“It’s been so lonely without you here
Like a bird without a song…”
No this isn’t a rendition of Sinead O’Connors “Nothing Compares 2 U” but it is an ode to those that have become a part of my family, the Strong Hearts Vegan Power team.
You see, this past weekend I ran my third Ragnar Relay and second with the team. Rather than it be on Cape Cod like the previous two, and be on familiar territory being a native and all; this one was held in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. Nothing could have prepared this flat-lander for what was to come, but my training had as many hills as I could find and the incline was always on when using the treadmill.
We had an early start for the race, 6 am on Friday morning, so many of us came into the area early to get some sleep. A group of us was staying at Jess and Andrews house (thank you for the hospitality) and while we were all headed that way it was decided we would try to concoct vegan Big Macs. We were all given certain things to pick up on our way and for what ever reason we still ended up with extra Chao cheese.
Casey popped the burgers into some pans, I created the “special sauce”, shredded some lettuce (after Caseys valuable tip) and sliced some buns up. We had a variety of patties to choose from such as Field Roast, Gardein and even some Beast Burgers from Beyond Meat. I love those one’s so my Big Mac was merely ginormous and was super filling. We had also brought stuff for s’mores but by the time we had all gorged on vegan Big Macs we were full and people were starting to think about bed. That was a great idea since we had to be up early so we all crashed.
3:45am-4:00am came waaaay to soon but we were up and at em and headed off to the starting line. It was awesome to see so many people I had met from the Cape Cod Ragnar and to meet people who were coming in for their first race with the team. We all found our teams, were given our race gear and plans were put into motion about how the next 24-30 hours or so would play out. At this point, after chatting and catching up with teammates, it was time for C team van 1 (Rachel, Evan, Christine, Jeanine, Molly, our driver & Captain Melissa and myself) to head over to registration and get checked in, watch the safety video and prepare for our first runner to get going.
Originally I was supposed to be runner 1, but due to an unforeseen injury from a fellow teammate, I switched to her leg which was six. She then had to pull out completely so the legs were arranged a bit and we took on another runner as she moved into the van driver role. The way this team, Strong Hearts Vegan Power, operates is amazing. Even when the most minor thing happens, or major, it gets ironed out quick and is given no more thought; it just gets done. We had runners on other teams go down and again, the slack was picked up and it went off without a hitch.
After seeing runner 1 off the race was officially on for us. If you’ve never run a Ragnar this is where the fun, and chaos, begins. We swiftly got back to our van and headed of to the next exchange. When our van was on the clock this is how it would go. Drop a runner off at an exchange and then drive to the next where the nest runner would wait for the slap bracelet to be handed off and then on to the next. Each van had 6 runners and 1 driver. After the 6 from that van ran, the slap bracelet was handed off to the second van of 6 making 12 totals runners per team. When our van was off the clock we would head to the next major exchange to chill, clean up, eat, recoup or whatever it is we needed to do.
After our first leg, we had an injury. Rachel had rolled her ankle at one point during her leg. Sam taped her up and we were unsure if she could continue on. Somehow she muscled through and ran her second leg, even claiming two kills in the process. After that though it was decided that she was out and we would have to figure out what to do for her last leg. In order of runners, Christine ran before Rachel and I after. Christine and I decided to split her last leg in half and share it. So how easy that was, we got it done!
How did my legs go? Amazing! My first run was just a bit over 6 miles and I just kind of took it easy as I knew I had a nearly 9 mile run later that night. The Adirondacks are beautiful so the run was relaxing. My second legs had a few hills, quite a few actually. It killed me running up them but going down? I set new records for myself. I have never run anything faster than a 7 minute pace for more than 20 second sprints. As I was bombing down a hill I peaked at my watch and saw I was going 6:24! What?? So I grabbed my phone and took a pic, at that point I had slowed to 6:37 but that was still way flippin’ faster than I had ever run before.Of course I’m not an elite runner, so keeping that pace was a dream. I went back to my usual 9:00-9:30 pace and settled in.
My third leg was just in the morning. It was just about to hit 7am and that was when you didn’t have to wear all the night gear, I was grateful for that. Again, I settled in to a good pace and powered through my last run. There were some absolutely gorgeous sites to see as I ran this leg. It seemed that the trees color was changing a bit more on this side of the Adirondacks so it made it even more spectacular. There was a spot that had a great downhill and I miraculously achieved another sub 7 pace for about 30 seconds and that felt refreshing as the morning was quite chilly. I’d have layered up but by the time the 6 miles was up I was sweating and would not have wanted to carry a sweatshirt with me the whole way. After my leg, we handed off to van 2 and then headed off to the finish line to wait for all the teams to come in.
The finish line was in Lake Placid where they held the Olympics some time ago. There was still signs that they were held there as the ski jump was still up and even the spot where the Olympic flame was lit. It was probably even more beautiful than, in its Olympic glory and all. It wasn’t too shabby though and was the perfect place to have a Ragnar party!!
They had some of their sponsoring vendors there such as Nathan and Nuun. Each runner gets a meal ticket and we were blown away that there was a veg option that we didn’t have to ask for anything to be changed or taken out. I even had a coffee at the pop-up cafe and they offered me coconut milk; the world is changing folks!
While we waited for our van and the others, A team came blasting in with a time of just over 22 hours garnering them 3rd overall and 1st in their division. Who said vegans were slow and unhealthy?? From what I can tell on the prelim results the other van results are:
C = 30:31:46 (my team)
B = 31:06:38
D = 31:28:05
I loved running this race and couldn’t be happier with those that were selected to share the van w/ me. You guys are all my dear friends from here on out, thank you for the laughs (#jesusjumpedup) and thank you for the amazing memories.
While I’m writing my thanks let me add to it some of the most important folks and that Joel, Laura, Dana and any other admin that helps to set all of this up. After creating and helping admin an enormous OCR team I can only imagine what you guys are doing between registration, collecting money for that, gear order, getting contributions from vendors, etc. You guys are all amazing and we do what we do because you set it all up. We couldn’t do it without you. We couldn’t spread the message of ethical veganism the way we do unless we had you standing behind us. Thank you!
I’d like to also thank all the businesses/ companies that sponsored Strong Hearts Vegan Power. Your support is amazing and the team is proud to be partners with you!
Louisville Vegan Jerky
Our Hen House
Sweet Earth Natural Foods
Vegan Outdoor Adventures
GU Energy Gels
Healthy Living Market & Cafe
Louisville Vegan Jerky
The Herbivore Clothing Company
Sweet Earth Natural Foods