Ragnar Reach the Beach Tips

If you enjoy the adventures of misadventure like me you will love this race! I personally loved it so much I might go so far as to say everyone should get to experience this at least once. To me it was an extreme throwback to track meets. You’re having insane amounts of fun but also stuck for what feels like forever waiting for your race. You have the anxiety of having a general idea of when to warm up but don’t know exactly when your race check in will be called (the runner before you gets there). You go through every possible phase of excited, hungry, tired, overtired, and many other emotions/states with a huge group of your friends there to support you. It’s the perfect mash of testing yourself physically and mentally while also having a freaking blast!

Normal teams are 12 man and use 2 vans each with 6 people. You are going to be “stuck” with the people in your van for the next 24 hours, but really won’t be seeing much of the other van group (only at major transitions). From what other normal teams were saying it sounded like you’d be pretty safe to not really even know the group in the other van. If you are still dedicated to getting 12 people that actually have some connection to one another (like my team was) then you are in for a treat because getting 12 people to coordinate is quite the task. My team ended up being a team of 9 due to last minute injuries. With 9 people instead of 12 we had to get creative and ended up making 3 groups of 3 which then rotated about the vans such that two teams would be in the active van, and one would be in the benched van. The teams rotated so all groups got to hangout with the others at multiple points. I really liked this setup since I then got to spend time getting to know everyone instead of just the 5 others in my one van like a normal team would. The only real issue was we all had to take on a fourth leg. (Each person only does three legs on normal teams.)

TIPS:

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Meet Strangers!
I was a sub for one of the injuries and my friend who was the sole link I had to everyone else was another injury who had to dropout so I didn’t actually know anyone in the end. Even without really knowing anyone on my team I had an AMAZING time. Granted they just seemed to be a very welcoming and friendly group of people overall, but that seems to be the type of people this race draws so I wouldn’t be afraid to give making new friends a shot! The community as a whole was amazing and other teams cheered on/helped each other constantly during the race.

2. Expect The Unexpected!
Now even if you do happen to have 12 reliable friends, you still have to deal with pacing and other surprises, so don’t think everything will go perfectly as planned. Unless you’ve done the race before almost all legs are going to come with some unpredictable surprises.

4. Rate The Legs Yourself!
Since our team was still shuffling things around last minute we had relied on Ragnar’s leg ratings. One of my most important tips would be not to listen to their leg ratings. I’m still not sure what formula they used for their calculations but it never seemed to match what our runners reported afterwards.

Leg 1: Hard
This leg was one of the most extreme examples of what we thought of as a terrible rating. It was only listed as “Hard” when “Very Hard” was the highest difficulty. THIS LEG WAS LITERALLY STRAIGHT UP AND DOWN A SKI MOUNTAIN. It was only a mile, but the incline was so steep not a single runner could run it. It had to be walked. As we were waiting for our team’s runner to complete it one of the other runners who already did stumbled over to us quite literally foaming at the mouth and in complete delirium of having just run it mumbled (almost to himself sounding like he was traumatized), “You can’t run up the mountain! You just can’t!”. It was like a scene out of a pirate movie where the crazy guy is warning you of the treasure’s curse. Not only did it sound insanely awful to get up, but then you have to run back down this insanely steep mountain trying not to destroy your knees. I honestly think the leg sounds silly to be in a running race since you can’t physically run it and that it clearly sounded like the absolute hardest leg of the race.

Leg 7: Hard
My first leg! Not only was it the first leg so I was fresh, but it was also pretty much down hill. It was absolutely my easiest leg, but for some reason was rated as “Hard”.

Leg 34: Easy
It was a shorter leg, but much hillier than my first AND it was my 4th. Although it would normally only be someone’s 3rd leg it still was much harder after multiple other runs and so many hours having passed from the race’s start.

Those were just some examples of the difficulty rating not aligning with how it felt and my thought process as to how to rate legs.

My recommendation for making your own ratings:

a. Thinking about elevation!! I’m not sure if it was just because it was a New Hampshire Ragnar or what but even the flatter legs were decently hilly.

b. Think about how much you’ve done before this leg.

4. Have A Game Plan For Night Runs!
I run at night a decent amount so I thought nothing of it when I found out I had a 6.5 mile leg around midnight. A few other teammates had said they didn’t love their night leg but I had mostly attributed that to them having never run at night. I started off really confident but almost immediately decided SHIT WAS WAY TOO SPOOKY. After passing 2 runners and some awesome locals throwing a party to cheer on runners at the very beginning there was NO ONE. No runners, no vans, no houses, no lights. It was literally only me and my headlamp on the middle of a forest. To make things even spookier it was crazy foggy so I was only able to see about 3 feet in front of me. (Another runner on my team said he actually ran out into an intersection and only saw he was there once he got to the center.) After seeing no signs of this being part of a race course for multiple miles I became pretty convinced I had missed a turn sign in the fog. I messaged my team to possibly leap frog me but they were distracted with trying to get to the transition safely themselves and didn’t see until later. Eventually the route met a town and I felt much better for the end. I would recommend planning to leap frog, buddy up, or keep tabs on night runners.

5. Check Up On Your Runner!
The course was very well marked for a 200 mile race through roads that couldn’t be blocked off, but there were still a few points where people got lost. I had to shout at a runner during one of my legs to take a turn, we had to drive after another team’s runner to redirect him, and our own runner ran some extra due to a wrong turn. You aren’t allowed to follow your runner too closely due to the roads being open still, but check up on them when you can! Also to cheer them and others on!!

6. Bring cash!
Many of the transitions have lots of delicious food/snacks made by volunteers and while it’s mostly free, they take donations. I was pleasantly surprised they even took care of the Celiacs and multiple stops had specialized, homemade gluten free foods (like cookies and soup)! The volunteers are also some of the nicest people you will ever meet so you’ll definitely want to donate!

7. Bring lots of water!
Reach the Beach tries to be Eco friendly and not use cups so bringing your own water is your best bet.

8. Be there for your runner!
It is the most heartbreaking thing to see a runner coming in, giving it all they’ve got, only too have their next teammate not be there.

9. Snap bracelet are hard!
Most of the hand offs where people tried to actually snap the bracelet on the next runner failed. It’s not a super big deal until you start getting to the end and are too tired/delirious to find/bend over and pick up the runaway snap bracelet.

10. Get ready for the finish!
You are supposed to join your last runner in the shoot. While we didn’t have the normal van situation/schedule so we probably cut down on time even further, it still seems like a challenge to get your whole team to the finish before the runner gets there. The last leg of Reach the Beach was only 4 miles and the railed off part of the shoot was decently long so we didn’t get into it in time and just ran alongside it.

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Ragnar was an insanely amazing time and I actually am hoping to run it again with the same group! I hope these tidbits will help you with your Ragnar or make you want to run one if you somehow didn’t already!

Marathon Training: Week 3

[Day 15] Monday, September 4
Rest

Monday I decided to take the scheduled rest day and wait for my new new shoes to come in! (They were scheduled for Tuesday). I didn’t want to just sit around though so I went to the nearby college to do some walking and Pokemon catching. I knew they had a paved path around the pond, but also discovered they have a little wooded trail! Will definitely have to go back there for a run!
Rest/Walk

[Day 16] Tuesday, September 5
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

Tuesday I conveniently had my yearly doctors appointment and mentioned my foot. He referred me to an Orthopedic, but told me in his opinion I just wasn’t warming the muscles and tendons up enough. That seemed fair since I need usually just static stretch. I know.. bad, but I just wanna run! Anyway, I went home to my new shoes after work, heated my foot, stretched, and tried to do a bit more moving than usual before heading out. The first half my foot didn’t feel great again and it had me kind of down since I really had hoped it was just my shoes. The second half was much better but with my foot having hurt the whole first half I was already out of wack so the whole run was kind of blah. I ended in a pretty bad mood and it didn’t occur to me until taking to my friend that my doctor was probably right and my foot was still just warming up during the first half of my run. That definitely made me feel better, but I’m not quite sure what to do to warm up without causing pain that’ll ruin any activity afterwards 🤔
5.16 mi @ 8:40

[Day 17] Wednesday, September 6
Rest

Wednesday I got news that my foot doctor’s appointment was officially scheduled for the 13th. It was a scheduled rest day so that’s what I did! I got Chinese food with my boyfriend and just lazed about ☺️
Rest

[Day 18] Thursday, September 7
Easy 4 MI (@9:02-9:45)

