The Ragnar Relay takes place over 2 days and stretches 200ish miles, split between 12 people, 3 legs each. I had been training for this for months and was tasked with 22 miles total, but the week before setting out, I threw my back out. I worked with a massage therapist a few days before the start and that helped a lot, but I was still very stiff and sore.
A little recap of the order of events:
>Thrown out back
>Terrible side cramps
>2 hour nap
>Another 9.6 miles
>Sore legs, back, sides, feet
>Team sprint to the finish line after 200ish miles on foot
A lot of this sounds sucky and it was but spending two days in a van with incredibly positive and hilarious teammates made it not suck at all. Not to mention everyone making this arm-bridge thing for me to run under before the finish line, and having an amazing cookout in Wellfleet afterwards. Not sure I would do this again, but this was pretty top-notch.
Months and months of training and I finally finished my second marathon, this time in my hometown! I was hoping to improve my time, but ended up taking an additional half hour or so. It's tough to remember that every race is different, and the conditions have tremendous consequences. For this race, they were calling for mild temperatures and rain all day and it ended up being warm and sunny. On top of that, the water stations were not laid out as I had memorized, so I ended up being dehydrated by the halfway point. There were some tears when I crossed the finish line, but it was still great to cross it, see my family, and commiserate with my brother, who finished an hour ahead of me. Afterward, we got donuts at the Cider Mill and watched the Patriots game without moving. I had my first massage ever the week after and felt 100% better the moment I got off the table. Definitely hooked!
This was such a great race! My first time running a race with music, which really helped, plus it was my ideal weather: cool and a bit misty. The course was beautiful, mid-fall in the rain, and very peaceful. There were a lot of parts that went right along the water and the views distracted from the hills. A good portion was a rewarding downhill and that felt fantastic.
It also felt great to beat my half marathon time from last year at the BAA half by about 5 minutes. This was especially surprising because I actually caught a cold right before! As I was going to sleep, my throat started to feel bad, and sure enough I woke up with the sniffles. I took some Advil and Zyrtec beforehand just to cut down on the symptoms, and that was good enough to clear things out for the two hours of running time. (Of course, once I got home, it hit me like a ton of bricks.)
Chris and Kara came with me as support/wheels and while I was running they picked me up this perfect little pumpkin.
Including some screenshots below of my splits from last year's half to this year's, some PR's, and my official results. I've never been a competitive runner even when I was running cross country and track in school, but it is satisfying to put a lot of time in and beat my PR's now and then.
As much as I followed through on a training schedule, I really did not know what I was in for with the full 26.2. I would say the best decision was wearing a hat; I get extremely fatigued when it comes to sunshine beating down, and it was a very sunny day. But aside from the sun, we really couldn't have asked for better conditions. It was mid 60s, breezy, and a beautiful day to run along the water. The whole thing was a great learning experience, as I think I overestimated how long I could continue at the pace I used for the first half, meaning I made the classic "went out too fast" mistake. I used a caffeine loaded gel around mile 9 that gave me a great burst of energy and while I did have another pack for around mile 20, it probably would have been more useful to save the first for those long teen miles that I felt would never end. I read beforehand that I shouldn't have any steep expectations for my first marathon as it's impossible to know how you will handle it, though I figured if I did a half in 2 hours and accounted for a slower pace, I could do a whole in about 4:20. So I was a little disappointed with my final result of 4:44 especially after sticking with the 4:15 pace group for the first half, but I think for a first try all I really needed to do was finish. Maybe next year! Also, it was nice doing a smaller race, because I got all of my race photos for free. Most of the other road races I've done have charged exorbitant amounts of money for any full-quality photos. I'm posting a couple below, though sparing you of the ones where I look like I'm on the verge of death (which was most of them.)
Only a couple of weeks out from my first marathon, and I finally made it to see the Boston Marathon for the first time. I was at Coolidge Corner, around the 23rd mile. It was not the best weather, pretty chilly and drizzly by the time the elite runners had gone by. But quite an inspiration to see not only the elites, but the thousands and thousands of other runners pass by in a constant stream.
A few months ago I signed up for the Providence Marathon which happens in early May. Registration for longer road races isn't cheap, but luckily it didn't break the bank, and at the same time it was enough that I shouldn't back out. Although after record-breaking snowfall this winter, it has been pretty hard to get out and train. This weekend I did my longest run yet of 21 miles, afterwards felt like I was going to die, and then celebrated by getting a veggie cheese burger and fries at Tasty Burger. It was quite a cold and snowy day, but at least there was still a lot of snow on the ground for whenever I was thirsty. Did I just admit that? Desperate times...
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based out of Brookline, MA.