The hardest part about being runner number 6 in an ultra relay is being the anchor. One by one your teammates finish and celebrate while you have to mentally prepare for one more go. It’s tough. Really tough.
We went into the early AM hours ready to finish. Most of us had double-digit legs that normally would be a walk in the park. That is not the case in a race like this. SR took off for her final leg really strong. OUAL followed with a really speedy 7.5 miler. I think both Sarah’s had sub-8 paces! Margot then took on Torrey Pines. If you have run the La Jolla Half Marathon you know how difficult of a climb TP is! She looked so good as she finished and at that point we started to think we had a chance to win. We just had to keep our pace up but knew it wouldn’t be that easy. We were tired, we had been running double legs for 20ish hours and we were starting to feel delirious. We were only one exchange behind another female ultra team that started an hour and a half before us. If we catch them, we win. If we don’t it will be close.
Chiara was up next for a 15 mile run. Yes that says 15 miles. Normally 15 miles on a Sat is NBD. This was NOT a normal Sat. She mustered every last ounce of effort and finished at the beach. She had some doubt midway through yet she somehow set it aside and conquered it. Mental strength. So hard at this point in the game.
We were closing in on the last 4 legs and we would be done. Chiara came through the exchange, slapped the Ragnar bracelet onto Pam who then ventured out for 17 miles. Yes 17. Could it get any tougher??!? She made her way through Mission Beach, Ocean Beach and into Downtown making it look so easy. We met her at the Embarcadero with water and such and then she headed towards Chula Vista. My stomach was still janky. I had not eaten. I could barely drink but kept on sipping Nuun. I was mentally freaking out. I knew that Pam was running at a fast pace and I had to be ready to go. 11.3 miles. Less than a half marathon. I got that no prob, right? Riiiggghhhtttt.
Pam cruised in and had hammered out a 8:15ish pace. DANNNG GINA! I high-fived everyone and remembering saying “Let’s finish this!” Off I went.
The first 5 miles were so weird. My legs were heavy, my mind was wandering and my stomach was sloshing. You know when you can hear and feel water swishing around? That’s what was happening. It was a mental game. I made it through the first leg and I was so thankful that the course was flat. I would have been crawling if it wasn’t. My stomach growled. Crap, now I’m hungry? Crap! I need food. Why didn’t I eat? Oh yeah, I probably would have crapped! LOL! I had my phone with me and slowed to a jog and I texted our team. I basically said that I was dying (so dramatic, I know) and I’m sorry and I would be there soon. My 8 min pace slowed. I talked to a few people around me who looked fresh off of a good night’s sleep trying to channel their energy. It didn’t work (Note: If I was able to talk I was able to run faster. Hindsight is 20/20). I put headphones in. They made me nuts. I was jogging so slow that I should have just started speed walking. I decided at that point I would run 800m in the 8’s and 800m jogs. That is the only way I was going to finish without jeopardizing our team.
I sent another I’m alive text with 3.8 to go. I got an encouraging text back from Chiara saying they were there and to text when I am a mile out if I can. Look, you know I was not blazing along if I could text. However, I am quite proud that I can text and jog. Safe? No! Annoying to other runners? YES! Sorry for my rudeness people, but I needed my team!
I made it to this sign and stopped to take a pic
I was so happy to see this sign. For whatever reason at that point I decided to walk for a minute when I heard “HOOOOONNNNNKKKKK. WOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHOOOOOOO!!!! GGGOOOOO NNNIIICCCCOOOLLLEEEEEE!!!” It was our 12-woman team!! They were there to pick me up just when I needed it. That’s a TRUE TEAM. We may have been divided into 3 vans but we had each other’s back. FREAKING AWESOME! For just a moment I wanted to cry happy and sad tears at the same time. Happy because they encouraged me to get my butt to the finish, sad because I knew they saw me looking like a total failure. I remembered I had a team waiting for me. I was not going to quit now.
I sent the last text. “Less than a mile. Lets effing finish.” That’s word for word.
I picked it up to an 8ish pace went through the tunnel and saw my team!! We lined up and ran to the finish (Margot hobbled, poor girl!) and got out medals.
WE DID IT.
203.5 miles in just over 29 hours. Dang it felt good.
We hugged, we laughed, we took pictures. We celebrated
(Thanks Cajun Runner for the photos!)
We were so happy to be done. We went into this race knowing it would be awesome but we had no idea how it would change each of us. We learned a lot about what it means to be selfless, humble and supportive friends. We had highs and lows and stood right by one another. We were a freaking team. We started as running friends and finished as sisters. Only 8 months before we were eating pizza, laughing making plans to run this race in like a record pace. We freaking did it.
Oh, and one last thing. You probably already know this but…WE WON!
Will we be back to defend our title next year? Pshaw. Come on. You know we can run faster than that! We are waaaaay to competitive to not come back and crush our time. I mean, we originally thought we could do it in 24 hours. We’ve got that. No doubt. Fo sho.
So there you have it. My Ultra Ragnar experience in 4 super long posts. I am sure you all are ready to move on to a new topic!! Thank you for letting me share this with you. I still smile watching the VLOGs and looking at the photos. This is an experience that I will never forget.
Thank you Pam, Sarah, Sarah, Chiara and Margot for all of the laughs, encouragement but most of all for your friendship. I mean that. When we are 85 and SR is still running ultras the rest of us will be drinking wine and reminiscing on this time. It will be awesome!
Thank you to all of our sponsors who took GREAT care of us!
And now on to the next race. It’s soon friends. VERY soon.