This past weekend, I had the pleasure of running the Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage, a 196-mile relay from Blaine, WA to Langley, WA, with 11 other fabulous Oiselle teammates to form the team Party Like a Flockstar.
It was my very first relay experience and it turned out to be fantastic! I can’t wait to run Hood to Coast next month.
Here’s a blog post that my teammate Andrea posted with an introduction of our 12-person flockstar team.
Before I start off the recap, here’s a message to you all:
The magic combination to feeling completely energetic and fast during a long relay is: 1) Nuun Cherry Limeade, 2) Advil, 3) Cheetos. I felt absolutely amazing halfway through the relay till the end.
The weekend started out on Thursday night after work. Lauren and Paulette picked me up from my place and we headed over to the Enterprise in Ballard to pick up our 12-passenger van. In addition to running my first relay, it was my first time driving anything bigger than a small pickup truck (once!) Needless to say, I was a bit concerned about being responsible for organizing the van and making sure it made it back in one piece. Luckily, good to go.
Picking up the van and driving it to Green Lake neighborhood where Oiselle HQ is located? Check.
Our team planned to meetup around 6pm or so for a run. Since we were running late from picking up the vans plus realizing resting our legs up would be beneficial, we decided to have some shenanigans at HQ instead.
Here I am with Kristin, our fearless leader:
We then headed out to satisfy our pending runger but not before we headed over to the lake to meet up with Jen’s daughter Currie and hubby for some group pictures. Credit: Jen
With Jen and her adorable bump:
Us three and Paulette, our awesome team captain, decided that we were craving Thai food and headed over to Krittika Thai Restaurant for some delicious phad see ew while the rest of the gals headed over to Whole Foods. After demolishing our food, we met back up where the vans were parked to decorate our vans Flockstar-style.
After saying goodbye to my lovely teammates, my bestie Becky and I retreated back to my house where I proceeded to pack up the remaining stuff for Ragnar.
One key component of relaying is ensuring that you don’t overpack or underpack. I began packing two nights before the relay with regards to my race outfits. One great tip is to pack each of your three race outfits (one per relay leg) in a gallon-sized ziplock baggy for easy retrieval of the outfit and for storing the sweaty, stinky post-run aftermath. No one wants a dirty locker room in such close quarters.
My race outfits included the following:
Leg 1: Oiselle Team singlet and Roga Shorts in Poppy (currently on sale!)
Leg 2: Mesh Tank in Violet (previous season) and Roga Shorts in Black
Here’s my relay packing list and I hope that it helps you determine what to bring on yours.
- Three race outfits + socks + sports bras in ziplock bag
- Extra undergarments: undies, sports bras, etc.
- Extra socks including PRO Compression sleeves for racing and PRO Compression socks for recovery
- Extra race essentials including:
- iPod Nano
- Garmin 305
- Extra tank tops and shorts for lounging between legs
- Long-sleeved top and sweatpants during nighttime chill
- Advil gel capsules
- Unscented insect repellent — came in super handy around exchange 15 as everyone was getting bitten! So many people asked me to spray them and I’m glad I came prepared
- Body Glide for anti-chaffing
- Shower Pills — super handy to freshen up on the fly without a shower
- Neutrogena facial wipes — quickly freshen up after a leg
- Wet Ones
- Hand sanitizer
- Lip balm with SPF
- Hair comb
- Dry shampoo — didn’t end up using this but it would be nice to freshen up the hair in between legs
- Icy Hot spray — didn’t end up using this but it’d come in handy for cooling pain relief
- Other essential bathroom toiletries
- Extra toilet paper in case of emergency
- Portable Power Pack — this came in SO handy for on the go and speedy recharging of my iPhone!!
In addition to the above items, here are the food items that I would recommend bringing for a relay:
- Oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies
- Gummy bears — even though I failed to remember that I had brought them!
- Baby carrots
- Pretzels and/or peanut butter-filled pretzels
- Sliced deli meat
- Chips — in my case, I lived off of Cheetos for the sodium
- Picky Bars
- Nuun Hydration
- PB&J sandwiches
- Chocolate milk
- Coconut water
Bright and early the next morning, I woke up at 4:30am, got ready, and met up with the rest of my vanmates at 5:30am to drive from Seattle to Blaine. We stopped at a Starbucks next door and proceeded to hit the road.
With my first time driving such a large van, I’m surprised that I had no problems at all! I could even say that it was easy….
Here is Van 1 at a gas station. If you can’t tell, we were super excited to get the relay beneath the sleepyhead appearances. :)
At the start line, we picked up our race packets and bibs, did the safety briefing, and milled around.
Here is Cupid of the team The Holidaze. He wore a diaper and lots and lots of Glide.
