Throwback Thursday: Ragnar Northwest Passage 2012

** I wrote this partial relay recap waaaay back in 2012.  I never quite got around to finishing it {spoiler alert}, as it’s been languishing in my drafts folder for the last 4 years, but it’ll give you a good idea of how much fun relaying can be.  I highly recommend it! ** 

Remember when… I ran a relay in July?  And was regularly blogging?  Yeah.  Me too.  I might as well get back into writing by posting the longest race recap ever.  There will be no breaking this up into separate posts.  You’ve been forewarned.


I think I’ve finally figured out why I have been putting off writing this recap.  I feel bad about having had more fun than I did at Hood to Coast last year.  There.  I said it.  It was MORE FUN.  Part of me feels like I’m being mean saying so.  It feels like I’m somehow negating the friendships I made through HTC.  That’s not the case.  Things changed after HTC for me.  This year I felt like I knew people already – Nuun staff in real life and teammates from Facebook and Twitter.  Last year (even after all the emails) I still wasn’t sure what everyone would be like.  To my introverted self the pressure of meeting new people was a little paralyzing.  HTC helped me get over it a bit so Ragnar was easier.  This year I was more confident in my running abilities and at peace with my pace.  I admit that last year I felt like I was the weakest link in our van.  This year I got over myself.  Comparing Hood to Coast to Ragnar is like comparing apples to oranges; you can try, but they’re just different.  

* The Beginning *

My Ragnar weekend started on 19 July – a Thursday and also my anniversary.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Colin deserves the “Husband of the Year” award for telling me it was okay to spend 3 days on my own (don’t worry… he and Spud had fun too).  After putzing down the I5 we arrived at Nuun HQ in the early afternoon.  It was just in time to join Caitlin as she picked up Holly from the airport.  We had a bit of an adventure trying to buy bagels on the way there, me being no help navigationally, of course, but it all worked out.  This was when I learned that, due to a rental snafu – “sorry, we just don’t have your nice comfy 12 passenger vans, oops – hard work was being done to ensure we’d be able to get around.  We were saved by Good Chevrolet and Michael’s Chevrolet when they each loaned us one van!

Caitlin dropped Holly and me at the hotel and we promised we’d arrive back at HQ for dinner.  Lauren met up with us and we played tourist (disregarding the fact that we were all at RnR Seattle in June), going to Pike Place Market after hitting up a Starbucks.  Might not have been the smartest move to walk, but it was a nice day.  I didn’t end up buying anything though I longed for the cheap, beautiful flowers I couldn’t take over the border.  After returning to the hotel Lauren drove us up to HQ so we could meet the rest of the team.  We sequestered ourselves in the waiting area – love the cardboard couch! – and, as people arrived, we doled out the fun accessories people brought (sunglasses and jelly bracelets to go with the 90s theme).  We sort of felt like we were invading since the office is really open, but eventually Mason and Zoe called us out on hiding and told us to make ourselves at home.

* Wherein I get tipsy and chatty… *

Apparently a Thursday evening hosting bloggers called for a party atmosphere at the HQ (although reading Twitter has lent me to believe that any day is an excuse…).  By party I mean drinks were involved.  Since I was the pariah who doesn’t drink beer I had the choice of gin or vodka.  Since I don’t drink gin, vodka it was.  And perhaps more than I should have had.  Now, this wasn’t entirely my fault.  Yes, I drank it all, but Mason made it for me.  Pretty sure it was 3 parts vodka to 1 part Tangerine Lime Nuun All Day – in a red Solo cup.  If that wasn’t the ratio I am a cheaper drunk than I thought!  Anyways, I get chatty when I drink (and then really quiet if I’ve had too much).  I just realized I’m like Raj on Big Bang Theory, ha!  I was pretty happy to see Italian food for dinner.  Next time I will eat before I drink!  Over dinner we got to know each other, Mason said some nice things I don’t remember, and then it was van decorating time!

When we were done Lauren drove me, Holly, Becky, and Jenny back to the hotel.  We took advantage of the rooftop hot tub – the distant lightning made one question the choice – and turned in relatively early.  Becky and Holly had an early pick up to get to Bellingham for 9am while Jenny and I got to take our time as we were in Van 2.

* It’s Raining.  Aw, crap. *

Usually I can start a recap with “the day dawned bright and early.”  Yeah, no.  The day dawned at regular time and was pouring out.  The extent of my wet/cold weather gear?  My Sugoi jacket and my Vancouver marathon long sleeve.  No extra shoes.  Not even really extra anything.  Tyler and Kim from Nuun picked Jenny and me up at 9am, where we joined Stacie, Dawn, and Megan in the van.  I put in a request for a frontish seat (after having been in the back row last year) and got the first row with Stacie.  We actually kept to our seats for the most part of the relay.  Our first stop was Starbucks/Kim’s house.  We needed coffee and she needed a few things she forgot (and also offered up extra cold/wet weather gear for those who had nothing either).  I grabbed my usual venti tea and scone for breakfast, which turned out to be a poor idea.  That much tea, a tiny bladder, and an underwhelming amount of rest stops = running to the bathroom at our first exchange!  And then running to the port-a-potty because they were free!  Yes, I understand school fundraising, but not to make people pee!!!  Not cool, Bellingham High.  Not cool.

After the drama of finding a place to go we convened back at our van.  We had a while before Van 1 would hand off to us during which we needed to change, attend the safety meeting, pick up various race stuff, and hit up the merchandise tent.  I got a hoody (which I am wearing as I type) before they sold out.  Unfortunately, I should have also bought the pint glass as those were sold out later on.  We decided to find a place to eat and wandered over to a local sandwich shop across from the high school.  I felt really bad for them because they didn’t know about the relay.  Obviously a miscommunication somewhere as that could have been a really good day for them.  It wasn’t too much longer until it was our turn to head out.  Jenny grabbed the snap bracelet from Meghan and we were off!

