Huntington Beach to Coronado -- The Ragnar Relay Report

It was my turn. The van pulled in at the Solana Beach train station. I hadn't slept all night. 5 men and 1 woman in a small Ford Flex van stuffed with enough gear and food to get us through the 24 hours it would take to finish Ragnar. This was my third leg, from Solana Beach to Del Mar, and I felt sick from the lack of sleep and the potent mixture of Gu, energy bars, and Gatorade doing turns in my stomach.

I went to the port-a-pottie to get rid of some of the nervousness, which is about the most delicate way I can put it. I opened the door and this stench hit me in the face, a big smeary pile of shit right there on top of the seat (not quite as delicate). I dry heaved, trying to hold the small amount of nutrition in my stomach, dry heaving again, tasting the bile, but thankfully keeping it down. It was my turn.

The first leg was one of the worst runs of my life, starting at Angel Stadium and running along the San Gabriel River bike path. There might have been a river here at one point, but all I could see was a concrete canal, the one featured in several movies, Grease in particular, drag racing up the sides, no cars down there now, just concrete reflecting the 95 degree heat onto my sweat-soaked face.

Oh, the beauty
The second leg was one of the best runs of my life, starting at midnight on a cool and clear night, a welcome change from the heat of the day, running through downtown Temecula as the bars were emptying, blasting music through the streets as I dodged weaving happy couples on the sidewalk. It was flat and fast, and instead of feeling tired from the previous leg, I felt fresh, opening up the stride and pushing my limit, averaging 6:45 pace for this 5 mile leg.

We tried to sleep through the night, but the cramped conditions in the third row of the Ford Flex, a row put in as an afterthought, easily folded for storage, possibly comfortable for a baby with abnormally short legs. Chris, the team leader knocked on the door at 5 AM, it was time for Jess, our first runner to run his last leg through Carlsbad and Encinitas. I slowly got out of the van with cramping leg muscles and a turning stomach.

I started sick, tired, but relieved I didn't lose it in the port-a-pottie, and as soon as I warmed up, about 5 minutes into my third leg, I felt great, the sickness gone, the tiredness gone, just running, trying to push hard to keep the pace at 7 minute miles, our agreed upon group pace.

I handed off to Chris at the top of the hill on the cruelly named Long Run Rd. I was finished with my last leg, but we still had eight more runners to go on the last stretch to Coronado Island.

I didn't really know what to expect or what I was getting into when I joined the relay team. It sounded easy, my three legs were all around 5 miles, but it was much more difficult than I thought it would be. Three 10K efforts in the span of 24 hours took a lot out of me, but it turned out to be a great time. Running is such an individual sport in so many ways, and that is one of the reasons I love it; success or failure is determined by the individual. However, for this team relay, it was exciting to be part of a group and celebrate our successes together. I pushed a little harder because there were other people involved and we had a group goal. We cheered each other on through the night, stopping every couple miles to wait for the runner to catch up to the van, encouraging them and offering support. Sketcher's sponsored our team, and they did a great job of organizing, and handling some of the logistical challenges of a 205 mile race through the streets of Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties. I met some great runners, and we had some very talented people on our team. We took second place overall (out of over 400 teams), and first in the male open division. Most importantly, I think we took first place with the stack of empty red cups on our table in the beer gardens at the finish. That is the true honor.

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