Late Friday morning (August 19), I picked up Mark B. and Jim and we headed over to Jack's condo in St. Paul, where we would meet up with the rest of our team and pack up the van. For some reason, it seemed like we had less room in the van this year than last year, but maybe it was my imagination. By 11:30, we were on the road, but we snapped a quick van photo before we left.
|L to R: Dain, Jilena, Mark B., Jim, me and Jack|
Once we crossed the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, we started seeing evidence that a Ragnar Relay was in progress:
|Van 2 of "Ricky's Dirty Dozen"|
|Passing by Exchange 7|
|The sign says it all!|
|Leg #7 runners pounding out the miles|
|Exchange 6 in Modena, WI was a like a small city!|
Van 1 eventually found us while their sixth runner was running, and dropped off Mark L., our team captain, who had a bunch of goodies for us. We all got our race shirts and van bag loaded with Clif bars, Gu gels, temporary tattoos, car decals, and even a Ragnar cowbell! Once the van called Mark back to tell him where Gregg (runner #6) was located, I headed to the exchange chute to wait for him to show up.
For the second year in a row, I chose to be runner #7. No one wanted to tackle the nasty hill during the first leg except me. My total mileage increased this year from 13.2 miles to 17, but I figured if I ran smart, I would be okay. I was even looking forward to tacking that hill again. Me and the hill had some unfinished business! :)
Gregg made his way to exchange #6 about 3:00 p.m. and passed off the slap bracelet baton to me. I was off and running!
|Jack, our van captain and main driver, keeps on the lookout for me|
|Jilena is excited, but Mark has no idea what he's getting himself into!|
|I'm keeping up a nice pace so far.|
|I'm feeling good at this point, but the heat and humidity would take its toll.|
By the second mile, I had already taken a couple walk breaks due to the heat and humidity. It felt even hotter than last year, and last year was HOT! Fortunately, my van had a fresh bottle of water waiting for me.
|Heading towards Dain and a fresh bottle of water|
|Mmmmm... so refreshing!|
|Continuing on my way!|
The last part of the third mile contained the dreaded hill: an incline of 400+ feet over the course of less than a mile. I remembered it from last year, but that knowledge only made running the hill easier with the fact that I knew I had conquered it before. I did slow to a walk three or four times while making my way up the hill, but I kept trucking up it all the same.
Mile 3 - 11:20
Another team's van passed me as I was making my way up the hill, and the driver shouted to me, "You make running up that hill look so easy!" That comment definitely motivated me to run my best!
Once I crested the hill, it was all downhill from there. Scaling the hill, along with the hot weather, had left me worse for the wear, but my pace quickened some. I still took walk breaks here and there. I needed to!
Mile 4 - 9:27
Mile 5 - 9:22
Finally, I could see the exchange chute! I couldn't wait to be done running and pass off the slap-bracelet baton to Jim.
|Almost there! Mark B. cheers me on from the sidelines.|
|The hand-off to Jim|
I was so glad to be done running! I ate some pretzels and grapes and drank some Gatorade while I cooled down. We continued driving along the course to check on Jim, as he ran over seven miles during his first leg.
|Lookin' good, Jim!|
|Jim still looks good even after cresting the first hill of his first leg|
|Jim had to walk up part of the second hill. It was too tiring!|
|Team "Ragnar 911" was back again for the second year in a row!|
|We leap-frogged Team "Shuffle Zombie Shuffle" throughout the course of the relay.|
|Jim hands off to Jack|
|Of course Jack is feeling good... he is only running 2.9 miles!|
|Jack heads towards the exchange point|
|Jack hands off to Mark|
|Mark added a much needed jolt of speed to our team.|
|Mark clocked an average 7:27/mile pace during his first leg of the relay!|
|Team "Ernst-Young Tax Titans"|
|I wonder if anyone from this van dressed like William Shatner...|
|Mark heads towards the exchange, where Jilena is waiting|
|A few members from Ragnar 911 "rough up" a fellow Ragnar participant|
|A couple members from Team "Off Like a Prom Dress"|
|Residents who lived along the Ragnar course had the best seat in the house!|
|Jilena is about to hand off to Dain|
|Dain said he pushed himself during his first leg. The cooling temps definitely helped!|
|I liked this lady's costume|
|We had some pretty scenery along the course|
|Dain is still looking strong!|
|Uncle Rico's van makes an appearance at Exchange 12|
|Four of the members of Van 1: Ralph, Gregg, Josh and Mark (team captain)|
|Team "Running Wild"|
|I loved seeing all the clever van decorations the teams created!|
|Again... Team "Running Wild"|
Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of my 2011 Ragnar Relay experience!