Last weekend I ran Ragnar Northwest Passage! What a great adventure!
A few months ago I said “yes, I’m going” to the race on Facebook and planned to find a team either through local running groups or on the FB event page where people often try to piece together teams. Within a few hours, my college roommate emailed me that her husband’s team of friends was traveling to the race (they live all over and last year did Cape Cod) and needed another member for the girls’ van. It made the whole thing super easy and everyone on the team was so great!
I wanted to do the race as a fun way to see my new state. The route starts at the Canada border in Blaine, goes down into Burlington, across Deception Pass and down to the south end of Whidbey Island ending in Langley. My first leg was six miles through Bellingham, which consisted of the cute downtown area, but also stoplights and then freeway overpasses, so it wasn’t my favorite, but that’s where the race photographer caught me, so of course I was all smiles. Also, I never run with a water bottle and thought with a few stops from the van for water, I’d be okay, but my teammates knew better and loaned me one of theirs for my longer runs. I’ll be stopping over at REI soon for my own!
My second leg was eight miles of rural roads in Mount Vernon run in the middle of the night, so you know Children of the Corn, kidnappers, urban legends, Hills Have Eyes type stuff. Again, my team was to the rescue stopping in front of a creepy-ass gas station so I didn’t even know I had run by it until they told me about it later. They kept their eyes on me for most of the first few miles, but I actually felt pretty comfortable and didn’t mind the solitude of the cool, dark miles. At the very end I saw a few runners far ahead of me (yay taillights) but yeah, otherwise, it was quite isolated. Finally, my last leg was four miles of rolling hills on my dead legs, but with gorgeous water and mountain views in Coupeville.
The team captain plotted out the runner numbers maybe about a month ago, so when I learned I had 18 miles, I stepped up my training a bit and felt really good leading up to the race. I also really think working out at Orangetheory helped so much. I am not good about doing strength or intervals or aggressive hill training on my own and the race hills were A.GGRESS.IVE. but I could handle them because OTF makes me do those things even when I don’t feel like it!
I was not, however, prepared for the heat. The team (Chafing the Dream, LLC, btw) picked this Ragnar because the average temps should have been in the 60s, but Washington is in the middle of a long, warm, dry summer and during our day runs, it was high 70s (+ direct sun + those hills). When the boys’ van did their final runs, it was about 85. Eek. Part of what got me through it was thinking about how many people would have died if it had been run in Arizona in July. Comforting, right? Basically, I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to say it’s hot because my desert dwelling friends and fam are dealing with so much worse! Plus, it did get cool enough at night that our girls’ van yetis established themselves as the best idea ever.
When our team decided who was running which leg we also got our start time. 11:30am. Hmmm. At first I thought that meant we were fast, but with a projected overall pace of 9:15, we were kind of decidedly average. We finished in about 31 hours and 22 minutes, which was a little slower than expected (thank you hills, heat, “food poisoning” aka a boy deciding to eat brisket in between legs). Put those things together and we were running the race pretty much on our own.
We started with a few of the actually fast teams and kept up for a bit, but I think I saw about 4 other runners on all of my legs. Total. At the major exchanges we saw a few more teams, but it was really lacking the Ragnar feel unfortunately. We definitely got good girl time and fun van time, so that was Ragnarish and overall it was a lot of fun!
And I was right about it being a great way to explore! Washington is gorgeous and I loved seeing parts of it I may not have seen otherwise and also seeing other people see it and thinking, yep, that’s pretty much why I moved here…northwest is best!
Since we finished pretty late, there was a crazy line to get on the ferry to Mukilteo so we drove around, basically the route we had run and we got to cross Deception Pass at the very end of the sunset. The night before we had driven it in total darkness. It was so beautiful!
And then I slept. Glorious sleep in my own bed and it was amazing.
Now I’m not sure what I’m training for, but I know I want to keep up my running and keep exploring my beautiful new home state! And/or other great places in another Ragnar!
Our awesome team captain, Julie, put together this recap video with footage from GoPros in both the vans. Watch til the end, I’m sure you’ll find it quite educational. I love watching it and reliving the fun weekend! (She’s a blogger too! Check out her blog, Diving Into the Gene Pool.)