Napa Valley Ragnar


It's done and I'm happy. But sort of sad at the same time. I can totally see how people get addicted to this sort of thing. The energy, the high, the complete exhaustion and joy. All at the same time.

My favorite part was being with such an AMAZING group of women. I knew some of the girls pretty well, but others not at all, and I feel so much closer to everyone, even if we were in different vans, simply because we were all in it together. I love them all so much.

It was different than I expected. I guess it was Ragnar's first try at Napa Valley, and I heard from other runners who had done other races that it was sort of disorganized.

My first run was great. It was morning, I got to run along the bay in San Fransisco and then up in some beautiful neighborhoods overlooking the water. It was a 5.4 mile run with some hills, and I loved it. It was labeled as "hard" (Ragnar labels them as easy, moderate, hard or very hard), but it was by far my favorite.

My next run was in the middle of nowhere 100 miles or so outside of San Fransisco, running through a forest at night, pitch black outside. I'd always heard the night runs were the best. That you'd get an adrenaline rush. Your times would be faster. I'd heard there would be so many runners around, and that it was completely safe.



I was scared out of my freaking mind. Usually your van can "leap frog" you....see you along the way, cheer you on, give you water if needed, make sure you're okay, etc. Well I said goodbye at the start and didn't see them again until the finish. Not because of them, but there was no way to get to me by car. (which usually it warns you if you have a "non-support leg" but it didn't say anything about that on mine).

I'd run about 1.5 miles and hadn't seen a runner in sight. Every Ragnar sign I'd seen a long the way giving my directions, did NOT match the little map I'd ripped out of the Rag Mag (the Race Bible that tells you where to go). So of course I'm already freaking out. I hadn't seen a runner, I hadn't seen ANY Ragnar vans and it's night and I'm alone running in some place I've never been. Then I finally see a sign and it points up a trail in a forest. I look to my left and see some random man standing there looking my way. And to his credit, I'm sure I looked like a freak. I have a headlamp on, butt lights on, and I'm completely scary looking from lack of sleep. But of course I was thinking, "this guy moved the sign, he wants me to go in the forest alone".

I didn't know what to do. I went ahead and started running up the trail. I don't know how far I went, but I was scared out of my mind.

Seriously freaked out.

Have any of you seen "The Village"? You know the creepy forest they aren't supposed to go in? It was like that, but night. Honestly. I was praying in my head the whole time. So finally I couldn't take it anymore, I turned around and sprinted out, back to civilization, completely backtracking, knowing I'd have to go back again, adding miles onto my run. But I didn't care at that point.

I went back to the town and waited. And waited. And waited, until I saw a glimmer of other runners with a headlamps on. Three came running up in a group and I asked if I could tag along. We all plunged through the forest together. Then I felt completely fine. There were two men and 2 of us girls. They had a much faster pace then me (I'm really slow. I run the whole time, but it's sloooooow), so I had to sprint as fast as I could through 2 miles of forest with them, trying to keep up so I didn't get left behind. THEN in the middle of the forest trail, we run into two random males just "hanging" out. Scary. If I wouldn't have turned around and found the other runners, there I would've been with 2 random men in the forest. (come to find out later we get a text from the Ragnar people, well after I'm finished, warning us about some people "harassing" runners on that trail). Anyhow, I got through and finished that leg. That was supposed to be my "easy" leg , but to me it was the hardest. I felt like it would never end.

My last leg was good, but poorly marked. I ran into 3 different T's in the path with no sign directing me where to go, and no sign of the T's on the map I had stuffed in my sports bra. Already having run 12 miles by then (on combined runs) on little to no sleep, I was tired and didn't have the brain power to make a decision. I felt sort of like Alice, on Alice in Wonderland. I'd look around anxiously to any other runner in sight, pull my ear buds out of my ear and yell, "This way??" They'd yell back, "I don't know either!" So I'd make a quick decision, run, feeling okay and then second guess myself, slow down, look around and see if I could spot any other runners in sight.

I guess it's all sort of part of the experience though. I'm sure it sounds CRAZY to anyone reading who hasn't done it, but it was actually a really cool experience. It really was. I got to run in places I'd never seen before, be with a big group of girls that I love dearly and we did it. We are all mommies in our 20s, 30s and 40s, and we did it. We finished. And is it weird to say, that I'm sort of craving a run??

There's so much more to write about, like the time I peed on the side of the road and a car pulled up mid-stream, and needed us to move, or how 6 of us girls crammed into the van squished like sardines and tried to "sleep" for a couple of hours in the middle of the night before our next set of runs started up again, but it's just too much to write. I'm sure Shad's ears are already tired from listening and I feel like he doesn't even have a glimpse of the whole experience.

I asked him if he'd do it with me next Spring...the Southern Cal. Ragnar. A few of us would do it as couples. He said, "Sure. If you run all my legs for me". = ) I'd love to do it (not run his legs, but do a Ragnar as a couple) and run our night legs together. THAT would be fun. We'll see.

I have tons of pictures, but I'll have to post them another day.