Friday, March 16, 2012

Ragnar Del Sol

A couple of years ago I heard about this crazy race where you and eleven of your friends, pile into two vans, and run 200 miles.  Sounded like a great time!

I was so intrigued that I semi-stalked a lady in my local grocery parking lot because she had the Ragnar sticker on her minivan. Yep, she confirmed that it was a blast.

I had put thoughts of it out of my mind when my first running partner and friend Virginia emailed me. Her hubby, Clint, was doing Ragnar Del Sol again and they needed a twelfth person. I know how fast Clint is and how much he runs, there was no possible way they really wanted me on the team. Alas they were that desperate. After much debate and Clint telling my hubby (they work together) that they really didn't care how slow I was, I agreed to do it.

We had one team meeting and it was nice to put faces to names. There was a great deal of email communication and I felt very welcomed.

Three weeks before Del Sol I caught whatever bug the kids were passing around school. I stopped running and just tried to get well. The week before I was feeling better and went for a little run. The Wednesday before, I became sick again and Thursday I was in bed all day as sick as I could be.

Friday - Ragnar Day, I woke up feeling mostly better but still coughing like crazy and with a sore throat. I packed my bags and my hubby took me to the meet up spot. We loaded the six of us and our gear and were off.
Van 2
Almost everyone
Van 2 - don't we look clean and fresh? :)

So the way Ragnar works is van one, their six runners each run a leg, once they are done they hand off to van two and their runners run their legs, and then hand back off to van one, and so on until each runner has run three legs.                Since I was the slowest of the team I had the shortest legs. At first I was a bit embarrassed but after the first run being so sick I was thankful!

Day one of running was one of the hottest of the year so far and my first leg was on a dusty road. By the time I was done with those few miles my throat was on fire and I was wondering if I would make it.  My team was great and waiting at the end with cool water and wipes. I was never so happy to see the end.   

We ran and cheered and drove and ate. After our first legs were over we went to Macyo's for dinner and then headed to the next major exchange. It was at a community center that had showers and floor space to sleep on. The girls in the van found a quiet corner of the center and tried to get a couple hours of sleep. The two guys slept in the van and decorated it with glow sticks.  

Not our team but it was dark out there.

Before we knew it it was time to go again. I think it was around 2am. We sent off our first runner and got ready to drive out to cheer him on and make it to the next exchange. The second runner in the van was me. We drove and had to catch up to Matt, he was flying in the night! We got to the exchange and they were announcing "team 315 your runner is in!" I had to run to the shoot and to our exchange and I was off. 

This time I tried running with cough drops to help sooth my throat. It worked to a certain extent but produced a thick mucus that I had to spit out every few steps. It was either spit, choke, or not breath.  Mind you this is at about 3am, it's dark, and I'm trying to figure out where to go... the signage wasn't great at one turn so I followed other runners. Once I got into the rhythm of run, spit, and then breath, it was really nice. We ran through a neighborhood with horses and crested a little hill and could see the city lights. 

I finally made it to the end of that run and crawled into the back of the van. I did get out to cheer on another runner but after that I thought it would be better if I tried to rest and recover for my last run. My throat was killing me and I wasn't sure I'd make the last run. 

I woke up and we had arrived at our next rest station, which happened to be one of our teammate's in-laws. They were A-mazing! We walked in and they had towels laid out in the entry way. We grabbed towels and headed to the showers. After showering we were treated to fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, sausage, OJ, coffee, water, bagels, cream cheese, and muffins! 

I ate a little and went to bed. I never slept so well. We awoke refreshed had a little more to eat and were out the door to make the next and last exchange.  

My last leg was mostly downhill but in a good way, it was literally down hill. I felt much better and my pace showed it. At the end there was a slight up hill and my tummy started to show it's distress but I carried on and made the exchange. 
From there we cheered and drove, stopped at Subway, and finally made our way to the end.  When our last runner came into sight we joined with our van one teammates and several of the team's kids and ran across the finish line together.  
It was an amazing run. Tons of fun. Made new friends and I'd love to try it again and see what it's like when I'm healthy!

~Happy running

The Ups and Downs of Life

The end of January and all of February were crazy busy months of highs and lows. Thankfully the highs out weighted the lows.

In late January the aviation community lost a great man.  To me he was a mentor, an online-friend, and someone who always had an encouraging word. To many others he was so much more. My only regret is that I never got to meet him in person and we lived so close.  RIP Ken Calman...

Thank goodness there was an extra day in the already short month of February! I was preparing for Ragnar Del Sol at the end of the month and knew that I would solo soon.

On morning, shortly after hearing news of Ken's passing I headed to South Mountain Park to get in a good quality trail training run. As I was pulling into the parking area my phone rang. It was two ladies from AOPA calling about a scholarship application I had submitted. They said they had a few more questions for me and asked if it was a good time to chat. Of course it was a good time! We talked for a few minutes and then they said thank you.  I was expecting, "thank you, we will get back to you." Instead it was, "thank you, we have made our decision and would like to award the scholarship to you."

I was dumbfounded for a moment and said, "thank you," and then it started to sink in. We chatted a few more minutes and they said they would follow up with an email. We hung up the phone, I got out of my van, and proceeded to jump up and down saying, "YES! YES! YES!" I'm sure the golfers nearby thought I was a crazy woman.

The very next thing I did was call my hubby and a very close friend of Ken's and my friend Bonnie. I knew she would appreciate the good news and she has been so supportive of me. Next I called my friend Ginger who kept sending me links to scholarships and encouraging me to get my apps in. After the phone calls I had the best 6 mile trail run I'd had in a long time. I was running on air!

February 6, 2012 I soloed, that was most exciting!  I continued to fly and had a couple more solo flights. Then I got sick. There was definitely something going around. I recovered but hadn't done much running and Ragnar was a week away! I flew on the Wednesday before Ragnar and ended up sick again. Thursday I was really sick and slept all day.  Friday was go day for Ragnar. I will do a separate Ragnar post but that was an up and down weekend in itself.

In the middle of all of this my wonderful husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary (the photo is from our 20th).  Celebrated is a bit of an exaggeration, with busy kids, work, flying, and just life, our anniversary was more of an acknowledgement of our love and an evening at home.

All in all February was a good month and a reminder to not take people for granted. Drive across town if you have to, don't be too tired or whatever to take the time to spend with the people you love.

~Blue skies and tailwinds