Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Las Vegas Ragnar, Leg 3, Where is my support (and my kids)?

In the meantime, Van 1 was rockin’ it AGAIN, and we started to get texts about when to meet them. We all got geared up and ready to go. Bub was officially sick now, so I needed to take the boys along with me. No problem. They promised to be good. They would get to see me running (which they rarely do since Bub hates to go to races). They could cheer for other people. It would be fun. The boys and I followed Roch’s van as we high-tailed it to meet up with Van 1. We made it to the exchange with just seconds to spare. TOO BAD WE WERE AT THE WRONG EXCHANGE (AGAIN)! Oh my hell. I don’t know what was wrong with us!

Realizing our mistake, we hauled ass to the right exchange where I threw the car into park, jumped out, threw the keys at Roch, and ran to the exchange chute where my runner was waiting for me. I didn’t even say anything, I just grabbed the slap wrist thing and ran. (No, we weren’t going to win this thing, but giving it our best was the least we could do for Van 1. They were actually a competitive team until we came along!)

Unbeknownst to me (because I hadn’t read the Rag Mag very well), almost my entire leg was unsupported. So for the short mile and a half that I could have had support, my van wasn’t there because, well, I don’t know. Potty breaks for the boys? Talking to Van 1? Lost again? Who knows? But, as I entered the un-supported portion of my run, I was sad that I hadn’t seen the boys yet. Of course, what they would have seen wouldn’t have been pretty because my bagel and turkey were fighting about who was going to come up first. Luckily, neither did, but it was a struggle to keep them in their rightful place.

THIS leg was what I wanted to see in Vegas. I love the desert. I really do. Almost this entire distance was run on a trail that skirted the foothills of Boulder. It was really quite lovely. There was a very well-stocked water station made possible by the Ragnar staff and lots of small rollers. There was also an extra mile that wasn’t part of the course. I joked with people who passed me and who I had a chance to pass, but I remained strong. I only took a few walk breaks on the ups towards the end of the course.

I was so happy to see the exchange because by this time, I was tired. It also meant that I would get to see the boys, and they could see me sprint into the chute. So, I picked up the pace and really gave it everything that I had only to be greeted by AN EMPTY CHUTE.

I’m sure that you’ve noticed a pattern…

I believe that the race staff had to move this exchange at the last minute because there were a lot of us waiting around to pass off the slap stick. Again, I borrowed a phone. This time, someone answered! They were at the wrong exchange again, but they promised to race over. After only 15 minutes, I saw Roch making her way through the crowd. I handed off to her, and she took off.

It was at this point that our cheerleaders presented me with my motivational poster. Since we were on the Super Powers team, we had to identify what our super power actually was. I told them (and maintain my position today) that my super power is the ability to piss Bub off – sometimes without even opening my mouth – hence the zippered lips.

Then, I found Carol and my car and my boys who were being incredibly patient considering everything. They had been in the car for two hours and not done ANYTHING fun. So, I promised to take them to lunch while everyone else was running. I drove into Vegas armed only with my cell phone’s GPS and took them to the Rainforest CafĂ©. They thought that it was amazing. I thought it was incredibly overpriced. (Seriously, $10 for a grilled cheese and half a bag of potato chips? The hell!)

Then, on our way back to the hotel, my cell phone battery died, and guess what? I got lost.

Lost, lost, lost! Mother…..

We drove through the airport and all through Henderson-frickin-Nevada. I stopped at three gas stations to get directions, and they all seemed to point me to opposite places. I was tired and frustrated and probably not a ton of fun, but the boys didn’t seem to care. (Until I got REALLY mad at them, then they were convinced that I was being a horrible mommy, which I probably was.)

Once I found the hotel, I was soooooooo done. But, guess what? I still had to go to the finish line! UG! Make it end! I want sleep! But, we needed to turn in our night-time flags, and one of them just happened to be at the hotel. Sonofa….

I stayed at the hotel long enough to charge my phone half way. While waiting, I got the boys in their jammies and got some snacks going while they jumped on the bed (why does that never get old?) and told Bub all about having lunch in the jungle. OK. It was fun, and their cute faces were enough of a trade for the overpriced food.

Once my phone was charged, I headed to the finish line. It was still windy and damn cold. I met up quickly with my van mates. We looked around while we waited for Van 1 to show. Our final runner came in while we waited for Van 1. Once they arrived, we all ran across the finish line as a group, had some team pictures taken, and collected our t-shirts and medals. (Note to Ragnar staff: this medal = boring!) Sadly, it was still too cold to hang out and have fun. We all just wanted to get in our cars and leave! Carol rode back to the hotel with me and filled me in on all of the running that I missed by taking the boys to lunch. Apparently, our team did a great job. Yay us!

The next morning, the wind had died down a bit, and our hotel’s pool was (supposedly) heated to 80*, so I took the boys swimming. We weren’t out there long, but we still managed to have fun. We all took a hot bath when we got back in the room.

I was hoping to meet up with my little brother and his wife for breakfast, but it just wasn’t happening especially with Bub feeling sick. We eventually gathered everything up and packed it into the car and headed out of town. From watching the news for the past two days, we knew what we were headed into: SNOW, and lots of it. It just kept getting colder and colder and the snow kept piling up more and more as we traveled. YUCK. We got home to a driveway covered with at least a foot of snow.

In all, it was a fun experience, but I did learn a few things:
1. Relay races are not a family friendly event. There’s nothing for kids to do while mommy is running all day or all night. There was, however, a family with three 10-12 year old boys running the race. I can’t wait until my boys are old enough to run with me. THAT will be a good time!
2. Don’t go if you don’t have the money. If you insist on going, expect to hear about it for at least a month afterwards. (I say “a month” because I just heard about it again today. I’m guessing that I’ll be hearing about it for several months to come.)
3. Review the Rag Mag thoroughly. For me/my van mates, this means writing very specific notes about who is running in and out of each exchange. We were SO confused (as evidenced by constantly being lost).
4. Always make sure that you have the phone charger in the phone when you’re in an unfamiliar town and need to use your GPS. That app saps the battery of your phone, and you don’t want to be lost with two five year olds.
5. Keep up with the walking lunges and leg work during weight class. This really did save me during my 2nd leg.
6. If your spouse is not a runner and doesn’t really like running events, don’t ask him/her to come along. It won’t be any fun. (So, why did I just ask Bub if she wanted to come along while I do Ruby Mountain next summer? I’ll never learn.)
7. Running a relay with friends and acquaintances is one of the best ways to become great friends. We talked about serious stuff, funny stuff, told stories about ourselves when we were younger, and generally commended each others’ bad-assed-ness. It’s great to have people around you who build you up instead of tear you down.
8. Make an effort to get to know the other participants. I do feel kind of “shorted” that I didn’t get to know the other teams since everyone was huddled around their car heaters.
9. Find a way to have fun, no matter what. If that means jumping on the hotel bed, then do it. If it means paying too much for a crappy veggie burger and grilled cheese, then so be it. If that means just snuggling up together to watch a movie, then great. Possibly commandeering half of the hotel lobby with trains and art paper, awesome.

Thanks to my running buds. I love you all.

Las Vegas Ragnar – Leg 2 – Walking Lunges, Baby. Walking Lunges.

We made it to the exchange in time. We kicked back and texted back and forth with Van 1. After a few minutes, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t leave anyone standing, so I decided to go to the exchange chute to wait. After waiting around for about 30 seconds, I realized that I had given my race number to Majlinda and that I wasn’t wearing one. CRAP! Roch raced back to the van to grab one for me. I got it on just in time. Van 1 arrived as I was pinning it on, and the runner arrived about a minute later. I took off knowing that I was actually looking forward to this leg.

This leg was to be run in the dark (which I love) and it was basically all up hill. It wasn’t straight up like Guardsman Pass or anything, but it was a steady gradual climb for a decent enough distance that it was classified as “very hard.” I volunteered to be the runner who did this leg because I know that other people hate stuff like this. I wanted to know that I could do it as a challenge to myself.

Overall, I took very few walk breaks on this leg and only towards the end of the mileage.

Having this be in the dark, I couldn’t see what was ahead that was supposed to scare or intimidate me. I just had to keep running in order to get done. No distractions. No problems. After a few twists and turns, we were directed on to a straight road that was closed off to all traffic except Ragnar vehicles. (Note to race organizers: Niiiiiice……. Loved it.) I must say that my quads and hammies were feeling great. Very strong. I managed to pass several people. Oh, sure. I was also passed, but I did have consistency and strength in my legs that other people just may not have had.

What better compliment for a weight instructor to hear than “the walking lunges that you make us do helped me kick ass on this section.” And, it’s true. I hate doing those walking lunges, but they worked. I felt like my legs were really powerful for the entire distance. And, I was running into the wind. Cold, biting, crappy wind. But all along, my legs felt good.

I’m guessing that those who were able to run this section during daylight hours saw what I would have loved to see for scenery. It was along I-15, but it was desert-y. There were also train tracks along the way. At one point, a train actually scared the heck out of me. I was so busy focusing on the shoulder in the dark and trying to mentally block out the wind that I didn’t even realize that the train was there until it was right alongside me. It made me think of my little Peanut, of course, who is obsessed with all things train.

This leg was basically uneventful. My van leap-frogged me and made sure that I was doing well. Our cheerleaders shouted words of encouragement from the warmth of their car. Other teams gave a few high fives and words of support when they were actually outside of their vehicles.

That’s one thing that I missed about this particular race. I’m not a super-outgoing person, and I don’t chit chat well with strangers, and I don’t punk other teams’ vans. But, I do exchange pleasantries with people that I see frequently along the course. It was so dang cold and windy that nobody was outside of their vans long enough to become familiar with them! I could have told you all about their vans, but nothing about the people. That was really too bad, but it was nothing that could be helped. After all, who can control the weather?

Towards the end of my uphill slog, I did start to tire a bit. I could have run the entire thing, but I chose to take some speed-walk breaks. We weren’t going to win this thing, so what was the point in killing myself over it? Besides, I wanted to have something left for leg 3.

If I remember correctly, this leg ended up being longer than expected, but I didn’t mind too much. I just kept running. My van mates kept giving me water and making sure that I was warm enough, and I just got it done. The rest of the night seemed to go according to this pattern.

I did make sure to FB the VP of my department and let him know what he was missing out on. He and his team WON the entire race in 2011, and he was a bit bummed to be missing it for 2012. However, I assured him that he made the right decision (to go on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate his 40th birthday).

Our handoffs were good, we had a good time, the wind never stopped blowing, and we froze our asses off. We all tried to get a bit of sleep, and I think that I succeeded for about 30 minutes, but that’s hard when the car keeps stopping and starting and stopping and people are getting in and out and in and out and the radio has to stay on so that at least two people stay awake and that radio keeps playing the same three songs over and over and over. (By the way, I will never, ever, ever buy Taylor Swift’s song “Never (ever, ever) getting back together.”)

But, hey – sleep. Who needs it?

Apparently not me.

At sun-up, we made it back to the hotel. Since I was freezing, I decided to take a bath. Of course, Peanut woke up as soon as we walked in the room, so I pulled the curtain closed and had him play his trains in the bathroom so that he wouldn’t wake Bub and so that Roch could get some sleep. It only worked a little bit. By the time I was done in the bath, Meatball was also awake. I grabbed some cereal, milk, and some sort of food for me and took them both to the lobby. They played while I looked on secretly wishing I was asleep. Then, I played, and they played and whatever. I don’t even know. It’s all a blur.

Las Vegas Ragnar – Leg 1 – Where Is She?

Van 1 finally arrived and found us which wasn’t very hard since we were holding orange pom-poms. We talked to them for a while and heard about how they had run through SNOW at the start line (in Las Vegas?), hail, and rain along the way. Oh boy.

We were all hanging around and talking when our cheerleaders ran over to let us know that our runner was in and waiting! Um, DUH! That’s me! I was the first runner in our van, and I had already failed! Damn! So, I ran over the exchange area and took the baton. Then, like an idiot who hadn’t checked out the course or watched any of the other runners, I shouted “Where do I go?” DOH! I was pointed in the right direction and took off.

Now, the idea, or the generally accepted custom, is that the van leap-frogs the runner to ensure their safety and hydration. So, as I started out, I was passed a few times – no surprise there. Then, as I ran through suburgatory, I managed to pass a couple of people. One was the cause of her own demise. She was way over dressed, and I think that it slowed her down. One was heavier than me, but she was giving it her all. It’s hard to be an overweight runner. You’re likely one of the slowest out there. You’re passed by other people more often than not, and that can be demoralizing. So, I felt bad passing her, but it had to be done. The third runner was passed simply due to my athletic prowess. (ha-ha-ha) She looked fitter than me, definitely thinner than me, wearing more pink than me… But, I managed to surpass her.

I continued to run and watched the other runner’s vans pass me. And, watched and watched and watched. I kept waiting for my van to arrive, and honestly, I was a smidge thirsty, but nothing that I couldn’t deal with. As I got further into the leg, the wind got stronger and stronger. We began the gradual uphill portion, and I managed to pass one of the MEN that passed me! It’s not often that I get to pass a guy, but this one – from team Asstastics – clearly had not trained for this uphill portion because he was definitely fitter than me. People – you’ve got to run hills! If this chubby old lady can pass you, you know that your training plan needs a kick in the pants.

I approached the park and the exchange place. I figured that my teammates had just got talking with Van 1 and headed straight to the exchange point. Great. I was feeling fine and picked up the pace a bit into the exchange.

And, there I was – all by myself.


OK – so they got talking too long, and they were on their way!

I asked if I could just keep running and have the volunteers let my teammates know to meet me on the road for the exchange. Because of the need to keep track of everyone and ensure our safety, I was asked to stay at the exchange until my van arrived. I totally understand that.

I stretched a bit and then sat down on the curb and waited. And waited. And waited.

Since we’re a one-income family, we’re also a one-cell phone family, so I didn’t have my phone with me. Let it be known here and now that I despise asking other people for help. For any kind of help. Emergency babysitting? UG. Can I hitch a ride? Bleck. Can I use your phone? OMG! I don’t like asking people I know for these things, and I’m surrounded by strangers?!?! Kill me now. (By the way, if someone asked me any of those things and more, I would gladly do them. I love to help out when people need it. Asking? Umm… not so much.) But, I did it. I asked a guy if I could use his cell phone (right after he got done calling HIS van to find out where THEY were!). I didn’t have anybody’s numbers, so I called my cell phone and asked Bub if she would call Roch and find out where everyone was. I got off the phone quickly since it wasn’t mine (and I was probably getting sweat germs all over it).

Then, I waited some more.

Did I mention the wind? Yeah, well, it started to pick up a bit more, and here I was in sweaty shorts and a t-shirt. I was starting to get chilled. Enter: Race Official. Super nice bald dude. He asked me if I had gotten in touch with anyone and did I need anything. Of course, my answer was no, I didn’t need anything and yes, I had reached someone. What I did not know was that my someone couldn’t reach the other someones. So, I continued to wait. And shiver. And wait. Awesome Race Official Guy felt for me, I suppose, because he brought me a protein bar and gave me his jacket. What a sweetie!

I continued to wait.

And wait.

It seemed like forever, but I waited some more.

Ragnarly Nice Race Official Man finally texted the main officials because we were worried that my van mates had been in a crash or something. No news. I borrowed another phone and called Bub again. She had left a message for Roch. I asked her to call again. She promised that she would.


Truly, it seemed like a million years, but it was only about 45 minutes at this point. (Sigh. Yes. 45 minutes. During a race.)

I borrowed yet another phone and called Bub again. This time, I got Carol’s number and called her myself. Luckily, she answered.

Me: Hi! This is Kaye. Where are you? Are you all OK?
Carol: We’re waiting for you. Where are you? Are YOU OK?
Me: No, I’m waiting for you. I’m at Exchange 7.
Carol (to other van mates): It’s Kaye. She’s waiting for us at Exchange 7. What exchange are we at? [pause] Oh, shit!
Carol (to me): We’re at Exchange 8. We’ll be right there.

So, I waited some more. I did feel better knowing that they weren’t dead on the side of a cul-de-sac in this suburban hell. They arrived, and I finally handed off to Roch, returned Groovy Race Official’s jacket, and hopped into the van to about 100 I’m sorrys.

Turns out that as they left the parking lot, they followed the wrong vans. Then, as the road that they were traveling on crossed the path of those running leg 8, they turned and followed the runners. Oops! No real harm done. We alerted Van 1 (who were much more competitive than we were) and went on our way.

We leap frogged Roch (who was rockin’ it) followed by Majlinda. Majlinda’s leg was a steady incline, and the wind had become torturous at this point. There was one skinny little runner guy who was having a very difficult time just standing upright as he tried to run into the wind. Just awful! Majlinda ran and occasionally walked, never letting up. She did a great job considering that she had only been running for about two months after a year-long break. She handed off to Carolyn who took off like a shot and ran the entire distance that same way. Carol was next, and I met her at the one-mile to go mark so that I could run with her. It had been more than a month since she and I had run together, and I wanted to be sure that she wasn’t pushing it too hard on that knee that had sidelined her. She killed it, of course. She handed off to Irnela, and we were almost done! During this time, we only got lost once more.

We met Van 1 at the next major exchange. They assured us that they would only be five hours, max. Crap. We were actually looking forward to some sleep! Oh well. After Irnela came in, we all got into our respective cars (cheer squad, latecomers, and runner van) and drove three separate ways for the exact same hotel. We all took at least two wrong turns in getting back to the hotel where Bub and the boys waited for me.

I was three hours later than I had planned. Bub was not happy, and she was getting sick. And, the boys drove her nuts all day. Being cooped up in a hotel room all day is NOT fun. It was too cold and windy to swim or go for a walk, and the closest park was surrounded by a tall chain link fence! After I hopped out of the shower, Roch and I took the boys to get a snack and wear off some energy. We all froze our buns off as we walked half mile to a fast food place. Walking back was just as much fun.

As soon as we got back, I convinced the boys to lay down with me. I managed to get 30 minutes of sleep with them before my phone buzzed. It was Van 1 letting us know that they were running ahead of schedule. We scrambled to get everyone in the van and took off. In the wrong direction. But only once this time.

Las Vegas Ragnar – Pre Race

The road leading up to this Ragnar was not so smooth. In fact, it was ridiculously bumpy. As in, it fully sucked. There you have it.

I trained well. That wasn’t the issue. It was all about the money – of which we have none right now. If you really want to know more about that sob story, you can head on over the Giggs and Raz as I think that I’ll be posting a little bit of that story soon.

I paid for this race with my tax return back in February. I committed nine months before the race was scheduled. And, I was going, come hell or high water. (Where does that term even come from? Odd…) Carol and I looked forward to this event forEVER – so much that when she told me that she was injured and might not run it, she almost cried. We had SO been looking forward to it, and now she might not get to enjoy it.

Well, she wasn’t the only one. Despite my attempts to save money over the course of those nine months, crap just kept happening, and happening, and happening. Like that damn piece of shit Honda that we own. (If one more CRV owner tells me how wonderful THEIR car is, I’m going to punch them in the nose.) In three years, we have replaced the entire damn engine, and then some valves. We have had tune-up after tune-up. We have been crashed into twice, and we (ok, not actually ME, but someone else in our house that has a driver’s license) crashed it. We have replaced brakes and filters and belts and timing chains and blah-deety-blah-deety-blah. STILL, the frickin’ engine light is on.

Anyway, that was quite the side-track. My point: I couldn’t save the money.

And that, my friends, was a big source of contention. Big. HUGE. And awful.

How are we going to afford this trip? I don’t know. How are we going to be able to do anything fun? I don’t know. What is the point of even going? We already promised the boys.

So, I managed to get a voucher for $200 of our $300 hotel fee. I got some free dinner vouchers. We (over) packed a cooler with sandwich stuff, cereal, cheese, fruit, veggies, cereal, milk, and granola. But, in the end, we didn’t have the money to go.

It was finally decided that Carol would, in fact, run the race, but she rested her knee for more than a month prior. One of my besties from California was driving to Vegas for her first relay. My weight instructor from work was on the team. Another co-worker was running and was bringing her friend to run, too. Two co-workers were going to be our cheer squad. I felt like I couldn’t just leave the team in a lurch. After all, I HAD RECRUITED EVERY ONE OF THEM. I wasn’t about to let them down.

So, Bub and I fought about this. A lot. And, it sucked. I have denied our family doing just about anything all year long, but here I was taking us all on a trip to Vegas. I know. Not the best decision, and it showed in how much we argued and bickered about it. If I were to do it again, I would back out two months before the race when I realized that I wasn’t going to have the money saved up. But, I didn’t have that foresight. No, wait. I did. I was just being too selfish. There. I said it. If Bub read this blog, she would be screaming “I told you so” at the top of her lungs. No, wait. She’s too nice for that. That’s something reserved for petty people. Like me, sometimes.

Shit – when did this become a confessional? This is supposed to be a race report.

So, we packed our cooler and our travel bags into the car and drove off on a Thursday afternoon when the boys got out of school. (When I registered for this thing, I assumed that the boys would be in AM kindergarten. This PM crap has really messed with us. Just sayin’.) When you leave Tooele at 3:30pm and have a six-hour drive ahead of you, you are going to have to drive in the dark. Bub hates this. We fought about this, too, but I wouldn’t let the boys miss another day of school. Meatball had already missed six days for being sick!

So, we head south and into the wind. Did you know that Vegas in early November is just lovely? Well, it is – unless you’re traveling with us. Just like April in Vegas is supposed to be PERFECT – unless you’re traveling with us. I hate Vegas for SO many reasons – one of them being the fact that the weather SUCKS whenever I’m there. Stop going, I will!

The wind was absolutely awful. Did I mention that we drive a POS? Yeah. I don’t think that our gutless wonder ever got above 60mph – you know with the wind and the check engine indicator and the diminishing sun light and the stopping every 37 minutes to get a snack or pee on the side of the road or buy gas or blah, blah, blah. Anyway, miserable ride to Vegas.

We checked in at about 9:30pm. UG. Luckily, we were Van 2. Roch (my bestie from CA) arrived at exactly the same time that we did. That was the only time she has ever (or will ever) arrive anywhere on time – especially in the next two days. (Love ya, Cream Puff!)

We were all frazzled and ready for bed. Oh wait. Did I say “all?” Yeah, so not the case. The grown-ups were ready for bed. The little people were ready to jump on the bed. Big difference. Dang it! We did finally get to sleep.

Peanut was the first one up in our room. Shocking? No. Meatball immediately woke up, too, because we were, after all, in a hotel which means that FUN IS JUST WAITING TO BE HAD! When they are awake, I am too, so I ushered them out of the room as quickly as I could to let Roch and Bub sleep. That was my olive branch to Bub. Some extra sleep. She never gets any, and I was trying to suck up.

So, I took the boys to the lobby with their toys. No. I don’t really give two shakes if I bother other people with the crashing of the trains and the running around and the loud Leapster and, let’s be honest, my bed head and exercise shirts with smelly pits. I had planned to use their weight room for a weight workout, but couldn’t really do that with the boys in tow.

Arriving in the lobby, I find Carol, the weight instructor, and our two cheerleaders – all getting ready to eat and all sipping some coffee. They had even gone out of their way to buy me a hot chocolate from a place about a mile away. How sweet are they? I repaid them by letting the boys talk and talk and talk, oh and run around in their jammies in the lobby.

Bub finally joined us after taking a nice long bath. Just about then, we got a text from Van 1 saying that we needed to meet them pretty soon. We all kicked it into gear and headed to the first exchange. Once we got there, we started contacting our other teammates who left SLC at 3am in order to make it to the first exchange by 9-ish am. We checked in and got our van number, pottied in the Porta-a-Jane (their tag line is “Port-a-Jane – because John can’t aim” – ha-ha-ha-ha), checked out the freebies and the other stuff (that I couldn’t buy), and waited for the first set of runners.

During this time, we “enjoyed” a brisk breeze.