Friday, February 14, 2014

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Ragnar Relay Miami to Key West Recap

The idea for running Ragnar Relay's Miami to Key West run started almost six months ago. My friend did it last year and loved it so much that she wanted to do it again this year. I was one of the first people to say yes and immediately claimed Runner 2 as my position. This runner had about 18 miles of running spread over three runs and one of those runs included running the 7-mile bridge down in the Keys. Now, if you know me, you know that bridges like this one freak me out. I figured that the best way to to conquer my fear was to tackle it head on by running the bridge. Running, after all, has become something that has helped me push my limits and discover new parts of myself.

The run was last weekend from Friday, February 7th to Saturday, February 8th. Because I was part of Van 1, my Friday started off with a 5:30am wake up call and getting the girls ready to spend the weekend at their grandparents' house. I was picked up by my teammates at 6:45am and we made it to Key Biscayne close to 8:00am. The nerves started setting in on the drive over and we were all afraid of getting lost and going off course. At this point, our first legs were running parts of Miami we knew, but we were still afraid of getting lost.

Runner 1 started at 9:00am with a 5.5 mile run. As soon as he took off, we hopped in the car and went to the first exchange point to wait for him. As soon as I heard them yell out "303" (our team number) my nervousness subsided and I was ready to run. My first run was 4.4 miles through Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. Because I was still afraid of getting lost, I followed the runner who started a few seconds before me very closely. I ran faster than I would have wanted to run, but it was extremely hot out and I knew this would be the only run I had to run fast.

I switched off with the next runner at the next exchange point and, again, we all hopped in the car and headed over to the next exchange location to wait for the next switch of runners. This happened all through Runner 6 when she switched off with the first runner from Van 2, Runner 7. It took us 3.5 hours to cover the first 22.8 miles of the trip to Key West. While Van 2 runners ran, we went to La Carreta for lunch and then drove down to Homestead to wait for our next legs of runs to start.

My second run was supposed to be 4.7 miles but ended up being closer to 5.25 miles. Normally, this isn't a problem, but it was uncomfortable in this situation because it was nighttime and I was running on gravel roads. This run was probably the most humbling run of all of my runs. I was running at night with nothing but the light on my head and the light of the moon and the stars. I was running through a place I never thought I would run through; I had a canal on one side and a ditch and grasslands on the other. I ran without music and felt so connected to myself and my surroundings.

It took my team about 8.5 hours to run the 48.3 miles we had to run that night. By the time we passed off to Van 2, we were all exhausted. It had never felt so good to shower and lay down. I slept hard and woke up surprisingly rested the next day even with only 4 hours of sleep. That sleep was much needed because the last set of runs were going to be the hardest. Those runs, totally 32.5 miles, were all going to be done during the day. Our van started running at 10:00am and I started running the 7-mile bridge (which actually ended up being a 9.5 mile run because I run the roads before and after the actual bridge) at 10:10am. It took me a close to 1:40 to complete the run and, fortunately for me, there was a great sea breeze and wind from the passing cars to offset the heat of the day. I felt bad for the runners after me because I knew they would be running a flat course with little to no breeze. It took my van about 5 hours to finish our legs.

Once my van finished, we headed straight to the best little restaurant and ate everything on the menu. I think this was our celebration dinner. We were so happy to be done and excited to be so close to the finish. Team 303 finished around 7:00pm and we had enough time to take one picture with the whole group. While the Van 2 people went out that night, us Van 1 people stayed in and slept. Again, I was tired!

The weird part of the run, however, was the sense of disconnect. Because we were Van 1 and finished early in the day, it felt weird crossing the finish line at night. At that point, I felt like I hadn't done anything to deserve my medal at the end of the day.

The next day, Sunday, February 9th, we drove home. Of course, we caught a lot of traffic and ended up stopping to kayak and have dinner together.

What I liked:

  • It was a running vacation!
  • The people in my van were freaking awesome. They were so awesome that we were talking about doing more races together. 
  • The 7-mile bridge was an incredible experience. 
  • I loved the Ragnar shirt and medal. 
  • The course was well-marked for the most part. 
  • All the van decorations. 
  • The support from other runners and vans.

What I didn't like:

  • The weaving throughout Miami to get the mileage. There were so many turns and getting stuck at traffic lights that the runs were more stressful than enjoyable. 
  • Most of the runs for Van 1 were without support so our van couldn't stop to help or cheer on the runners. 
  • The heat. 
  • I didn't really feel connected to the runners of Van 2. 
Next Race Recap will be Disney's Enchanted 10K!
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1 comment:

Alexandria said...

I really enjoyed reading this recap! What a unique experience