Hi everyone! Guess what? I DID IT!!! I’m officially a Ragnar Relay finisher!
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. It’s been a week since I updated you on what has been going on in Denver, and quite a few things happened since then. First of all, on Monday I got pretty sick. I had a huge migraine and felt nauseous and dizzy all day, and ended up going to bed at like 8:30 because I didn’t know what else to do. It was awful, and everyone said it was the elevation! I became so incredibly nervous about the race, but luckily on Tuesday I felt better and was even able to go for a 6:00 am run with my manager. My plan was to go to bed early again to keep myself feeling good, but then I headed out on the town with my coworkers (no drinking because alcohol at high elevation is crazy!) and I learned that Denver has a Voodoo Donuts! I am OBSESSED with donuts and have always wanted to go there, so a few of us went over at 11:30 at night and braved the crowds.
The donuts were seriously the best I’ve ever had! I couldn’t choose between them all and eventually got three. I ate the Oreo peanut butter one that night, the glazed for breakfast the next morning, and the chocolate iced cake donut after lunch. If you’re ever in Denver or Portland you need to get these, no matter how long the line is!
After leaving my hotel on Wednesday, I was officially on vacation! I headed out to stay with one of my old sorority sisters in Aurora. She took me to the original Chipotle for my last dinner in Denver and I was so excited! And if you’re counting, that’s 4 times that I ate there on this trip. I love Chipotle so much!
I also got the chance to sleep in and try to physically prepare for Ragnar. On Thursday afternoon one of my teammates picked me up, and while I was super nervous about what I was getting myself into we had a lot of fun getting to know each other. We met up with our team captain and drove up to the start line in Copper Mountain to meet the rest of our team. The drive was gorgeous but as we climbed up to the continental divide my head started hurting again and all I could do was chug water and hope that I’d feel better by 7:00 am!
For the Ragnar newbies, our first order of business was buying some Ragnar swag! I bought a grey and orange zip up (which I wore 90% of the time because it was so much colder in the Rockies than I’d anticipated), a finisher’s shirt, and a really cute Ragnar Colorado Bondi Band. We also picked up our race shirts and the very important slap bracelet that we’d be running with over 194 miles.
By the time we were finished around 10:00 we were starving, so we ate a very late dinner and then hit up Safeway for some last minute bagels and chocolate milk. We didn’t really get to bed until midnight, and had to be up by 4:30! So we were starting off our sleepless weekend with a pretty crappy sleep situation. The next morning we rushed to get ready and could not find coffee anywhere – it was too early and nothing was open! We finally found some at the race start, and everyone else drank a cup while decorating our van and trying to pack everything into the trunk (I was too worried about stomach issues drinking it too close to my run, so I passed on coffee).
I chose to be runner #2, and was so nervous for my first leg which was scheduled to start at about 8:30. But I did have lots of fun cheering for my team captain, who headed off in the 7:00 am start wave! And once she was gone, it was my turn to get ready and hang out in exchange #1. I was crazy nervous and so excited to finally be starting my very first Ragnar leg – a 6 mile run towards the town of Frisco!
When runner #1 passed the bracelet to me, all my nerves went away and I was so excited to finally be racing! But I quickly realized that running at 9400 ft above sea level was going to be really, really hard. I was gasping for breath by the end of mile one, and started to need walk breaks in mile two. Like, a LOT of walk breaks. More than I’ve ever taken in a 6 mile run before! It was pretty cloudy and cool, and the views were awesome, but despite the perfect running conditions I could not stand to run more than 2 minutes at a time without walking to catch my breath.
By the halfway point my head was starting to hurt and I was humiliated by how many people were passing me. But my van drove by and cheered me on, which helped me keep going even though it was so hard. I felt like my legs were moving through water! I didn’t get one of the famous “One mile to go” signs on my first leg, but I eventually could see the exchange point and told myself to push hard to the finish line.
I was so happy to be done! As soon as I stopped I realized how hard I was gasping for air and had a mini panic attack as I tried to calm myself down. After a few minutes I realized I wasn’t actually going to die…and in fact, I had survived my hardest and highest leg of the relay! I was so proud of myself and was so excited to see what I’d be able to do at a slightly lower elevation on my next two legs!
Check back later this week for the rest of my recap!
Have you ever run at high elevation? What was the hardest race you’ve ever done?