Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay - Did I Run It?

I know you all have been holding your breath wondering if I was able to run the Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay. The relay kicked off almost two months to the day after I fell and tore the shit out of my hamstring on May 11. I'm happy to say, I ran all of my legs - 5.2 miles, 2 miles and 5.7 miles, all for a grand total of 12.9 miles! 

No, I did not feel like myself. No, I did not have any hamstring pain, but other stuff felt "off." Yes, I was happy with how it went. No, I did not tell my PT I was doing it. Yes, I averaged about a 10:30 pace and yes, I walked quite a bit. I was teetering on that edge of wanting to do what I wanted to do, but not wanting to further injure myself. I think I accomplished that.

I'm competitive by nature, so it's tough for me to hang back, let people pass me and not be able to show up how I would have liked. But the truth is, I was just glad to be there at all. This was my 8th relay. Here are the others (linking to my race reports):
Seems like these days Ragnar has taken over the relay world, and the smaller relays don't exist like EPIC and Wild West. That's too bad cause I really liked them. Ragnar is efficient and like a well oiled machine, but in my opinion in lacks some personality and character. Also - it's getting super congested.

These relays are a funny thing. I mean who thought, "Let's put 12 people in two vans and have them run for 25 to 35 hours, through the night and no one will die??" Honestly sometimes it seems so dangerous what with people running on roads all night, driving hundreds of miles in vans in unknown territory..but I've only heard of a few deaths - a guy in Maryland in 2010, a man hit by a drunken driver in 2011 at the Vegas Ragnar. There have probably been more, but not to my knowledge.

This is the first time our team has flown to a relay. It was fun having a new adventure in a new place. We rented a house on Whibdey Island (northwest of Seattle), where the race ended. 

We flew Alaska Air. Anyone else think their mascot looks like Bob Marley? (yes, I know it's an Eskimo)

Image result for alaska air mascot

The first night at the house involved  a lot of drinking because that is a good idea before an endurance event. The house we stayed in (Langley, Washington) was an Airbnb and was awesome. It was on the final leg of the relay route, so that was nice too. Interested? Here's the link to it. 

Cute courtyard for cocktails

I was in van #2, which means we start later. We hit the road heading toward Bellingham and started around 2pm. I was runner 10 out of 12, so my first run wasn't until about  5pm when it was nice and hot. These days, my injured self usually starts out walking but there was no way in hell I was going to grab the baton and walk out of the starting area like some gimpy ass. So, I took off, running until my problem child leg wanted to take a break. I was psyched with how the first run went. It pays off to have very low expectations because then you are never disappointed. That is my new life hack.

My second run came at 3am. It was only 2 miles, but I'd been cramped in the van all night and the run kind of sucked. It was dark (duh) and mostly on sidewalk (ewww) so I was terrified of falling on some damn sidewalk crack. PTSD. Plus I didn't want to break my mother's back. She already has osteoporosis. 

My third run came at about 2pm and after a huge plate of eggs Benedict (EB). I wasn't sure how all of that would play out. Turns out Ragnar frowns on crapping in someone's yard or on the side of the road. Which is too bad because that always makes for a good story. I did not, however, feel the urge to unload the EB. Despite some major hills and heat, the run went well. One major complaint about Ragnar - not even ONE free beer at the end.

Then just like that, we were done. 

My BFF, Erika, next to me in the pink did her first relay!

Usually we are in the masters division cause we are all well over 40, but our friend's daughter, 21, joined us, so we were in the mixed division.

32 hours with 11 runners. We placed 74/195 in our division. 

I was just a bit happy to be done.

We spent the next day eating our way through Langley - I might have had a few raw oyster shots with vodka.

Monday was spent hanging out in Seattle and after a delay, getting into Denver at 3am. I'm old so I'm still recovering - not from the race but from lack of sleep. And vodka And oysters.

We saw the gum wall in Seattle and it literally made me gag. We heard it is the second most non hygienic tourist attraction in the world after the Blarney Stone.

I'll give you $5 if you guess which piece is mine.

Overall, I'd say this relay ranks up there in my top three that I've done. I gotta say I don't love running on the road, so I missed the trails, but the scenery was lovely, as was the weather.

Deception Pass

And when you hit Bush Point, well you have to point at your....

Next year we're thinking about Ragnar Napa or Ragnar Niagara - anyone done either? We tried the lottery this year for Napa and didn't get in.

Until then...

Favorite relay you've done?

Raw oysters, yes or no? Despite the fact that they have the texture of a loogie and taste like you are eating sand from the bottom of the Pacific, I like them. I learned they are a great source of phosphate!



  1. Looks like a great comeback to me!!! Can you believe I've never done a relay? Are there any that don't involve sleeping in a van?

