Google's team blog for the Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage

July 20-21st 2012 Google's 6th year at the Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage! This is a two day, 190 mile relay race from the northern tip of Washington in Blaine, through farm country and along the coast, across Deception Pass and finishing at the southern end of Whidbey Island at Langley. This isn't your average team offsite!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Matthew’s Story

I never got a chance to write my entry on Friday with all the driving, and Saturday I was living on too little sleep to write anything, so here’s my chance to tell my story of the event.

After van 1 drove away from the starting line, we van 2 members wandered around Blaine for a while and then drove to Ferndale for big Denny's breakfasts.

I had a good first leg—9.0 miles, starting around 4 PM—but didn’t see the van often enough for my taste, and when my team told me “We'll see you in two miles” or I saw the “one mile to go” Ragnar sign, I always seemed to have to run much farther than promised. Since I had no idea whether I was ahead of schedule or behind, I never slowed down. My team told me I made great time, and one time I caught up to them when they didn’t appear to be expecting me.

After the leg, the little toe on my right foot started feeling funny, and I discovered I had a blister under my toenail. Ugh. Two of my van members are very experienced runners and fellow ERT members, so they helped patch me up, though walking was very uncomfortable the rest of the day.

After van 2 finished legs 7–12, we went to an Alfy’s for dinner. Because of the time spent there, and time getting a bit lost finding exchange 18 afterward, and because legs 13–18 were almost all “easy” legs (with one “moderate”), we only had an hour or two to try to sleep at the exchange before we were up again. A first aid volunteer patched me up again at the exchange, and I hoped it would hold.

My second leg (6.3 miles) started at around 2 AM in Anacortes and ended with a 2.3-mile loop through Washington Park—alone, since the van couldn't follow me into the park, and in total darkness except what my headlamp provided. I could hear the waves nearby, so I'm sure the view would have been pretty if the sun had been up. Unsuccessfully trying to avoid putting pressure on my right little toe, I ended up favoring the left side of my foot almost to the point of blistering it too, and I stumbled on a couple speed bumps on my way out of the park.

I only really managed to sleep from about 5:30 AM to 8:00—on the cold, hard floor of the elementary school gym. But the first aid volunteer (who had no experience with blisters because he normally worked at Tae Kwan Do matches) patched me up well enough that my toe wasn’t as much of a problem on my third leg as simple exhaustion.

My third leg, in the hot afternoon sun on Whidbey Island, was again “only” 6.1 miles, but it had one huge hill in the middle. As soon as I started my leg, I discovered that I didn't have the energy I had on Friday, and I was extremely close to simply walking up the steepest part of the hill. Somehow I made it, and faster than expected again, as Katya wasn’t ready at the exchange when I arrived! Shauna told me my team decided to nickname me “Flash.”

Memorable moments for me, both good and bad:
  • Our first runner, Amer, was very late to the scheduled 5 AM departure from Kirkland. When van 1 drove off to get to the starting line in time, they spilled onto the road the pages from one of our copies of the Race Bible that we had left on the van roof.
  • Min managed to catch the last seat on an early flight out of California and arrive at exchange 24 only a minute or two before Joe finished his final leg. And then Min was so eager to run with the team that she ran the last few miles of several legs alongside our scheduled runners. Thanks for the enthusiastic support!
  • At exchange 24, Katya and I very carefully packed everything into the back of the van. (We had too much stuff for the van and things fell out every time we opened the door.) Then I accidentally slammed her hand in the driver's door (I’m sorry!), and we had to unpack the rear of the van again to find ice.
Every time I got a couple of miles into my leg, I again realized how crazy I was to be doing this, but everyone really loved the experience, and there seems to be a consensus that we want to do this again next year.


Shauna said...

Ah, the speedbumps were only there because they knew the Flash was coming. :)

And Katya was a soldier for taking our obligatory finger-door injury! Spending more than 24hrs with a large group in a van makes such a thing inevitable, so someone had to do it. And she hardly emitted a peep, what a trooper!

Running alone in the middle of nowhere at night --> definitely start questioning sanity. And I'm definitely up for it next year!

Katya said...

Those finger-door injuries are made to have the other party feel awfully guilty - ice took care of it really fast, but thanks for all the extra care :)