Thursday, July 31, 2014

Preparing for My Next Big Thing

Some of my Ragnar team mates and I have been kicking around the idea of signing up for another Ragnar relay. We haven't bitten the bullet yet (ie, no money has been thrown down) but there are high levels of seriousness. For reals. I mean, for realz. It will be a Big Thing. 

So I've been preparing myself for this Big Thing by shifting more of my focus on trail running. This meant an hour long trail run with my team mates last weekend in St. Edwards park, which was So. Much. Fun. I forgot how much I loved running trails with friends, it had been a while! I am still not comfortable enough to run trails on my own, so I just hope that my team mates want to keep getting together! 

Not the best photo of us, but here we are mid-trail run. 

Step two is I just had to go get new trail running shoes. Okay, in all honesty, the trails I am running/will be running for the foreseeable future likely won't be so technical I couldn't run them in my road shoes, but having new shoes helps me feel legit, and is also really, really fun. I went to The Balanced Athlete in Renton and tried on a bunch of different shoes before deciding on the Hoka One One Huakas. In my opinion they look like Hoka-lights. The have the built up sole, but not as huge as the other I have seen. I think these have a stack height of 25mm in the forefoot and 27mm at the heel, so they give me more cushioning than my beloved Sauconys while still maintaining a low heel to toe drop, which I like. 

I ran in them on Wednesday and I loved how they felt, so I am excited to take them to the trails! 

Still can't decide if these are cool looking or ugly. 

Step three is to run my first trail race, so this weekend I am doing the Grand Ridge 5 mile trail race. I sent a message to my team mates asking if they were interested in doing this one with me, and Ray sent a text back saying he just registered! Well, I had to register, then, no backing out if Ray was committed. I won't lie, I am a little nervous. Trail racing is very different from road racing-- for one, there is a teeny little trail, not a huge open road. I am not entirely sure on the passing/be passed etiquette, so hopefully I figure it out quickly. I also don't know if I should carry water with me. Stupid, huh? These are the things I worry about. 

And this has nothing to do with any of this, other than it also makes me really happy. I had a coffee mug made of our Ragnar team's logo!

Coffee tastes extra yummy in my new mug. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: Post-Ragnar Workouts (and non-workouts)

There was a theme for this week, and it was: EXHAUSTED. Ragnar didn't injure me (thank God!) but it did completely wear me out. My friend pointed out that she was tired, too, and she thought the culprit might be losing that whole night of sleep. I think she's on to something. I also felt vaguely sore most of the week, like very low-grade DOMS. Anyways, I didn't have much in mind for workouts this week, and I certainly didn't deliver anything too exciting. It felt like I focused on skipping a lot of workouts, but looking back, I see that I did four, which perfectly meets my summer goal. None of them were strength, however, and that sucks. I also didn't do a single moment of my PT exercises, and that really, really sucks. Need to get back in to that so I don't re-injure myself!

On that front, zero foot pain this week. Is it crazy of me to think maybe it's actually really gone now?

Total Miles Run: 7.2 

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 3 Mile Run

It took a lot to get me out the door for this. I felt okay while running, but was tired.

Wednesday: Rest 

I had hopes of doing some strength or something, but NOPE.

Thursday: 40 Minute Swim and 1.2 Mile Hike

Still tired. I probably would have skipped this if I had to go at my usual time (like 7:00 am). Instead I had the luxury of going after a more normal wake-up time. I felt slow swimming, but more than likely that was due to being in the lane next to a crazy fast swimmer, haha.

In the afternoon the girls and I went for a short hike on Vashon Island. It was pretty short, 0.6 miles each way, but there was a 400 foot elevation gain on the way back up, so that was kind of tough! 

Hiking down to the water.


Friday: Rest

I set my alarm to get up to be out the door by 7:00 for a run. Sadly, I was wide awake at 5:00 and instead of getting up and just running early I laid in bed until the time my alarm was supposed to go off . . . then I promptly fell back asleep. Run missed. And . . . I didn't really care all that much.

Saturday: Yoga

I was looking forward to this, as it was my favorite yoga on the beach class. Also, I got one of my friends/Ragnar teammates to join me, so it was double awesome. My body needed some yoga!

Sunday: 4.2 Mile Run

I met two of my Ragnar teammates at St. Edwards State Park and ran this on the trails. It was awesome. We climbed a hill with a 400 foot elevation gain, NBD. (hey, the same as the trail I walked with my girls earlier in the week!) Trail running is so interesting-- this took us exactly an hour. I had wanted to run between five and seven miles for the day, Erin suggested we just run for one hour. The hour was perfect, we definitely pushed ourselves! Anyways, it re-affirms that I do really love trails, though I am still intimidated by them. Going to have to get comfortable on them for my NEXT BIG THING . . .

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Team Everything is Awesome Rocks Ragnar NWP: Post Two


. . . . and after some medicine and food, everyone was ready to roll by the time we had to run our third legs. A good reminder that anything can happen during a relay. and to not only be ready physically, but mentally, too, so that you can roll with it. You can feel strong and amazing, then horribly awful, then good again. One thing that is sure: my teammates are amazingly strong, supportive and resilient runners. 

Resting at Coupeville high school at exchange 30 was one of my favorite parts of the relay. I feel like Ragnar is stressful in the way you are go-go-go while you are on, then "ohmygod, must sleep!" when you're not. So I appreciated getting down time with my teammates. We freshened up, sat around, and talked. Ray and Tara and I spent the exchange inside the school, the other girls rested in the van for a bit, then Autumn and Erin came and joined us inside. 

Using the wifi to check devices.

Ray, me and Tara. Triplets!

I love this picture. Just hanging out together. 

Erin taking "legs up the wall" to a new level. 

Van 1 and Van 2 waiting for the hand off.


Van 2 heading in to our last legs! 

Erin, ready to go! 

There is a definite mix of "let's just get this over with!" and "oh no, it's almost over!" when you head in to your third legs at Ragnar. Exhaustion has sunk in. Likely you don't feel great. Running again seem almost impossible. But you pull up your big girl panties (or big boy boxers) and you get out there and run your ass off. At least, that's what team Everything is Awesome did! 

Erin left to run just over 6 miles at about noon on Saturday. It was around this time that the van became less than stellar supporters. We missed supporting for Erin on this leg and again for Tracy on her last leg. D'Oh! Luckily my teammates could roll with it, and hopefully they aren't harboring any resentment. Haha.

And why did we miss giving Erin enough support? We were enjoying the view, of course!

Hard to tell, but there was a gorgeous view behind us! 

Erin passed off to Tara, who was rocking the best outfit of our whole team's relay. 

Team logo shirt and sparkle skirt FTW! 

Loved this sign on Tara's leg. 

Tara passing off to Ray.

Some of my teammates started to get very serious during their third legs. They were ready to run hard and had some goals set for themselves. Ray wanted water support on his leg, but wasn't going to stop, so Erin ran along side him and passed him water. Such teamwork! And he hit his goal, which is awesome. My teammates were speedy! 

Erin passing water to Ray during his third leg. 

Ray passed to Autumn, and I see now that somehow we didn't get pictures of any of their exchanges. Not sure how that happened, but it's a bummer. 

Luckily Ragnar got a great shot of Autumn running strong! 

Autumn had almost six miles to run before passing off to me. I was ready to go. My third leg was my shortest one and though I know I didn't have the speed some of my teammates had, I was going to give it everything I had. This worked out great until a side stitch hit about half a mile before the end of the leg. I walked almost the whole last but and was completely annoyed.

Feeling bummed, passing to Tracy. 


Look how cute Tracy's socks were!

My teammates handed me some water at the exchange and said "want to go get a beer?" Um, sure?! We walked from exchange 35 over to the Taproom at Bayview Corner. My teammates assured me the beer came in "cute glasses", which ended up being true. I ordered a small glass of hard cider, but everyone else got something more normal sized.
Beer is yum.

Our last van selfie. 

The stop at the Taproom was fun, and I remember laughing until I was crying, though I can't quite recall what it was we were talking about. Everything probably seems hilarious at the end of a Ragnar! We left the Taproom to go support Tracy, and then figured out that we missed where we were supposed to meet her, at the top of a big hill. Teammate fail. Hopefully we made up for it by forming a kickass arch for her to run under at the finish line! 

Bringing Tracy in! 

There is nothing like a Ragnar finish line. As all of the other teams did, we ran across as a team. I wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time. It was over! and also, it was over :( 




Van 2 with our medals. 

The whole team with our medals. 

I signed the huge poster for our team. 

We ate pizza. Remind me to tell you the story of how Ray got his beer . . .

Our medal! I think I like it more than last year's. 

Our official finisher's photo. 

This is the word cloud on the back of our t-shirts. 
We all contributed the words, and they are, of course, things we think are awesome! 

Once we crossed the finish line we said goodbye to van 1, ate pizza and drank beer and got in the two hour ferry line. And just like, the adventure was over.

You guys. Ragnar was awesome. My whole team was awesome. My van was awesome. Everything was awesome! In fact, we loved it so much, there are now plans in the works for other Ragnar relays in 2015, so stay tuned for more info on that! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Team Everything is Awesome Rocks Ragnar NWP: Post One

In December 2013 I had the idea of putting together a Ragnar Northwest Passage team for the coming July. Finding teammates was initially a stressful endeavor-- many of the friends I asked were interested, but unavailable. Finally, as the race was selling out, I took a leap of faith and bought a team with only three friends committed. Then an amazing thing happened: the friends I found brought in other friends, and their friends brought in friends and finally the team was full.

On a side note, we didn't lose a single team member along the way, our original 12 were our final 12! 

After lots and lots of discussion, Tara's kids suggested the team name Everything is Awesome (after the song from the Lego movie) and we all loved it. The team ran with a Lego theme, decorating the van with minifig drawings of ourselves and Lego magnets as well as making matching t-shirts with the Ragnar logo made out of Lego!


Everything is Awesome Van 2.


The Teammates in Van Two

Erin, Runner 7

Tara, Runner 8

Ray, Runner 9

Autumn, Runner 10

Me, Runner 11

 Tracy, Runner 12

Being van 2 meant that we didn't start running until Friday mid-afternoon.. It was nice to be able to get a full night's sleep Thursday night, pick up the van Friday morning, and pack things up at a leisurely pace. Tara spent the night at my house so we picked up Ray mid-morning before driving to a park and ride where we met up with Tracy, Erin and Autumn. There we filled the van with food and gear and decorated the windows before heading north to Bellingham! When I picked up the van from the rental place it had 64 miles on it and was in pristine condition. Let's just say it wasn't looking so beautiful when it was returned on Sunday! (One tip: if you are van 2, pick your van up on Friday morning and return it on Sunday morning, saves a lot of $$ over a Thursday-Sunday rental!)

Ray and Tracy's window.

Once we arrived in Bellingham, we checked in, hit up the Ragnar tent to buy gear, relaxed, tagged vans with our magnets, and ate while we waited for Van 1, who had started running at 8:45 am, to arrive. Such a different experience from starting the race in the early morning in Blaine!

Exchange 6.

The back door of our van with our team logo, van sticker, Lego magnets 
and the magnet we tagged other vans with! 

The one major bummer about Ragnar is that even though you are a team of 12, you really end up being a team of 6. We didn't get to spend that much time with Van 1 and the hand-offs at each major exchange were a quick hi and bye because we always had to take off so quickly after the hand off! 

Darren, Runner 6, handing off to Erin, Runner 7. 

The team at exchange 6, minus Erin who was out running!

Once Darren came through the exchange he handed off to Erin and she was off and running! Our Ragnar relay had begun! A big chunk of her first leg didn't follow the route the van drove so we didn't get to cheer her on. Instead we waited for her at the exchange. We took that opportunity to put on our Ragnar tattoos! 


My calf, freshly tattooed.

After Erin came in, she handed off to Tara. Tara took off on her first leg, ready to tackle what she affectionately called "Mt. Doom" as it was a HUGE hill! She rocked it, of course,

Tara passing off to Ray.

After Ray's turn to run it was Autumn's, then mine. 

Gulp.

I went in to my first run not knowing what to expect. How would my foot hold up? Would I feel okay running at about 6:00 pm? What was this leg like? I knew how far I would have to run (6.8 miles) but didn't look at the leg map other than to check if there were any monster hills. No monster hills. Barely any hills at all! I kept getting passed by other runners (or "killed" if you want to be so morbid) which annoyed me. I reminded myself it was my own run, to do my thing and take it easy. I had a lot of miles left to run at Ragnar! My leg was a very boring slog that mostly had me hugging the shoulder of two lane highways. For a while I followed a girl with a plastic butt attached to the outside of her shorts and that completely cracked me up and entertained me for the couple of miles. 

After my run I passed off to Tracy who had 4.1 miles to knock out before we took our first break. 

Passing off to Tracy at exchange 11.

We met Tracy at Burlington High School, exchange 12, which was also where we got to chat with Van 1, briefly, again. Tracy passed off to runner 1, Darlene, and we left to get some gas, food and rest at exchange 18, LaConner High School.

Van 2 didn't have an exact plan for meals, we mostly just had a lot of stuff to snack on, like pretzel chips, potato chips, yogurt, string cheese, bagels, pb&j, trail mix, and a few other things. For me this worked out well as I did up not have a single tummy issue the entire race. I did, however, really miss going out for meals with my teammates, which is something my van did last year. Of course, last year I felt very sick on my second run and I assumed it was due to my huge lunch that day! Next year we will hopefully build one meal out in to our plan.

Once we got to La Conner Tracy, Autumn and Erin elected to stay in the van while Tara, Ray and I headed inside to rest. The three of us laid out our sleeping bags in the gym, took a shower and met in the cafeteria for food. Tara and Ray took advantage of the spaghetti dinner, they both claimed it hit the spot! I had already eaten a ton of snacks in the van and avoided eating again for fear of feeling too stuffed and sick. The three of us laid down around 10:00 pm with our alarms set for 1:00 am. Sleeping on a gym floor, packed in with strangers (it got much more crowded after I took the photo below), is difficult enough under the best circumstances, but it was really tough that night. A curtain separated the cafeteria from where people were sleeping and the cafeteria was SO loud. People were laughing and yelling and having a good time. Which was great, if you weren't trying to sleep within ear shot of them. My earplugs helped a little and I got a teeny bit of restless sleep, getting up just before the 1:00 am alarm went off. 

Sleeping on a gym floor is awesome! Or not. 

When we got to the van the girls who tried to sleep in there reported it was pretty loud and they didn't get much rest, either. Not surprisingly, many of us didn't exactly feel 100% at 1:00 am, but we rallied, and Erin, our first runner, was ready to run her very long middle of the night leg.

We supported Erin as much as we could and then sent Tara out on her second leg. We didn't get to see Tara much on this leg, as she got to run across a bridge across Fidalgo Bay at the end of it. Tara passed off to Ray who had a short run through Anacortes, then it was time for Autumn to go. 

Ray all decked out for the night!

After Autumn it was my turn again. Leg 23 was here, which was the leg I had been thinking about for months-- it was the one that would take me across Deception Pass! I was initially bummed when our start time was announced and I discovered that I wouldn't get to cross Deception Pass during the night. It turned out that running across it just after sunrise was about as perfect as it gets.

Check this out:


The view was incredible, obviously. I have driven across this bridge maybe twice in my life and knew it was very high, and it made me dizzy just thinking about it. I was equally excited and terrified before running across it, but it ended up being really, really cool and not at all scary. I had my phone in my hand in the above picture because I had stopped at the start of the bridge to take a selfie:




Me taking a leisurely water/gu break before hitting the bridge. 

The rain started (or rather, started again. It rained on Friday night, too) around the time I was leaving the Deception Pass bridge. It was kind of nice at first, but then the road opened up in to an unprotected hill and the wind hit me in the face. Suddenly my amazing run turned in to a death march for the last mile. Up the hill, in to the wind and rain. I felt bad for Tracy, she had to run her whole leg in that weather!

Here I am telling Tracy, "yeah, good luck with that!" or something else equally supportive.

You know what is hard? Changing out of drenched, stinky running gear in the back seat of a van. 

The rain washed off our decorations! We had to re-decorate later after the rain stopped.

Tracy passing off to Darlene at exchange 24.



We were definitely ready to pick up Tracy at exchange 24 because that meant it was time for our break. 

Unfortunately, at this point some of us were not feeling so hot . . . were we able to turn it around??? Hmmm, check back later this week to find out in part two of my re-cap . . .