2011 Ragnar Great River Leg 5 Recap

For the 2011 Ragnar Relay – Great River edition I was the number 5 runner.  This is a different leg than I had last year and was the longest overall distance for the team.  An 8 mile, 6 mile, and 7 mile run sounded pretty intimidating and my first run was the worst.

Our team (MN Rocks) started in Winona at 9am and our lead off runner started us off quite well.  By the time it was my turn to run (at 1:30pm) the sun had been out beating down on us for hours and with there being virtually no shade along the road I prepared for an 8 mile run in rough conditions.  I had hydrated throughout the day and it the toilet a few times so I felt prepared for whatever Ragnar could throw at me.

Here is a map and the elevation chart (this chart looks bad, but the graph is only 200 feet – so the elevation spikes are pretty minimal).

I started out a little too fast which probably doesn’t surprise anyone who’s followed me for awhile.  But I did realize this and try to slow myself down.  I felt comfortable and that was pretty much my goal – to stay comfortable and try to hit 8:30 pace for most of the run. We ran through the cute little town of Alma to start the run.  The first part of this leg was on the Mississippi River which was beautiful (when the trains weren’t passing by).  The rest of the leg was near a smaller river and marshy land.

I was carrying water in my hand held water bottle and was drinking from it regularly, but by mile 4 I was really starting to feel the heat.  I started picking points up ahead and forcing myself to run to it and repeating that process.  After 3 or 4 times I realized it was unrealistic to continue doing that for 4 more miles and picked one more point and walked for a bit.  I walked, took my Gu, and drank a lot of water from my bottle.

I ended up walking 3 times before the end of my run.  One of the other vans let me squeeze a wet towel over my head/back and that helped cool me off! Thanks dude who let me use the towel!  This leg did have 2 water stops along the way which was nice.  The volunteers at these stops weren’t super-excited, but it was hot.  Most of the volunteers along the way were super-energetic and excited to be a part.

After the last time walking I ran for what seemed like a mile and decided that at the short little power line pole if I couldn’t see the exchange area I would take a short break.  As I turned the corner a little more I could see the bright orange vests of the spotters and knew I was within striking distance.  Each exchange has a set of spotters about 400 yards ahead of the exchange who communicate back to the exchange what runners are coming up so that the teammate is ready and waiting in the exchange chute!

Boy was I glad to be done, in the shade, and drinking some cool water!!  After relaxing for a few minutes, we hopped into the van and drove ahead to cheer on Aaron.  The problem with Ragnar is that you don’t get a lot of time to stretch and relax after your specific run.  I did take the opportunity to get out of the van and stretch while we waited for Aaron to pass us.

Here are a few random pictures from the first 1/3 of Ragnar:

Starting line:
Starting Area

Nick getting ready to start:
Getting Ready!

The First Exchange:

Once we passed the slap bracelet off to Van 2, we stopped at the Nelson Creamery for some much deserved air conditioning and real food!
Nelson Creamery

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