and one of the team, too:
since i did none of the driving, i had no idea where we were going most of the time. our first destination was exchange #6, where all of the other "van #2"s were gathering to check in and wait for the last runner in van #1 to arrive.
we had to show our safety gear to the volunteers - a minimum of 2 vests and 2 tail lights, but each of us had our own - and sign this waiver that promised that we wouldn't approach, touch, or take any of the threatened desert tortoises if we came upon one.
it was really chilly (especially for a bunch of folks from so cal), and the wind wasn't helping. it made me more than a little concerned about keeping warm during my second leg, which wouldn't be happening till about 11:00 that night. yikes. we all huddled together and tried to keep our teeth from chattering as we watched the required safety video.
in the back of the van, we had a "van box" - a veteran of quite a few ragnar races, my cousin had assembled a collection of essentials that would come in handy throughout the next 36 hours or so.
and we slapped our official team van sticker onto the back window:
with our runner in the midst of the final mile of his first leg, we headed up to the tents to wait for him. i went over to check out the official merchandise, because we all know how much i love that stuff. and of course, as i was shopping i totally missed the first handoff. oops.
we got to meet up with the other half of our team from the first van - well, most of them, anyway. the first runner, who'd started us off up at the las vegas ski & snowboard resort, was still recovering from her run through snow.
and then it was time for us to hop back into the van to meet our first runner at the next exchange. she only had a little over 3 miles to run, so we knew we didn't have a ton of time to play with. we'd all set up a group text using the "groupme" app, and our agreement was to send out an alert once we reached the "one mile to go" sign. it would make things easier for us to figure out when to expect the exchange to happen. she finished in about 35 minutes, and we met her here:
as soon as the handoff took place and our next runner headed off, it was back to the van to find a spot about halfway through her 4.5-mile leg so we could hand her some water and make sure she was okay. and this is when i started to get nervous all over again...because i was next up. yikes! we arrived at buckskin cliff shadows park, the location for exchange #8, and got out to wait for her to arrive.
i kept trying to tell myself to relax and think of it as just another training run. my first leg was 5.1 miles, rated "moderate." i wasn't sure what that meant, but one look at the elevations told me i was in for quite a run. with a net elevation gain of over 500 feet, i was kind of kicking myself for not doing more hillwork during my runs at home. i hate hills. i usually walk up them, because running up takes way more energy and most times i'm not going any faster than walking. and then the "one mile" text came through and my nerves were going crazy.
i looked pretty freaked out in the handoff, didn't i? what IS that face, anyway??
and then i was off.
i followed the runner ahead of me as she wound her way around and through the park:
and then we made a left turn out of there and onto the street.
i encountered my first of many official blue ragnar directional signs.
that elevation map wasn't playing around, man. you can't tell too well from this picture, but the incline here was gnarly.
i turned the corner and found...even more hills. and here, my team was waiting to cheer me on and make sure i wasn't dying or anything.
after that was another super steep hill that i basically walked, but i got my first "kill" - i actually passed up another runner. yay for me! then i crossed over a freeway, where the course flattened out a little.
you can see how happy i was to find this:
oh, and here's what the slap bracelet looked like:
one more turn:
and then i happily took off that bracelet and smacked it onto the wrist of my next teammate here.
the rest of our legs went well - it was really was nothing but run, drive, run, drive. i was having a blast, and i was on a high from getting through my first leg. when we were all done, we handed off the bracelet to the first runner in van #1. they'd all gone back to the hotel after their first legs and had some time to shower, eat and get a little rest while we were out doing our thing. and with that done, we got to do the same thing. i'd been surprised to know that we'd be able to go back to the hotel after each of our legs, which meant we didn't really have to sleep in the van. pretty sweet deal.
back at the hotel, we decided to eat first and headed right over to the food court. most of us opted for some mexican fast food - along with my beloved starbucks, i happily dug into a plate of lobster enchiladas from rubio's.
and while i waited for my turn to use the shower, i took in the view of the pool area. i wished i'd brought a suit, because the thought of a jacuzzi was really tempting.
nighttime legs, coming right up.