January 06, 2013

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys, part 1

This post was actually written on Friday, Jan. 4th, but I didn't have internet access, so I'm just now posting it. I'll continue to catch up with more posts today and tomorrow...

 This morning, I woke up at 4:30 to get ready to head to the start line. Our team decided to wear pink shirts for the first legs, yellow for the second, and orange for the third. So I got dressed in my pink outfit to go to the starting line. I have to admit, I though it was really cute!

The team all met in the hotel lobby at 5:30 to leave. The starting line was about 10 minutes away. When we got there, the Today Show cameraman was there to film us for a little while. He wanted to film the start of the race. Our team had to go through the required safety meeting, and it didn’t finish until 7:03 ish—my starting time was 7:00. Because of the filming, the race post-poned our starting time until 7:05. 
This was a sign to disclose to the runners that a documentary was being filmed
 I quickly pinned on a bib and ran to the starting line, where I was told to go front and center, so that the filming would be ideal. I was a little horrified, and very embarrassed—I NEVER go to the very front of the starting line of a race! But because Ragnar’s are so relaxed, a lot of the teams were yelling to me and laughing along with me which made me feel more comfortable. But I still felt bad for cutting in to the front of the starting line.

The announcer introduced our team, and then we finally started. I didn't hear about this until later, but apparently some people were trying to get right in front of the camera for their moment to shine, and they weren't watching where they were running--four people actually fell!

The Ragnar has a staggard start line all day long, so there were only about 50 people starting at that time. My first leg was 5.7 miles and had a monster of a hill (a bridge) halfway through.

It was REALLY hot and humid. I can’t even describe how difficult the run got, because of the heat. My van was supposed to go halfway through my leg and give me some water, but they didn’t. I did see one of our photographers/videographers along the way at different points. There were other vans cheering for their runners, and I got a lot of comments on my outfit.

Finally, I got to the checkpoint and passed the “baton” to Meredith.

I gulped down a bottle of water, and told my team I NEED the support on my runs! I was so glad to get in the van and finally have some breakfast. Breakfast of champions, right here:

Ada and I sat in the back row of the van. It was so fun getting to chat with her in-person, as opposed to the phone or Facebook.

After Meredith was Lealah, then Ada, then Andrea and then Rik. Once our van was done with our first legs, we finished decorating the van:
We got magnets made of our before/after pics for the vans;
These were a HUGE hit--people loved them!
Andrea and Lealah decorating the windows
We were pretty hungry for lunch after that, so we headed to Denny’s. I ordered the Fit Slam, which was egg whites scrambled with tomatoes and spinach, an English muffin, and fruit (grapes and strawberries). It was really good, filling, and just 10 PointsPlus. We sat and chatted for a little while, and then went to the dollar store to buy some towels (we were all sweating like beasts after our legs, and we didn’t have many towels in the van). I also bought some grapes, because I was going through withdrawal ;)

After that, we drove down to exchange 12, where my next leg would start after Van 2 was done.

We had a lot of time to kill, so we sat around in the shade. I ran into my brother Brian (he’s on a different Ragnar team) and he had a hammock set up! It looked so comfy, and I gave it a try—it was awesome!

With the heat and humidity, our projected finish time kept getting pushed back. Our team as a whole has a pretty slow pace to begin with, so we started to get concerned about finishing on time (before the course closes). The heat was making it REALLY hard to stay on pace--I ran much slower than I've been used to lately.

Because of the delay, we had some extra time to spare before it was our turn to start running again, so we went to Subway to get some dinner. I got a turkey sub, and just after I paid for it, we got a message from the other van that they were about an hour from us. I started thinking about whether I wanted to eat a sub that soon before running, and I decided to just wait until after my run.

We went to the exchange point, and I put on my tutu. Since it was after 4:30 p.m., I had to wear a reflective vest and headlamp (Ragnar rules say that we have to wear a vest and headlamp between 7:30 and 4:30).

We put some lights on our van for decoration, and then headed to where John would pass me the baton (slap bracelet). 

This is a crappy picture, but it's our van in the dark:

My brother was standing there, and his teammate was really close as well—very coincidental, but I thought it would be awesome to run with him on my long leg!

My leg was 8.8 miles, and there was a portion of it that was on really rough terrain, and where the van wasn’t allowed to drive. I saw John round the corner and run toward me with the bracelet, and off I went.

Almost immediately, it became dark outside. By a mile in, it was pitch black. I could see a couple of taillights (flashing lights clipped to the back of runners, also required in the dark). The videographer for the film was leapfrogging me, and I started to look forward to seeing him. I talked to him, but he would never respond, and I thought it was hilarious.

I was running along a pretty busy road for a little while, but then I started to get scared when running where it was rural. It was pitch black, and I was running on the side of the road, and occasionally I would see some random guy walking—scary for me! But it was comforting knowing that the photographer was around.

Then it turned into a dirt road, full of pot holes and big rocks, so I had to be careful with my footing. I couldn’t see well, so I was using the lights on my fingers to try and light the way. Then the cameraman starting following me, literally driving right next to me for about a mile. Since I was really scared by that point, I just started talking to him.

Then I saw the terrain of the road change, and the road narrowed a lot. There were trees and bushes right up along the road, and since the road was so narrow, they were hanging right up next to my head. There were swamps alongside,  and I just kept picturing the alligators waiting to eat me. I told the cameraman, “Okay, NOW I really want you to stay with me!” and as soon as I said that, I saw a sign that said, “No vans”. So he had to turn and take a different route.

