I was super scared, but did it. And I have a medal and tech tee to prove it, plus the burning thighs. (I'm the one in the back looking the most disheveled.)
General low-down: Van 2, my van, started our running at 6 p.m. (Van 1 started at noon.) As the twelfth runner, I didn't start until 11:00 p.m. It was pouring rain and I swear my pants were five pounds heavier at the end of my run than at the beginning. When I finished, we went to the start of our next run and hoped for sleep, but unfortunately had only about 3 hours before we were to start again. Maybe 1.5 hours of sleep were obtained. My second run, leg 24, was longer but it didn't pour on me as it had the night before--awesome! I ran by some beautiful homes and saw dead snakes and frogs along the highway. Our second break was much longer, but as it was in the middle of the day, I didn't sleep well. My last run was my shortest and easiest, and boy was I happy about that. It was also the most beautiful as I got to run nexto to the Potomac River, across from some of DC's most famous landmarks, and directly underneath planes landing at National Airport. Forty-nine minutes later, it was all over! Our team feasted on apple pie and pizza.
What I learned:
- Training-wise: Long runs were definitely helpful, but even more helpful were the Saturdays where I ran once at 7 a.m. (about five miles) and then again at about 3 p.m. (about six miles). It helped me know how my body would react to such insanity. Also, I know better than running in brand-new, unbroken-in shoes, but what damage could some super cute red ballets flats do? A LOT, it turns out. Don't try out new shoes the week before your race.
- Eating-wise: This was a big concern for me because running with a full stomach isn't pleasant. I knew that my first run would start at about 11 p.m., so I ate dinner at about 4. Then, after run 1, I ate a bagel, luna bar, and drank tons of water. A couple of hours later, I ate some jerky and drank more water and Gatorade. And right before each leg, I ingested a banana. Repeat. This made for very good runs, stomach-wise. I was never famished but neither was I overly full. It also gave me good reason to think before eating the Reese's peanut butter cups in our van.
- Sleeping-wise: Rent a 15-person van. For our six runners, we had a mini-van which barely fit the six of us and all our gear. A 15-person van would have been so much more luxurious. (A motor home, with a driver, would have been the ultimate in luxury, but they're illegal, sadly.) I didn't use the sleeping bag I brought; a blanket would have been more practical. The pillow was necessary however. But really, plan on not getting much sleep. It's just hard.
- Packing-wise: Bring three sets of running outfits and two pairs of running shoes. Although we have things like the news and papers to know the weather, it's better to be prepared. I was soooo glad to have three changes of clothes for each leg, especially after run 1 wherein I got drenched. A couple of my teammates were not so lucky.
- Fun-team-names-wise: I'm not quickly-creative. So as I was invited to join this Ragnar team about six weeks before the actual race, that was not enough time for me to come up with a clever name or costume. While I liked what was eventually chosen, it was not award-winning. I'll start working on it now and hope that by the next time I do this, I'll have something that is. And while I'm not sure I'd like to run in costumes (one team wore cavemen outfits), I think some could absolutely do-able. Anything where you could draw on your face or applique on a shirt, would be okay. Like I said, I'm thinking about this.