Another year, another Ragnar. Where to begin?! I could pretend that this will be a short post, but if you know me at all you know that that would be a lie! So, sit back, relax and enjoy the read!
The Week Before the Race
Exactly one week before Ragnar was to start I jumped off the couch and walked across the area rug toward the bathroom. Someone (cough, cough… Chloe) must’ve dropped an earring without realizing because I suddenly found myself hopping around the living room with an earring jammed into my foot. I pulled it out, wiped up the small amount of blood that dripped on the floor, disinfected my foot and applied a band-aid. No big deal, I thought.
I THOUGHT WRONG!
Saturday and Sunday I found myself limping a little and my foot seemed a bit swollen. Totally normal, I assumed. On Monday, my foot was still hurting so I told my softball team I couldn’t play that night. I wanted to make sure I could run on Friday, so I thought I should take it easy.
On Tuesday, I walked to my cousin’s house to get my hair done and when it took me 29 minutes to limp 1.5km, I started to get worried about Ragnar. What if I couldn’t run? Why was my foot swollen on the top? All I did was step on an earring and it didn’t even hurt that much!
I made the decision to go to a walk-in clinic on Tuesday afternoon just to be safe and was promptly told my foot was infected. Armed with a prescription for antibiotics that I was to take every 6 hours and instructions to wrap my foot up when I ran, I was confident I would be okay.
I managed to get down two pills on Tuesday before I headed to bed. In my mind, I was going to wake up Wednesday morning fresh as a daisy with a regular size foot ready to run for hours. Instead, I was woken up at 3 AM by the serious pain radiating from my foot. I tried to get out of bed but discovered that I couldn’t put any weight on my leg. When I tried, my ankle would collapse and the pain was intense. I found myself crawling on my hands and knees to the bathroom. I managed to get my antibiotics and several pain pills down, but with the weight of Ragnar hanging over me, I also found myself crying on the bathroom floor. After a pretty decent pity party, I crawled my way back to bed where I stayed awake for the rest of the night wondering if I would really be able to run. At 3 AM, things definitely seemed more traumatic than was probably necessary!
The next day I was supposed to go with Anson to pick up our friend, Ron, at the Buffalo airport as he was flying in to run Ragnar with my team. I was really tired from being up almost all night and also worried about needing to walk around anywhere, so Anson headed out alone to get Ron and then spend the day in Toronto with him. You can see more about their time on Ron’s vlog below:
As Thursday morning rolled around, I felt a lot better physically although my foot still hurt and I was limping. Mentally, though, I felt determined. I was going to do my best and see what happened. I was 95% positive I could do it, so was just going to cling to that!
After a morning of dropping things at the hotel, running to the mall, and eating a quick lunch, Anson dropped Ron and me off at Maria’s where we headed to Reebok Headquarters after picking up Cathy and Carmy. Once we got to Reebok, the van decorating began!
*Special thanks to Gawck for the designing and printing of all the decals & to Reebok for the Booster Juice they provided for the decorating party.
After a delicious pizza dinner, we headed through a crazy thunderstorm to our hotel in Bowmanville to settle in for the night. Since I was in van 2, I knew I didn’t need to rush in the morning which was a great feeling!
The four of us in our room all woke up around 7 AM on Friday and took our time getting ready for the day. We headed down for the complimentary breakfast and met up with the guys in our van. We ate breakfast, loaded up the van, hit Shoppers Drug Mart for some last minute things and then headed to the first major exchange to wait for van 1.
After we checked in and watched our safety video, we began the wait for Erik to come in from his 16.7km run so that Leanne, our van’s first runner, could head out. It was incredibly hot and humid and I was feeling bad for all the runners out there on such a long leg!
Leg 1: 5.6km at 2:30 PM
As van 1 finished their first legs and we started on our way, I started to get nervous but excited because I knew my next route like the back of my hand. It was less than 5km from my house and I had run parts of it more times than I could count. Luke was really helpful and wrapped my foot for me so I could have more stability for my run.
It wasn’t long before Leanne came in and I headed out, too fast as always. I remember looking at my watch and laughing at my pace before quickly slowing down.
It was hot out there and it didn’t take long before I found myself walking up a hill and then hearing a voice behind me saying, “Wow! I didn’t think I would have to walk this much!” Amy, from Midland, Ontario, and I ran and walked the rest of the way to the exchange and it was a nice distraction for me to have someone to chat with!
I finished the run on an uphill and handed off to Mei before drinking loads of water and blue Gatorade (which I have discovered that I love!). I was so glad that taping my foot combined with some adrenaline and stubbornness had given me what I needed to do my run. I knew I would have no issues with my next two legs.
After Mei finished her leg, Luke, Roy and then Ron rounded out our van before we passed the race back to van 1.
