Breaking News : I Still Love Relays (Team Nuun Ragnar SoCal recap)

I’ve recapped three relays now, each have been (at least) three parts long. This one will not. It will be long, but only one part. Swear on my Brooks.


spoiler : we made it to the finish

To add a little clarity into how the actual “day” of a relay plays out, I decided to post this installment of ‘OUaL Relays : Ragnar SoCal with Team Nuun in clock format, Jack Bauer style.

confession : I actually never watched 24 – I just know it has that clock ticking screen and is a day per episode and was the first time I heard the name “Kiefer”


So hear we go. “Zero o’clock” will be our start time, 10:30am, actual day time in parentheses.

pre – 0:00  ||  Van One Assemble! Start line in Huntington Beach with runners 1-6. Safety briefing, van window painting, bib pinning, hydration commencing.


one-way trip (click to zoom and see individual leg info)


Van One : can’t-get-off-work-in-time-to-come-to-the-start RER, me, of-course-I’ll-fly-cross-country-to-relay SweatyEmily, I-could-go-for-some-miles SkinnyRunner, still-not-a-blogger Kristina, and who-are-these-girls FJrose

0:00 – 0:45 (10:30am)  ||  Emily leads us off – super fun starting with a big group of other teams since all the other relays we’ve been one of the last out on the course. (at Vegas only one other team started with us!)


0:45 – 1:20 (11:15am)  ||  My first leg as Runner 2, an easy 5 miles on the Santa Ana River Trail. I was “Runner 2” when we ran SoCal as an ultra team last year, but since we ran doubles I ran the legs of 3 & 4 – so this year I got all new routes! Exciting!

The first few miles were just kind of la-dee-da… It took a while to feel that “race energy” kick in. Finally about half way through, THIS IS A RELAY! YOU LOVE RELAYS! hit me, a dude that had passed me earlier started fading, and I ran the rest reeling him (and a few others) in with a shit grin on my face the whole time. There’re some special endorphins in those slap bracelets – the “baton” you pass between runners – I’m sure of it.

Bonus : best tempo of the year.



sarah-to-sarah handoff at ex #2 (photo cred K & Em)

1:20 – 4:00 (11:50am)  ||  Duck, duck, goose. SR, Kristina, Monica, Fara knock out their legs in the blazing middle-of-the-day heat (wtf socal?!), landing us somewhere east of Anaheim to tag in Van Two.


Monica / Farrah at exchange 5

bra 065

Just planking at the ex6 Nuun booth with some of Van Two (MayFay’s pic)

4:00 – 9:30 (2:30pm)  ||  Van One rest. Smash some Subway. Hang out with Pam and her kids at a random exchange. Cause a scene in ex12 parking lot and talk more in-depth about portapotties any humans ever should (let alone a dude have to hear about – sorry, Mason). Complain of boredom and need for a run.


9:30 – 10:30 (8pm)  ||  Van One gets tagged back in! Emily departs Lake Elsinore and we all pile back in (FINALLY) for some more action.

  • sidenote : SR, K, Em and I decided during the 5.5 hr break that running more miles (ultra) >>> waiting more hours. Overall I didn’t feel like the extra downtime as a 12man provided any more rest than we got as a 6, but that’s a tale for another time.



our own personal exchange sign!

10:30 – 11:40 (9pm)  ||  Run #2, leg 14 – 8.5 miles with a decent hill and fast finish through the night.

Night runs are my absolute favorite – the thrill of not seeing exactly where you’re going, chasing after little red tail lights, and sucking cold, crisp air while the rest of the world is out Friday Night’ing it? So dig it.

But apparently my enthusiasm came off a little sarcastic when I yelled “I LOVE NIGHT RUNNING!!” with my arms over my head to my vanmates who’d stopped to cheer halfway through the leg?

No idea why that would seem anything but completely authentic coming from me…



from the start of the run, but the mid-leg exclamation was very similar

11:40 – 15:30 (10:10pm)  ||  SR, K, Monica, Fara. Check, check, check, check. Like clockwork everyone came in – crushing hills, trails, drunks in downtown Temecula.

