You Know You’re a Ragnarian If…

Mer and Cam here! Mer is a recent first time Ragnarian, while Cam is our seasoned pro with more than 10 Ragnars under her belt with her first back in 2012.

While Ragnar PA presented its own unique course and yes, set of challenges, we are both of the opinion that Ragnar is one crazy good time (emphasis on the crazy).  Besides the awkward post-race walk and the huge medal, there are a few telltale signs you’re now a Ragnarian.

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

When you used to see white vans, you thought there were strangers that were going to lure you with candy and going to kidnap you.

Now you think that there are strange people that you may have just met who will give you candy… and drop you off in the middle of nowhere to run.

RagnarPA2You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You spend the days leading up to Ragnar buying random props and costumes off the internet and practicing your stealthy ninja ways… and fighting off your children from playing with your props. They are NOT toys, people, they are props!

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

If anyone says anything resembling a song lyric, there will automatically be a sing-along.

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

When setting up a ninja star assembly line four hours before you’re supposed to get up to run 200ish miles becomes a priority.  Furthermore, when only sleeping four hours before running 200ish miles is the “good” plan.

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The early ninja gets the kill!

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It seemed like a good idea at the time…

You know you’re a Ragnarian…

When you start sharing toilet paper with your new friends. Also, when you’re moved to tears by the sight of indoor plumbing.

You know you’re a Ragnarian…

When you all of a sudden need not one, but two new Ragnar sweatshirts… in June.

You know you’re a Ragnarian…

When you develop the ability to sleep anywhere because even concrete has to be more comfortable the van.

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You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You never see another hill again in your life, you would be a-okay with that.

At least you get an extra medal for running straight up a mountain! Poc-o-nooo he didn’t!

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

Even though you hate them, you can still appreciate those hills because at least it gets you views like these:

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You can’t help but question your sanity but then you see this sign and it makes it all better.

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

Even after all this, you start planning your next Ragnar because as soon as you’re apart, you miss your relay team.

And even when you’re still together but know you’re going to be apart.

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It’s so hard to say goodbye!

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You know that you can do anything because, after all, you’ve done a RAGNAR.

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Have you done a Ragnar Relay? If you have, what would you add to this list? If you haven’t, does this make you want to do one or have we scared you away? 😉

Cam Runs With Child

Two weeks ago, I ran SoCal Ragnar like I’ve never ran before…12 weeks pregnant. This pregnancy was the biggest surprise. It’s been almost a decade since my last pregnancy. After ten years of birth control, I found myself with a positive pregnancy test and half a dozen race bibs I’d already paid for, including two Ragnars and all three of the Disney Tinkerbell races.  I had not planned on being pregnant for any of them.

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Now, we all know how diligent I am about training (please note sarcasm).  However, I really needed to be prepared for this race.  I’m over 36 which makes me a “high risk” pregnancy.  Also, I’m overweight and was actually in the middle of a transform session when I found out I was pregnant. I also knew I wasn’t going to be able to run much.  I hadn’t really been running prior to the pregnancy but I had been strength training so I was pretty confident I could walk my little heart out.  So yeah, I walked an entire Ragnar.  It was surprisingly difficult to walk while everyone around me was running.  I did end up running a tiny bit when I just couldn’t take it anymore, but overall, I felt pretty proud of my 16 minute pace!

 

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Van 1 at the Start right after I headed out!

I’ve ran SoCal Ragnar many times, but not since they changed the course.  The course used to come inland through Temecula Wine Country, which made for a very warm race at the end of April.  The race now stays close to the coast, starting in Huntington Beach and ending on the Silver Strand in Coronado, starting on sand and ending in sand.  The course has a virtual exchange at Exchange 12 because of Camp Pendleton.  Van 2 ran into Dana Point and Van 1 ran out of Oceanside during this exchange.  Usually the hand-off between vans is a big exchange with a lot of celebration.  The virtual exchange kind of squashes that but luckily we had five more hand-offs to celebrate.

