This past weekend, I was rewarded with an amazing runcation (running vacation) adventure in Northern California. I got to run on an ultra team in the Ragnar Relay Napa Valley! It was such as amazing experience!!!
This was the first time that I really traveled for a running event. Traveling to Phoenix for races doesn't count, it's too close and in no way a vacation. So, I was especially excited to get on a plane and travel to a part of the world I have never been to before. :) I packed my bags and I packed light!! I was so impressed with myself. I should write a section on How to Pack for A Ragnar. Definitely on my to-do list.
|I actually packed light!|
I took the day off on Thursday and Friday so I could fly in early to San Francisco. And also, my planes always get delayed so I try to get on early flights so it won't affect me. This flight was only delayed by 30 minutes (so short!) so it definitely wasn't a problem.
|Flying into San Francisco.|
I arrived in San Fran and hopped on the BART (a train like transportation system) headed for Oakland. I was meeting up with one of my teammates to get the van and hotel situated. I got a mini tour of Berkeley, Telegraph Ave. and the University area. It is so beautiful in that area! We stopped for lunch at a place called Fat Slice in Berkeley. Yum!
|Fat Slice. Delicious!|
|View of the bay from Berkeley.|
Finally, we made it to the hotel and went out for dinner shortly after. We went to a place called CHOP Bar. It was delicious! A little pricey, but the food was fantastic. A great place for a pre-race dinner. I went with the carrot soup, pasta and of course, beer. :)
|View from the hotel in Oakland.|
I was definitely excited for this race. I had a little trouble sleeping. It was like I was going to Disneyland the next year. But this was about a hundred times better. I knew I would get to sleep in the car since I was the 6th runner so I wasn't too worried.
The morning of the race was very overcast. Now this was how I pictured San Francisco!
|Another view from the hotel, the morning of the race!|
We got our packets, shirt, did a safety briefing, and lined up at the start with Brian. This was Brian's first ragnar, and his first ultra! We were pretty impressed that he was willing to try a Ragnar, ultra style, for the first time. After our team started, we hopped in the car and drove to the first checkpoint to meet Brian. He was the 1st and 2nd runner, so he got to run across the Golden Gate Bridge. I think we were all a little jealous. ;)
|Golden Gate State Park. It was extremely foggy, but so|
|Brian finishing his first leg and on his way to the|
Golden Gate Bridge!
|This was all the bridge was going to let us see today.|
It practically disappeared.
|Brian just passed off to Emily. Greeting him after his run.|
|Making a quick stop is Sausalito for some Starbucks. :)|
|Emily coming in strong to finish up|
her 1st leg.
|Passing off to Richard.|
|Drinking water in|
Napa fashion....from a
We hopped in the van again and went to go meet up with Richard.
|Andrea brandishing the bright orange crossing flags.|
|Here he comes!|
Even late at the night, someone got out to give the runner water or cheer them on. I feel that's a must for very good Ragnar team, but the Half Case Discount runners (and driver Dan!) made it seem like they were more than happy to do it. :)
The next exchange was Exchange 6. I was particularly excited about this exchange because I wanted to buy some Ragnar gear (mostly sweatpants and other random things). This was a big exchange so a lot more was going on here. After we saw Richard run in and hand off to Brett, Emily and I got extremely distracted with the gear and booths that we late in getting back to the van. Oops. We were especially excited for the free Krave Jerky samples at the Krave booth. Yum oh YUM. That stuff was good. We ended up buying a few different flavors and sharing with the van. Oh what I will do for jerky. :)
|Richard handing off to Brett.|
|Man, this place is beautiful!! I would like to run some trails here!|
|Andrea, Dan and Emily waiting for Brett to come in. |
Andrea is an Ironman athlete so she was READY.
I am so impressed by this.
|Our "rival" team. We were keeping tabs on them |
throughout the race since they always seemed to
be around at the exchanges.
|She's ready to go!|
|Brett passing off to Andrea.|
|Comming into the next exchange. Her husband Dan is following her|
to make sure she is doing okay. How sweet!!
|Again, the area was absolutely beautiful!|
Too long of a wait!! I was going crazy!
I had 15 miles ahead of me on this leg....and it was only Leg #1.
|I was ready to RUN!|
|My exchange was at some cheese place.|
|And I was off! On my first stretch of road before the HILL.|
|On my way to Petaluma.|
|Some beautiful semi-secluded track.|
|Running next to a small airfield.|
But after that, it became a little harder. I knew I had to go 15 miles, but that extra 12 and then 10 kept popping into my head. I didn't want to run too fast. I want to save my legs, I kept telling myself.
The run itself was beautiful! A large hill in the beginning but then the few miles of downhill made up for it.
After that, I had to run through some neighborhoods with some killer hills. There was also nice alley track (that's what I'm calling it). There seems to be a lot of running paths in alleys in California. We don't have paths like these in Tucson so I was a little freaked out. Anything is an alley is dangerous and these look like alleys. I never felt unsafe, but you should always be careful.
Those one mile to go signs were my FAVORITE thing to see.
I was SO happy when I saw one. I pushed harder but that last mile always felt longer than it should have.
I began my leg with my night gear (lamp, butt light and reflective vest) because when I came running into the next exchange, it was already dark. I picked up my speed when I saw the exchange. I was so happy to be done with Leg #1!
More to Come:
Leg #2 and possibly Leg #3 together since I slacked on taking photos at night.
We all did. There's no point. The reflective gear we have to wear makes it impossible to see who anyone is.
Also, I spent the day after with my cousin Mark in San Francisco. So, I'll have to recap that too!