The 9am runners starting their 196-mile journey:
Posing beneath the start line:
Here I am with my friend Lauren who was running as part of Six Pack with Racks, one of only five 6-person Ultra Women’s teams to do Ragnar NWP! So bad ass. This was her first ultra relay and she rocked it.
Becky and I with Rira of Six Pack with Racks: how very Asian of us!
At the start, I found Santa! Now this guy must’ve been the sweatiest guy of the whole relay. That takes guts and a lot of sweat to run in 70-80 degree weather in this.
Here are Bethany and Andrea, our Van 1 runner 1, starting with the 9:30am runners. It was my first time meeting Bethany and I had read her story featured on the Ragnar site. Check out her story – what an inspiration!
Here we are during the first leg cheering on Andrea!
Great job, Andrea!
This view of Birch Bay was during Nolana’s leg 2. So serene.
Practicing safety first with the Ragnar flag – use this whenever crossing streets.
Here Nolana comes – look at how happy she is!
Next up, it was Lauren’s turn to run leg 3.
Nolana marking her leg as complete.
After Morena ran leg 4, she marked her leg as complete.
Then it was my turn to run my first leg – leg 5. Here’s the leg overview from the Ragnar site:
Distance: 5.89 miles
Pace: 8:27 min/mi
So stoked to be finished with my first leg. However, I must say, running in such hot weather was unexpected. The key to staying cool and not passing out is to hydrate like crazy before, during, and after the run. Thank goodness for my handheld water bottle filled with Nuun. Otherwise, I would’ve collapsed from the heat.
Can I run more now? By the way, those running sunglasses are ones I just ordered off of Amazon here. They turned out to be great. They have grippy things on the nose to keep it from slipping, it’s lightweight, and has three inter-changeable lenses for different workout activities.
Marking it off as complete.
Becky was runner 6 immediately after me so we got in our van and headed over to cheer her on along the course.
Go Becky go!
As soon as Becky ran into the chute at the major exchange 6, we did one huge Party Like a Flockstar group picture! Then it was time for Van 2 to begin their six legs. Love these birds!
We also visited at the Nuun Hydration tent where Megan, our fellow Oiselle teammate and Nuunie, was hydrating the masses. She just finished the Half Ironman at Lake Stevens just two days after!
Becky making sure to mark off her leg:
After Becky finished and we hung out at the exchange for a little bit, we were all starving so found our way over to the nearest Jimmy John’s. Damn, that Turkey Tom sandwich normally tastes good but on this day it tasted like the best damn sandwich ever. That is relay hunger for ya.
After hanging out for a while, we made our way over to the next exchange and proceeded to nap as best we could in the car. Here’s a picture of Andrea (runner 1) taking the exchange from Sophia (runner 12). Go girls!
Here’s a great picture of Lauren running her second leg, leg 15, as she indicated to our van that she wanted to get another road kill (some teams keep count of ‘kills’ as the number of runners you pass during the relay or leg).
By the time it was my turn to run again, it was already beyond 10pm at exchange 17 and pitch black. Sadly, the exchange was located at one of my very favorite produce stands, Snow Goose, in Mt Vernon. They serve the best, biggest ice cream cones ever! Just my luck to be running away from the ice cream instead of devouring it.
Here’s the leg 17 profile – it was my longest run of the relay at 8.1 miles.
DISTANCE: 8.15 MILES
PACE: 8:28 MIN/MI
I was so excited with this leg. I’ve heard many Ragnar and HTC runners proclaim that nighttime running is just the best. Well, is it? Yes, absolutely! Running in the dark with only the moonlight and headlamp providing light was exhilarating. The cool air with nothing but me, my running shoes, and the pavement was very calming and zen-like. I’d recommend doing a night leg, if possible.
With 3 miles remaining, a lady named Amy (from team 189) sped up towards me and surpassed me. I was like, shit! This lady is insanely fast which ignited my desire to run faster. And, run faster, I did. She had just completed her first Full Ironman at C’oeur d’Alene just a couple weeks prior to Ragnar. With her pacing me, I sped up to sub-8′s and a 8:07 min/mile for mile 7. This completely rejuvenated me for the rest of the leg and the following last leg. Thanks, Amy!
Also, shoutout to Casey from Nuun who randomly tapped me on the shoulder at around mile 3-4 and said in the dark “Sarah Chan? This is Casey” and then sped off. That ignited me to run faster in the dark, too.
Here is Nolana marking off her second leg on the van.
Here’s Natty getting ready to take on leg 19. She is such a bad ass! Not only did she run her legs, but she ran with Laurel for extra miles and it genuinely a sweet person and fast bird.
