Yesterday, I left off my Ragnar Trail Richmond recap as I was snuggling into my sleeping bag, hoping to get a few hours sleep before my teammate Jenny woke me after her run. Meagan had planned to sleep in our tent as well, but decided to stay in her own single-person tent located slightly farther away from the foot traffic in a quieter location.
With earplugs in place, the hushed whispers and occasional shouts bothered me very little and I fell to sleep quickly. A drop of water landing right on my left eyelid just after I dozed off to sleep startled me awake. Not even thinking to wiggle my sleeping back away from the tent’s edge, I moved my head slightly to avoid a second drop of water, only to get plopped on again.
Eventually, I fell back to sleep, and awoke to Meagan kneeling beside me, telling me that it was 3:15 AM and time to get up because we would be running in about an hour. My first words to her were, “You’re back from your run already?” She laughed and said for me to get up. I had assumed that Meagan was Jenny since I was expecting Jenny to wake both of us. Since Meagan was still awake when Jenny and Angela finished their run, she came into our tent to wake me. I’ll let Meagan tell you in her recap about being three for three in the “no sleep at Ragnar department.”
Once up, I slipped out of my sweats (in a genius move I’d slept in my next set of running clothes with sweats on top) and wrapped my snuggie around me. Outside the tent, the first thing I noticed was that the drizzle had stopped, and the ground was barely wet; a good sign for continued decent trail conditions.
Meagan and I chatted while I drank some Gatorade and ate some sweet potato fries, my Ragnar pre-run fuel staple. I really wasn’t hungry for anything else after having eaten a chicken barbecue sandwich just five hours earlier. Not eating more food before our run came back to haunt me later.
With one last trip to the porta potties, we headed to the exchange area around 4:30 AM to wait for teammates Kim and Amanda to return from their second leg. Meagan and I stood in the cool air, shivering slightly, until we saw teams 142 and 155 pop up on the board which meant that our teammates were a quarter mile away. Once our team number popped up, we were able to move into the transition area to wait for Amanda and Kim to hand us our bibs.
With headlamps and knuckle lights turned on, we left the exchange area around 4:55 AM to start our second leg made up of the Green Loop (4.4 miles – easiest), immediately followed by the Yellow Loop (5.8 miles – intermediate). Once again the miles were off, and our 10.2 miles ended up being 11.36 miles according to our Garmins.
Sadly my picture didn’t turn out as cool as this one (obviously – HaHa!), and Bill didn’t think of taking his tripod to one of the trails to capture pictures of runners and their headlamps running by, like this one taken by the professional photographers hired by Ragnar.
Meagan and I hardly talked during the Green Loop because we were both tired; so even though it was the shortest loop, it seemed like the longest. At one point Meagan mentioned the sky was just starting to get a tiny bit bright, but I hadn’t noticed because I was keeping my eyes glued to the trail for roots and rocks which could easily trip me.
As we headed back onto the Yellow Loop (as ultra runners we ran each loop twice), dawn was breaking and we could see Ragnar Village across the lake. By now we knew that the loops were running long and calculated that we had about five more miles to go before finishing this leg. This was also the point where I really started whining about how hungry I was – remember me mentioning that I couldn’t eat much before our run?
Each loop was marked with a Ragnar totem pole which served as a good excuse to stop
and rest for a photo op.
Most of the low areas had bridges so we didn’t have to worry about running through any swampy areas. Notice the missing planks on this bridge. When we ran over it again later in the day, I commented that I was glad we hadn’t tripped in the dark when we’d run over it earlier. Little did I remember that we had traveled across it after daybreak and that I’d taken pictures of it!
When we got to this point where the trail veers off to the left, I kept running straight on the gravel road. Meagan called me back and we later got a good chuckle thinking that if she hadn’t stopped me, I would have eventually ended up in the Atlantic Ocean (remember we were operating on very little and no sleep).
We finally came to this puny water crossing that we saw twice on each Yellow Loop. Just as I started to ask Meagan to take a picture of me jumping across, a herd of runners came toward us so I stepped aside. See the tree branch leaning to the side? My ponytail caught it during both my out and back crossings during our previous pass on this loop, but this time I remembered to duck!
And finally the glorious “One Mile To Go” sign came into view…
Followed by the green, yellow, and red loop signs meaning that all three trails had merged and we closing in on our second leg.
After passing our bibs off to our teammates, Meagan and I made our way back to our campsite to hangout with our friends. Stacey and Jenn were cooking breakfast, but Meagan and I had declined to participate in either of the meals because our preliminary run times had us likely running during both dinner and breakfast.
I headed into our tent to change into my next running outfit and to try to get a little nap. Angela and Jenny were already in there resting, so we all chilled for a few minutes.
The sounds of laughter from my teammates lured me back outside, and once out of my tent, I found Bill and Barry had found their way back to our campsite, and that Bill was snapping away with his camera as stories from the overnight runs were being shared.
Here Meagan is showing our friends how the rather odd lady in a long skirt was shuffling back and forth over and over outside our campsite around 10:30 the night before.
When at Ragnar, I wear things I would normally not wear out in public, like these favorite flannel VT pajama pants (I’m wearing them now as I type). The funny thing is… I fit right in with them on!
Notice that I’ve got a hard boiled egg in my hand. I’d eaten a peanut butter and banana sandwich right after I finished my run and I decided that an egg would hold me over until I ate lunch a couple of hours before our next leg. Only it wouldn’t be a the expected five hours until our next leg…
I soon caught wind of conversations about doubling up our legs so that our teams could finish on time (we had to be off the trails by 6 PM). For some bizarre reason, Ragnar had started our team at 2 PM on Friday (I had expected us to start around 10 AM). From the second we learned our starting time, we knew it was too late, but Ragnar assured our captains that the trails weren’t very technical and our times wouldn’t be that much slower than our 10K street times.
Amanda, with a lot of help from Meagan, figured out a plan for how to double up our ultra teams so we could finish on time, and with that, we had a plan! Oh, and Meagan and I would be running again in about two and a half hours or so, not five as we’d expected…
Stay tuned tomorrow when we go out for our final leg, albeit sooner than planned, and with some unexpected company! According to Ragnar, only 9.9 miles stood between Meagan and me being able to call ourselves Ragnar Trail Ultra veterans!
Editor’s note: To read Part 3, click here.
- What time of day is your favorite time to run?
- Do you enjoy people watching, or are you oblivious to others around you?
- Have you ever run a Ragnar Relay or Ragnar Trail, or similar relay?