After a rather disappointing dinner at Pickle Barrel in Pickering (the waiter was truly terrible!!), we headed to the next major exchange at Exhibition Place to begin our night runs.
Leg 2: 8.9km at 11:45 PM
This run was my toughest one because I genuinely felt really tired. I am typically a night owl, but I think the heat of the day really took its toll on everyone. I wanted nothing more than to curl up in a ball and sleep instead of run, but obviously, that wasn’t going to happen!
As Leanne passed off to me I headed out by the water before turning onto Lakeshore in Toronto where I would spend the rest of my leg. It was well lit and still quite busy so I felt pretty safe which was nice. I passed a few runners and chatted with a lady from Kentucky before carrying on.
Even though it was so late out, I started to get hot. With a little over a kilometre to go, I came across a lady outside a restaurant holding some cups of water with ice. She offered me a drink or the use of the bathroom if I needed it. I took a quick drink and then surprised her by dumping the rest of the cup over my head. Her encouragement really pushed me to finish strong and gave me a little extra energy when I had been feeling just plain tired. I headed to my exchange point smiling and feeling like I could keep running!
I passed off to Mei who was wearing a tutu with lights in it and headed to the van to get my new favourite drink: blue Gatorade! The rest of the night passed like a bit of a blur as everyone finished running in our van. We passed off to van 1 sometime before 4 AM and headed to our next major exchange.
Around 5 AM, we all settled in to try to get some sleep in the van. I had learned some lessons from the year before and felt prepared! I chose the floor again as I’m short and can fit down there leaving more space on the seats for the tall guys who want to stretch out. I curled up in my giant red blanket, put my eye mask on, earplugs in and laid down on my bamboo pillow. (That’s me sleeping in the red blanket below!)
According to my Garmin, I was out for 2 hours and 8 minutes. When I woke up, I felt surprisingly rested and about a million times better than I did last year!
Leg 3: 5.6km at 9:55 AM
As everyone started to slowly wake up, I sent a text to Carmy in van 1 to see how they were doing with their runs. We learned that while we were sleeping, they had been out there running fast and had gotten us ahead of schedule. We sprang into action and quickly got ourselves to Starbucks to get some coffee and clean up a little before our last runs of the race!
As Leanne headed down with everyone else to get ready to start her last leg as van 1 came into the exchange, I opted to stay at the van to get myself a little more ready. Due to my dumping of water over my head during my night leg and then sleeping on my wet hair, I looked like somewhat of a train wreck. I got myself together as best as one can during Ragnar and mentally prepared myself for my last run!
My final run ended up being my best run in spite of getting stopped at multiple stop lights! I got to run by the water on a path and through some beautiful neighborhoods. I also got a text while I was running from my friend, Michelle, telling me that she had won her race that morning. When her message popped up on my watch I couldn’t help but grin and run a little faster!
I passed off to Mei rather vigorously but I think I finally got that bracelet on her arm for once! As she headed off down the road I realized that I was finished running and frankly, I was pretty glad!
As our van continued closer to Niagara Falls, we hit all the exchange points before sending our final runner, Ron, off on his last leg. Ron had the most difficult leg of the entire race as he headed up the Niagara Escarpment and into the heart of Niagara Falls.
One of the coolest things that Ragnar does is that it encourages the team members to wait for their final runner and then run into the finish together. You can’t run this race alone, so why would you finish alone?
Ron came into the finish area smiling (I’m not sure he was ever NOT smiling during this race!) and we headed to the finish.
We passed out the medals, laughed, and took some pictures while reflecting on the race. 308 kilometres run together as a team is something to be proud of!
The days before the race I was unsure I would be able to run, but thanks to a lot of pain medication, some sports tape and a team that somehow put up with my complaining (I’m sorry!), I ran every step of my legs. To those who said that they would step in and run for me if I couldn’t– thank you. Your selflessness meant the world!
There is something so special and unique about running a Ragnar race. It is truly something every runner should experience for themselves as no amount of reading about it can accurately describe what it is really like!
Ragnar always encourages people to work together. Every single runner I saw while running my legs was kind. If someone passed me, they would ask if I was doing okay or tell me I was awesome for being out there. If another team was cheering for their runner on the side of the road– they cheered for me, too. These little things go a long way in making a race special and Ragnar runners seem to have that nailed down! Thank you!
I also want to extend a special thank you to Reebok Canada for sponsoring my team again this year. You went above and beyond in taking care of us all and we appreciate your support so much. Thank you also for the amazing gear that I know I will be wearing constantly for the coming months. You rock!
Of course, my biggest thank you goes to my team because without them, this never would’ve happened! I love you all!
* Be sure to watch Ron’s vlog about the beginning of our race: