Running On Empty: Life at the Ragnar Part I

Jackson Browne’s old song really nailed my weekend run at the 2014 Ragnar Trail Run at McDowell Mountain.

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind

Months ago I was wrangled into running the 2014 Ragnar Trail Run at McDowell Mountain. http://www.ragnartrail.com/locations/mcdowell-mountain-az The run consists of a team of 8 runners each running three loops of 4.1, 3.1, and 8.4 miles over a two-day span for close to 120+ miles. Doesn’t that sound like fun and to do this you have to pay something like $150 for the privilege. Really? Clearly I was delusional when I agreed to do this.

As we get close to the run our original team of eight has suddenly declined to five members with less then a month to go as three go by the wayside. Not my worry but it becomes Carolyn’s worry. Surely my friend Mike will join us on the sojourn since he just loves trail running. His initial yes quickly turns to a no way due to his lack of running. I understand why he decides not to after all I haven’t come close to running 8.4 miles since I ran a half marathon in March. (should be noted my only run of that distance in my lifetime) To complicate things for me I have been struggling with running since I peaked at the 10th annual Pats Run with a best ever average mile time for me. (about 7:39 pace but since then, I can barely break a 10 minute mile pace as I have completely lost my groove–yup Tim has lost his groove)

Carolyn somehow convinces Nichole from the Winterholler’s Scottsdale office that she can do this and don’t worry about the 8.4 mile loop–she’ll pick it up for her. Now Nichole is on a roll. She in turn convinces her boyfriend Max to do this and Nichole rounds out the team with a running friend who lives in Tucson. Max and this other girl are runners so we are feeling like hey this might be ok. We still have Lynn Waters, her sister Karen Donnelly, and Lynn’s daughter Elaine “Lanie” Olszewski and they are ready to run.

But it is short lived. Race day comes and after Carolyn’s meticulous week preparation (food, sleeping bags, chairs, water, outfits, headlamps, air mattress) we hit the road with our two car parade–one car for us and one for Jordyn since she has to get to the Nascar for work. Carolyn gets the dreaded text–a runner has bailed due to an unseen crisis. This runner just happens to be the runner from Tucson. Carolyn talks with Nicole and Nicole now convinces Cherise from the Scottsdale office to fill in. We’re almost good since Lynn will pick up her 8.4 mile loop. I have never met Nicole and Max but Cherise and I have a personal connection, she has cleaned my teeth. That poor girl really had to work the last time she had seen me. I can only hope she doesn’t remember my lack of flossing.

Lynn and Lanie have found us a camping spot in tent city and it is conveniently located next to about 40 porta potties. Lord knows we need easy access to toilets especially at my age. I have never seen anything like it. There are tents and more tents and more tents everywhere. It is very similar in design to the pictures of tent cities that are erected after disasters have struck major cities. Very overwhelming. There is another area that includes merchandise tents, mess hall, and vendors handing out free samples plus others hawking their goods. I do wish I had taken some pics of the camping areas. It was simply unbelievable.

We get unpacked, everybody arrives, and I do what I do best–I collect free samples from Monster Energy Drink and Peace Tea. Carolyn is embarrassed; and me I’m just stocking up for the unknown and trying to lower the cost of my entry fee by acquiring anything free. That’s life.map-mcdowell

The trail map is now ready to be run. The order of the run is green, red, yellow. Our order of runners has been established, both Carolyn and Lynn are picking up two 8.4 mile loops and we are ready to send Lynn out at the 2:00 start time we are given.   Off Lynn goes into the 86 degree bright sunshiny weather–aka hot.

About timfruth

Longtime public educator who recently retired from public education. Messed around in politics as a town councilor and vice mayor. I am a father and a husband who currently works in a new active career in Human Resources. Love the outdoors and rapidly adjusting to a new me.
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