Ragnar Florida Keys….. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly….

2013 Ragnar – Florida Keys – Part I


This first Ragnar post is going to be a highlight of the good, the bad & the ugly aspects of our Ragnar adventure.  As I always say, “respect the distance”.  If you consider a particular race or event “easy”, then run harder.  It’s totally up to you to make each and every outing your own and get out of it as much as possible.  I also encourage you to respect your fellow runners and understand that something that may be easy for one, may be an epic adventure for another.  Respect the distance.  Respect your comrades in adventure.  Respect the adventure itself and that is when you will walk away with the fullest experience.

2013 Ragnar – Florida Keys – Team 2 Bros & 10 Does – THE GOOD

  • Amazing team – I got so lucky.  I  only knew a few members of the team going in and I totally lucked out.  All the members of the team were great.  The team worked together to support one another.  We took the “divide & conquer” approach and worked our way to the finish line, TOGETHER.
  • No pain.  I am happy to say that although I’m a bit “sore”, I had zero foot pain during, or after, the event.  The terrain was rough or slanted in many parts and I just carefully picked my way thru the bad spots, to avoid additional stress on my foot.  It worked. 
  • The maps, signs, directions were very accurate.  We didn’t have any problems getting where we were going.  This was a very point to point route.  Super easy. 
  • No Gator or Snake attacks.  Although we saw a few gators staring at our crazy adventure as we picked our way along a canal in the Everglades, I’m pretty sure they were scared of us cuz we were so bad ass tough.
  • Glow Sticks.  A team member brought us all Glow bracelets which we laced into our shoes.  Awesome.  Made my day.
  • Amazing sponsors!  Our shirts and decals from Family Fan Club were awesome!  Everyone loved the window decals.  They were attractive, easy to use, stayed on and peeled back off with ease.  Super cool!  The shirts were light and airy in the nasty heat & humidity.  The Aspaeris Pivot Shorts literally HELD US TOGETHER thru our legs.  Everyone loved the compression for both running and recovery.  I had a pair on non-stop for the last 30 hours of our adventure.  And God Bless, ShowerPill.  I can’t even possibly begin to say how much the ShowerPill athletic wipes saved us.  I have never been so hot, sweaty, disgusting after a run and not had access to a shower.  I used  a  ShowePill wipe after each leg (4x), and each time felt refreshed and clean.  I would never have made it thru without these and the other team members LOVED them too.               Ragnar Keys_van_sponsor decals-magnets
  • We finished.  All of our miles.  No leapfrogging.  We made to the finish, all by ourselves by helping each other.                            Ragnar Keys_finish shoot

 2013 Ragnar – Florida Keys – Team 2 Bros & 10 Does – THE BAD

  • Little to NO sleep.  The majority of  the time we were either running, supporting a runner, or driving to the next exchange.  When our van had some down time, while the other van was running, we had to leapfrog them to get to the major exchange where we would pick back up.  The major exchanges would have a few vendors, food, indoor bathrooms and public showers.  Some slept outside in the heat just to get a little rest.            Ragnar Keys_sleeping peopleThose of us unwilling to sleep on the ground in the heat, walked around, or hung out in the vans.  The van space was very limited so not much chance to stretch out.  We slept for short intervals but nothing restful or mentionable.  Pretty much as soon as anyone fell asleep someone would get into or out of the van or something would happen to awaken them. 
  • Little to NO real food.  With this being a long distance running event, we had to be very careful about food intake.  I tried to just focus on foods that would keep me fueled and hydrated without overeating.  So I mostly ate:  bananas, Nutrigrain bars, pickles, peanut butter, almonds & pretzels.  I did have a few protein bars, one chicken breast, a Skor candy bar & a glazed donut.  Had to keep the sugar, carb and salt intake up to avoid a crash.  I also used a Post Workout Recovery drink after each run leg, plus a Rehydrate Gel (or two) on each leg.  I Sparked for energy and drank Rehydrate.  It worked.
  • The darkness.  Wow, does it get dark.  It seemed like over half the event took place in the dark.  I’m used to running in the dark but I also run the same roads or trails, in the same area, every time.  I know the holes and rough areas of the road before I get to them.  I have the roads memorized. Not the case for Ragnar.  Headlamps and Knuckle Lights lit the way but the glow only went so far.  We ran by feel as much as by sight, constantly pushing forward at whatever pace we could manage.

2013 Ragnar – Florida Keys – Team 2 Bros & 10 Does – THE UGLY

  • Runner 2 – Leg 1 – Accosted by a man and a women in a poor area of Miami.  Scared the crap out of her.  The women was tugging at our runner.  Another runner came up from behind and helped get her away.  Was it dangerous?  Who knows but it was scary and it was the very beginning of our adventure.
  • Van 2 had a dead batter at the first major exchange, where they began running.  We helped jump their car battery & then fire rescue came to help.  Ragnar Keys_van issues
  • Runner 12 – Leg 1 – Spiral Fracture to the Tibia (shin bone).  She went to the ER with 2 of our other runners to help her.  One runner came back to finish the relay.  Runner 12 was set up for surgery before the FL hospital realized they weren’t capable of handling it.  The hospital then casted her entire leg from foot to upper thigh and sent her home for consult with an orthopedic surgeon.  Let’s all send our well wishes and cheers for speedy recovery to Runner 12!!  This situation left us with 10 runners.
  • Runner 1 – ME – Leg 2 – I was running a deserted trail between farm fields and someone shot a firework at me.  There was no question that “someone” was aiming for me cuz it only missed me by about a foot and was in the area of my mid back.  It did NOT come from the air.  Being from Chicago, when there is trouble, you don’t look around and ask WTF, you put your head down and run faster.   That’s exactly what I did.  No time for questions, I just kept moving.  I was all the way back to the exchange and someone noticed that I actually had black soot on my arm.  Good times. 
  • The heat & humidity.  No one is responsible for the weather.  You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.  It wasn’t pleasant.  It made the adventures so much harder but we once again, put our head down and ran and tried not to complain too much.  We focused on hydration, made sure our teammates were hydrating & fueling and just moving toward the finish.  Most of the time the runners on the side of the road running, looked very bad.  There were lots of emergencies from heat related matters.  Our van had a physician’s assistant and a nurse so we helped several people along the way.  Two that they helped had to be taken by ambulance, one they got going again until he could make it back to his van.  Crazy weather, leads to crazy, erratic running.

Over all, an amazing experience.  I personally covered 21 miles at an average pace of 9:14 min/mile.  That pace is NOT at all indicative of effort.  Myself, in addition to every runner on the team, ran our hearts out.  It was an all out battle of the heart to the finish.  Each and every runner did what they had to do to move us close to the finish.  We didn’t go fast, we just kept moving.  Some had to pick up an extra leg to cover the runners we lost.  No complaints.  We just focused on the finish.  An absolute adventure that I’m proud to have shared with my team.

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz