Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ragnar-Wasatch Back Relay 2013

Oh Dear Ragnar-Wasatch Back Relay!  How I loved you!

I was on a team created by Kevin Papa Kunz from my Facebook Group called Runner's Anonymous.
He organized two teams and we would be the Alpha Team, Van #1.
Our team consisted of 1 guy and 5 women.  I wondered if he knew what he was getting himself into.  I actually was wondering what I was getting myself into??  How was I going to function on little to no sleep and then still have to run on top of that??

The Line Up:
Leg 1-Doran Shelley
Leg 2-Jody Shelley
Leg 3-Susette
Leg 4-Jessica Thurber
Leg 5-Liz Tennyson
Leg 6-Taralee Trammell

We started by meeting at Jody's house, where we loaded up the ice chests and coolers with food and goodies.  This is where our whole team would be spending the night.  Jody is such a sweetheart to open her home to all of us. I got to meet three brand new people who would be hanging out in the same van as me for the next 36 hours.  I had previously met these three new ladies only through talking on Facebook and so it was fun to now meet them in person. They seemed happy, energetic and ready for the challenge.  None of us had ever run Ragnar before and so this was going to be a new venture for all.
Papa Kunz had made reservations at a nice restaurant in Logan called Elements.  The two teams-Van 1's met here to get to know each other a little more and get a nice meal in before our early morning race start. Van 2's would meet up at our first major exchange in Eden on Friday afternoon.
Jessica-Leg 4, Liz-Leg 5, Me-Leg 3
Doran-Leg 1, Jody-Leg 2, Taralee-Leg 6
Elise and Papa Kunz-Founders and Organizers of EVERYTHING Runner's Anonymous related.  And just super awesome people to boot!
Dinner was enjoyed out on the patio.  Little tiny bugs were out and about too and Jody was clever with keeping them out of her water glass.  Cloth napkins also make a great blanket when the evening breezes would stir.  Jody was being a smart cookie.

When we got back to Jody's after dinner it was time for the van decorating party.  We had colorful markers, magnetic feet, and vinyl wording to put on the suburban. It turned out pretty crazy and cute.  It said "Just Call Me Runs With Chocolate"  on the other side window.

Off to bed we headed, rather late.  Only about 3 hours sleep was to be had the first night.  We had to be to the starting line at Utah State University an hour early for a safety meeting and then to see our first runner off at 5:30 am. Bye-bye Doran. See Ya down the road.
This party had officially started and the excitement and fun finally kicked in.  I had still up to this point questioned what I was doing and why?  Now that we were underway and it was happening I was feeling giddy.  It was so fun to drive a little ahead and watch for our runner and then cheer him on and support him with liquids.  We had a cowbell and a megaphone and didn't hesitate to use them.  We then went ahead to the first exchange to get parking and to let Jody be ready for the slap-off of the bracelet. That thing got extremely gross with sweat-ewwww!! When that little thing exchanges 36 times to 12 different people 3 times each you get ALL levels of sweat going on.  You just learned to wear it and try to ignore the cold feeling of yuck on your wrist.   
At the first exchange waiting for Doran to come in and Jody is feeling a little nervous I think.  She looks cute in her bright orange top.  We shouldn't have any problem seeing her out on the road.
You can do this mama!
Oh here he comes!  Good job Doran!
See ya down the road Jody!
We headed back to the van to go cheer on Jody and I saw this fun friend of mine, Angie Pace.  She was also runner 3.  I would see her van out there many times throughout the race.
Back in the van and ready to go!  Let's go find Jody!
Doran told us that she would be shedding her clothes quickly.  He said she doesn't run more than 10 minutes and stuff starts coming off.  Careful out there mama!
Whatcha drinking in there?  Looks like it tastes nasty!
We drove on up ahead to a point in the road where there would be no more van support for this leg.  I saw my friend Tara Thomas who would be running the Top of Zion Relay with me the next weekend.  Fun, fun lady!  That megaphone was probably a dangerous thing for me to get my hands on.  I was having a good time with that thing.  Hopefully the noise ordinance wasn't in effect for this early in the morning.

We picked up Jody at exchange 2 and then I headed off to do my thing.  I ran from the little town of Hyrum to Paradise.  I told the van I wanted them to sing "I've got two tickets to paradise" when they saw me running.  I think they forgot.  The run was beautiful.  It was still early and cool in the morning.  I saw a few horses and cows along the way and enjoyed my music on the ipod.

At the next exchange I slapped off the bracelet to runner 4, Jessica. 
Go get em' little lady!
Back in the van and chilling out after a nice run.  Taralee is just hanging out in the back patiently waiting for her leg 6 run.  You gotta love the custom made curtains and curtain rod that Jody and Doran made special just for this journey.  They would have brought the kitchen sink too if there was a way.
As we were hanging out at the next exchange waiting for Jessica to come in I saw my neighbor, Scarlet Davis, who lives right behind me.  What a fun surprise!  I'm glad she recognized me because I didn't recognize her outside of church.  People in running clothes, glasses, and hats can look very different than in a skirt with curly hair and high heels. 
Liz runner 5 is waiting for Jessica runner 4 to come in.  You can see the huge convoy of vans trying to get into the exchange here.  What a chaotic mess at times.
Looking down into Eden Valley.  This was absolutely a beautiful sight after having come over Avon Pass.(Dusty and dirty) There was a tiny fire going on to the left of this photo I didn't get a picture of.  The police and firetrucks actually had to close down the course for a little while to get vehicles up to the area.  Luckily, we were passed that before it happened to us.  If you look all down this road you can see little tiny people looking like ants.  I was so amazed at how many people we always saw along the course.  Never a moment when you don't see people.
Jody just having a special moment.  Special people have special moments right?
Liz and Jessica are now chilling in the van while Taralee is out there doing her thing.  Poor Taralee and Liz had to run in yucky, dusty, dirt roads.  They should get extra treats.
M&M's anyone?   Why yes, thank you very much!
Taralee just coming down off of that mountain behind her.  She rocked it!
Gotta love the orange flag.  Such a necessity for getting across the roads to help your runner. 
We are now at the major exchange where we have had all 6 runners in our van complete their first leg and Taralee is handing off to van 2's first runner. Go van #2!  We get to rest and relax for a few hours now. 
Van 1 and 2 of the Alpha Team at the major exchange in Eden, Utah.
Well looky here!  My good running buddy Josh Hansen.  He was on a different team and was here waiting at the major exchange for his van 1 to come in.  I think next year he wants to come hang out with us cool Runner's Anonymous group.  

Well, after seeing off van 2 we loaded up and headed onward.  We had to make a little detour throughout van 2's legs because Jessica had forgotten a pair of running shoes and somebody brought them up to a spot at one of the exchanges for us to go retrieve them.  Thank goodness for kind friends/family to help with a small crisis.  We got the shoes, made a pit stop at a convenience store and headed up to Snow Basin for the next major exchange.  We had a few hours to kill and so pulled out the food and enjoyed a few moments.

Liz had brought chicken salad and croissants.  Those were super delightful to chow down on.  I brought a couple tubs of watermelon, chips, and peanut butter M&M's.  We had all sorts of delicious foods to enjoy.  I'm just hoping that relays are one of those moments when you can eat all you want and get away with it.  No sleep, and running lots of miles means calories don't count right?
Part of the fun of this relay was just seeing so many running friends out here.  While at Snow Basin I saw another neighbor and friend, Rachelle Harris.  She is one speedy little lady!

After meandering around Snow Basin and watching runners come in to leg 11 exchange and then head up into the hills for a trail run before they came back to the major exchange of 12 I headed back to the van and took a snooze.  I think I may have been lucky to get 45 minutes sleep.

Van 2's final runner came into the major exchange and off Doran went.  It was now time for van 1 to move into the action again.  Here we go!!  Doran started us off by running a very SWEEEEEET downhill run out of Snow Basin.  Can I just say I was having runner envy at this point?  I love downhill running and he was getting to enjoy lots of it.  Only problem was we were stuck in a long line of vans watching all the runners go by and traffic wasn't moving.  I was driving at this point and pretty nervous he was going to beat us to the next exchange.  He had 8.2 miles to do and so we were fine and made it with about 20 minutes to spare and then he came screaming into the exchange.
Doran handing off to Jody and the rotation continues onward.  

My next leg would be my easiest of the relay. I got to enjoy a mellow run through the Morgan Valley towards the later afternoon/early evening.

Waiting at the exchange for Jody to come in.
 OH!  Here she is and off I go!
I think I am having way too much fun out here. For sure I'm not questioning my sanity anymore.  
Ask me again though when I get hardly any sleep later at night.
Finished with my 2nd leg and handing off to Jessica. Still thinking about that soaking wet slap band just grosses me out. There's got to be a better way! 

