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<span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Ragnar</span></span> <span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Relay-Great River</span></span> <span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">August 24-25th</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;"><span style="font-size:medium;"><i>man did this turn out long-sorry.</i></span></span></span><br><br><b><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Fort</span></span></b> <b><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Hose</span></span></b> <span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">who do not know how one of these relays works, here is the low down.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Your team has 12 people (two vehicles with 6 runners in each) the race is divided into 36 Legs of varying lengths (2.9 miles up to 8.3 miles) and difficulty (easy, moderate, hard or very hard). Each runner runs in sequence (1-12) rotating through three times thus running 3 legs each. Our relay started in Lacrosse, WI and finished in Minneapolis, MN. About 208 miles of total distance covered. (There are Ultra teams that do it with 6 (or fewer people) as well-that is nuts)</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Our team took 29 hours and 41 minutes placing us 37 out of 99 finishers (and 4 teams did not finish) about an 8.5 min/mile pace.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">We were made up of a solid group of runners, not ultras, or anything like that, but solid. My van actually had a bonus as well. We had a driver. A runner who was supposed to be with is but was forced to drop out 2 weeks before with a foot injury he tried to train through but simply could not. His wife was runner 12. He was a huge help driving, especially at night.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Okay, here is my story. I was runner 9 of 12 (legs 9, 21, 33). Our team had an 11am start time on Friday (8/24) so our first van took off for Lacrosse in the morning (we live a hair less than 2 hours from there so not a bad drive). Our goal was to average somewhere between 8 and 8.5 min/mile miles and the Ragnar website had a tool that allowed you to plug in each runner’s projected pace and thus estimate the arrival time at all of the exchanges. We expected the first van to arrive in Fountain City, WI to hand off to us around 4:20pm Friday. We arrived about 3:10 so we had plenty of time. The first group fell just a hair off pace so we had a little over an hour to wait until our first runner took over (runner 7 of 12). She took off about 4:38. It was awesome to meet briefly with the first group (my DW was in that van as runner #3). They looked good, but are ready for a break as we take off to start our 6 legs.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">I was plugged in at an 8min/mile pace. This was soft for my two short runs, but seemed realistic for my first and most difficult one.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Our first two runners cruised and I stepped up at about 6:30pm. My leg was 7.9 miles and rated Hard. My goal was to run my projected 8s or a hair better. Someday I will learn the significant advantage of running my first mile well below my goal pace and then get faster every mile after that to end on pace. Instead, I opened this run with a 7:19 mile. It was hard, but not killing me, so I backed off a little and ran my second mile in 7:45. Still hard, but I am feeling good, mile 3 in 7:43. I see my team parked at just past the 3-mile mark and I have my strap-on water bottle so I wave and they cheer. I am loving this pace, mile 4 again 7:43. Now however, I am feeling the pain of the opening 7:19 and the first quarter of mile 5 is a 70 foot climb damn near straight up and it puts the freakin hurt on me, At the top of this short hill I take a squirt out of my water bottle and it feels like I shoot it straight into my lungs, I have to walk for like 30 seconds and I damn near cough my lungs out to get goin again, the result is mile 5 clocks in at 8 flat which actually sucks because it was all down hill after that initial climb. …. I see my team again at the start of mile 6 and I try to hide my discomfort and tell em I still have enough water, meet me at the finish. Mile 6 is a slight climb virtually the entire mile and clocks in at an UGLY 8:36. (my slowest mile of the entire relay). When I see that 8:36 on my garmin I am beyond pissed at myself; however I am hurting bad and feels like I can do nothing about it. I caught a slight downhill in the next mile so I am able to put down mile 7 in 8:04, but it is killing me. It seems like I have nothing left for that last .9 but manage to do it in like 7:09 so a sub 8 mile pace. I have one of my teammates to thank for that, I could hear him screamin encouragement at me from over a half mile out and I just kept pushing. I finish in just over 62 minutes. The very first thought I had was, I need to train on more hills that was horrible. My second thought was, I ran about 2 minutes under my goal so I am overall happy. I take maybe 3 minutes to get my mind straight and we need to get in the van to drive up ahead of the next runner to cheer her on.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">The final three legs were wild, we kept jumping about 1.5 miles ahead of the runner because it was dark now and wanted to make sure they knew we were there. We arrive in Stockholm, WI at like 11:30pm or so. we send off the other van, use the bathroom, and then drive ahead to the location of our next van hand off (exchange 1<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/cool.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Cool"></span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Exchange 18 is in Prescott, WI at the high school. We arrive at like midnight. They have spaghetti, showers, and most importantly mats in the gym where you can catch some sleep. I skipped the shower, ate fast and crashed for 2 hours of sleep. We expect them to arrive sometime between 4:00am and 4:30am. We are all awake by about 3:20 and get loaded up and head out to the exchange position. They call us at about 3:40 and let us know we should be ready to roll by 4:15am. They arrive to hand off at like 4:18am. we had a little time to chat with them before their runner arrives and you can see that these 6 people have put everything they had into their first two legs. there is no chance I am letting up in my next run, I would feel like I was letting them down even if they never saw me on the road. We need to get out in front of our first runner with water and directions as it is still very dark so we get out their pretty fast. Again our first two runners cruise and I get on at 5:40am. still dark so I am wearing a headlamp that fits on the bill of my visor, cool thing.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">My leg is 5.0 miles rated Moderate. This was a fun exchange as we are seeing lots of other teams now (teams that started at 9 and 10am…we have made up over an hour on a bunch of these teams), where as in our first leg there was only like 2 teams around us. A woman goes out maybe 2 minutes in front of me and I can tell I will have a shot to catch her early in the 5 miles. My route starts out with a slight down hill for a half mile but quickly climbs upwards again for the second half mile. I convince my self to back off on the downhill and run mile 1 in 7:47. I feel great. I see my van at mile 1 and tell them to catch me at 2.5 with water. As I pass out van I can see I am going to easily catch the gal in front of me as we keep climbing slightly upward to about 1.75 miles. As we get to the crest of the hill I pass her and start picking it up. Mile 2 is 7:36. I remember from my elevation chart that at about 2.5 I start running gradually down hill for the entire second half of this run. My team meets me at the 2.5 as planned I grab a quick swallow of water and start using gravity to my advantage, I run 7:35 in mile 3 and I feel amazing. Keep cruising down the hill, mile 4 is 7:23. I open it up in the last mile and I finish in 37:10. my garmin measured it a hair short, but my last mile was still blazing fast low 7s for sure. Overall it is something like a 7:26 pace I think, I crush. The only negative was I got passed at the 3 mile mark like I was standing still by a guy who had to be over 3 minutes behind me at the start, turns out he is on the winning men’s team, no way I am running with that guy. It was funny, as he passed me he said, “keep at it you look strong” my response was “if I look strong what the hell do you look like passing me?” he got a good laugh out of that.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">No time to enjoy my monster run though, again 3-5 minutes walking it off and back in the van. We continue to leap frog about 1 mile ahead of our runner to offer water , cheer etc.…it was so much fun.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">The next major exchange to hand off to van 1 for their final legs is just across the river (over the Stillwater lift bridge for you MN peeps) into MN. We got there about 10 minutes ahead of our runner and we find out there was some sort of shooting the night before right in the neighborhood runner #2 is supposed to go through. The streets have been closed and they had to do a last minute reroute for runner 2. He had 3 miles added on to his final run! He jumps from an easy 4.4 to 7.4 moderate run. just for a piece of perspective, this guy already took on one of the top 3 hardest sets and his second leg was rated as very hard where he made a 325 foot climb over the course of 2 miles. With less than an hour’s notice he now has to run 3 more miles than he was preparing for. His total mileage ends up being 22.4 or something. He is a machine and by all accounts from van 1, he just pounded it out without complaint. I bow down to him.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">We jumped ahead like 20 miles to a state park in Woodbury arriving at like 9:00am where we expect them to arrive around noon. This exchange site was the coolest. Probably 2/3 of the teams in the relay are there waiting for van 1 to show up so they can go on. It is a cool feeling to know that we caught all of these people that started 1, 2 or even a 3 hours ahead of us. I got to talk with a bunch of other runners and stuff. Way cool environment. I got only a 10-minute nap in because I simply did not want to miss anything.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">While at this leg I had a great moment where my wife called me to tell me her split on her final leg of 2.9 miles. She runs a 25:11. a pace well below 9 min miles, a pace she has never run at before. She was fired up big time, she could not see me, but I got teary-eyed when she told me because I know how much it meant to her to do well in this. Great moment.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Van 1 arrives at about noon and we are ready for the final legs. We have about 29 miles left to cover. The exchange areas are now a blast, there are people all over. My final leg is 4.2 miles rated as easy. My teammate and another gal come in at the same time so I leave the exchange with a woman who is maybe in her mid 20’s, tops. This gal proceeds to put down a 7:13 mile on me and I am with her every step of the way…HUGE mistake on my part. I learned nothing from my brilliant 5-mile run where I opened with my slowest mile and</span></span> <span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">then just kept getting faster. Instead I repeat the mistake I made in the 7.9 miler and at 1.5 miles into this final leg I am in trouble, big trouble to be honest. This girl buries me, her pace never fell off as she disappeared on me. During my marathon in May I was tired and fighting cramping, but I never had the mental beat down I was feeling in this run. It took everything I had to hang on. Mile 2 is like 7:43 and my team is right there with water after that mile and I need it and them bad. Mile 3 like 7:44 so I hold my pace but I am so done. With 1.2 miles to go I am in pure survival mode and I was ready to pack it in, but did not let myself do it. I distinctly remember at one point thinking about Voo's advice for DocChris when he was hurt and said out loud to myself...<b>Cowboy the F$CK up Dom, you got 11 other people out there who need you</b>. Mile 4 I think was 8 flat, and it was the hardest 8 min mile I have ever run. They had a spotter about .2 of a mile from the exchange to radio ahead your number so your next runner could get ready. When I had that person in sight I physically wanted to cry, it was almost over. I was able to pick it up a little and finish 4.2 miles in 32:06 with like a 7:41 average pace I think. I put everything I had in this run. I could have been smarter and opened with a much slower mile, but once I made that mistake I went as hard as I could. I let out a huge string of profanities as I came to the exchange that I felt bad about afterwards, glad there where no kids around! No time to celebrate finishing this bitch, back in the van almost instantly. Our next runner enters a trail at like mile 1.8, we have to catch her before then to get her water. I could hardly step up into the van, my legs are so wobbly.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">The final 3 legs are a blur, our last three runners all had trails as part of their route so we were in and out of the van like mad trying to see them at the points we could. Our final runner entered a pedestrian bridge with 1.8 miles to the finish at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis, we sped ahead , found the van 1 group (who had showered and had about 3 beers in ‘em) waiting for us at the finish. We set up about 30 yards in front of the finish and waited for our final runner and then filled in behind her to finish with all 12 of us together.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">As far as the race organization went, we all felt there could have been more signs and better van directions at times when the runner was in trails etc and not visible. This was especially true when we got into the twin cities area, But we also have to keep in mind that the two guys running this has a major reroute due to the bridge collapse two weeks ago and then a last minute route change because of that shooting! I would give them a 9/10 on race organization for sure..</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">To say this was an amazing experience would be an understatement. I am an emotional person and no question my serious lack of sleep is playing a role, but I keep getting all chocked up about it still. I am certainly part of an online running community here in the 30’s group and have some great friends and family (most importantly my wife) here at home who run, but still running for me has been about an individual experience and goals. The Ragnar Relay showed me a side of running I simply had not seen yet, running as a team sport. A shared experience where every person is pulling for you no matter what your pace is or is not. They know it hurts because they are right there with you. They cringe as they drive up ahead of you and see a hill coming that you will have to attack. They jump out of the van to make sure you get water, to make sure you hear their voices and see their faces. When you finish your leg, they look you in the eye and tell you what you just did was amazing, because they know it was. They saw what you did for the team. They saw what kind of agony you were willing to endure for them and they were more than willing to do the same for you when it is their turn.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">Over the span of 29 hours and 41 minutes, I watched 11 people push themselves to the limit for me and the others on the team and I did nothing less than that for them as well.</span></span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;"><span style="font-family:Verdana;">It would be silly for me to believe that all of the teams in Ragnar-Great River had the overwhelming positive experience we had. But I am betting most of them did. If you are a runner of any level, I encourage you to think about preparing for and doing a relay like this some day. I would like to call it a once in a lifetime experience, but the thing is we were not even done and the unanimous decision was made that we are so coming back in 2008. I hope we see some of you there as well!!</span></span>
 

