Wow, it’s been almost 4 months since I’ve posted a race recap! Ragnar Luckenbach was my first race of 2017. I didn’t sign up for any races at the beginning of this year, as I wanted to focus on my base fitness for marathon training. Ragnar was a fun break away from usual weekend long runs, while still getting in my mileage.
My trip to Texas didn’t start at all how I expected — I got a really awful migraine as we were descending into Austin and ended up really nauseous during the cab ride to the hotel. I ended up spending nearly the entire first day in Austin curled up in a ball in a hotel bed cursing the light and that the water was turned off in our hotel for a few hours due to maintenance.
Like I said: not a great start to a long weekend of running in the Texas heat.
I opted to stay in our downtown hotel room instead of joining the group — just in case I didn’t get better. I was pissed that I traveled all the way down to Texas, and I wouldn’t be able to run. By nighttime, I was finally starting to feel OK and could keep some Gatorade and plain Cheerios down. Then I knew I could rally and Ragnar would happen.
A few weeks prior to race day, our team lost someone due to deployment — and we had to find a new teammate (which we did), but I got switched from Runner 12 to Runner 10. I was OK with the additional mileage (see: marathon training), and I was still in Van 2 (still all strangers to me!). And then Ragnar changed the legs/mileage on us a few times before race day. And then the rental company didn’t save us a van, so we ended up in an Infiniti SUV. And then Ragnar cut 2 legs off the last day of the race, and we had run a leg with one of our van-mates. One of our teammates missed her 2nd leg at a major exchange because the race book was super confusing in our delirious and exhausted state (we were at the wrong stop).
There was a lot of shit happening and changing, and I was doing my best to adjust. But it all felt very chaotic!
Location: We started outside of Austin in Bastrop, Texas and ended 200-some miles later in Luckenbach.
Registration and Cost: This was a pricy trip for me, considering travel costs (flights) and hotels and gas/rental splits and team t-shirts. And two days of PTO. My portion of the relay registration was $48.04 for a 12-person team.
Packet Pick-Up: Captains/van leaders picked up our “packets” which mostly included our Ragnar t-shirts, snacks and temporary tattoos (this was at the first main van exchange on the route). We were part of some bib tracking testing program, which we picked up at the start line — so the team shared a belt for the duration of the race (and changed it out with the slap bracelet at the exchanges). Together, we had to watch a 10-minute video about safety and the Ragnar Rules (no pooping in yards, OK?). Twice, because a couple of us had to meet our van mates at the start line.
Swag: I love the Reebok t-shirts — so soft and comfortable; I’ll actually use it. I got an extra one at the finish line in a larger size, which will be awesome for sleeping. I was also able to grab an extra for my husband.
Weather: Oh god, where do I begin. This was probably not the right race event for me, considering how awful I perform in the heat. To be honest, I didn’t realize how far south Austin was and also didn’t know that peak heat in Texas is in late afternoon/early evening (corresponding with my legs of the race, naturally).
Scenes of Texas: Lots of farm animal sightings on these open lands — and yes, Texas has hills.
IT WAS SO HOT, IT WAS MISERABLE. On my first leg the temps reached 91 degrees and I super bonked out only 4 miles into my run. I wanted to quit and roll up in a ball on the side of the road (all gravel roads, btw). I walked a lot and was in full sun for the entirety of that leg. I’m pretty sure I said out loud that I wouldn’t run the marathon if it was that hot. :-/
And you can basically repeat that for my 3rd leg on Saturday, which was also warm and I was legit wishing for rain — and add in 600+ ft of elevation gain.
Course and Elevation: I’ll just let these elevation maps speak for themselves.
Whose idea of fun was this?!
First leg (3:56 pm): 7.6 miles / 1:27:39 / 11:21 average pace / 214 ft elevation gain
Splits: 10:10, 10:13, 10:30, 11:39, 12:01, 13:06, 12:26, 12:36 [.60]
2nd leg (3:19 am): 2.75 miles / 26:18 / 9:33 average pace
YAY! Nighttime run – this was fun and though it was still humid, I felt good and fast. And I got some real food before our nighttime legs started; we found a Longhorn restaurant that could seat 6 of us quickly on a Friday night. A loaded sweet potato and grilled chicken salad never tasted so good. AND I got some actual sleep (at least a couple hours worth). Outside. On a sidewalk.
Splits: 9:32, 9:30, 9:38 [.75]
3rd leg (12:55 pm): 6.85 / 1:18:23 / 11:26 avg pace / 661 ft elevation gain
Another hot, sunny day – Ragnar ended up cutting my original leg, so this was my partner run. The elevation was brutal and basically all uphill. I had to walk quite a bit.
Splits: 10:56, 10:46, 10:51, 11:05, 11:16, 13:01, 12:15 [.85]
Ragnar van life — and my Iowa tan.
Aid Stations: Unless you were on an unsupported (or no van access) portion of the course, your aid station was your van. And if your van didn’t meet you somewhere on your leg, you were basically supporting yourself (or relying on the kindness of strangers for ice when you were seriously overheated).
Finish Line: The finish felt very… uninspired. The announcers called our team name as we ran in together and there was a photographer taking staged pictures and some vendors were set up (most looked to be closing down), but it was honestly the most boring race finish ever. There was a booth giving out free pizza (I couldn’t have any, obviously), and I was STARVING. I didn’t see anywhere else where I could purchase food. Since Van 1 had been hanging out all day, they were ready to leave (and was my ride back to Austin), so I didn’t even get to explore Luckenbach at all. I guess that’s a potential downside of being in the second van — I get it, it’s an exhausting adventure.
The team captain handed out the medals, which all had something unique on the back. I liked that mine read “Ragnar Thing.”
After party: An hour ride back to my Austin hotel, where my husband was waiting for me with a tub of pulled pork from a local BBQ joint and some ciders. That shower was probably the most amazing I’ve ever had. The next morning, we found an ALL GLUTEN-FREE cafe with an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet and OMG that capped off an awesome weekend.
Total bullshit: At one of our runner exchanges, a wasp crawled up my long-sleeve shirt and stung me on the forearm. It hurt like a mother, and I was trying not to be a huge baby about it because I was with people I didn’t know at all. There were a lot of times that I felt isolated on this trip, and this was one of them. I had no access to soap and water or Benadryl or medics. One of my teammates in the van was a school teacher, so I got a little comfort and aid from her — immediately icing the place where I got stung. I ended up having a large local reaction with a considerable amount of swelling. All I could think about was how thankful I wasn’t allergic.
Experience: Ragnar is something completely out of my comfort zone, and exactly why I had it on my Goal List for 2017. There were some lessons learned (I should have brought a yoga mat or sleeping bag and an extra water bottle — not just my handheld for running) and definitely things I disliked (I didn’t like not having my own bib — I keep all of mine and display on my bib wall, but another teammate had already claimed it); though there was definitely a lasting confirmation that I would probably do another one (just… probably not in Texas).
Also, ShowerPills and Wisps are Must Pack items.
THE GREAT: My first Ragnar race!
THE GOOD: Cowboy Camping and nighttime running. I sincerely loved being outdoors in the dark.
THE BAD: Getting stung is certainly memorable… and not in a good way.
THE UGLY: Ugh, the heat. I can’t.
TL;DR: Consider your location and your van mates when planning to do your first Ragnar. I think those things can definitely make or break your experience. Not having an actual van can increase the negative consequences exponentially.
The Tipsy Crew!
OFFICIAL TEAM RESULTS
The Tipsy Crew
22nd place in the Mixed Open division