Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ragnar Relay 12 people 196 miles Miami to Key West

One thing about me is, I LOVE adventure. I love to be around other athletes, racing, adrenaline, fun, sports of any kind. Well let's just say..I love life!!
I am often my worst enemy as I stay up way too late as I am always trying to pack as much into the day as I can. This is obviously not the best thing for a pro triathlete as we all know recovery is key!!!

It takes a lot for me to get into bed at 9.30 and actually turn the lights off. Well the last 2 days that is exactly what I have done!

I have run myself into a huge sleep deficit and I am trying frankly to catch up so I can feel good.
A last minute decision had me in a whim flying down with "culprit number one" to meet "culprit number two" in Miami!!!

Culprit number cousin Tracy from South Africa
Culprit number 2 The Navy Team "Warchops"

You see Tracy was in town from South Africa...
 I had picked HER up on Wednesday, bounced around NYC all day where she had mentioned her friend was looking for a runner for the Ragnar Relays down in Miami. I was not to familiar with this race series but it did sound intriguing. A run from Miami to Key West 196 miles. A relay team of 12 traveling in 2 vans each taking their turn to get the distance done!   So without too much knowledge on what we were getting ourselves into...In 2 hours flat I packed up my bags and we drove the hour too AC hoping we could get on a flight down to Fort Lauderdale.

The deciding factor was that I would bring my bike down and get some short rides in between runs. I also came up with the idea that on Sunday after the race I would ride my bike the route from Key West back to Key Largo (around 100 miles.) A ride was secured for us from Key Largo to the airport so that was all I needed to commit to this adventure!

Saturday 5am was our wake up call! After a few hours sleep due to ...ahhheemm some significant snoring in my room (no names mentioned) we rolled down to the lobby to meet the team! The standard joke around the 2 buses was that I was their Olympian ready to save the day!!! Seems like some of the team were a little anxious about the distances they had to run and having me there would mean that they would not have to pick up the slack by adding any extra miles.

We arrived at the race venue with the race in full swing.With 500 plus teams of 12 people this event is HUGE and so smoothly run. A group of 30 or so people seemed to be starting every 10 minutes.  The vans were all decorated and excitement was definitely in the air. What caught my attention was the wide arrangement of themes each group had from Hawaiin outfits to cocktail dresses, clown costumes to jail clothes. This was such a breath of fresh air to the serious focused faces of Ironman athletes I am used to seeing. This event was all about fun and camaraderie!  No pressure other than to stay awake and complete your distance in your allocated time you had put down.
With an 8am start time I was going to start the race off in Miami. How exciting!  The first run was 6 miles and it was a blast. I immediately went out at race pace and before I knew it was in the top 3 in the group. Now I know this was not a race but I took all my segments as a chance to push the pace as much as I could given my current state of not being fit!!! ( Besides I was the only pro athlete in the group and I had to live up to my status!!!)

The Navy team was so awesome and I loved getting to know them a bit and really appreciated their efforts and commitment to getting the job done with no complaints EVER!!!! Even though I know they were hurting at times!

Each van had six people and here we slept, changed, cheered, and rallied from one stage to the next.
My awesome Navy Team mates on Van1" Mike, Carl. Al , Michelle and Kyra

Finally Friday afternoon when we had finished our segment and Van 2 took over I finally got to a spot where I could get some riding in. This would work out as a perfect transition bike/run. I rode for an hour 30 minutes loosening up my legs and then went straight onto a 9 mile run. I loved this run. A big part of the Ragnar runs is how many kills, aka people you pass. On this run I recorded passing 81 people.   Part of the run included a section through a 2 mile sugarcane field on gravel ending up at dusk. I really got the lucky leg as I never had to run at night. I ran both early morning shifts and one late afternoon to dusk. This was great for me as I was worried about the possibility of twisting an ankle. I was very impressed by all the runners who did their legs at night with little sleep.

Run, drive, sleep? repeat!
We did not get much sleep as our went from around 5-1am and I was up at 5.30am to take the next run.
The time passed quick and before we knew it we were all running down the finish shoot completing the mission of 196 miles!

Thank you team Warchops for making me feel so welcome. I had such a blast!!!
Everyone needs to experience a Ragnar event as it really is so much fun! For me it was probably the first thing I have done in so long that was not intense competition.

After a much needed nights sleep in Key West the following morning I headed out on my bike to do the 100 mile ride back to Key Largo.  This was such a pretty ride. The first 20 miles were on a wide bike lane, then it alternated between riding the road shoulder and bike lanes. Riding through the Keys there are endless bridges. Seven mile bridge being the most exciting and beautiful.

Even though I was pretty close to busy traffic I was always quite at ease with the amount of shoulder space I had.
I also also got to ride on the Greenway Trail where I happen to get my first flat around mile 52. A few riders stopped to see if I needed help which was very comforting.
I later got another flat around mile 70 after hitting something sharp. That slowed things up a bit but thankfully I had packed two extra tubes and Co2's as some friends had warned me they had got a couple flats earlier in the week on the same loop. For anyone thinking of doing the ride,  the town of Marathon, after the 7 mile bridge was a bit hectic as they had no shoulder and it was a built up busy town. After an incident of someone turning in front of me I decided to ride on the twisty bike lane path for a few miles. I definitely see why most people ride this ride the opposite way. There is more of a consistent bike lane and the wind will be at your back most of the time. I had a constant head or crosswind.

After 6 hours Mike and Tracy were there waiting for me on the side of the road and boy was I happy to see them. I quickly packed up my bike, stopped at a rest room to clean up the best I could and change and then we headed to the airport!!!! Thank you SO much Mike and Tracy for your patience!

I am so glad Tracy and I headed down to be part of this event and I am so thankful to the lovely new friends I made. A big thanks goes to Kyra, Alex, Michelle, Carl and Mike on Van 1 and Paige ( who organized this event and got it to run so smoothly) and all the team I met on Van 2!!!

As for Tracy I am so glad we headed out on this adventure together because as I always tell my kids..."Nothing happens when you sitting on your couch at home!"

 Get out there and and have fun!!!

Good times!!


Bre said...

That looks like a ridiculous amount of fun Jacqui! Love that you rode back too- it really looks like a fun ride, especially the bridge. Such a cool and different adventure. I'll have to put a Ragnar on my bucket list of races.

Jacqui said...

Yes with the right people is a alot of fun!!! You have to be able to function well on little sleep! :-)

Dana Weiner said...

Jacqui, thanks for taking my legs in the Ragnar. As much as I regretted being unable to participate, I felt much better knowing there was a "ringer" on the team.

Jacqui said...

You are so welcome Dana!!! I am glad I got to help ypu and the team out. Hopefully you will get to do the next one!