Monday, November 12, 2012

Race Recap - Ragnar Las Vegas

I love Ragnar Relays, I really do. My experience is that they are so organized, so on the ball, and so stinkin’ fun that it takes a month for me to wipe the smile off my face after the finish.

This Vegas Ragnar… well… it suffered. I don’t know if they had a new organizer, or that Ragnar was stretched to thin because of Tennessee occurring on the same weekend… I don’t know, but this one didn’t seem to be on the ball.

Geez… I hate to talk bad about Ragnar, but maybe if I do… they’ll pull it together a little better the next time.

Here’s the thing. I’ve run 4 Ragnars now and my experience is that their routes are very well signed, routes for the support vans are also very well planned. (Van 1 parks here, Van 2, parks here and takes this route out of the parking lot… et cetera.) This one… not so much. I think that the problems will emerge as the report goes on.

Leg 1 - 7.1 miles, Hard
1:05:52





We got into Vegas just as the sun was going down on Thursday night. We were staying at a time share that Nicole (Van 2’s captain) has on the strip. It was totally nice, with three different pool areas, full kitchen, the whole enchilada… so to speak. At about 7 we headed over to this Irish Pub that was doing a free pasta dinner for the runners. I know… Irish… pasta… it doesn’t quite scan, but we went, the food was great, the place was totally crowded, and it was fun!

Bed time came pretty early because Van 1 had to be out the door by 4:30am in order to get up to Mt. Charleston for our 6:30 start time. So after carb-loading a bit more on oatmeal and toaster waffles (My favorite pre-race food) we headed off into the cold wind.

You can't see it in this picture, but it's snowing.
And I LOVE the whole Tron vibe we've got going here
 
The temp was a brisk 30 degrees when we got out of the car, did a short freezing safety briefing, checked in, and at 6:30 I was finally running, and finally started to feel my blood begin to defrost.

This was a long downhill run, but it was beautiful, and with the wind at my back, not a bad run. My only problem came at about the 4th mile when I moved over to the shoulder a bit to let a faster runner pass me at the same time a couple of vans were coming up the road toward us. The road has kind of a hard shoulder, and while I was moving over, my foot hit that shoulder, my ankle rolled and down I went. It’s a strange thing when your legs are so tired that they are unable to stop your forward, downward momentum. So I have a small scrape on my knee, but no blood, nothing bad. My thanks to the runner who stopped to help me up and to see if I was ok. I don’t know his name or his team number, but a good guy non-the-less.

Leg 13 - 6.4 miles, Moderate
1:19:45


The starting point for this leg was at a Marriot Resort… Very Posh… Very Vegas. When we got there, we were all starving, so we grabbed the best Tomato Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches ever. On cold days, this is my comfort food. I did feel a little strange walking through this very nice resort in my sweaty running shorts and jacket. Oh, well.

So Stinkin' Cold!
 
After that, we camped on the lawn for a couple of hours, You’ll notice in the picture that everyone was sleeping in the sun because it was so cold.

While waiting for Nicole to come in, I was standing by the exchange and spied a group of people speaking ASL to each other. Wouldn’t you know, one of them was my ASL teacher from college. So I talked (in sign) with him for a bit, and he was very disappointed to find out that I’ve lost much of my vocabulary… oh well.

Long story short… Nicole came in, and I went out, and ran 6.4 miles, uphill, mostly into the wind. It sucked, and it took me about 15 minutes longer than it should have. I had asked the van to check on me at about the 2 mile mark, they didn’t catch up to me until about the 3.5 mile mark because they were stuck in the parking lot at the Marriot. Here’s also where Ragnar kind of slipped up. I had looked at the map, and had a basic idea of the route’s shape, but I didn’t worry about it to much, because Ragnar always has tons of signs. Well, not so much on this one, at just about every cross street, I (and other runners) had to think, “well if there’s no sign… I must go straight.” So there were a few times that I thought, “Geez, am I in the right place?”

After the run, I went into a Dunkin Doughnuts, and got a cup of hot chocolate. Oh my gosh I miss Dunkin Doughnuts… we don’t have them in Salt Lake any more.

Leg 25 - 5.6 miles, Moderate
1:12:35

It was about midnight when we all finished our legs, and the temp had dropped into the basement. We were only a few miles from the condo at this point, so we hopped into the van, cruised over to the condo, and slept the sleep of the dead.

At about 4am we got a call that van 2 was about an hour out, so we loaded up, choked down some breakfast and headed out. The exchange was at the same place we had been 4 hours earlier. Van 2 had to do a “Crap Miles” out and back. Which kind of ticked us all off, because you’re doing miles… but you aren’t advancing to anywhere.

At first, I was feeling pretty sick to my stomach, but in an effort to get something in my stomach, I downed a GU, and surprisingly started to feel better. They had a Hot Chocolate station at the exchange, but were out of hot water and didn’t know when they would be getting more… which was a disappointment since… I was literally freezing.

The route was kind of fun, since it started out going down St. Rose Ave. which is the same road I ran up on the last leg of my first Ragnar Relay in 2009… so it was cool! Then the leg turned up hill and just kept on going up.

You know there are times that you’re running up a hill, and your thinking… “It’s gotta stop going up eventually… Right?” This one didn’t. The last mile was so steep, it reminded me of the Suck Hill I went up on the Wasatch Back.

Well, the leg ended at a Starbucks, so I went in and got the best Hot Chocolate I have EVER had in my life. It was like drinking a Three Musketeers bar.

So, again… my pace totally sucked… but I was done.

One of the pool areas at the Condo... You'd never know it was 50 degrees out... Huh?
 
After finishing our 3rd legs, we went back to the condo, sat in the hot tub (probably not the best idea since an Ice bath would have been better) but we were so cold, and just wanted to be warm again. Then we headed off to the finish line at Lake Las Vegas. We followed the signs to the parking lot… after that, there were no signs… so we wandered. We wandered though crowds of non-running folk at a beer tasting thing, and then we wandered into a wedding party, and then we caught a glimpse of Orange tents… on the other side of the freaking lake. “How the hell do we get over there?” was some of the things we heard from other lost runners.

I'm not swimming!  Medal be damned!
 
So we found the bridge, got to the party and waited for van 2.

We got the call that Nicole had started, and since her last leg was 5.2 miles we knew that we had some time, so we got into the really long line to pick up our Saints and Sinners medals, we wandered the gear tent, and took phone calls from Van 2, who were also lost trying to find the finish line.

We kept looking at our watches so that we would be over at the finish line when Nicole came in so that we could all run in together… but suddenly, with about 20 minutes to go… here’s Nicole… finished. Van 2 hadn’t even shown up yet… we didn’t hear our number called… nothing… suddenly we were done. Someone asked Nicole “Did you sprint your 5 miles?” Her reply was “I only ran, like, 3 miles.”

The full team... together at last!
 
So ya, good feeling gone… we got our medals, took some pics and were off to find a good steak dinner and celebrate our own selves.

Van 1, at the end... still freezing.
 
No… really… all-in-all it was a good race, and we totally had fun despite the cold. I just think that Ragnar kind-of screwed the pooch on the organization of this one, and I really didn’t like the new route, it was way to urban (or sub-urban) and not enough pretty Red Rock. They should really rethink Las Vegas.

Here are some more pictures from the race:

A shout out to our sponsor... Because they rock!

The wind was so strong, it was blowing over the Honey Buckets... onto the doors...
I hope no one was in them at the time.

I just thought that this was such a cool picture.
 
One more shout-out to FatBoy Ice Cream, because they were so good to us.
 

5 comments:

Redhead Running said...

That's a bummer that they dropped the ball on things. I helped out on a Ragnar that was actually their first go at taking over another relay event, it was SUCH a cluster! There are so many logistics for a race like that, that I always give them a bit of a break if things aren't perfect.

Murph said...

Ya, I'm with you about giving them a break. I'm kind of sure that this was the first event that the race director was in charge of. And with everything that has to be covered, things are going to happen. Plus, I'm sure that the weather wasn't helping either. But, we had fun and will totally run Ragnar again... I'm already on a Wasatch Back team. ;)

Suz and Allan said...

Glad you had such a great time despite a few hiccups on their end! I can only imagine how delicious that hot chocolate was at the end when you were finished.

susette said...

Oh man this makes me a little bit nervous for my first ragnar next year. But Wasatch back has deep roots and I'm running with people who have lassoed at this rodeo before. But still, I'm just nervous about doing a ragnar!!

So sorry about the cold weather, that's just sad.

Murph said...

Susette, nothing to worry about. I'm not much of a runner, and I've done 4 of these babies. And this was the first one to kind of go bad for me. You'll do great!

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