* Whirlwind *

I’ll be honest with you.  This part is kind of blurry.  Even though I’ve done a relay before it’s amazing how fast it all seems to go by.  Pretty much my recollection is this: Jenny starts, we drive, cheer her on a couple of times (really bummed I forgot my cowbells at home!), get to exchange, Kim runs, we drive, cheer her on, get to exchange, I get out and ready to run.

My first leg was 6.1mi/9.8km along Lake Samish.  I’ve only ever seen the road I ran along from the I5, but it gave me a fair idea of what it would be like.  The weather was cool, but not raining.  I was nervous, but feeling pretty good.  As usual I went out too quickly although I thought I’d be okay.  Not so much.  I got a massive stomach cramp about half way through which I wasn’t anticipating.  It slowed me to a walk as did the hills that I wasn’t quite well enough trained for.  I wasn’t all that keen on the hill coming up to the exchange either.  Mostly because I seem to have blocked it from my memory and didn’t know it was going to be there!  Along the last stretch of my leg I succeeded in scaring the crap out of myself.  There was something in the bushes along a driveway, probably a squirrel or something small that sounded much bigger.  Anyways, I had my iPod with me in my handheld and the cord moved with my arm.  I looked to see what the noise was, got hit by the cord, and jumped a good foot into the air.  Thankfully there was no one else around to see that!  It started spitting rain a little bit when I came in to hand off to Stacie and then I was done.  My final finish time was 1:02:25 – 10:13/mi or 6:21/km – super proud of myself as that was the fastest run I’d run in a very long time.

Post run I got changed back into my neon cheering wear as I was off duty for the next however many hours.  Stacie handed off to Dawn, Dawn handed off to Megan, Megan got pelted by gummy bears, we handed off to Van 1 and it was dinner time in Burlington!  Again, it seemed like people weren’t notified about Ragnar coming to town as Red Robin was hopping with relayers and a local soccer tourney filling it up.  The manager was pleasant, but frazzled as she’d been there the majority of the day.  My adult sized macaroni and cheese was the perfect dinner.

* Late and Stupid aka Seagull Fishing and Lemon Tea *

Funny things happen during relays when you aren’t running.  In reality, and to the outsider, they probably aren’t all that funny.  But to 7 people who have been running/driving/going non-stop pretty much anything is funny.  Or downright hysterical.  After dinner all of us were pretty tired from a long day.  But then the conversation somehow turned to seagull fishing.  Stacie had to explain as all of us gave her “WTF?!?” looks when she brought it up.  Essentially, lay down under towel on beach, put food/bait on top, feel seagull land, sit up and trap bird in towel.  See?  Hysterical!  I can’t remember if this was the same time Jenny made us watch a video of the dolphin midwife, but that was hysterical in a gross way… I know you’re dying to look that one up, but seriously (srsly) don’t.  We didn’t do much more than drive straight to the next exchange and try to get a little bit of sleep.  I managed to get about 2 minutes of sleep as every time I thought I was close to dozing off something would wake me up.  The 2 minutes came right before our alarm went off.  Oh, well, it was to be expected.  We all roused ourselves to see Jenny off on her second leg.  She had a really hilly leg and it was pretty darned dark so we made sure we stopped and cheered quite a few times.  At one point we parked at the top of a hill and had ourselves a little, and rather loud, dance party.  Not sure that the other vans appreciated our enthusiasm, but, meh, we were having a great time!

Jenny handed off to Kim and she headed off.  We made sure to stop and cheer for her as the second half of her leg was unsupported.  More loud dance parties ensued – I think the other runners liked seeing us.  About half way through her run Kim was starting to hurt.  However, she is one tough lady and pulled through admirably and with a fair amount of speed.  And just like that it was my time to run again.  It was 3:30am and, because he is awesome, Tyler agreed to run with me.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the thought of having to run this leg by myself.  It went through a bit of an industrial area and, as I’m not the speediest of runners, I was a little paranoid.  I thought the first part of the path was dirt or gravel, but turned out to be a paved bike route.  It was also fairly well lit.  But there’s safety in numbers and I was glad for the company; especially when we saw the seagulls painted on the path – got the giggles then and wished for a camera.  Unfortunately for Tyler he wasn’t really prepared for pacer/bodyguard duty and ended up running in his safety vest and non-techy clothes.  I know that there would have been many times during this leg that I would have given up and walked had I been alone.  As it turned out I ran 2.7mi/4.35km in 28:24 – 10:31/mi or 6:32/km – which I consider a win since I was going on no sleep!

Once I handed off to Stacie (who took Tyler with her; again, safety in numbers) I went back to the van.  Just before getting there we were somewhat accosted by an official who was very adamant that Dawn know where she was going on her leg as she got to cross the Deception Pass bridge.  I get that he was just being safety conscious, but it seemed like a bit of overkill at 4 in the morning!  Stacie had a ridiculous uphill for her second run.  Since it was early morning things were getting loopy again.  I don’t remember who was awake for it, but Kim, who was driving with Tyler out of the van, started serenading our runners with Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.”  Essentially there was a promise of a cold drink, dubbed “Lemon Tea” for it’s Nuun-like resemblance, at the end of leg 22.

Red solo cup,  I’ll fill you up

Let’s have a party, let’s have a party

Red solo cup, I’ll fill you up

Proceed to party, proceed to party

This was srsly (another inside joke that I really can’t explain) one of my favourite parts of the relay.


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