“Laws” and “rules” imposed on you
From days of old renown,
Are not intended for your “good”
But for your crushing down.
Then dare to rend the chains that bind
And to yourself be true.
Dare to liberate your mind,
From all things, old and new.”
- Ragnar Redbeard (he was a viking)
This weekend with 12 friends, I participated in the Ragnar Relay from Madison, WI to Chicago, IL. This near 200 mile race starts on a Friday morning and ends sometime Saturday afternoon. Some teams have less than 12 people. Some even only have 6 – which means that each person runs an ultra marathon (any distance longer than a marathon) to finish the race. Our team had 12 members, but only 11 runners. So our team member who ran the longest ran 26 miles. Personally, I ran about 15 over 3 different legs.
Our team had two vans, each carrying 6 people. The way we worked the race was for the 6 people in the first van would run, then we would meet the second van and hand off to a runner from their van and all of their runners would go. We didn’t have a baton, but instead we had a slap bracelet (remember those from the 90′s?) that one runner would slap on the other at the exchange points. So there were two points when each van had a few hours to rest. For us, one was in a really nice park (I went down a slide on the playground!) and the second was near at a YMCA (where I slept in an open field for about an hour). But back to the running.
It was a hot weekend and my first leg was really rough. It was 4.4 heading out of Madison at around 11:45 am on Friday. I had estimated 9 minute miles and I ended up grinding out about a minute faster than that. But that was nothing compared to to 11 miles that my vanmate Tracy had to run later that afternoon. She was a beast!
My second leg was around midnight, at about the same distance – 4.5 miles through trails and sidewalks. It was pure bliss though. It was cool enough that I could see my breath and I really turned it on. I blazed through the first mile in 6:50 and breezed through the last 3.5 at about a 7:45 pace. It was great!
The last leg I ran was a 6.2 mile run at 8 am on Saturday morning. It was already hot, with the sun blazing down out of a clear blue sky. I made it my goal to make up 5 minutes for our team, meaning that I would have to run at a 8:10 per mile pace. Out of the gate, I turned the wrong way – not a great start. But soon, I found my rhythm and was trucking along. The first mile passed at a 7:52 pace. The next three were nearly exactly on my target pace. My awesome teammates met me halfway through and gave me a lift in spirits and a cool bottle of water. Most of that water ended up on my head and it was a welcome relief. At the fifth mile, I got stuck at a traffic light and ended up running an 8:40 mile. Knowing I had some work to do, I dug deep and powered forward. I ran the last mile at a 7:53 minute pace. At the end, it was on a slight downhill slope, so I used the momentum from the hill to sprint through and make the exchange.
The rest of the time, I spent driving the van and cheering on my teammates. We all met up at Montrose Harbor and ran in with our final runners. These two guys had the longest legs and ran through insane heat. It was an awesome moment.
Afterwards, we all grabbed our metals and headed to a bar close by to celebrate. All-in-all, it was an amazing experience and I’m really glad I got to join in!
Make it an incredible week all!!!
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