So finally, it was our van’s turn to start running!
Lindsay, runner #6 in Van 1 came up and slapped the baton on Adam’s wrist and he was off! We all hopped in the van excited to FINALLY be moving. Adam’s run was 4.24 miles, so we headed straight to the exchange point to wait.
While we were at the exchange point, we got a glimpse of the van that eventually won the award for Best Decorated. You can’t tell in the photos above, but it even had little magnets attached to the side that lit up.
Less than an hour later, Adam ran up and Roxie sped off for her 8.54 mile run.
Did I mention it was blazing hot? Regardless, she was all smiles sprinting on in.
Maybe it’s because her exchange was at a Macy’s?
She slapped the bracelet onto Amanda’s wrist who took off on a 3.52 mile run through Miami.
We passed her in the van, and I was able to get this cool shot of her running by!
Before Amanda got in, Melissa got her night time gear ready. Ragnar has what they designate as ‘nighttime hours’ and during that time period everyone must be wearing a reflective vest whenever they are outside of their van and all runners must also be wearing a head lamp and red flashing light on their back. The nighttime hours are activated from around 4:30 pm – 7 am. Although her run was starting around 4 pm which was before the nighttime hours, she would be running into that time period, so she geared up in preparation. If your team is caught not wearing the gear, it’s automatic disqualification.
Amanda ran up and slapped the baton onto Melissa who took off. Sadly, I don’t have a picture at the next exchange of Melissa passing the baton over to Bob.
Finally, it’s my turn. It was odd spending all day watching everyone run while I sat in the van. This exchange was possibly the most fun I’d seen the entire day. By now, it was completely dark, so everyone had their safety vests on and headlamps. Everyone was full of excitement.
Typically when a runner that was finishing their leg runs towards the exchange, there’s one Ragnar volunteer stationed about 100 yards out with a walkie-talkie who radios in the runner number to another Ragnar volunteer who is closer to the exchange. This person then calls out the number to the group of people waiting around the exchange alerting the next runner to get ready and step into the exchange area for baton swap.
I’m not sure if it was the excitement in the air, the fact that it was the first nighttime exchange, or if everyone had been drinking red bull and I missed the memo, but whenever the Ragnar volunteer near the exchange called out the runner number, everyone in the area started also calling out the number. You would hear someone say “2..4..6!” and then hear a whole chorus of people randomly yelling “246! 246! 246!” until someone would shout “THAT’S ME!”. This really got my adrenalin going for my first leg of the race!!
I literally was running in total darkness in the middle of a field somewhere in south Miami. It was a surreal feeling. It was incredibly hot and humid even at night. The air hung around thick, I almost felt I had to push it out of the way to run through. I could feel it clinging to my arms in a slick blanket. I had barely run a mile.
I took a picture of my watch and the “baton” so you could see what it looks like. The “baton” is literally a slap bracelet right from the 80s. It works fairly well and it’s really kinda fun to take it off and “SLAP” it on the arm of your teammate. A negative? When it’s really hot and the runner before (I’m pointing at you Bob) is uuber sweaty (who wasn’t at this point??), the bracelet sorta slithers around your wrist forming an odd suction sensation.
Running this initial stretch in the darkness really brought me into reality. There were no other Ragnar runners around me at this point, so it was really dark. I was running on a sidewalk along an empty street in what seemed like a field. At one point I saw a small group of people walking in the total darkness on the sidewalk. I approached the first group cautiously. Not being able to really see them, I actually cut across the grass and ran in the street for a few steps to avoid them. Hey! I had no idea who these people were. A girl’s gotta at least give herself a headstart, right? When my headlamp was finally close enough to illuminate them, I realized it was a couple pushing a stroller. Strange, right? I smiled and said a quick hello. I mean, who’s really going to attack someone while pushing a stroller? I crossed back across the grass and onto the sidewalk. About 50 yards later, I came upon another couple. What in the world?
Then I ran up to an intersection where there was actually a street lamp. This is the point where I explain that I’m near sighted, and wear glasses at night especially while driving. There wasn’t a Ragnar sign telling me which direction to run in. I could see something blinking across the street, but I wasn’t sure if that was a Ragnar sign, or a Bobs Barricade. I looked around and saw two kids about 7 or 8 years old sitting about 10 feet away. I asked them if they’d seen other runners like me. They replied “Yes.” I asked which way the runners ran from here and they replied that the runners ran across the street and to the left. Aha! I was right, that was a Ragnar sign. I continued in the direction recommended by the kids.
Then I ran up to a woman pushing a stroller with about 4 kids around her. They parted to let me run through their group. The woman asked me “What in the world is everyone doing?” I briefly stopped and explained we were running a relay from Miami to Key West. She replied “Girl, You crazy.” She’s about half right.
I came up to another intersection and finally people pushing strollers on a sidewalk in the dark made sense. We must be near a military base of somewhat. In the picture above you can see the military jet of some sort.
It was at this point my hip really started to hurt. It had been bothering me ever since I ran the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon in mid December. I honestly wasn’t sure what was up with it, so I had backed off the running the entire month of December. (Yea… great way to train for a Ragnar, let me tell ya.) My hip hurt on the outside just right below the hip joint, not lower near the knee. I stopped to try and stretch it out some and then kept running.
I was really wishing I had brought some water with me, but I absolutely hate carrying anything in my hands while I run. I can barely wear the watches.
It was at this point I turned a corner and ran into three Ragnar guys who gave me a free bottle of water. Seriously, this couldn’t have been more perfect timing. I was grateful and delirious so I know they knew how appreciative I was. They were waiting at the half way point to cheer on their teammate and give him water.
I ran on and drank my water. It was driving me crazy to be running with it in my hands, but I didn’t want to litter. (Even though there was tons of trash alongside the road I was on…)
My hip was getting the best of me again, so I stopped to stretch for a bit. Of course this is when I saw Lynda from Hit the Road Jane running up to me. (Why does this have to happen when I’m stopped and not when I’m looking fresh and amazing??)
I ran with her a bit to chat and hopefully suck some motivation out of her. I also gave her some of my water. Aside from hydrating her, my secret plan was for her to just keep the water bottle. No such luck. She took a few swigs and handed it back to me. I tried to protest, but darn, I was stuck with it again.
She handed the water back and pressed on (essentially gaining a kill in the process!) tweeted her encouragement while I ran. A “kill” is an imaginary “pride point” you gain when passing another Ragnar runner on the course. Let’s just say I was killed over and over throughout the 36 hours.
Finally! This is THE best sign ever!
Could see the raceway coming up for a while. It was HUGE! I had no idea it would be this big of a raceway. In case you’re wondering, it’s the Homestead Miami Speedway. Adam texted me that he could see me which I thought was weird. Maybe he was on the stands? He wasn’t. He was pulling my leg. OK…
Back at the exchange point, Runner #1, Monica, was ready and waiting to take off!
Finally I ran on in. I was really glad to be done. This was another major exchange point of the race so they had some fun stuff setup here including s’mores. Unfortunately, when I got there, they’d run out of chocolate.
Finally I was done with my first leg. I grabbed an ice pack from the med tent. It was one of those packs that’s warm, then you break it up and it gets cold. I don’t know if it was just a crappy ice pack or if it was the heat, but that thing never got cold. It got cool-ish. I eventually tossed it. I hobbled to the van and grabbed my clothes. There were decent indoor bathrooms here that we were able to change in which was so nice. Many people had to sit in their nasty clothes until we got somewhere with a decent bathroom for them to change in. (This was not something that was able to be done in one of THOSE nasty porta-potties).
Once I changed and walked back to the van, I pulled out my foam roller I’d just purchased on Amazon, and tried it out on my hip in the grass. Holy s*** that hurt really bad. I’m supposed to do this when it hurts this bad?
Roxie asked me what I wanted to eat, and suddenly I was starving. I replied, “A Loop burger with broccoli and fries.” Even though the Loop is no where NEAR where we were at this point. She laughed and said that was exactly what she wanted. She said the group was going to Panera but there was a Chilis nearby. Jackpot!
The van dropped Adam, Roxie and me off at Chilis and went to Panera. When we went inside, the wait for a table was 45 minutes! Oh yea, it’s Friday night to the rest of the world. I had been stuck in our little Ragnar bubble, and forgotten. I’m sure everyone standing around waiting for a table was wondering what we were doing, why we smelled so bad, and why I was wearing a reflective vest. We ended up getting our burgers togo and eating them on a curb in the parking lot. Let me tell you, I face planted that burger. I had only eaten two small lunchables (don’t judge) and some trail mix throughout the day. This burger was goooood.
After we finished, we were sitting around waiting for our van to show up when a few guys from the team The Homolympians walked up. That’s their team name, I didn’t make that nickname up! lol We chatted for a bit. They are absolutely hilarious, super friendly and an ultra team. Holy balls!
This means they only had 6 runners instead of 12 so everyone on their team was running double what we were running. Eventually our van showed up and we were off again!
We headed to exchange 18. This was another major exchange, so we should be able to relax & catch some zzz’s here. The info sheet in our race packet said this exchange would have a spaghetti dinner available for $5 (or around that ultra cheap price), showers for $3, and an air-conditioned gym with matts to sleep on.