#TheFastestNarvaez – Ragnar Relay SoCal 2014 Day 1

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Holy crapsickles, you guys.  Ragnar. was. awesome.  I don’t even know where to start because I am at a loss for words.  The relay was amazing and I had so much fun.  I am in love and cannot wait for the next one!  So, this race recap will be broken up into two parts … just so I don’t bore you for over 2000 words in one sitting ;)

As mentioned previously, the Ragnar Relay SoCal was my first relay and spanned 195 miles from Huntington Beach to San Diego, CA.  I joined a team supporting the Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center and ran alongside my cousins and friends–both old and new!

I took the train up to my hometown of Irvine on Thursday night and spent time with my family before the race.  After an attempt to go to sleep “early” to prep for my 3 AM wake up call, I awesomely woke up at 12:30 AM and could not fall back asleep for the life of me.  So … when 3 AM rolled around for me to “wake up” I simply got up and went about my normal race morning prep.  I met up with the rest of my van 1 teammates at 3:45 AM and headed over to the start line in Huntington Beach.

After getting a safety brief from Ragnar officials, we proceeded to get our bibs, RagMag (booklet that details the course, all of the legs, the exchanges, and other info), and other goodies.  Side note about this pickup–it was extremely hectic and I am hoping this pickup was not as crazy for the rest of the day because it resulted with all the 5:30 AM starts to start 15 minutes late.  I even saw some poor exchanges between a volunteer and a runner arguing with each other; not the best way to start off a race, I must say!

As I was runner 1, I started us off the Huntington Beach coast for 5.9 miles.  It was still pitch dark out, and as a part of Ragnar, all runners on course are required to wear a headlight, tail light, and reflective vest between the hours of 6:30 PM and 6:30 AM.  During my first leg, I will never forget the sight of all of those runners ahead of me, blinking red tail lights trailing behind them.  It was truly unforgettable to look ahead and not see hundreds of runners, but solely blinking lights and reflective gear, all in a line running to the next exchange.  Hands down one of my favorite parts of the race.  It just goes to show how powerful and large the running community is.

photo 1Sunrise over Huntington Beach during my first leg

After my first leg, our van alternated between running, meeting our teammates at exchanges, and stopping mid-leg to cheer our teammates on.  Typically while one of your runners is on their leg, the rest of the van provides support if available (water, cheers, etc.).  Throughout the drive we would see other Ragnar vans, on the way to the next exchange, stopping to cheer, honking at the runners.  Again, obviously I am all about the running community and it brought a smile to my face to see how many vans there were to support their runners.  So inpiring and warms my heart (cue the “aww”).

photo 1Top: My cousin Joe being his typical goofy self; Bottom: Supporting Rael with water during his first leg!

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 10.51.56 AMJoe waiting for Jon at the exchange

After our van ran their first legs (and after we met the cutest new shih tzu friend named Bandit), we met van 2 at exchange 7 at the Orange County Great Park, where they took over for legs 7-12.  Since our van finally had a moment to take a break, we walked around the “sweet happenings” and I bought myself a new Nuun water bottle and some tablets, before our van headed out for lunch (only after sitting in outrageous traffic just to get out of the Great Park–note to Ragnar, fix this for next year!).  After grabbing Greek food in Laguna Niguel, our van headed over to exchange 13 at Doheny State Park in Dana Point to rest and try to catch some sleep before we switched again.

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 12.00.27 PM

Our new friend Bandit

The next couple of hours consisted of an attempt to rest.  We gathered up our sleeping bags, set them on the grass, and relaxed beachside.  A little while after my attempted nap, I ended up being lucky enough to find my old friend Tyler, who I had not seen in over a year.  Best surprise ever! I love reunions–especially while running ;)

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Sleepy runners

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 12.05.33 PMTyler and me at Doheny State Beach

Around 6:15 PM, the Jackie, last runner in van 2, arrived, and I waited at the exchange for my next and second leg!  This leg was 11.9 miles and started off in Dana Point, ran through San Clemente, and ended in San Onfore.  This leg was deemed very hard, especially because of the lack of van support.  I felt … alright at the beginning of this leg; I definitely had not digested all of my lunch so my tummy was not very cooperative, but after a couple of miles I found my stride and had a blast with my fellow runners and made some kills ;)  Once I hit San Onofre, it got pretty dark, and running alongside the 5 South was pretty neat!  With all of the distractions, the 11.9 miles flew by, but I must say that time of the day is not my cup of tea!  Lack of sleep, an early morning–it was challenging run!  HOWEVER, Ragnar was totally awesome and at the end of my leg they provided all of us with awesome beer glasses that say something along lines of how we ran 11.9 miles without van support in a 200 mile relay (pretty much displaying our awesomeness).  That was an awesome treat at the end of the challenging leg!  

photoAnother 11.9 miles completed!  Thumbs up for an awesome pint glass ;)

After my second leg, the rest of our van continued on with their runs, and I’m not going to lie … I was out of it.  Sitting in the back seat with an hour of “sleep” since 12:30 the night before … you can imagine that I was dying get some rest.  I think I fell asleep for about an hour while the rest of my van completed their legs.  Finally we hit Oceanside, where we exchanged with van 2 for their second set of legs and our van headed off to grab some food and try and get some sleep.

Come back later this week for part 2 of my recap!  Trust me … I have some good stories ;)

jn

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