The next couple of miles were terrifying! The road was super narrow (more like a path), with trees and bushes right up next to the road. It was pitch black, and the footing was terrible—dirt road with huge rocks and potholes. I could hear dogs barking off to my left, and they sounded pretty close.

I just wanted to get out of there! I tried messing with my headlamp to see the road better, when I realized that the light part flipped down so that it shone right ahead of my feet—which was perfect. I just wish I’d noticed that before! Finally, I was able to make a turn, and the road widened. Then I saw all kinds of fencing and barbed wire—oh joy, I was running in the dark next to a prison! I was so ready to be done with that leg.

I was hoping the whole time that my brother would catch up with me, since he started so close behind me, but he never did. The last mile, we were told to run in the grass (which was tough—it was exhausting). Finally made it to the exchange point, where I handed the bracelet off to Meredith. I saw Becky, my brother’s girlfriend at the exchange, and she gave me a bottle of water—I was so grateful! I was super thirsty, and I downed the water.

After that leg, I was so glad to be done with my “very hard” leg. I sat in the van and chatted for a little while with the team until we were finally done with our legs. We went to the next major exchange point where we would have a long time to wait before we had to run again. The exchange point was at a school, and they were offering showers for $3. I was so tired that I really just wanted to sleep.

A couple people from my van went in to shower, but I laid down on the back seat of the van and actually fell asleep. I slept from 3 a.m. until about 5:30 a.m. Van 2 had some issues during the night legs, but I’ll save that story for the film. 

(To be continued...)


  1. That sounds very tough! I find it odd that part of the course would be running down some odd(and scary sounding) paths, you would thin there would be better alternatives. It all sounds exciting though!

  2. Hi, Katie! Just wanted to show my support and to let you know I've been reading here and viewing your awesome photos on Instagram. You are such an amazing individual - beautiful on the inside and out. Always have been :) Congratulations on your big moment - can't wait to read more. So, so proud of you.

  3. Awesome sauce! Been thinking of you guys all weekend! Checkin in on the facebook page from time to time. Looks like all has gone so well! Great job and hope you have a safe trip home!

  4. oh man! That sounds intense! I followed along on twitter and instagram during the race and there was a few people that had to head to the ER on other teams. Any idea what happened? Some of the van decorations were hilarious! Can't wait to see Thursday's Today Show!!

  5. You are so cute in your tutu, but didn't it make it harder to run with the extra fabric? Sounds like you did an awesome job, even on the more difficult leg. Can't wait to read about the rest of the race.

  6. Oh my gosh, this is so exciting! Way to go during leg 2...I'd be sooo freaked out. Too bad your brother wasn't there running it with you. GOOD JOB!!!! Can't wait for part 2 :) This makes me want to do another relay run.

  7. Girl the chapters you are writing in your life....wow :)

  8. I cant wait to see the film!

  9. Love your tutu and can't wait to read Part 2. I'm also extremely excited to see what the Today Show has to say about your Ragnar Team. You'll have to tell us what Miss Ada is "really like."

  10. I've been checking for updates all weekend and hoping things went really well. SO good to read this post. Cheering for you and your team from Denver, CO!

  11. I love your tutu! Really love it! Sounds like you are having a blast.

  12. So glad you posted today! I've been checking frequently. Love your photos and your running outfit. I'm glad you had the videographer for some of the way, sounds scary! Especially with all those alligators. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  13. What an adventure for you to talk about for years to come! I would definitely have been freaking out in the dark, especially on that narrow trail.

  14. The tutu is great, and I LOVE the finger lights! I can't wait to hear more about the race!

  15. How exciting!! I can't wait for the film!

  16. Wow. Just...wow. AMAZING story!! I can't wait to hear the end, and I ESPECIALLY can't wait to see the film!! :D

    Congrats on getting through that very, very tough leg 2!!

  17. So exciting! Love the tutu, love the before & after pics, & love the finger lights.

    The run in the rural area sounds pretty scary, good on you for getting through it.

    Looking forward to part two :)

  18. very exciting!!! i have worked in reality tv before and so has my husband (amazing race, the bachelor, dwts, etc.)- and i will say that the camera people are not supposed to talk to you- it's kind of a rule! so don't take it personally. haha! i am so excited to hear about the rest of your race. so proud of you!!!

  19. It is all so amazing! I look forward to reading about the rest of your trip!

  20. wow :)
    I was in keywest yesterday and I saw soooo many peeps with a Ragnar T-shirt. I kept wishing that Il bump into u

    Love all the pics and ur skirt is damn cute

  21. LOVE your recap of the whole experience!!! I'd have been a big chicken in the conditions you describe LOL. Way to tough it out :)

  22. Your outfit was adorable, and the van looks awesome! Good job :)

  23. The night runs are so much scarier than I thought they would be - but yeah, the camera men, even though they never said a word, helped a bit.

    How cool it was to see your brother there!

  24. Dawn - Runner 6 RagnaholicsJanuary 10, 2013

    Love your re-cap - Team Ragnaholics saw your group at many of the exchanges - you guys rocked it!!

  25. I'm running this in 2014 & I'm slow, any leg recommendation greatly !


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