The short version of this would be:
We crushed it, knocked 2 hours off our time from last year and won the race (I think).
The longer version is a bit more interesting.
We arrived at Saratoga Springs at 4:30 on Friday morning. I drove into Syracuse that morning and caught a van at around 2AM.
Our first team D started at 6:00AM, team C at 6:30AM and team D at 8:00. My team started at 1:00, so we had time to kill.
After seeing the first few teams off, we went to a health food grocery store to eat and chill. I was definitely ready for some food at that point. It also gave me a chance to meet and get to know a few new teammates. I think I was the only person in our van who isn’t an ultra runn and I was the youngest.
Racing Team Roster
When we get back to the start line, we found out that if we chose, we could start the race at noon instead of 1 if we so choose. So, we started.
I was leg 6 in van 1, so I got to wait and watch all my teammates run first. Two new guys, Jason Mintz and Mike Weldon were two new to Ragnar runners and they totally crushed their legs, clocking sub 6 miles and getting us ahead.
When it came to my leg, I felt ready to go. The first two miles were a bit frustrating as I ran through a busy section in town. I had to stop multiple times for traffic and people. My first few splits were a bit slower, in the 6:30s range, but after I got out of town I picked it up. I had a nice road section of rolling hills and then came to a steep downhill trail. Being the only runner in my van who doesn’t regularly run trails, I was the most under qualified for this section. I focused on not falling down.
As I neared mile 5, I saw a “one mile to go” sign. I thought my leg was 5.7 miles, so when I got to 6, I thought I had made a wrong turn. I started getting a bit upset with myself, because I made a wrong turn last year. However, I saw another Ragnar sign and eventually made it to the exchange. I passed it to Dana who was the first runner in van 2.
My team was then off for a few hours, so we fueled up, rested and watched Mike and Alan pound tons of vegan snacks. You know they are ultra runners, because holy sh*t they can EAT!
We started our next series of legs at about 6:30PM and again everyone crushed them. When I was coming up, I just felt off. I have been struggling with confidence in my racing lately and although I knew I had nothing to prove, I still felt almost sick with anxiety. Thank you to my team who was so supportive and great. They talked me down off my pedestal and I started my leg of 8.7 miles.
Running at night is always something foreign to me. Tonight I felt fine once I got going, but I was lonely. There aren’t too many runners out there and the night feels empty. I thought I heard wolves, but it was most likely in my head. There was a bear sighting, but I saw no wild life, just blinking red lights. I made it to the next exchange in about an hour, accomplished, but not too impressed with my time. (Again, thank you to who talked me out of my funk).
Our team then went to the next major exchange, which was a creepy race track with no indoor bathrooms or anything. We just all slept inside the van and tried to rest before our next legs. Little did I know, van 2 missed an exchange point, so one of our runners, Ian, ran about 13 miles for his leg instead of 8. He totally rocked it and probably got us more ahead. Thanks Ian for making up for my slower time.
When we got the bracelet for our last legs, it was about 2:30 in the morning. This was the first Ragnar where we had two night legs. The one benefit of being the last person to go was that I had a sorta lighter leg. I began my leg at 6:15, which is when I normally wake up to run. I was tired, but so ready to crank out 4.4 last miles. My only goal for this was to stay ahead of an ultra team we had been running closely to all day. I can say I was successful.
After I handed off to Dana, a few of our teammates got this idea that we had to race the ultra team, who passed us on the next leg. A couple of the guys, who shall remain nameless, started keeping track of how many minutes we were behind the ultra team and coaching van 2 on how to get us back to them. In all honestly, it was really fun because I kept telling our runners that they should just have fun and not worry about catching this team. The ultra team was really good by the way, like father 60 years of age clocking 6:00 miles good.
So, instead of going to the finish line, we followed our other van cheering and “inspiring them” to catch the other team. I enjoyed this a lot more than sitting at the finish line waiting, so even if I wasn’t too keen on coaching our second van, it was nice to be out there. This was all in good fun. The other team was really nice and they beat us by a couple minutes to the finish.
We finished with an unofficial time of 22:47 which broke 24 hours and beat our time last year by 2 hours. We also won our division, as the ultra team was not competing officially with us.
Our other teams also did very well and finished soon after us. We finished up with an awards ceremony and a drive back to Saratoga Springs.
Overall, even though I wish I could have raced harder, I think racing last weekend was a factor in my lingering fatigue. This race was the most fun I’d had and I’m once again surrounded by new friends. We really outdid ourselves this weekend and I couldn’t be happier with our team.
Check out the hashtag #strongheartsveganpower on Instagram and Twitter to see all the updates from the other teams.
Thanks again to all the support we recieved and all the companies who donated to us. Our donation this year went to Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary, so show them some love too!
Strong Hearts Vegan Power website
Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary