Monday, June 21, 2010

The Ragnar!

So, here is my version of this crazy race I ran! YEAH RAGNAR!!!!

Ok, so the race goes from Logan to Park City, or 188 miles. It is divided up between teams, 12 persons to a team. There are 2 vehicles per team, and 6 people per vehicle. My friend Jessica was on a team with people from her office. Initially when I had signed up for the race, I was runner #1, and in vehicle #1. However, Jessica was runner #7 and in vehicle #2. I ultimately ended up switching with another runner on the team, and he became runner #1 and I was runner #9. It worked out well for both of us, as his dad and brother were running and in vehicle #1, and I got to be in vehicle #2 with Jessie.

This is me and Jessie in the van on the way up to the exchange where were taking off.

The morning of the race, our team started at 5:15 am. Luckily, being in van #2 we didn’t need to be up to Logan until 10:00 am. So, we got up and went up to meet our runner #6, and exchange off and have Jessie who was runner #7 take off and start running. I was incredibly nervous, as I had no idea what to expect. I have never done anything like this, and didn’t know how it worked. We got up to the exchange, and it was CRAZY!!! There were a ton of people, and tons of vans, with many of the vans having decorations!

One big thing with this race is naming your team. There are some very creative names. Also, people tend to decorate their vans/vehicles. I laughed out loud so hard at some of the names and some of the decorations! Some of the more creative names (I thought) were:

WTF? We thought this was a 5K!


Where in the Wasatch is Waldo (and they all wore white shirts with red stripes and big black glasses)

Our name was “Something Wicked this way Runs” We had so much fun! Julee, runner #7 had t-shirts made for us, and it was awesome! Her company sponsored us and paid for the shirts!

This is Jessie waiting and getting ready to go to the exchange point. Isn't she cute?

This is our first exchange. Jessie is the girl in the red hat, and Ben is the other runner who was passing her the slap bracelet.

This is me and Jess after her first leg she finished. I was so proud of her!

One wonderful part of the race was the support and camaraderie. Our team was awesome at that! At certain pre-determined points the van would stop and we would get out and cheer our runner along. One of the girls had a cow bell, and we rang the crap out of that bell! We would turn our music up loud and dance. We cheered for runners that weren’t even ours! There is just this huge feeling of support for everyone. Our van was not only a cheering squad, it was also a support van. If the runner needed water, or food or whatever, the team members who weren’t running would take whatever the runner needed to them, as long as we were in a part of the race that we could. (Certain sections of the course were non-support legs, which means that the non-runners could cheer, but not get out of the van, unless the runner was in trouble.)

Here is Carlos with the cow bell outside of the van (technically it was whatever vehicle you had, but for some reason the name van was what we always called it!)

This is Jessie, Carlos, Mia and Julee... members of my team. Aren't they awesome!?

My first leg that I ran was my easiest leg. It was 3.4 miles, and it was relatively flat. I was worried about running it… well I was honestly worried about running any of this race. I have been having such problems with my hip!

So, Julee was the runner before me. Each team had an orange slap bracelet that was reflective. Each runner would pass it along to the next runner. Yes, we quickly learned who had sweaty wrists! So, at our exchange Julee passed the bracelet along to me, and I took off. I had my GPS with me, and I just was running. Honestly, I felt so good!! I was running a faster pace than I was planning on, or even thought I would be able to do with how bad my hip has been, or how little I have been training due to my hip. I ultimately ended up running my 3.4 miles in 29 minutes! YEAH!!!! It was so nice.

This is me running...

Julee was runner #8 in our van. She was there as support and had some water for me. Notice the orange flag. We had to have an orange flag every time we crossed the street. It became quite a joke for me!

This is me coming into the exchange to had off the slap bracelet to Mia.

And the hand off! Mia took off and was running.

Jess and I after I finished!

When the guy in our van who was runner #12 finished, and passed off to the first van again, we took off and had a few hours of downtime. We headed back to Ogden and got some food then headed to the next major exchange where Jessie was going to meet runner #6 and take off and it was our turn again. Luckily we had a couple of hours. We were in this big park, and we pulled out some of our sleeping stuff (I got my pillow and my sleeping mat) and we crashed. I fell asleep for about an hour. It was so nice! I totally needed it. It was great to have some downtime and not be in the car!

So, we were keeping in close contact with van #1, and when they called and told us they were getting close, we got Jessie ready to run. So, off she went. Jess started running about 7:45 at night. The Ragnar had some pretty strict rules about safety and running at night. Every person had to have a safety vest with reflectors on it when they were outside of the van. The runner had to have a head lamp and a red flashing light on their back. So, Jessie was our first runner to have to wear the safety vests. So, she took off and was on it! After she finished Julee went. Then, it was my turn!

This is me bringing Jess water on her night leg.

This leg I was a little worried about. It was a 9.6 mile leg, and I started running about 11:30 pm. It was actually pretty incredible. It was also very difficult. It was so hard because it was the middle of the night and up in the mountains on a mountain road. So, not much light, which was fine. The hard part was when a car would pass and have their lights on, it would totally light everything up, then once they passed it would take a few seconds for my eyes to readjust to the darkness again. Just about the time my eyes readjusted another car passed! That actually made it very hard for me. Another hard part was that because it was so dark out, sometimes re-paved parts of the road looked like a hole, and vice versa. But, I took off and was going pretty well. I was pretty pleased about how well my hip was doing. And then I got a horrible cramp in my calf. Almost debilitating cramp! So, I stopped and stretched out, and it was better.

So, I got to about mile 7.5 and there was a girl up ahead of me. I decided I was going to pass her, that was my goal. So, I started pushing a little bit harder so I could pass her. Right as I got to where I was going to pass her, I stepped into a hole which I thought was a re-paved part of the road. Down I went! Oh man, I was so worried. I rolled my ankle and I was worried that I had hurt it bad. I’m not going to lie… my pride was wounded too! She helped me up, and across the street was a support van for another one of the runners. Their name was “the superhero’s” and they were all dressed as super heroes and running in their costumes. So, I had Batman, Superman and Spiderman all poised and ready to run across the street and help. The girl I was passing helped me up, and I had some minor abrasions on my hands and my ankle hurt. I walked a few steps on it to make sure that I was going to be able to walk. I was, but it hurt. I still had 2 miles to go and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish. But, once again my pride took over, and I started walking a little faster. I made sure that I passed the girl and I just kept walking. I walked most of the remaining 2 miles, but I kept going. I almost had a meltdown but realized that I didn’t have the energy to spare to break down. I had to suck it up and keep going until I got to the van. So, I did. My team had gone on to the exchange and so I wasn’t going to see them again, so I had no way of letting them know that I was hurt. Well, about ½ mile from the finish line I saw my team drive up towards me. They had gotten concerned because I hadn’t made it in to the finish in a time consistent with how I had been running, it was taking me much longer with having to walk. I told them I had fallen and was hurt. They asked if I needed to get in the van. Oh man, I wanted to so bad! However, I told them I was going to start running (my ankle was much better by then, still sore but better) and I would meet them at the finish. They asked if I wanted them to drive with me into the exchange. I told them no. I couldn’t have them there being caring and supportive because I really would lose control and start to cry. I was so exhausted! So, they took off and I started slowly jogging. I made it into the exchange and Jessie was right there. She gave me this big hug and I totally started crying. My ankle hurt, I had scrapes on my hands and shoulder and bruising on my knee. Plus, I had just run 9.6 miles at midnight and I was exhausted and hungry! We went and got back in the van and I got in the back seat and ate some food and fell asleep. My team was so good and let me just crash out in the back seat!

One thing of note… While Carlos, the guy who was runner #12 was running his second leg Jessie was driving. There were a few of us sleeping and she woke us up kind of freaking out. There was a guy on the course running who was wearing his running shoes, a g-string, and his reflector vest… and that was it! I couldn’t believe it. For me, more than he was in a g-string only, I was impressed he was in a g-string in such cold weather! I had 3 layers of clothes on it was so cold! Oh we laughed so hard! Carlos’s comment when we talked to him about it later was “at least you didn’t have to stare at that for like 5 minutes while running.” That totally made my night!! It was so wrong!

Then, once we all got done running and van #1 took off, we went and had some downtime. Carlos has a brother-in-law who lived not far from the next major exchange. His brother-in-law was so good enough to let us crash on his back lawn and leave a door open for us so we could go use a bathroom. We went and brushed our teeth and fell asleep. We slept for about 1 ½ hours, and that was some of the best sleep I have ever had! Then time to get up and head back and get ready. The runners in van #1 were much faster runners so we didn’t have that much down time while they were running!

But, we got up, and headed to the next exchange. Jessie took off and we were back on the course.

This is Jess showing her enthusiam that she was almost done with her last leg!

This was our last leg, and probably the most mentally challenging for me. I was exhausted, I was hurt and not sure I was going to be able to do my leg, and I had a gnarly hill to climb. 2 of the runners in van #1 offered to run my last leg for me if I needed. I thought about it, but then realized it wasn’t that much of a decision for me. I’m not a quitter. My ankle was sore but not broken and I was able to walk on it. I would walk my last leg if I needed to, but I was going to finish.

This was the course map for my last leg... look at that hill!

This is me right before Julee got there for us to switch.

And here was the handoff!

So, then it was my turn. The first ½ mile of my leg was pretty flat and awesome. Then the hill started. And I thought I was going to die! I had a 1500 foot elevation gain in 3 miles. That’s a pretty steep hill. It was so steep and it was a narrow gravel road. And I walked. I didn’t feel bad about walking at all! Well, that’s not true. I did get passed by some people who were running up the hill. My pride started to kick in and tell me I needed to run that hill. Then I would have a discussion with myself and ultimately I didn’t run it because I didn’t want to hurt myself too bad and be out from running for a while. So, I was very proud of myself! I will admit, one girl who passed me on the hill in the beginning as she was running I passed later on walking! Yeah baby!

Jess brought me some water for a much needed water break!

It was a very difficult hill to climb! It was also around 11 am and so getting super warm. Towards the end, my team had already gone on to the exchange. I needed some water and I was starting to be done mentally and physically. This super nice van for another team was driving by and gave me a bottle of water. That was so awesome of them! Then when I got to probably ¼ mile from the exchange, here comes Carlos from my van carrying some water for me. They were worried about me, and so they wanted to make sure I had some water. That was awesome of Carlos! He was going to be running in a couple of hours, and he walked down that nasty hill just to have to walk up it. It was so awesome of him!

This is me right after I finished. I felt like I was going to die!

Jess was right there for me!

I made it to the exchange, and Mia, the next runner took off. She finished the hill I started. We were trying to decide whose leg was worse, mine or hers. Hers was longer and a slightly more elevation gain, but it was spread out a little more. She did 1650 feet elevation gain in 4 miles. Hers was not quite as steep as mine, but hers was longer. I ultimately decided they both sucked!!!

This is the view of the mountain we were on that I climbed. I started in the valley in the town, and this is about 1 mile into Mia's run.

Carlos was runner #12. While we were waiting for him to start running, we met up with van #1. That was pretty much the only time we got to spend with them. So, once Carlos took off running we all took off and headed to the finish line. The finish was at the Canyons in Park City.

Traffic was horrible to get there! As we were making our way to the finish line, we saw one team of some young guys, like in their early 20’s, who were all wearing Speedo’s. Most of my team members were saying not to stare. Not me! Those guys would not have been wearing those if they didn’t want people to stare. So, I took some pictures! It was amazing how after I took a few pictures some of the people in my group started asking me to email and text them the pictures!

Well, we made it to the finish line and it was awesome. We all got to run the last 20 yards in with Carlos. We got to finish together! We all had our “Something Wicked this way Runs” t-shirts on, and we finished as a group. We all got our finishing medals, which are pretty amazing! It was really pretty incredible! And we did it! We finished!!!!!!!!!

We were spent. We drove back to Salt Lake and I took a shower and crashed out hard! It was a totally crazy 36 hours, but totally worth it! I can’t wait for next year!

These are just some various random photo's from the race...

This is me sitting in the back of our van.

This is Carmine and Carlos...

This is me using the safety flag to cross the street... making sure everyone saw me!

These Honey Buckets were our best friends! They were at every exchange. How glad I was to see an actual bathroom!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lunch at the Revolving Restaurant

So, Tuesday, December 22 Mom and Dad and I went to lunch at a revolving restaurant. It is on the 65th floor of one of the high rise buildings in Hong Kong. Every approximately 60 minutes the floor rotates so you can get a 360 degree panoramic view. It was awesome!

If you look closely on this picture above, you can see the running trail that Dad and I would run on! It had quite an impressive view itself!

I have to admit, the food was pretty incredible too! There were all types of food, and it was a buffet. I totally overate! It was so good!


But, I have to admit the deserts were to die for... well, most of them. There was a chocolate fountain and they had all sorts of cookies and things to dip in the fountain. However, my favorite was the pineapple!

There were also some deserts that weren't so good, in fact, downright nasty! And I just have to say, my mother isn't quite the innocent person most people believe her to be! She gave me this desert and told me to try it. So, thinking that my own Mother would tell me if something was not good, took a big - o'l bite of it... and promptly spit it out! It was so gross. It was this gelatinous bean curd crap that was so bad. Look closely in the picture, it is that green leaf thing on the circle plate next to me. It was horrible. Mom just laughed and laughed after I spit out the bite. A little conniving, isn't she! :)

This is Dad and Mom's condo building from the restaurant. It's the large white building in the right of the picture.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hong Kong - Kowloon Light Show

Monday night, Mom and I went back to Hong Kong and then met up with Dad for dinner at home. After dinner, we went and caught a ferry across the harbor to Kowloon. Every night at 8 pm, Hong Kong island does a light show with a bunch of the buildings in the city. It is set to music and it is pretty amazing! It was my first time visiting Kowloon. The light show was totally awesome! We had a great time!

Hong Kong has done a fantastic job of decorating their buildings for Christmas. Some of these pictures are a little fuzzy, just because I am not super great at holding still enough to get night shots!