This year's Del Sol team consisted of 5 returning runners from last year, Mike, Megan, Bryan, Tracy, and me. I asked my old friend Glen if he wanted to jump back on the Ragnar bus and he agreed. I didn't really think Tracy would join us again this year, but she's just too awesome. Mike was going to have his wife run with us, but she never trained, so he kicked her off the team a couple of weeks before the race. The Glen from our team last year was going to run again with his son, but something came up and they couldn't do it. I had befriended one of my Words with Friends opponents who is a runner and talked her into joining the team. She lives in Wisconsin and has a friend that lives close to me. So they were going to join, but she had something come up. At first I wasn't that worried that we wouldn't be able to find runners. But the closer we got to the race, I did start to get worried. So I put a post out on Facebook saying I was looking for runners. Glen recruited Eddie who ran with us in 2010 and 2011. I got a couple of bites on my post. One was from Maggie who goes to church with me in my ward. At the time we only needed three runners. (This was before Mike kicked his wife off the team.) Another person that responded was our Primary President, Marie. One of the Ragnar ambassadors, Kendra, also responded and said that she and her friend are looking for a team. I figured if Maggie and Marie joined, that would leave room for only one more runner. So I didn't respond to Kendra right away. Well, Marie ended up not joining, Maggie recruited her sister-in-law and we were still down two runners. So I asked Kendra if she was still looking. She said that she had joined another team, but they were very disorganized. I said it sounds like you need to quit them and join us. She agreed. And so she did along with her friend George.
With a full team we started making final preparations. Maggie has a super cool van, and Glen also has a new van. I thought this might be the year my old van gets a rest. I really wanted Tracy, Maggie, and Glen in my van which would mean that Jani (Maggie's SIL) and Eddie would also be in the van. So all of the people that owned vans were in the same van. Glen said it would be all right if the other van used his. It was only a couple of weeks before the race that I learned that Maggie's husband had asked for a divorce and had sent her the paperwork. I had no idea, and I felt like a real jerk for pushing her along. My wife said that she hopes I have a back up for her because she is going through a lot. I did ask her if everything was going to be all right and if it was ok that we used her van. She said that she really needed a win in her life right now and this was keeping her from laying in bed and eating chocolates all day.
The forecast called for rain on Thursday and Sunday. It held true. Maggie came over Thursday right before the rain started so that we could decorate the van.
My wife was awesome enough to cut vinyl again this year. Glen came and dropped off his van a little bit later while it was raining. He had to go to the adoption agency for some stuff. I pulled his van in front of my house and decided to wait for the rain to die down a bit. After a couple of hours it was still raining, but not as bad. So I started decorating. It was a little harder to get the vinyl to peel off and stick. Glen had returned before we were done and helped out. Then we jumped in his van so I could take him home and drive his van to Mike's house. It didn't start right away, so Glen said that once it's been sitting a while you have to crank it, let it go, crank it, let it go, and on that third crank, it should start right up. It did and I dropped him off and took it to Mike's and told him the trick. Then I went to Verizon to get a new phone because I crushed mine while helping Maggie take one of the seats out in her van earlier.
I was all packed and ready to go, so I jumped in bed around 10pm and probably fell asleep around 11pm. My alarm was set for 2:45 am. I asked Maggie if she could meet me at 3:15am at my house because we had to pick up Glen, who lives 3 miles away, then go back and pick up Tracy who lives about 5 miles from Glen, and then pick up Jani from her parent's house another two miles away, then Eddie who would meet us at Rio Salado College. We made the rounds and the ride up to Wickenburg was fine with hardly any traffic. We saw a group of runners heading out about a mile and a half from the start line. We pulled up to the start with plenty of time to do our safety training and get checked in.
Glen was our first runner. He ran the set of legs that I ran last year. Glen has such a smooth running form and he cruised right up the mountain. He was the third person to finish from our group that started at 6:30am. He handed off to Maggie. I told Maggie to just take it nice and easy. It was a downhill run, so it would feel like she wanted to go fast, but she would need to rein it in. After fumbling with the wrist band during the exchange, she took off. I was like, "Slow down!" Haha. She did real well. She ran some and walked some, but she still averaged a 10:30 pace. Then she handed off to Jani.
Jani, as we learned, wasn't a big runner, but she was in pretty good shape. She did great, too. She handed off to Eddie. Steady Eddie. Eddie has been spending a lot of his time at the gym. He looked great and was able to run all of his legs at a nice even pace.
It was some time while Eddie was running that we got a call from Mike. He wasn't able to get Glen's van started. He said he was working on it for 30 minutes. I asked him if he tried the trick. He said he did. So I was worried that the other van would be able to get there on time if at all. I offered to let him use my van. I called Vickie and asked if it was a possibility. She said it would be fine. But there were no decorations. She cleaned it out real fast and gassed it up. Some how they got to the first major exchange in time.
Eddie handed off to me. By this time it was 11:13am. I had eaten, but I'm not sure it was enough. This leg was supposed to be all downhill, but it sure felt like a lot of it was uphill. I don't know why I thought I would be able to run it at a 9 min pace. Maybe if I didn't lose so much conditioning during the holidays. Anyway, my first mile was in the low 9's, but then I started to crash. It could have been not enough to eat, not enough sleep, more uphill than what the map showed, started out too fast, was worried about my van and Glen's van. I don't know. I just didn't feel great and my pace was 10:10 for 6.7 miles. That's not terrible for me nowadays, but I thought I would do better. And I felt terrible and sore afterward. I handed off to Tracy, and she did great as she was loving this Arizona weather.
We then handed off to Van #2, and drove up near our motel. We stopped at Pita Jungle first to eat lunch. Then we drove to the motel to shower and take a quick nap. Our next set of legs were during the night time hours again. Paul, Megan's boyfriend, was runner #12, which means he runs the "Ragnar" leg. It was 11.3 miles and he did not look happy when he came in. I was really worried that he would not be able to run his remaining legs, but he's a young kid, and he toughed it out. Everyone did real well again. My second run started right at 11pm. It was 4 miles, pretty flat. I felt 203% better. I just decided to run at a nice comfortable pace and that pace ended up being 10:23. It was little cold, but I wore shorts and a T for all of my runs. I tried to text Tracy when I got one mile away, and I ended up pausing my Strava for a quarter mile. Oops. We went back to the motel again to shower and take another nap. It's a good thing Eddie woke me up because I was sawing some logs.
My last leg was my hardest. But I ran it smarter than my first leg, so it felt better. It was 7 miles and a good portion of those were uphill. This was a mental challenge. I knew I had to keep my head right. But it was also very much physical. And luckily all the Saturday morning runs up Usery Pass paid off, because I felt like I could do it. I just kept pushing myself at the pace that felt good. I had a guy come up and pass me and tell me good morning. It was 10:54 am when I started. He got a little ahead of me then he stopped to walk. So I was able to pass him around the 2 mile mark. I saw a girl that was walking, too. I passed her up. She looked like she was high school age. Shortly thereafter, they both passed me up again. They were doing the run/walk thing. I just kept going at my pace. The girl wouldn't pass me again, but there were a couple of more times I saw her get right behind me before she had to stop and walk. The other guy, we'll call him Randy, (thank you, Strava) passed me a total of four time (thank you, Strava) before I finally was able to hold him off for good. Of course, then I realized he was an Ultra runner and still had to run another leg. I didn't want to look at Strava to see how far I had gone, because what would be the point? But I finally decided to look thinking I was about 3 miles in. I was at 3.9! It was such a moral boost because I was well over half way done and I only had about 3 miles to go! Anyway, there were a couple of other runners that I was able to catch, also. So it made me feel good that I played it smart, and kept some gas in the tank for the final leg.
Tracy finished up her last leg, which were the same legs she ran last year, and she felt like she had redeemed herself. The cooler weather made a world of difference. We then drove everybody home and waited for van #2 to finish up. We met back up at the finish line at 3pm. Glen was there with his van which started up without a problem for him. Paul came in around 3:40pm on Saturday afternoon and we ran in together for another Ragnar in the history books.