I was always at my exchange when it was my turn to run, I just generally expect the same from the people around me. But again, it wasn’t a big deal and the race went on! Steve was picking up Ernesto’s last leg and killed it as usual. That kid is a machine! The next exchange was my favorite, just a little side of the road exchange but it was right by a vineyard full of mature grapes! Major photo opportunities!!
Tamra met Steve at the exchange and killed her last leg. Mike picked it up for his last 8 miler, and boy was it HOT by this time. After feeling so good on my 5th leg, I was now dreading my last 5 miler. I was right too, it was HOT, with very little shade and a few hills. If it hadn’t felt like a million degrees, and on crazy tired legs I would of run much better, but honestly I was happy with my 11 minutes miles for that leg, good thing i’m a fast walker! 😉 Plus I didn’t feel as bad, because the big muscle-y runner guys in front of me were even walking! I handed off to Steve to bring it home for us! We piled back into the van and headed for the finish line, ready to meet Steve, run across the finish line, and claim our Napa and Gold Rush Medals!
By this time, all of us were so happy to be done. Exhausted, sunburned and sick of peanut butter and Gatorade we snapped some pics at the finish, and head to the Mumm Winery drinking area for our free glass of sparkling wine! I really wish I would of bought some wine while I was there, but at the time all I could think of was a shower and a clean bed. But we had conquered the Napa Valley Ultra Ragnar! This was definitely harder than my Ultra Ragnar Chicago, I’m not sure if it’s because it’s way more hilly, or the way we split it up, all in all a great time, but I don’t think I’d do it as an Ultra again maybe a regular one.
Now I’m ready for my next Ragnar, I’m looking to join a team for Ragnar Vegas! If you have a team or a lead for a team let me know! Spirit sparkle and badass are in my blood which is a match made in heaven for Ragnar!
Hey do you want to run Ragnar sometime? I’m planning teams for DelSol and SoCal so contact me if you are interersted!
We made a little pit stop at the Golden Gate Bridge before flying home!
Till the next Ragnar!