The sun is starting to set and it's a beautiful evening. Another fun moment was seeing this crazy running 
friend Adrian Toledo.  He has one of those silly, crazy personalities that is just infectious and he makes everyone happy.  It was awesome to see him out here.
We headed down the road to help out Jessica and get Liz to the next exchange.  Jody was our official time keeper and kept "Papa" updated on everyone's stats.  Good job Mama!  She's got the smart phone.  I still have a dumb one and need to update
The moon had an expression of "What are all you crazy people down there doing?"
Liz is ready to go waiting for Jessica to come in.
 Here she is! See you down the road Liz!
Good job Jessica!
The rest of this relay starts to get fuzzy.  That must be where the sleep deprivation starts to come into play.  Sadly, I have no more photos until the next morning.  It was getting dark and my brain wants to just sleep at this point.

Jody has some VERY generous friends who live in Kamas right on the main highway where the relay would run by.  They were out camping for the weekend and offered us their entire home for showering and sleeping until our next exchange.  Our major exchange where we finished was at Echo State Park.  Taralee had a very challenging long leg here which allowed us some extra time.  I was just so blasted tired and it was dark outside so I was catching some zzzzzz's in the back of the van.  Sorry Taralee, that I wasn't cheering more for you.  After we picked her up at the major exchange we headed down the road for what seemed like hours to get to this house.  When in reality it was probably only an hour away.  We quickly unloaded our stuff and I showered and blow dried my hair and climbed into bed.  I set the alarm to wake me up in 3 1/2 hours.  I remember tossing and turning and freezing.  I was dreaming we were frantically rushing to our exchanges and missing our runners.  Even in sleep my mind was still living the relay.  When the alarm went off I just couldn't believe we had to get up and continue doing this crazy adventure.  I had some cold oatmeal (their microwave was broken), and a bagel with cream cheese.  We rushed Doran down to the major exchange to start his next leg.  I have no photos of him and Jody's final leg.  Jody didn't share any with me from her camera so you can just use your imagination.

Doran started at about 6:30 am and it was freezing outside.  The sun hadn't come up over the mountain yet but it was a beautiful, and chilly morning.  I had a hard time imagining van 2 out there all through the night running their legs while we were sleeping.  But they did it and showed up at our next major exchange.  We were all wimps and stayed in the van, except Jody.  She was a good supporter and saw her man off.  We stopped a couple times along the way offering cheers and support.  We had a little trouble getting into the exchange for Jody to start and ended up making Doran wait a few minutes for us to get there. Sorry about that Doran.  Jody was off and had a short little run of about 3.3 miles. So after seeing her one time along the course Doran hurried to get me to my last starting point and then went back to make sure she was alright.  She was having some MAJOR feet pain.  Poor girl.  She had a dream too that she was running pain free and was loving it.  I hope her dreams can be true really quickly.
As I was waiting at my last and final exchange I saw a blogging friend, Mike Porter.  I have seen him at a few races throughout the year and admire his determination and spirit.  I also really like his last name.  Always reminds me of my Porter.

This would be the leg I was NOT looking forward to.  I have driven this road before and knew there would be some climbing up around Jordanelle Reservoir.  I am not a good climber. Slow and steady is all I can strive for.

This exchange had NO VAN SUPPORT.  So like I always do, I wore my water belt and said see ya later!  There were water stops along the way too which was helpful.  Nice of my team to honk and wave as they drove by.  This was a tough leg and I definitely thought a lot about my own little Porter during this time.  I also thought about this being my last leg and the great time I had running this relay.  I couldn't believe it was almost over for me and I was getting a bit emotional.  I was so tired and wanted to be done, yet I didn't.  Hard to explain, really.  There's just something about this experience that is hard to explain.  Until you go through it you don't fully comprehend the challenge mentally, and physically.  Then there's the friendships and bonding that happens that only those 5 other people experience with you.  Truly an amazing journey!  
But now here I come into the end of my journey and the tears wouldn't stop.  Emotional I was, I tell ya.
 So happy, yet so sad to be done with my portion of the relay.

Well, no time for dawdling.  We had to get out there and support Jessica and get to the next exchange.
And here she comes finishing up her final leg!
See ya later Liz!

Daddy and Mama Shelley just enjoying the morning and being together and knowing they are done too! Check out the dude behind them in green undies!  Yikes, you'd never catch me in a garb like that!
Jessica and Taralee getting ready to go cheer on Liz and get to the next exchange.

Here's Liz finishing her last leg and Taralee ready to take on her last leg!