Becky finishing her leg 18 with a handoff to Van 2 and Natty.
Here I am marking off the ‘road kills’ that I got. In my first leg, I had 11 kills and 15 kills in my second leg!
After taking out my contacts in the high school gym at exchange 18, I crawled back into the van, took the back bench and slept for 2 hours. It was so cold and I was glad to have my sweatpants and blanket to bundle up in.
Rise and shine early at 4:30am Saturday morning, I made myself eat as my last meal hadn’t been since 4pm the prior day at Jimmy John’s. Good thing we had a huge stash of Picky Bars!
Around 5:30am or so, it was time for Andrea to take the snap bracelet baton back from Sophia for leg 25.
Here’s Sophia coming down the home stretch:
Andrea about to finish her 3rd and final leg!
Morena, who was runner 4, had, quite possibly, the hardest leg of Ragnar NWP: leg 28, an 8.1-mile third and final leg with crazy elevation changes.
By the time the third leg rolls around, most people are tired and ready to be done. Morena was a trooper and battled up those climbs and made it out alive.
After Morena, it was my turn to run my final leg of Ragnar NWP: a 4.5-mile hilly leg. Not sure why it was categorized as “Moderate”… nothing moderate about this.
DISTANCE: 4.58 MILES
PACE: 8:04 MIN/MI
With my magic combination of Nuun Cherry Limeade (caffeinated), Advil gel caps, and crunchy Cheetos, I felt great for my last leg! It’s really strange. Ever since I met the Ironwoman during mile 5 of 8 during my second leg, I began busting out sub-8′s like no big deal. Should I have become more tired instead of more energized? Seriously, I attribute this to the Nuun, Advil, and Cheetos.
My vanmates were so good about cheering me on multiple times during each leg. Here’s an awesome shot that Andrea took of me as I sped through the last leg.
During the run, I felt great with a sense of renewed energy. However, with all the ups and downs and rolly hills, my body did take a toll in the last mile and I slowed down just a bit.
Here I am after finishing the hilly 4.5 miles. I’m dooooone!
TOTAL DISTANCE: 18.62 MILES
TOTAL TIME: 2:35:46
OVERALL PACE: 8:22 MIN/MI
As we were finishing, we saw Robyn, another Oiselle teammate, running towards us about to run her last leg. She ran on the team that won the entire Mixed Open division – the Elite Beer Milers. Crazy fast!
Becky bringing it home for Van 1!
Marking off the last leg.
Total road kills: 34
During our downtime between Van 1 finishing and Van 2 finishing, we walked around downtown Langley in search of an available breakfast place. Alas, we weren’t in luck, so Becky, Lauren, and I hit up an Italian pizza place for delicious pizza (1/2 pesto, 1/2 meaty combination) while the Andrea, Nolana, and Morena had Mediterranean across the street.
Within an hour of the predicted time for Sophia to finish our team relay came, Van 1 headed over to the finish line eagerly awaiting out Van 2 teammates to meet up.
First came the scout troop:
And then Sophia and Laurel came running through! (boo, sorry, no picture!)
Official Time: 28:11:15.2
Our team placed 3rd in the Women’s Open division! I am so proud of us.
Just in case you can’t find the Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage 2013 Results page, here it is: http://www.webscorer.com/race?raceid=10748
Shiny new hardware that doubles as a bottle opener. :)
Over the period of nearly 30 hours, we were stuck in a van, were snack monsters, and deprived of sleep. However, we stuck together as a flock does and supported each other, cheered for one another, and, most importantly, we displayed team spirit and represented the Oiselle brand well. I so look forward to doing more relays with these gals and other Oiselle birds.
I wish that Van 1 and Van 2 would have been able to hang out more. Unfortunately, with relays, vans are on the go. Van 2 ladies – I’d love to do another relay with y’all!!
In honor of Van 2, here are pictures of them during their legs. Love you ladies! Credit: Paulette.
I also wish that I had eaten more. The only meal during the relay that our van had was a stop at Jimmy John after leg 1. This was at 4pm on Friday. Our next real meal did not occur until we had finished leg 3 at around 11am the next day. Other vans, such as van 2, were great at stopping for real food, delicious meals. I highly recommend this.
One injury report, though…. sadly, my toe has been completely in pain the past two days and infected. Have you ever had one? Absolutely painful. I woke up this morning at 5am with painful throbbing in the toe. Ouch.
UPDATE: Check out my fabulous teammates’ Ragnar NWP recaps!
For now, looking forward to Hood to Coast next month with my husband and friends. We are team E-Llama-Nators!
Have you run a relay before?
What are some relays that you would love to run in?
What are your packing essentials?