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Van 2 at the first major exchange.

For the first time ever, I got to start the race early Friday morning!  I was really nervous to race while pregnant, mostly because I hadn’t been training as well as I should. I ran for a little while along the boardwalk of Huntington Beach, then slowed to a fast walk and finished my 2.3 miles.  After this first leg, I felt confident I could finish the race.

My second leg ran along the San Luis Rey River Trail around sunset.  The trail was easy and flat but the bugs were out in full force.  I don’t know if they were attracted to my headlamp light or what, but by the end of my four miles, I was wiping them off my glasses.  During this leg, I got to run with the famous Ernie, the 93 year old Ragnarian who just ran Del Sol in March and finished his 6th Ragnar at SoCal.  Talk about inspiration! You can read more about Ernie on the Ragnar Blog.

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I finished up with 3 miles through a beach town in Encinitas that I didn’t even know existed, and I’ve lived in Southern California all my life.  Once again, Ragnar, you remind me while I love you so much.  It’s always to best way to see this country: from the pavement.  My legs were super sore, and not in ways that I was familiar with.  Walking this much and at this quick pace pulled at muscles and tendons I don’t normally strain.  This part of the course was on a main street that was covered in restaurants, shops, and bars that I wanted to explore, especially the donut shop!  I finished up my leg with a little jog and sighed with relief.  I had finished and thanked my body for putting up with my decision to spend 36 hours in a van, walk swiftly for 9 miles after sleeping less than 2 hours on zero caffeine, all while making a human.

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Baby’s First Ragnar

Sorry body, but we’re going to do it again, in Pennsylvania this time and at 20 weeks pregnant.  I’ll be walking my little heart out.

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Ragnar is returning to PA

The scoot chicks love a good Ragnar Relay. You know we do.

Cam, our resident Ragnar expert has tackled numerous relay races around the country. The rest of us simply dreamed of the day we could manage a 12-person, 200-mile relay.

Meri was beyond jazzed to take on the challenge, but her plans and potential teams repeatedly fell through.

Me? I didn’t want to travel far for the race. When my dream Ragnar was discontinued a few years back, promptly ending my interest in participating in a relay….until today.

What changed, you ask? The return of the Pennsylvania Ragnar Relay in June 2017.

You see, this race begins in my hometown of Lancaster, PA. The first leg kicks off in front of my elementary school. It loops through downtown Lancaster, past my former employer and my childhood church, through the park where I attended day camp as a child and attended many an elementary school field trip.

It winds through rural Lancaster County, past Amish farms and through rolling hills of my hometown before heading north, ultimately ending in Mt. Pocono, PA, not far from Hickory Run State Park, one of my favorite PA state parks.

If ever there was a Ragnar made for me, this is it. Sure, I’ll need to figure out what to do with my infant son, how to fund my entry fee and how to coordinate to make this happen, but I know one thing for sure. I will be there as part of team Scootadoot. Who is with me?

Have you run a Ragnar? Which ones and what advice would you offer to a novice like me?

RagNapa!

The Ragnar Relay Series has this persistent deal where you can earn a double medal for doing certain races within the same year.  It’s all very clever because even though I already have a Gold Rush medal for running the SoCal and Napa relays in 2011, I simply had to do it again!  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for extra bling.

Plus, look at the pretty!

Plus, look at the pretty!

Getting a team together for Napa was no easy feat.  Ragnar changed their website and it is ruining my life. I had the hardest time finding runners to fill our team.  I had to search on Facebook by posting on the Ragnar page and the Napa page that the ninjas were in need!  I was still searching for runners up until the week of the race, which has never happened during any of my races as Captain.  Finally, Facebook and my new fella, Ian, came through in the end.  A full team we did have.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Bringing a new, only recently declared, boyfriend along on a 200 mile relay might be the death of a budding relationship.  But if you think about it, Ragnar is a huge indicator of character and/or the ability to follow a theme; two factors that are huge when I consider a prospective love interest.  Besides, if we can survive Ragnar and not hate each other in the end, this thing might actually have a chance.

We're cute.

We’re cute.

So Ian, the new dreamboat, Amy, the RIPPED chick and climbing buddy, and myself all piled into the van for the eight hour drive up to San Francisco to meet the rest of our team.  Some veteran ninjas were running, Josh, Crista, Dana, and Greg.  Shanta’, Paul, Dru, Amy H., and Becca were our new ninjas.

The first time I ran the Napa course was the inaugural year.  I was eager to check out the changes to the course.  The biggest change was a new start line location.  The race started at Golden Gate Park. Google severely mislead me to believe our drive time was about twenty minutes shorter than it actually was so after picking up Josh and Crista, we raced to the start.  Normally, you’re supposed to be there an hour early to check in and get your stuff.  Yeah, we were there just 15 minutes before our 7:30 AM start time!  We rushed through the gear check and the safety meeting, and got Josh all pinned up seconds before he took off.

Runner 1 ready to take off!

Runner 1 ready to take off!

I was in Van 2, so it was time for us to rest.  Or rather, make ninja stars and play at the beach.  I was runner 7 this time, which is, by far, the best running position.  Not only do you get to start off the race for Van 2, but you’re the first one done!  Instead of sitting around waiting anxiously for my turn, I knocked out my 4 miles out and was ready to play.  A tagging I shall go!

This is how ninjas train.

This is how ninjas train.

These first legs were pretty enjoyable.  We were all feeling pretty good and ready for real food by the time Amy K. passed on to Van 1.  We traveled to the next major exchange in lovely Santa Rosa and decided to find a restaurant.  We ended up eating at this cool pub and taking in some electrolyte recovery drinks.

Waiting for Crista!

Waiting for Crista!

Here she comes!

Here she comes!

Finishing up my first leg.

Finishing up my first leg.

And Ian finishing up his first Ragnar leg ever!

And Ian finishing up his first Ragnar leg ever!

Normally, the night run is my favorite.  However, about an hour before we were supposed to start running, it started to rain.  And not just a nice, misty sprinkle, but a torrential downpour.  I have horrible vision and neglected to procure any contact lenses before leaving for Ragnar.  And I swear, Santa Rosa has the most poorly lit streets in the world.  You can see where I’m going here, right?  It’s like the perfect storm.  I had to take my glasses off because they kept fogging up and my head lamp was illuminating nothing but the rain drops.  All I could see was the streaks of light reflecting off the rain.  I was running much slower than normal because I was afraid of slipping or running into something.  I must have been over-focusing because after awhile, I noticed there weren’t any other runners in sight.  And I hadn’t seen a Ragnar sign in about fifteen minutes.  When I got to the end of the street and there were no directions as to where to go from there, it hit me…I was lost.  At 2 AM.  In the dark.  In the rain.  And I couldn’t see.  This totally crushed my spirit.  It was the first time ever I wanted to give up in the middle of a race.

Rain!

Preparing for the rain!

I started walking toward this gas station on the corner, thinking I could ask for directions.   I notified my team that I had indeed gotten lost and that I wouldn’t be arriving as planned. I pulled up the map on the Ragnar site, (Thankfully I had service!  Yeah, smart phones!) kicking myself for not downloading the pictures earlier.  I asked the cashier which way I had to go to get back to the course and he pointed me in the right direction.  When I saw those blinking butt lights, I jumped for joy.  Overall, I ran about a mile over the intended 6.6 mile leg.   Which wouldn’t have so bad if there hadn’t have been a ginormous mile-long incline at the end.  Which I mostly walked.  By the time I handed off to Ian, I was cold, tired and cranky.

