Here is a letter that I wrote to a friend documenting my experience running Ragnar Florida Keys between Miami and Key West:
I don’t recall if I told you about my Ragnar adventure I was about to embark on back in the beginning of January. Well, January 4th I flew down to Miami to meet up with 11 strangers, run a Ragnar Relay, and I had an absolute blast. My teammates were a lot of fun. We stayed down in Miami for a couple days before the race relaxing, playing shuffle-board, volleyball, and went out in South Beach Miami one night (holy expensive!!) At the bar (Mango) a drink cost me $11.25 (not quite the J-ville 3.50 I’m used to!!!)
We had the next day to relax after. We ate dinner at Ocean’s Ten. It was their “happy hour” aka half off of drinks. I got a 32oz strawberry daiquiri, complete with fireworks for 15$. Conor’s margarita was pretty awesome… fireworks plus two coronas tipped upside down slowly seeping into the margarita. A_M_A_Z_I_N_G.
So let’s not forget the whole reason that I went to Florida in the first place, to run a 200 mile, 12 person relay race from Miami to Key West! So I started the gang out Friday morning at 9:30 AM with a 5.7 mile run. It was honestly very rough to get into running after enjoying the weather so much the days before. I ran over a big bridge about 2-3 miles in, and finally got into my groove on the downhill of the bridge. It was pretty awesome to have random vans driving around and honking for you. I wore my running shorts, superman underwear, and suspenders… our team name was Full Frontal Nerdity.
I think I finished my 5.7 with under 10 minute miles, so I was pretty happy with that. Leg 2 was around 7:30 PM. Since I was runner 1, I waited for runner 12 from van 2 to arrive at the Miami Homestead Speedway. I talked to a few other runners prior to departing and freaked one out because I had my directions in hand. I took off before she did, but she caught up to me, and we started running together. Her name was Nicole, and she was a stay at home mom in Utah (previously from NY). It was great to have a running buddy through some of the sketchy neighborhoods and people waiting at bus stops. She had a Garmin watch, which I want! Her Garmin watch would beep at every mile, so we knew how far along we were, and our pace. We were pacing about a 9:15 min mile until we hit the “gravel road”. OH MY GOSH, the vans were not allowed on the road because of potholes the running guide stated.. that was sure an understatement, we were literally dodging huge puddles and potholes while trying to run at one point! Once again, was very happy to have someone to run with through this part of the leg. It was also nice, when her van was stopped on the side of the road to support her they gave us oranges and Gatorade. We finished our leg of 8.8 miles in 1:27, and burnt over 1,000 calories according to the watch!
After my run, it was all supporting teammates with cheers, and bringing them water along the course. Then off to a major exchange to try to get a few hours of sleep. The gym at the high school that we were at was apparently all full, so my teammates opted to sleep outside which I guess would have been considered the schools hallways, it was all open and reminded me of a school out of a movie. What we did next is a bit of a blur (must have been the fatigue). We drove down to the next exchange, which was in Marathon (one of the Florida Keys), which I am a little familiar with because my grandpa doesn’t live too far away from there. I got to run my last 3 miles through Marathon, it was a very hot run. It was Saturday afternoon, and about 75-80 degrees. It was nice, my mom came up to Marathon and cheered me on along the course (sidewalk). As much as I wanted to push my 3rd leg, my body wasn’t allowing me to. I was definitely warmer than it wanted to be, and I couldn’t make my legs move any faster if I wanted to. I’m sure my heart rate was pretty high, and I kept splashing water onto my wrists to keep from overheating. When I got to where my teammates had stopped with my mom to give me water I dumped it over my head! At the exchange point, I came in finally able to sprint, but then I had no teammate waiting to hand off to! She was in the port-a- potty. So after passing off to Cassie, my part of the race was over. I was a little sad, because I felt like I could have pushed myself a little harder, or trained harder. I’m pretty proud of the 8.8 miles though for the limited amount of training I had time for. So in all actuality I should have been done after my 17.5 total miles for Ragnar FLK, but we got stuck in traffic as runner 3 was on the road, and then decided we should go back to give him water if needed. Well, this posed a problem because the next runner was in our van, not at the exchange point and she had the use the restroom. We would have headed to the next exchange but then got a text from our runner saying he needed GU (energy gels) and water. I bit the bullet and volunteered to run back water and GU to him, so I ran about 3/4th of a mile on the course to him, and then to the exchange for probably an additional 2 miles. The next major exchange was another school, complete with locker room showers for our use, which was wonderful! People are super disgusting though, the shower room was full of random loofa’s, underwear, soap, etc that people just left behind, gross! (sorry about the over-share!). Even though the showers turned into a scolding stream of water after a minute, and had to be constantly turned back on, it was great. After 19.5 miles of sweating I bet you can imagine the necessity of a shower. After cleaning up we headed towards Key West to our designated parking area.
We waited a bit for van 2 to arrive, joked a bit, and waiting for our last runner to come in (he is a super fast 18 year old!) When he arrived the team threw some nerd gear on him, and we ran to the finish together. Unfortunately it was pretty dark by the time we got to Key West, but we still got our team picture taken, and I got my 2nd medal, for running another Ragnar in 2011, and FLK which was the season opener. Afterwards, 5 of us stayed in the heart of Key West and found a nice outdoor restaurant to eat at, while the others went to Outback Steakhouse, but I was in Key West for real fish!! After we located our car I drove us to Sugar Loaf Key to set up tents, my exhaustion really kicked in as I started to drive, I was running on adrenaline and had a hard time driving the 20 minutes to the campground. In fact, I fell asleep in the van as the tents were being set up and woke in the morning still in the van. The team then drove me to my grandpa’s house in Big Pine Key, they hung out for a few minutes, and then they left for WI, and I went upstairs to sleep for 4 hours.
I stayed in Florida until Monday when I drove my mom’s car and her to the airport, and she drove back down to Big Pine. I suggest avoiding the Miami airport and American Airlines at all costs! It sucks, they made me check my baggage, even though I didn’t need to on the way down, and then when I arrived in Milwaukee, my baggage had been left in Chicago where I had connected flights. It was a mess, and took 24 hours to get my bag back. I don’t even want to get more into it, because it will infuriate me. I got back Monday night around 11:30PM to my apartment, and woke up at 5:40 to get to work. Luckily I turned my work cell phone on, because when I got out of the shower I had a text message that said I had a 6:30 am sales meeting to be at! It was one long day back! 2 weeks later, I think I am almost caught up. Being back and getting tagged in a ton of pictures on facebook was also fun. One of the girls also did a You Tube video with some footage from the race, it’s a lot of fun. http://youtu.be/p_XKGlhHg40
Other than that, I’m captain for Ragnar Chicago which is June 8th-9th, from Madison to Chicago through Milwaukee. We will be team Green Machine. I randomly selected the name when I saw a lot of St Patty’s garb in Shopko when I was working. I figure that we can either change our name later or figure out something fun to do with the name.
I hope you enjoyed my recount of Ragnar FLK.