Ragnar Trail Northwoods - September 23-24, 2016time = 27:36:46
21 out of 42 in our devision (women)
119 out of 169 in our category (open)
placed 174 overall out of 240 teams to finish
the following week i asked some questions of the ladies posting, and basically decided to run.
driving up to 9 mile forest in wausau, wi took approximately 3 hours. it was an uneventful drive filled with ample conversation and laughs. we got to know each other a little bit and i instantly liked court and mel quite a bit. it felt natural and comfortable... as if we knew each other for a long time. it's always awesome when that click happens.
we arrived and found the rest of our team at camp. it was a lot smaller than i anticipated. the illustration of the map made it look a lot more spread out and huge! it's nice that it was so small. very manageable and easy to find everything and everyone. we got situated and went to the village to check things out and watch the safety video.
soon enough it was time for our first runner to begin and we were off!
a couple of things i want to mention about the race:
1. they cleaned out the port-o-potties 3 times that i saw while i was there! THREE TIMES! that is amazing and wonderful! there is nothing nicer as a runner than sitting in a pristine potty. seriously folks... seriously.
2. they had PIZZA! fresh fire roasted PIZZA! i didn't get to eat any but they had it and it looked damn good! i'm still jealous of those who got to eat it.
3. they served a pasta dinner the first night. i do have a minor complaint about that tho'... it started at 5pm and was supposed to go until 10pm... by 8pm when i was able to eat it was cold and mostly gone... i was not happy about that.
moving on... we saw several of our exchanges off and then i decided to charge my phone so that i'd be ready for the rest of the day. while standing at the charging station i had a weird encounter with an older woman who was clearly not a trail runner. she was pacing around very concerned about everybody else. freaking out about why her items weren't charging fast enough (can i take a moment and point out that THERE WAS A CHARGING STATION IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS?!?), and then she decided to talk to me. she went on a little tangent about how awful the trails here were and how dangerous. she proceeded to tell me that she had run the 3 miler the day before and that it was ONLY ok, but that if the other trails were super dangerous as she anticipated they would be... she would definitely not be running them, and she'd turn around and walk back. she was very aggressive in her speech and seemed to not really be happy to be there AT ALL. had me wondering why she'd sign up for a trail race in the first place? she made it a point to tell me she was the oldest and slowest on her team. she did not seem happy about that either... in fact, she didn't seem happy about much. after that diatribe she turned to me and asked: "do you run trails?"
i thought for a moment about whether or not i should answer and if so what i should say before i just simply said: "yup."
she replied (very aggressively) and with irritation: "well, you should be fine then!" and turned away from me and didn't speak another word to me.
it was an odd interaction.
i unplugged and walked away right after that.
|laura m, me, connor, amanda, & melanie - team badgnar!|
|leg 1 - yellow loop|
i successfully finished the run and went right to the medics to get cleaned up. my hand and knee were filled with gravel and i had some road rash on my thigh but really i was no worse for wear.
|medic tent after 1st leg ~ photo by laura m.|
we cycled through our runners as the night progressed, and soon enough it was my turn to run again... 5am this time and for 3.0 miles (strava data here). the "easy" loop. uh huh... easy. my teammate laura b. went up with me as she is runner 1, runs after me, and needed to be awake anyway. again i took off uneventfully although it was harder to pick up my legs this time... my legs were so fatigued and heavy! this loop (if memory serves) was all single track. all the loops begin and end in the same way on the same trails... wide horse or fire/ski trails... i'm not entirely sure could be a mixture of all three depending on where on the trail one is. anyway, i wanted to be done with this as soon as possible so i was running as fast as i could. turns out THIS is the trail everyone was talking about that had "huge boulders". i kept hearing people talking about these "huge boulders" on the trail, and i couldn't imagine what they were talking about. so finally i got to see what all the fuss was about. on this loop there was a section or two that had a series of rocks that the kids (read mountain bikers) call a rock garden... it was a bit of a challenge to run through in the pitch black. they weren't actually boulders if you're wondering... they WERE large rocks but i wouldn't call them boulders. although, considering we live in wisconsin this is probably the closest thing to boulders we're going to get so i'll give those folks a pass on the misnomer. i'm sure you're wondering if this is where i decided to eat shit again?