She's wearing our Runner's Anonymous shirt well, with the logo on the back. 
What a cute lady!

Doran-leg 1, Jody-leg 2, Susette-leg 3, Jessica-leg 4, Liz-leg 5, Taralee-leg 6
AND VAN 1 IS FINISHED!!! We met up at the major exchange and handed off to van 2, where we would then plan to see them at the finish line.

We headed back to the van and then went shopping at a local market in Midway, Utah.  Jody needed some special licorice that only can be bought here.  Remember I told you earlier she was special.  Special friends need special licorice and we were on a quest to find it!

We were then going to be spoiled immensely by Kevin "Papa" and his cute wife Elise.  They had a condo reserved for both teams, 24 people to get to enjoy at some point along the relay.  Well, now it was our turn to head there for a shower, breakfast, and relaxing and hopefully sleep.
Taralee chilling out on the blow up mattress.  I think I was able to get about a 20 minute nap on that thing.  Who wants to sleep when there's still memories to make and fun to be had?
Elise fed us pancakes, bacon, eggs, fruit, and juice.  Heavenly I tell ya! Thank you sooooooooooooo very much to this sweet couple!!
Just hanging out here in the condo. Our second team, Beta had just arrived and were enjoying breakfast now too.
What a cute little dude, Elise's grandson.  

See that computer up there on the counter?  That's the magic spreadsheet that "Papa" would keep updated as we posted our times out there on the course.  This was his headquarters and he was doing an awesome job keeping track of all of us.
Papa's son, Mckay.  Unfortunately, when you don't ride in the same van as the other team members you just don't have the same opportunity to get to know them as much.  He was in Beta Van 1 and was the only male member over there.  I'm sure there were some good times going on for him too being with 5 other females.
This is what happens when you let me and Jody loose with a camera and very little sleep.  Giggles, and stomach pains from laughing so hard are bound to happen.

 Ok, Ok, we can be serious now
Sort of-ha!  Now after a few hours to chill, eat, sleep, giggle, and play we were needing to head off to the final place.  THE FINISH LINE! What a crazy adventure that was getting there!  We were so worried we were going to totally miss seeing our van 2 come in.  Jessica needed to find her hubby who was coming from the Salt Lake area and had no idea where to go.  We needed to get her in a safe place to unload so her hubby could meet up with her.  Parking around the finish line was not even an option.  We had to drive all the way over to the Canyons Resort Parking area and then be shuttled over to the Park City High School.  I thought for sure we had missed the whole ending, but only to find out we had oodles of time.  Apparently the last and final leg is a killer climb up some big mountain and takes quite awhile to complete.  Good thing or we would have missed it all.  We rode the shuttle forever and then when the shuttle dropped us off we walked forever.  Finally!  We were at the finish area. We watched so many teams come into the finish area.  They all ran together to cross that finish line.  When our runner came in they made a arch for him to run through and then we all ran together half way around the school track.

And 36 hours 06 minutes and 36 seconds later we are DONE!!! What a fantastic journey together!
Elise and Papa Kunz.
The complete Alpha Team-Van 1 and 2 along with Papa and Elise Kunz as the masterminds and organizers.
What a swell couple and captains.  Thanks so much Mama and Daddy Shelley for letting us have such a nice ride and great accommodations for 36 hours.
Uh oh, maybe I'm in trouble after all.
And who can forget one of the most important icons along the way.  Our second home away from home. 

Ragnar!  I will be back.  I have more experiences and memories to enjoy with you!


Doran & Jody said..., just lovea lovea lovea you!!

Kathee said...

I love it!! Ragnar is the best. So much fun in the van and crazy too. Glad I was able to see you!

Renee said...

Fun times! I've never done a relay! Maybe I'll have to try one one of these days!

Amy @ Run Mom Run said...

I love all these pictures so much! I've got a serious ragnar itch to scratch now! I have got to find a team to hop onto!

Jenny Lynn said...

I enjoyed all the pictures. You are so amazing!

Josh said...

I love the post! Ragnar was fun! Do it again next year?

Jessica said...

Thank you for the blog post! I can see that took some time to put together. Thank you for doing that. I was having a Ragnar memory today of when you jumped out of the car to run along side of me and you did this goofy face and funny run. I totally thought you were funny! Thanks for making Ragnar a great experience. I loved our team! Everyone was fantastic! Maybe Doran gets extra credit since he endured all of us ladies. LOL!! Happy Running Susette!

alpinekleins said...

Woot woot! So awesome, way to go!