Monday, June 9, 2014

Ragnar Chicago 2014 - Off Kilter

I have wanted to do a Ragnar for a few years now and it just has never worked out, so when a friend posted on facebook they were in need of 2 runners two weeks before I jumped at the chance. I am glad I did, I really enjoyed myself and I ended up on a team with some fun people. Great outfits and team name! We ended up getting a ton of compliments!!! And the usual question......what ya got under there?
Team Off Kilter ready to go. Kill or be Kilt!
There was quite a bit of shuffling since they found another runner last minute. I ended up being runner #3 with a total of 13.7 miles overall. Our team started at 9am and it was hot already, I was pretty excited that my first leg was only 2.7 miles. I wanted to bust out the best time I could since it was so short and I didn't want to disappoint right away.

I got to pass some major road kill right away that reeked and almost made me hurl, but I kept it under control and was surprised at the rolling hills, the elevation map is apparently zoomed out so it looked pretty flat. I could barely see someone in front of me and that was it, I could never catch her and I got passed once a little bit before the exchange by a strong runner. Leg 1 completed with a kilt! 2.7 miles "Easy" (9:32 average)

We went to get some lunch when our van was done at Subway and then hang out at the park for the next van exchange. Everyone in my van took a nap in the shade but I just could not, I did not really feel tired and could not sleep being warm and out in the open. I really need to work on being able to sleep outside my own bed!

Our Van started up again around 7:30pm, so we donned our night vests and started out. I took a look at the elevation map for my second leg and I knew I was in for some major hills. This elevation chart showed some pretty sizable ups and downs including one really long incline. I warned my team I may have to walk some of the hills, but I was happy it finally cooled down. I took off directly up hill and then reached the top only to be stopped for 3 minutes by a stoplight...GRRRR.

Once I got going again I felt good and I tried to keep a nice even pace to keep me going through the leg. I was excited to see that I had tons of people ahead of me and not feel alone out there in the dark. I think I like hills better in the dark since I wasn't able to gauge how they were until I was running them. The combination of the dark, being around people and having some fresh meat had me conquering these hills like they were nothing. I came flying into the exchange with a smile on my face, I loved every minute of that leg! I ran this with my kilt as well and flashed a few fellow runners my shorts! Leg 2: 5.4 miles "Moderate" (9:25 average)

We all flew through our night legs and we had to make sure to give our other van a decent heads up as our final runner was trying to nail his 3.1 mile leg in 21 minutes. We didn't want them to oversleep his speediness, and they still were scrambling a little when we showed up and our runner came in a few minutes after. We ate a little pasta and meatballs and headed to the next exchange point at the YMCA, we managed to spot a kids play area with some squishy flooring. I couldn't find the showers so I just used the bathroom and gave myself a quick towel bath and changed into clean clothes. I tried to sleep but being in what felt like a 100 degree room and again, I sleep like crap away from home. We had about 2 hours to sleep and I think I maybe managed an hour. We got the call the final runner was out and we had to get ready. We were all zombies and not at all ready to go again.

We were off again shortly before 4am, I was hoping my stomach cramps would go away before I had to run because I needed to try and get something in my stomach. It slowly went away and I began to get ready for my last leg. The sun was just starting to come up along the beach as I was waiting for my runner to come in.

I felt completely silly wearing sunglasses, a headlamp, taillight and a safety vest. I would be taking off just before the night hours would be over so I was stuck looking like that! I was happy to know the first few miles of my leg from the WI half marathon and I took off wanting to not let the two teams my runner just passed get me. I looked back shortly thereafter and I was happy to see I left them in my dust! Again though I was out by myself, finally about 2.25 miles I spotted someone ahead of me. I slowly reeled them in and finally passed them around mile 4. The last straightaway towards the exchange felt like it would never come, I realized why this leg was rated the way it was, a long slow uphill away from the lakeshore. I got passed right at the end by two ridiculously fast dudes, just not enough of a lead there! Leg 3 5.6 miles "Hard" (9:38 average)

Van 1 completed!!

Our van was finished and we headed out for breakfast at IHop, and headed into Chicago to get the shuttle to the finish line. That felt like forever that we had to wait around for our team, finally we got the word our final runner was out, they dropped another runner off 2 miles before the finish to help escort them into the finish. We finished a little over 29 hours, got our picture with the DJ and the CARA group got our pic, they loved us too!
196.1 miles completed!!

We polished off our free beer, hung out for a bit and parted ways since everyone was exhausted. We cleaned out our vans and switched up based on where everyone needed to go and headed out. Our van stopped for some dinner and then I drove us the rest of the way home. I figured when I got home I would shower and crash, but I managed to have enough energy to unpack before finally passing out.

I loved the atmosphere of the race and the creativity of the teams out there. I would totally do another one of these again if I had the opportunity. I think it's a great way to see some sights and even get to know areas better that you thought you knew.

I really enjoy relays and I am going to find a way to fit more of them in my schedule. I seem to pull out times that I only wish I could during my own races!


  1. I'm so glad you had a fun time! I love the team costumes too! Did the race seem well organized to you?

    Great job on your paces Lishy! I was a slow poke by my last leg when I ran a few years ago.

    1. I think their signage along the course was good, but their van routes didn't always make sense and we adjusted it. Signage at the big exchanges could have been better... ,,hello where is the damn showers? I am not spending 30 minutes trying to find it when I just want to sleep!

  2. I am happy you got to do this AND had a good time. Fantastic paces!


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