|leg 2 - green loop|
got back to the tent and it was still dark out so i took all that mummy wrap off, laid down, and fell fast asleep. that is correct... i did not one little iota of stretching. the horror! camp was pretty quiet most of the evening which was pretty different than i thought it would be. i really expected a lot more partying than what actually happened. i suppose that's another very different aspect of trail runners as opposed to road runners. i love that. so camp was mostly silent with the exception of the loud talker once in awhile until about 7-8am so i got some pretty quality couple of hours of sleep. i felt much better by then.
throughout the day we cheered on our runners, walked around the ragnar village, and lounged around camp. i found dave and said hello to him. (observe below)
|FOUND HIM! dave and i|
.and that's the story of that.
as it got closer to my run time we started packing up camp. i got changed and headed up to the start to wait for mel to come in. we grossly overestimated our run paces so we were several hours behind our estimated finish time. that's one thing that ragnar could do differently. trail running is very different than road running. the pacing is very different and cannot compare. using a road run time to accurately judge finish times just doesn't work. our time was so off! one also has to factor in fatigue and terrain... i think if they want to use a race time it should be a trail race time for a trail ragnar. anyway... the last and final leg of my race was the longest, most challenging, and all around hardest loop. it also proved to be the most fun, most beautiful, and made the entire journey worth it.
i was most worried about my performance for this loop because i hadn't slept well, it was touted to be the most difficult of all the loops, and i had heard that there were miles and miles of knee deep mud. ok... i'm exaggerating about the knee deep, but the talk about all the mud on this loop was RIDICULOUS! so i anticipated a butt load of mud. i was concerned that i would be extra slow given that my green loop felt so bad and my legs felt so heavy AND it was only 3.0 miles! so i was deeply ill at ease about my perceived performance issues. turns out i had no reason for the misgivings... i took off and my legs felt a-ok so i ran a little faster. i started passing people right off the bat... it felt ok so i just kept going. i usually know right away whether or not it's sink or swim and since i was swimming just fine i picked it up a notch because... TRAILS!
until i can't.
then... i walk and power hike and run some more.
finally i am at the top and i am running and the wind is hitting me and i am free and smiling and i have made it! there is nothing more satisfying than making it up a hill that feels like a mountain. a hill that feels like it will never end. a hill that really isn't that big but because you're exhausted and sleep deprived and STARVING and really want some pizza... that damn hill looks like a leviathan! it is the damn swiss alps! it's mount kilimanjaro for goodness sake! so now i'm running a flat and it feels pretty damn good. until it doesn't because there's another damn ceaseless ascent! oh.my.god! so this happened a few different times. i'd come out of some beautiful single track onto the most god awful fire road that just went on and on and on. the worst part about those particular trails is they were matted grass peppered with hidden rocks and at about mile 6 there was a huge section of this kind of trail that was about 3-4 inches of muck.
|how i feel about descents|
what goes up must come down... and we all know how i feel about the downs.
i FLY down the descents like i'm not even touching the ground (i suppose for the most part i barely am). i tiptoe around rocks like i'm playing hopscotch. i dance through the root maze and spread my arms to balance my weight. i am weightless! i am free! my legs feel amazing! for a moment i wonder how i could ever have worried about my legs making it through this loop. i never look at my garmin this whole time tho' because i don't really want to know how fast (or slow) i might be going. i've learned over the years that just because it feels fast doesn't mean it actually is fast. better to not know until the end. so i'm just running and enjoying the run. the woods are home and my church! this is the best place to be! i love it.
so i'm running and just loving everything about the run and i get a text from laura wanting to know how i'm doing. i can't get my stupid phone to work from my pocket so i call her back and let her know that i'm about 5.5 or so miles in... this was just before that mucky section of trail. there were some people walking that section and then i was back in civilization where the loops were converging. getting close to the end. this loop was so fun! (strava data here)
|leg 3 ~ red loop|
when i hit the final straight away before jumping back into the final single track to the finish i punched it. i was so happy to open it up, run big, and with long strides. it felt good to push it a little bit more. it also helps that it's downhill and easy to open up the legs and really let everything take flight! i hit the quarter mile marker, heard the buzz, and knew the hairpin turn onto the single track was coming up. it was so exciting! i could hear the crowds cheering and i ramped up my run.
there were a couple of people on the trail ahead of me but they were not running as fast as i was so i blew past them and freight trained it in to my team... we all ran it in together and finished our run.
i'm so proud of all of us. we dug deep and struggled through this journey together. we forged friendships, we laughed, we slept, we ran, we struggled, and we persevered! we did it! until next time ragnar... thanks for the memories! it was awesome.
|team badgnar ~ finishers!|