One of my favorite parts was Kristina coming back from Leg 16, which she impromptu ran with me last year. She and Lee were vacationing nearby, had seen all the vans, and after a few texts realized it’d work for her to run with me – which ended up saving my run. (story here)

So when she came in – blazing fast, btw – jabbering on all pumped up, I had to smile; 

“remember the sprinklers on the fairway? they went off again! and that dirt hill? omg I forgot about it! but it was so cool and passed so many people and ahhh I’m so glad you asked me on the team! [hug]…”


a few hours hours after that run, but same cheery, happy, van-loving Kristina

teamnuun11exchange 18 disco waiting for Fara to tag in runner 7

15:30 – 18:00 (2am)  ||  Resist the delicious smell of pizza in favor of ZZZs. Curl up in front seat w legs on dash, blanket over head, and eyes kind of closed. Collect maybe 60min cumulative sleep.

18:00 – 19:30 (4:30am)  ||  Van Two ran faster than planned (so rude baller), so we had a scramble to get ready. Em gets tagged in, makes (wise) choice to forego most of her miles likely due to fitful dreams of Dr Paul’s looming scolding. Skinny “I could go for some miles” Runner jumps in, runs through her next leg, and tags me in for a final time.



low on exchange theatrics, but a smile AND really-running legs captured by Pacer Dave (thank you!)

20:30 – 21:45 (6am) ||  Final run. Garmin was dead and I was running blind (too tired to study map) so I decided to just take the run a hill at a time, which, excuse the brag, was fucking brilliant.

A guy in sparkly shorts passed me early, but kept getting stopped at stop lights. I’d cruised up beside him just as it turned EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. and he’d take off again. It was hilarious in a sucks-to-be-you kind of way. By the third time he kind of laughed, and made a comment about “5 miles to go” and I’m all,

“wait, we’ve run 3.5 miles already?? sweet! (gets left in dust, again)”

There was a single-track dirt trail, a gate you had to turn sideways to squeeze through, and a long hill I literally couldn’t run up. But each turn was something new, a new body to chase, a few steps closer to my fourth relay (sadly) being over. And no beeping watch telling me JUST how much further.

At the “ONE MILE TO GO” sign I somehow found another gear, just as we turned onto the familiar 101 in Solana Beach. I high fived people running the opposite direction – Ragnarians or not – and with .5mi left rolled up to a light where Mr Sparkle Shorts and a few other dudes were waiting to cross.

“Ugh I KNEW you’d catch me! Just go on, go ahead. Be done with it!”

I grinned at him, gave a challenging look to the other guys, and when the “walk” sign lit we sprinted out in a race for the finish.

And I won.


#runhappy #proof #rarelikeaunicorn

21:45 – 23:00 (7:15am)  ||  As each Van One’r came in, giddy with delirium at being finished, the lunch talks started. Beer talks. Actually sit down and have someone serve you proper food talks. We debated for at least 30 minutes over each local brewery (there are many in SD, btw) based on IPA offerings and proximity to the finish line, which we were suddenly SO. CLOSE. TO.

And then somewhere between legs 28-29 Van Two sent an S.O.S…


that’s what a busted relay van on the side of the highway looks like

Luckily they weren’t too far away. We rescued some of the upcoming runners – Mason staying with Jen and Captain Megan (runners 11 & 12) in the hoopty waiting for the replacement – and we forged ahead. Even though I really wanted to say, “tough shit, got beers to drink byeeee!”


23:00 – 27:00 (9:30am)  ||  I hopped in the drivers seat and played my best bus driver card – Runner 7, check! Runner 8, check! Runner 9, check! Two-point parallel park job, BOOYAH CHECK!


Uhhh wait, is the other van coming? I’m running out of runners.

JUST as we sent off KJ, Runner 10 and the last yet-to-run teammate in our custody, Van Two was rescued and zipped down to deliver runners 11 and 12 (Jen and Megan) with a few minutes to spare.

Talk about close call.

27:00 – 29:00 (1pm)  ||  With less than 12 miles left to run, Van One headed straight to the finish area, finally got down on some “lunch” and rallied one last time for a sprint through the finish led by Megan.


Cold Papa Johns and plastic cup beer on the grass is no Green Flash tasting room, but at that point anything “real” is delicious



the awkward smudging on the left is my half-ass attempt to remove a photo-bomber

29:19 (3:49pm)  ||  Team Nuun crosses the finish line in downtown San Diego, 192.9 miles later.

In no shocking news, I had a GREAT time. Relays are my favorite ever, Nuun is my favorite ever, these girls are my (new and old) favorites ever. And so is perfect SoCal weather and plastic cup beer.

Oh, and as a bonus – even though we weren’t “In It To Win It” like past relays, we found ourselves with the top Womens 12-Person “Regular” time. Holla, WINNERS!

Thanks for a rad weekend, dudes – rain check on Green Flash next time y’all are in town.

Sarah OUaL