I started classes Thursday so didn’t end up running until late. I decided to get serious about warming up and ran ultra slow (actually just the pace I should have been running this whole time 😅) for the beginning. Hm.. my foot didn’t hurt. AND THEN I felt so good I accidentally picked it up! It got dark really quick though and I forgot my headlamp so I had to slow down again to watch my step. My legs felt a bit achy during the second half but I think they just had a hard week last week with all the foot drama. I made sure to do some rolling so they’d hopefully be 100% for FriYAY!
4.08 mi @ 8:54 

[Day 19] Friday, September 8
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

So pretty darn sure it was the warm up deal because I started slow again and felt perfectly normal on Friday’s run! I was even able to pick it up at the end when it started down pouring and looking really thunderstormy.
5.18 mi @ 8:16

[Day 20] Saturday, September 9
Easy 4 MI (@9:02-9:45)

I wish I could say I planned Saturday as a rest day but it really was accidently turned into a rest day when plans lasted later than expected. I should honestly know to run in the AM because all my plans end up going late. Going to work on that! For now I had planned to join Strava’s attempt to break the record number of halfs run in a day Sunday so I’ll make up the mileage then.
Rest

[Day 21] Sunday, September 10
Easy 6 MI (@9:02-9:45)

The half started off really well (with no foot pain!) but I completely forgot to bring water and slowly became dehydrated. I had planned to run my it and back route 2.5 times (rough for me to begin with since I hate repeating routes) but started thinking it wasn’t going to be enough toward the end. (I’m generally good at math but while running even my simple math skills go completely out the window lmao.) Between dehydration and thinking I was going to have to do even more laps than planned I started freaking out and slowed down to a crawl for the last few miles. Luckily it totally was enough and I was able to participate then chug water like no tomorrow!
13.20 mi @ 9:00

Weekly Total: 27.62

Next week starts speed/strength workouts AND I’m running my Ragnar at the end of the week!!

Thanks for reading!

Marathon Training: Week 2

[Day 8] Monday, August 28
Rest

Since I didn’t run the scheduled 5 miles on Sunday I felt I should probably make up some mileage Monday. I actually managed to get up and run in the AM and it was AWESOME! I used to frequently get up at 5AM to run 5 or 10 miles with friends, but since they’ve been away at school I’ve had a hard time prying myself out of bed to run alone. But AM running is totally worth it. It was so nice and cool! PLUS I was barely awake to notice I was running, so if you don’t enjoy running, just do it in your sleep as a zombie 😉 Also once I woke up fully I was so much more awake and energized than normal! Only problem was after the run my foot was acting up quite a bit. After work I ran again, but this time just a slow short one with my boyfriend since he needs to train for the Rugged Maniac and I didn’t feel so well. My foot was fine after the second run!
AM: 4.09 mi @ 8:28
PM: 2.01 mi @ 13:19

[Day 9] Tuesday, August 29
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

Tuesday’s run was pretty awful. My foot really hurt and then I think I started running with poor form making my legs hurt too.
5.27 mi @ 8:39

[Day 10] Wednesday, August 30
Rest

Rest daaaaay! Just stuck to resting since my foot felt so bad last run.
Rest

[Day 11] Thursday, August 31
Easy 3 MI (@9:02-9:45)

On Thursday my foot was still off so I was glad that I was only scheduled for 3 miles.
3.27 mi @ 8:21

[Day 12] Friday, September 1
Easy 3 MI (@9:02-9:45)

By Friday I decided I needed to try something different and broke out my old running shoes. I was hoping that while more worn down, they might be worn down in a more correct manner than my current ones since I had worn my current ones when my ankle was sprained and super swollen. It definitely seemed to work because I actually felt good enough to pick up the pace!
3.28 mi @ 7:47 [7:48, 7:58, 7:41]

[Day 13] Saturday, September 2
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

Saturday I ran in my old shoes again and my foot went back to hurting a little. Still significantly better than with my current shoes, but not 100%.
5.17 mi @ 8:25

[Day 14] Sunday, September 3
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

Although the weather channel promised it wouldn’t start until 5 PM, it rained all day Sunday. It was a really light misting when I started off but by the end it had increased slowly into pretty heavy rain. Most of the first half my foot felt pretty awful, but got better the second half.
5.16 mi @ 8:31

Weekly Mileage: 28.24