I don’t remember much more about the night runs because, with a gentle nudge by the crisis averting boyfriend, I curled up on a bench and passed out.  This was also the first time I got a decent amount of sleep at a Ragnar!  We didn’t have to run again until about 10 AM, so I was rested and ready to finish up my legs.  It was still pouring down rain but Van 1 came in ahead of schedule.

Supporting our Runner!

Supporting our Runner!

My last leg was an easy peasy 3.1 miles on a beautiful trail along a river.  The rain turned from downpour to a lovely light shower just as I started running.  There wasn’t a one mile to go marker on this leg so when I neared the exchange, I was actually really bummed.  I wanted to keep running!  But my turn was over and now it was time to play!

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Me and Amy playing in the grapevines.

Me and Amy playing in the grapevines.

The rest of my team finished up easily, running along the vineyards of Napa.  It seemed like everyone turned on the speed and before I knew it, we were crossing the finish line.  It was a Ragnar of firsts, the first time I got lost, the first time I actually slept, and the first Ragnar with a new beau.  Who impressed the heck out me, I might add!  This is the beauty of Ragnar, even though I’ve participated in this series a whopping 8 times, it never gets boring.

Double Medals!

Double Medals!

N.W.A. Napa 2013

N.W.A. Napa 2013

Ragnar PRO Compression socks winner!

Earlier this summer we were fortunate enough to score a pair of socks from PRO Compression. Rather than the six of us doing a whole “Sisterhood of the Traveling Socks” type of deal, we decided that we’d shower one of our lucky readers with them instead. Furthermore, we went to the orange Ragnar socks because hello, they are kick ass!

ragnarsocksOur Ragnar ambassador, Cam, has got quick a few Ragnar relay races under her belt and even SHE doesn’t own these awesome Ragnar PRO Compression socks (yet…).

Without further delay, the winner of our giveaway is…

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Congrats to Aimee from Running with Sam. The Scoot a Doot Chicks salute you! Make sure you check your email for a special message from us.

For those of you who are bummed because you didn’t win, remember that coupon code JULY will save you 40% and get free US shipping. But act fast because it’s only good until Sunday, August 4th, 2013.

Northwest Passage Ragnar Assassinated By Deadly Ninjas

It’s Ragnanimous!  I am in love with the Pacific Northwest. I spent this past weekend running relay from Blaine to Whidbey Island and it’s safe to say, Washington state brings the pretty.  As always, I ran with my ninjas.  My friend Tim took on the Captaining duties this time around and it was a total relief.  I packed my gigantic suitcase with the necessities: running shoes, shot blocks, orange hair dye, ninja stars, and headed to Portland, where I was greeted by my Ragnar mentor, Jana.

You're Welcome, TSA.

You’re Welcome, TSA.

We gathered two more ninjas, Mike and Amber, and headed for Seattle to meet up with the rest of our team.  Many of our runners traveled from out of state and Eric was scheduled to pick up our van from the Seattle airport.   The other van was being provided by one of our runners, Amy.  The plan was to meet in Seattle, get our vans situated, eat a yummy dinner, then travel two hours to the start line where Dana had arranged for us to stay in a kickass timeshare.  Of course, there’s always a snag.

Crisis #1…FLAT TIRE!  On the way to Seattle, we stopped to get a couple bags of fortune cookies at Tsue Chong.  We like to hand out the cookies on the course.  Walking back to the car, Mike noticed the front tire had a screw in it.  And it was quickly deflating.  Luckily, we found a tire shop who patched up the tire and we were back on the road in no time.

I see an unlikely stop in your future.

I see an unlikely stop in your future.

Crisis #2…THEY GAVE AWAY OUR VAN!!  That’s right, Budget gave away the roomy minivan that was to be our home for the next 30 hours.  Instead they gave us a Ford Explorer.  Which is not as roomy, nor as user friendly for getting in and out of.  So we crammed all our stuff into the back of the SUV and I crawled into the cubby space in the way far back and claimed it as my own.

FINALLY, we were ready to eat.  It had gotten pretty late with all our setbacks and for some reason, everything had closed at 8pm.  We were running out of dining options.  Plan one was to get pizza and take it to the timeshare.  Plan two…find the nearest Olive Garden.  Which is what we did.  The other van opted for pizza, but we made a beeline for the breadsticks.  Our bellies full, we headed up to the timeshare to get some much needed rest before our 8 am start time.

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Van 1: Eldon, Tim, Armando, Amy, DenaLee, Dana

Van 2: Eric, Dustin, Amber, Cam, Mike, Jana

Van 2: Eric, Dustin, Amber, Cam, Mike, Jana

Race Day!  We were awakened by the sounds of 1997 blasting from Jana’s ipod.  We donned our ninja gear and drank our hotel coffee.  We said goodbye to the toilet and its running water.  We wouldn’t be seeing one of those for awhile. It would be Honey Buckets from here on out.  We piled into our vehicles and headed off to the start.  My van wouldn’t begin running until around 1pm but we wanted to support our team as we headed out on this great adventure.  And wouldn’t you know it, we hit another snag.

Crisis #3…WE GOT PULLED OVER!!!  That’s right, boys and girls, we were going 40 mph in a 25 mph zone.  And even though there were tons of decorated vans careening through the small town of Blaine, Washington, Highway Patrol decided to stop us.  He let us off with a warning but the time wasted was enough to make us stress.  Then there was the task of actually getting to the start line.  Last year, we accidentally went to Canada.  This time, an emergency u-turn averted that crisis but it still took some time to find the start.

But we made it.  Just in time to snap this picture.

There goes our ninja!

There goes our ninja!

We hung around the start for a while, then grabbed some breakfast at a snazzy little cafe close by.  Then we headed to Exchange 6, where we would meet the other van and begin our runs.  We got to the exchange super early.  What’s a ninja to do with all that free time?  Why, prepare the arsenal and tag vans, of course!  And make some friends in the process.

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We got word that Runner 6, DenaLee, was about a mile out and Eric took his post at the exchange.  He would be handing off to me.  His first leg was relatively short and he’s inhumanly fast, so we quickly made our way to Exchange 7.  My first run would be 5.7 miles with about  about a 600 ft. elevation gain.  This was the leg I was dreading the most.  I took a FrogFuel, packed some Shot Blocks in my belt, and put my Ragnar NWP mix on shuffle.  I was ready to get this out of the way so I could enjoy the rest of the race in peace!  As predicted, Eric came flying into the exchange and I was off!

The first two miles of the leg were through a residential area, with a nice steep climb.  At the end of the climb, though, I was rewarded with a mile of the most beautiful scenery imaginable.  The course turned onto a trail through the forest, complete with green, mossy trees and ferns.  The trail opened to Lake Padden and I ran along the lake until I exited the park.  My team was waiting for me with water and I was really glad to see them.  While the trail was cool and shady, the street was hot!

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With that first leg out of the way, I was able to relax and support my team while the rest of the van ran their legs.  Being second in our van to run had it’s advantages!  I was feeling good and loving my van and I didn’t even care that I was smushed into a cubby hole.  This race was shaping up to be the best Ragnar ever!

Then…tragedy struck.

I was waiting to cross the street so I could hand water to our runner, Mike.  It was a pretty busy street and I kept hesitating to cross.  I wouldn’t be in position to get his water to him before he passed.  I finally just bit the bullet and ran to cross the street.  And I tripped.  And fell flat on my face.  In the street.  With traffic.  I quickly backed out of the street and Mike ran over to help me up.  His water had been flung in the process.  The safety flag was thrown to the wayside.  And I was left with skinned palms and bruised knees and a little damage to my ego.  Once I realized I was safe and not seriously injured…I laughed.

And laughed.

And laughed.

Then Jana made this…

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And we all laughed.  Hysterically.  And every time someone in our van was looking at there phone and laughing, I knew exactly what they were laughing at.

Dustin was our last runner and he handed off to Dana about 10 minutes ahead of our projected pace.  It was time for us to rest and eat and ready ourselves for our long night runs.  We feasted on salads and burgers at Red Robin then drove to Exchange 18 at La Conner Middle School.  They had showers and sleeping spaces in the gym and we attempted to get some sleep.  I was in my cubby hole in the way far back, fading in and out of consciousness, when I heard a burst of foul language from the front seat.  The next thing I knew, I was being roused into action.  We had missed our runner!  There was a severe lack of phone service and we had predicted Dana to be coming into the exchange at midnight.  What we didn’t know was that Van 1 was kicking ass and they were now 30 minutes ahead of schedule.  They sent a text to us to get ready…but we never received it.  Thus, Dana ran into the exchange and was met with nobody to hand off to!  Instead of waiting, she just kept running.  She had ran about 2 of Eric’s 8.7 mile leg by the time we caught up with her to make the switch.

Run, Social Network, Sleep, Repeat!

Keep your phones on, people!

Eric jumped out of the van and took off.  We waited for Van 1 by the side of the road to come pick up Dana.  Once we made the switch, we did some quick math to determine where Eric would be on the course and where we should go to support him.  Now, it should be noted here that Eric is a beast.  He’s fast.  Like 7.5 minute miles fast.  And everyone always runs faster on their night runs.  It’s a well-known Ragnar-phenomenon.  We should have known he’d be tearing up the course.  We drove up the course a bit and we waited for Eric to pass.  We waited and waited and soon, our clocks were telling us we had waited too long.  We had missed him.  We quickly drove on to the exchange in the hope we’d catch him, but nope.  He had gone through the exchange and just kept running!  By the time we were able to catch him, he had ran 4.5 of my 7.7 mile leg.  I wasn’t complaining, but sheesh, that’s a lot of miles for a Ragnar leg!  I jumped out of the van to switch places with him and finish the last 3 miles of the leg.

Which turned out to be another magnificent run.  I ran along the edge of Fidalgo Bay, then turned onto a bridge that spanned the entire bay.  The moon was reflecting off the water and the air was cool and still, and I felt so incredibly grateful in that moment.  I wanted the bridge to go on forever but after a mile, the trail turned through a wooded area.  It was very dark and there was forest on both sides of the trail.  All I could see was the path leading into a very dark hole in the slightly less dark trees.  As the runners in front of me turned the corner, their back LED light would disappear, making the whole experience very “rabbit hole” like.  It was spine tingling and exciting and a little scary but before I knew it, I had turned a corner and there was Jana at the exchange.

It was well into the wee morning hours by the time I finished and I tried to stay awake through the other runs.  But eventually, exhaustion took over and I passed out in my cubby hole.  I didn’t wake up until around 8 am.  I was cramped and sore, my knees aching because they’d been curled into my chest all night.  I stretched and changed and Jana and I ate breakfast while the rest of our van slept.  This may have been the most sleep I’ve ever gotten at a Ragnar.

Thanks mostly to Eric running my miles, we were ahead of pace by a whole hour.  We were well-fed and well-rested and ready for our final legs.  Eric took over running around noon and then I had 4.2 miles of downhill fun.  This run wasn’t as pretty as the other two, but it was fast and easy.  I handed off to Jana and that was it!  My running was done!

Last Leg

Now it was time to play!  I spent the rest of the race supporting my van, tagging vans, and handing fortune cookies out my window.  And my team was kicking ass on pace.  By the time we dropped our last runner, Dustin, off for his last leg, we were an hour and a half ahead of pace.  We notified the other van then sped to the finish line so we could all cross together in our ninja gear.  Dustin finished up strong and quick and we crossed together to the Mortal Kombat theme song.  A perfect ending to a perfect race.

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This was my favorite Ragnar thus far.  Everything just seemed to be at its best.  Best team.  Best weather.  Best scenery.  Best pace.  It’s going to be hard to beat NWP, Napa.  You better get your game face on!

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Are you running a Ragnar this year?  Did you see any ninjas at Northwest Passage?  (That’s a trick question, you can’t see ninjas.)  Do you want a pair of snazzy Ragnar compression socks to sport a your next relay?  We have the hook-up!  Recently we were able to score a pair of S/M Orange Ragnar PRO Compression socks.

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Click the pic to enter! Now through 7/29/13

Relay! It will be fun!

Guess what time it is?  I’ll give you a hint.  It starts with an R and ends with AGNAR!  That’s right, boys and girls, Ragnar Northwest Passage is just around the corner and in just one short month, I’ll be trekking up north again to participate in the relay series in Napa.  I know what you’re thinking: This chick can’t possibly be writing another post about Ragnar.  I mean, what is she, like an ambassador or something?

Actually, yes, I am.

But rest assure!  This is not a Ragnar post.  Relay, it’s not.  (Hehe)

I’ve participated in many Rag- I mean, relay races and I’ve realized over the years that there is a specific recipe for putting together a successful relay team.  Relay racing requires tons of, ahem, leg work, in order to produce a smooth racing experience for all.  When I first started putting these teams together I made lots of mistakes.  But I had an incredible mentor who answered all my questions and told me all the tricks.  So that’s what I’m here to do today, my friends.  Help me, help you relay!

Get Yo Peeps in Line

First things first, you need runners.  Recruit, recruit, recruit!  Almost everyone knows someone who races nowadays. Luckily, Facebook is making it easier and easier to find runners.  You know all those annoying gym updates?  Call them out!  Oh, you ran 5 miles on the treadmill today at the gym?  Have I got a race for you!  I’ve used all types of social media to find runners for my teams, I even know someone who used dating sites to find runners.  How’s that for a first date?  Sometimes the best teammates are the people you’ve never met before.  Eventually, you’ll have an entire network of relay runners that you can call upon to fill a team.  And this video will be really hilarious…

After you’ve gotten people to agree to it, make them pay.  Always, always get their registration ahead of time.  Many people will commit, but these races are freaking expensive!  I always require the registration fee to hold a spot on the team.  Give them a deadline.  If they don’t pay, they don’t play.  Allow yourself plenty of time to find replacements.

The infamous "Friendship Contract"

The infamous “Friendship Contract”

The Early Bird Gets a Great Deal

Most races give a discount if you register early.  Relay races are no different.  If you can do so financially, register your team even if you haven’t filled all the spots before the price goes up.  Take advantage of those discounts.  Some races partner with different vendors, hotels, car rental places, custom t-shirt printers, and offer discounts if you book with those facilities.  Secure your before/after race lodging and vans far in advance.  Most companies will just require a credit card number to hold the reservation, but won’t charge until the deed is done.  Don’t wait until the last minute, because those facilities fill up quick.  Order your t-shirts/costumes early so you don’t have to rush deliver.  Take advantage of cutting costs where ever you can and make sure all your teammates have an idea of what their share of the cost is going to be.

Book early!  You don't want to be stuck in the dreaded minivan!

Book early! You don’t want to be stuck in the dreaded minivan!

Train

Training for a relay race is really no different from training for any long distance race. It’s important to keep in mind that you may be running in different climates, elevations, terrains, and clothing than you’re used to. It’s also important to keep in mind that you will be running on very little sleep and during the middle of the night in the dark.  Running with a headlamp is awkward.  So is running in a ninja mask or fish nets.  Practice!  Try to simulate these changes in your training runs.  I like to run this mountain circuit by my house because it incorporates many of the changes I could encounter in my relay runs.  Sometimes, the runs have already been mapped on programs like MapMyRun or Strava. Check it out on Google Maps. If you’re racing close to home, go to the streets you’ll be running.  I’ve found that incorporating other strength training activities, like weights and core work, into my training regime will increase my stamina and endurance.   And if all else fails, search for a relay training schedule  online and follow it!  Ragnar provides this Training Guide on their site.

Boxing is one of my non-running training exercises!

Boxing is one of my non-running training exercises!

Communicate

I send out many detailed emails during the months leading up to a relay race.  It’s important that everyone’s on the same page.  As a captain, I find it’s easier to come up with a plan and ask for input rather than asking for input then coming up with the plan.  It’s easier to make allowances once you have a base.  Facebook groups or group emails are a great way to get all the information to everyone efficiently.  It also allows for an open dialogue so everyone feels they have a voice in the team.

Initially, I make sure that everyone is aware of the costs and that the registration is non-refundable.  Injury happens!  And sometimes just days before the race.  At that point, your team just needs an able body and you might be willing to make allowances for costs to get someone to run.  In this case, it would be up to the injured teammate to get the registration money directly from the replacement runner.  I split all the costs between the teammates equally…van, food, shirts, gas, hotels…etc.  I do one big Costco shopping trip and give each van a stock of supplies.  This is what works for me.  Come up with a policy for handling costs and then implement it.  The important part is to make sure everyone is aware of your policy before anything happens.  You don’t want to lose friends because of cost issues but you don’t want to fund everyone’s race either.

Assigning legs and runner positions is also important to communicate early in the game.  I ask for each teammate to give me their top 3 choices and then I assign positions based on pace and preference.  I make it clear that you might not get the position you want, but that everything is carefully calculated and assigned for a reason.  Usually, I have no problem accommodating within those top 3 choices.

Lastly, logistics and travel plans!  Many times, runners are traveling from out of state and will need a place to stay before or after the race.  Have this discussion early so people can travel together or room together, if possible.  Some people prefer to do things on their own, which is fine too, just make sure you have that discussion so everyone is aware of what to expect.

Slumber Parties with new friends are the best!

Slumber Parties with new friends are the best!

Calculate

The pacing calculator will be your best friend.  I print out all the maps for the race and calculate the projected times for running based on the individual runners pace and distance of their run.  Not good at math? Relax!  Ragnar has a pacing calculator that does this for you!  Before I figured this out, I made my own Excel spreadsheet that is now highly unnecessary.  Remember to allow for elevation, weather, and fatigue in the later runs.  Encourage each runner to be very honest about their 10k pace.  If one runner is off by just one minute, it throws the projections off by hours.  The projections are so incredibly important in making sure your next runner is ready to take off when your active runner comes into that exchange.  Nothing’s worse than getting to the exchange after running your heart out and not having your team there to support you.  It has happened to us all at one time or another…the van gets lost, there’s traffic, someone needs a Starbucks…those projections help you make conservative decisions when it comes to how you spend your travel/down time.   So what will you do with those extra minutes…

Checking the time!  Are we on pace?

Checking the time! Are we on pace?

Support Your Runners

Many times during the race it will be up to the team to support the active runner.  This could be with water, Gatorade, GU, first aid, messages on the sidewalk with chalk, music, bullhorn shenanigans, cowbell, scissors for cutting off pants…whatever your runner needs, it’s the teams job to get it to them.  This is a team effort and knowing that your team has most definitely got your back is a huge reassurance.  Seeing my teammates on the side of the road ready to give me water and a cheer literally MAKES me keep running. Bask in the cowbell!  Throw your arms up in victory when you hear that honk!  And make sure that you offer that to all the other runners out on the course.  That unity is the most satisfying aspect of a relay race.  Complete strangers will offer you, without hesitation, a hug or a cold towel or a granola bar, and it will be the best damn granola bar of your life.

Just make sure to pass on the kindness to the next runner.

support

Are you considering a relay?  Any specific questions or concerns?  Ask in the comments and I’ll set your relay fears at ease!