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<b>Dom</b> - Holy cow!! Your spirit impresses me, to read about your pride in your teammates and especially your wife, and then to read your own contributions. . .you've certainly made me proud! Congratulations!!!!!
 

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Bravo <b>Dom</b>... BRAVO! Geez dude you got me all teary-eyed too. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"> Sounds like a phenomenal experience and one I must try myself. Rest up and enjoy the success of your journey.<br><br>
Big congrats to Mrs. Korbels too!!!
 

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Very impressive my friend, very impressive. Especially loved the part about the Mrs.
 

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Kick Ass! That's awesome. Way to Go Dom!<br><br>
12 30 somethings and two vans...we might could work something out like that. I'd be in.
 

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This is my favorite part of a fantastic race report. Sounds like an amazing experience!
 

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Nice job! It's a lot of pressure when you have teammates counting on you, isn't it? Even though you committed to 8:00/mile and crushed it, just the thought of slowing down is tough to stomach.
 

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<b>Way to kick ass Dom!</b><br><br>
Awesome report, it sounds like a great time. In that awful, torturous way.<br><br>
Congrats to you and Mrs. Dom!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
thank's for all the kind words gang, I am still on a high, my body hates me, but mentally I am soaring still.
 

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Hey <b>Dom!</b><br>
Sorry I didn't chime in earlier! Great effort!<br>
I'm happy for you and <b>Mrs. Korbel</b> <span style="font-size:xx-small;">(that really is her name, you know?).</span><br><br>
I love that you really really were there for your team!<br><br>
Super Dude!
 

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Yeah...great job <b>Korbs</b>. Huge kudos to the <b>Mrs</b> for busting out a can o'whoop ass on the Ragner.<br><br>
RTB '08?
 
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