|Me, Callina and Kate|
The relay goes from Jefferson, IA to Des Moines, a distance of 75 miles for the runners, and much more for the van that took us from one exchange point to another. The legs that the runners ran ranged from 2.5 miles all the way up to 5.8. We ran through cornfields, woods, little towns, and as we got closer to Des Moines, city parks too. It was run almost entirely on paved bike trails.
On Friday afternoon I drove down to Cathy and JA’s farm in Zumbrota, Minnesota. JA and I drove down to Iowa together. We had a nice time driving together, but it was a long drive, around 4 hours, to Jamaica, Iowa where Kate had reserved a Airbnb for us for the weekend. Jamaica was about halfway between the two ends of the relay so it was a good place to be. It was late by the time we got there, and we had to get up early the next morning so before very long I was in bed.
Saturday morning I was up by 4. I had to do my usual pre race routine, although I didn’t really know what to expect. By 6 am we were in the van and on our way to Jefferson. There were a bunch of teams running this relay, all consisting of 6-8 people. They start the teams in waves. Our wave started at 6:45 am. Some waves started as late as 10:45 am, and those people didn’t finish until 7 pm at night. I’m glad we were earlier! Eric ran off and we hopped in the van to drive to the first exchange point. And that’s what we did all day. Drive to the exchange point, cheer on our runner, drive to the next one, for 18 stages, so 18 times!. We always had plenty of time to get to the next exchange before our runner arrived.
The day was cool, cloudy and a little misty, perfect running weather, but chilly for standing around. In the early morning the temps were in the 40s. By the end of the day they were in the mid 50’s. The next runner would take off their extra layers and start off. Once the runner arrived at the end of their leg it didn’t take very long before they wanted to get back in the van and put on their layers again.
We had lots and lots of healthy snacks in the van, and basically I just ate all day. We had muffins, Lara bars, Clif bar’s, fruit, water, Gatorade, cookies, hard boiled eggs. I also ate a gel before each of my first two legs.
After Eric came Curt, then me, then Kevin, then Kate, then Callina and finally JA. Then we started over with Eric. Eric, Curt, me, and Kevin all ran 3 legs of the relay. Kate, Callina and JA all ran 2.
My first leg was stage 3 of the relay. When Curt handed me the “baton” I didn’t know what to do! It was a slap bracelet, but I tried to slap it the wrong direction and nothing happened. Curt turned it around and showed me how it worked and then I was fine. Kate said well you sure weren’t a kid in the 80’s, and I guess that’s right. Sarah and Daniel must have had had slap bracelets at some point but I don’t remember them!
I figured that since I was running about 13 miles total I could aim to run at my half marathon pace, but as it turned out I could run a little faster than that. I ran the first leg at an 11:20 pace.
I ran mostly through cornfields on a rail trail. It was pretty and quiet and very rural. It was also very flat. It got a little boring at times, the only variety occurring when a faster runner passed me.
Why did 90% of the runners say “good job” as they passed me? Is that an Iowa thing? I found it extremely annoying. You’re passing me, good for you. You don’t need to encourage me. You have no idea if I’m doing what I would consider a good job or not. And frankly I don’t give a rats ass what you think. Say, hi, or make a comment about the weather, or don’t say anything at all. You don’t need to give me a verbal pat on the back. I know I’m slow, just shut the f up about it!
That is one thing about being a slower runner on a relay team that has some faster runners as well. Both Eric and Kevin were fast, coasting along running 7-7:30 mpm. I’m sure they passed plenty of people, and then those people turned around and passed me. We really did stay with a lot of the same teams all day.
I passed the baton to Kevin and bundled back up and jumped in the van. It was awhile until my next leg, probably several hours. Then it was time to do it again. I ran stage 10 the next time, 5.1 miles at 11:14 mpm. It was also flat, and full of corn fields, but it also had some wooded areas. Again I was passed by a lot of people, but I also managed to pass one other girl. She tried hard to stay with me, as I would run/walk she would pass me and then I would pass her. For awhile she was putting a little distance between us and then I passed her again and I never saw her after that. She was taking it pretty seriously too so she probably wasn’t very happy about it. But it cheered me up! Ha, I’m competitive sometimes!
My last leg, stage 17, was the second to last leg. It was shorter, only 2.8 miles, so I decided to try to go a little faster, aiming for 11 mpm and ending up at 10:50. It’s hard to run a third leg. Especially for us older runners, it’s getting kind of late in the day and when I was getting ready I felt a little stiff. But I did my warmup exercises for a third time, and I was fine.
This was a very pretty leg, through a very nice park in Des Moines. The first part went downhill along a creek and it was on a mildly undulating bike path. There were some really fast runners in this stage, zooming past me, since it was shorter and they were looking to make up some time. I went as fast as my tired legs could go and before too long I was finished!
I was really glad to be done with running for the day. But wait, we had to run one more time! There is a team finish where we meet our last runner in downtown Des Moines and run together to the finish line.
We hurried to park and walk to where we re supposed to meet Kevin, but he had been there waiting for awhile and decided to go ahead and finish by himself. Kate was really tired so the rest of us kind of strolled briskly to the finish line together, where we got snacks and a nice commemorative glass.
Then we walked over to the after party, got our free beer, and chose our dinner from a variety of food trucks. I got a pizza. It was good, but I was hungry and not at all picky at that moment.
As we sat down to eat it started to rain in ernest. At least it managed to hold off for most of the day and we didn’t have to run in the rain. We hurried to finish our food and get a team picture taken. We were all ready to go back to the b&b, take a shower, and get in bed.
It took our team about 11 hours and 20 minutes to do the relay. That’s a long day, and we were fairly average, coming in 67th out of 129 teams in the open mixed division. And the next day we all had long drives to get home again too. That’s the main thing I didn’t like about it, all that driving.
I don’t think I’m a big fan of relays, although I would do it again if it didn’t involve so much driving. I’m also certain now that a Ragnar relay is not anything I am interested in. I have no desire to do this with two vans and 12 people and drive around for 24 hours. I’m too old for this shit!