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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Aftermath of Ragnar

Note: I wrote this on 10/27/10 but it took me a bit to receive then figure out how to include the pictures I wanted.  I'm slowly figuring this blogging thing out!

Well, I am alive and here is my report on participating in the Las Vegas 2010 Ragnar Relay:  It was miserable, it was torturous, it was… AWESOME!
I can barely keep my eyes open as I sit here and contentedly eat my Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream (totally deserve it).  I am shifting my ice packs from front to back on both knees.  I am exhausted, utterly exhausted….

Okay, that’s as far as I got in writing this entry on Saturday night before sleep overwhelmed me.  I am now picking up again on Wednesday night.  I got hit hard Sunday with the chest cold I’d been fighting off leading up to this event and have had to take a few down days.  It’s good, though, because I have some distance from the actual event and can report on how my perspective has changed over a few days.  So here’s what I think now:  It was miserable, it was torturous, it was… AWESOME!

Definitely "psycho".  At the starting line at 6:15 am.

 Yeah, I still pretty much feel the same.  Although some things I expected to be bad or unpleasant met expectations; overall, it was much better than I anticipated.  First and foremost I was on THE best team I could’ve come across. (Yo! American Psychos!)  Since I was a last-minute replacement, I was just thrown into a big unknown situation but luckily hit the jackpot big-time with how incredibly awesome my teammates were.  They were fun, motivating, easy-going and just plain nice people to be around.

The whole gang "American Psychos" at the finish line.

Our whole team really stepped it up and we got ourselves about 2 hours ahead of our expected pace and kept it rockin’ the whole time, even in spite of some mishaps along the way.  My own performance was a bit of a mixed bag and I will report in more detail soon when I get some better pictures from my teammate. 
So what did we do out there? The 12 of us ran a total of 195 miles around and into Las Vegas over the course of about 33 hours.  We started at 6:15 am on Friday morning and one of the 12 of us was always running for the next two days.  We each had 3 legs to run throughout the course.  My own legs were 8.8, 4.3 and 6.9 miles for a total of about 20 miles.  When we weren’t running we were zipping around the course in our killer Suburban to cheer on our performing teammate while trying to stay fueled on bagels and energy bars, pottying in biffies and keeping ourselves prepared to jump out ready to rock our next leg of the relay - all on zero sleep!  Yeah, now that’s my idea of a good time…if I were in hell.

Me in hell.  Actually, in a Suburban trying to get some sleep at about 2 am.
Of course the physicality of the race is just one part of it.  This event takes some serious mental tuffness.  This type of racing format is a cruel thing to inflict upon yourself because you’re pushing yourself hard to run some pretty decent distances not just one time, but three.  I think that the fact that you get rest and down-time in between your legs is actually what makes it so tough.  In doing this relay, I’ve decided I need to experience two other challenges that, up until now, didn’t hold much appeal for my lazy self:  a marathon and a mini-triathlon.  The marathon because I’m now convinced that running a really long distance is better to do all at once without those annoying breaks in between.  And the triathlon because I’m also now convinced that if you’re going to do some sort of relay thing it’s better to do three different activities in order to switch it up. 

Beauties surrounded by beauty.

During the event, if you’d asked me, I’d have said I never needed to do another Ragnar Relay again in my life.  Don’t get me wrong; there was definitely exhilarating moments sprinkled throughout.  Just the fun camaraderie of being a part of a team with the same goal in mind made it an unforgettable experience.  Then there’s the spectacularness of being out in some absolutely gorgeous surroundings, running at times and places you’d never expected to be before; being mostly by yourself and really reaching down deep to tap into that inner strength and determination that, really, every one of us truly has when it comes down to it.

I think that’s why I needed to do this:  to remind myself that, sure, it stinks to have to do hard things.  But we do them and we find that we can enjoy and even exult in the experience of rising to the challenge.

Good times.  Good times.  I can’t believe I did it…and I’m sure glad I did.


  1. Sharon, I had so much fun getting to know you. You were a trooper and a great team player. Thank you for posting your experience. I shared some similar pro's and con's as you. Rebecca

  2. Sharon - You rock!!! I could not have summed it up any better. It sounds like I almost have you hooked on Ragnar. By the time next year rolls around you will have forgotten the hard parts of Ragnar but you will remember that YOU DID IT! I don't profess to be a runner and I will never be a runner but I can say that I did Ragnar which in my opinion is one of the hardest events you can do.

    There is a half marathon that a few of us did from the team in September that was so much fun. We would love to have you join us next year....and yes, I do think 13.1 miles was easier to do all at once that over 33 hours!

    Toni - American Psychos team member

  3. Toni - yeah, you just may have me hooked! Natalie and I were commenting that it's like having babies. It's super hard but you find yourself doing it again! Well, I've got a year to think about it!