  2. I have run 9 Ragnar Relay's and by far my favorite is Napa (have run it twice). It's gorgeous, starting in SF running across the Golden Gate bridge then through tiny little picturesque towns and then into the vineyards of Napa. Plus if you're van 1 and plan it right, you can do a couple wine tastings waiting for van 2. Just saying. It is super hilly, but you won't have a problem training in CO. Plus, free wine/beer at the finish line! #winning I highly, highly recommend doing this one.


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  3. I did Ragnar Niagara last year, and I didn't care for it. The previous year I did Peak to Brew Relay (start at Whiteface mountain in the Adirondacks and end at the Saranac Brewery in Utica, NY, about 240 miles), and it was super fantastic! So many challenges! Hills, long runs-my second leg was 12.2 miles, heat, humidity, power outages! That was also its first year, though, and they have changed the course somewhat (we each had four legs, and I had a total of 22 miles), but I believe now only the van 1 runners have four legs and the van 2 runners have three. There were some monster stretches of hills, you would love it! and so much free beer at the end, along with a sense of camaraderie amongst all the runners!!! Ragnar didn't give us even one beer, and the event at the end was unorganized and based around you buying Reebok products and paying for food and beer while some music played! Ragnar is too commercial; the local relays are so much better. Next year I'm doing 100 on 100 in Vermont (100 miles on route 100, only six runners and one van). Good luck with the Napa lottery, I would certainly like to run the hills out there!!!

    1. 100 on 100 is awesome!! Done it many times! You will love it.

  4. I haven't done a race like that ever, but my recommendation would be put your name in the ring ( lottery) and if you get it, go to it. Napa sounds nice. I am from upstate NY and like Leigh Hannan said, that Peak to Brew Relay would be in my old neighborhood area. I grew up in Cooperstown, NY ( baseball hall of fame) not far from Utica at all. Very beautiful and I bet challenging terrain.
    Happy to hear you did the relay without injury. I too am almost back from mine. I'd say 90%- leg still snarky if I push to hard.. but happy to be back walking fast ( no running for me anymore) . The relay had to have given you a good shot of confidence that this injury is almost behind you...

    1. Peg, I live in Norwich, about an hour from Coop; if you are ever visiting, our run club does group runs on Sunday mornings!

    2. Peg, 'unknown' comment above is Leigh! :)

  5. Glad you made it and enjoyed it without further injuring yourself. Love Ragnar NWP, I've run it four times and likely will again next year. Most of it is beautiful, especially Deception Pass. This year I volunteered at exchange 30, and I think running it is easier than volunteering!

  6. I have run Hood to Coast several times (and this year) and the congestion is absolutely awful. One year we were almost the last team out the door and it was amazing, no congestion! I love your running skirts. Where did you get them?

    1. Hi - the cheetah print is from Running Skirts. The other is just from Target!

    2. Eric Barber from steadyfoot dot comJuly 22, 2018 at 12:28 PM

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  7. Kudos to you for doing a relay after your hamstring injury. I've only done one relay and it was Ragnar Niagara 2017. The course is not very scenic and if it's your first time in Canada, not the best way to see our beautiful country. I had the coveted 12th leg so I got to run into the finish line at the falls but the rest is mostly road and a bit along the waterfront. I admit after that, I am not a relay person. Too type A and way too competitive. I ran my ass off so we could place higher as I'd be damned if we came in last in our AG! Ha!

  8. Glad you enjoyed my local Ragnar and the weather behaved! I've run it twice and always been in Van #2; last time I was Runner 11 so I got to run across Deception Pass Bridge which was awesome. And I love raw oysters; there's a local 25k/50k called the Kill Bill Oyster Dome Challenge where they serve you raw oysters at the aid station. The year I did it, the woman who won the 50k ate 9 of them.

  9. I've only done Ragnar FL Keys, and you can see us in all our glory in the doc From Fat to Finish Line on Netflix. LOL I would love to do one with my husband just once. I know there are a few within driving distance from Long Island. Have you done PA or the Adirondacks?

  10. I did Hood to Coast and it was great, especially since I live in CT. Haven't done any Ragnars, but would considerate it. Hood to Coast was so memorable.

  11. I've done Ragnar Great River twice and Ragnar Trail Northwoods twice. I don't know if I'll do Great River again, since it's always hot and I'm bored with the route. I absolutely LOVE Northwoods, but it would likely be entirely too easy for someone used to running mountain trails.

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  15. I used to live on the route for the NW Ragnar in Mount Vernon. I now live 4 blocks over, but I have a friend that also lived on the route. She used to stand outside her house and offer cups of "water" that was actually vodka.