Marathon Training Week 2: The Beach and the Men’s Locker Room Adventure

Most of this week was “at the beach” in Ocean City, NJ. Note I didn’t say “ON the beach,” as I think running on sand is just cray-cray. I sit on beaches, I run on roads. If I run on sand, I’ll receive a one-way ticket to plantar fasciitisville, which is a horrid place to visit.

All of my running workouts in these early weeks are under orders from Coach Erin to be “easy”, because at this point, I just need to build up the mileage on my feet. Week three we’ll start with the speed/track workouts, which I am just demented enough to be looking forward to. Srsly.

Exercising on vacation can be very hard, but when grandparents and aunts and uncles come along, it’s way easier because there are built-in babysitters. Thank you Mom, Dad, John, and Melissa for allowing Dan and I to get in some serious workouts this week.

NYC MARATHON WEEK TWO: 19 MILES TOTAL

MONDAY: Rest day. On the beach. Awesome.

TUESDAY: 18 mile bike ride. I went with my husband and we did a loop around Ocean City, going over my favorite bridge, the Route 52 Causeway. It was very windy, and the wind caused me to white-knuckle it on the downhills of the bridge, while experiencing little pulsing heart-attacky adrenaline surges. In other words, fun!

marathon training cross training bike

Finger on the lens AGAIN. The wind made me do it.

WEDNESDAY: 3 miles, which I ran a tad faster than I needed to, but it was drizzling and I wanted to get home because my husband was bringing back donuts.

marathon training Ocean City

“Mmmmmm…donuts…”

Later that day, I played 18 holes of golf with my dad and brother at the Atlantic City Country Club.

Atlantic City golf cross-training

Duffin’ it in the marsh.

This place was so old-timey Atlantic City, it would blow your mind. For instance, the men had a gorgeous, plush locker room with oak lockers, leather couches, huge tv’s, and card tables. How do I know this? Because all players, both men and women, have to go through the men’s locker room TO GET TO THE PRO SHOP.

Plush, comfy, and huge.

Plush, comfy, and huge. That’s the old AC trolley bell in the foreground, so it’s historical too. This was only about 1/3 of the room.

If you are a woman, a staff member will check the men’s locker room for you and let you know if it’s clear to go through to the pro shop. So I walked though feeling awkward and sheepish, praying that the staff member was correct and being ready to shield my eyes at any moment. And if that’s not welcoming enough for you ladies, may I present to you the ladies’ locker room, which was down a small, darkened hallway:

golf atlantic city women locker room

I felt so…welcomed.

So, lemme get this straight: Golf as a sport has taken a beating in the past few years and its numbers are on the decline and this course (a private one) expects to survive by alienating half of the potential golf-playing population? GO FOR IT, BROS. SOLID BUSINESS PLAN.

THURSDAY: Fueled by more donuts, I had the most awesome run with one of my Ragnar teammates, Schuy, who was also vacationing in Ocean City that week. Where did we run? Over the Route 52 causeway, of course. During those 4.4 miles, we chatted about the following: Schuy and her daughter are in training for a half Ironman triathlon in September…seriously badass. Also, my husband and her brother-in-law were probably member of the Ocean City Beach Patrol at the same time back in the early 80’s. And finally, we spoke of that magical Ragnar weekend, where time seemed to stand still, the heat was cranked, tutus were donned, and friendships were forged. Someday I will find the words to write about how transformative that experience was for me, but for now I leave Thursday’s recap with some BAMRs (BadAss Mother Runners) on the Best Bridge For Running Ever.

ragnar marathon training

BAMR Powers…ACTIVATE!

FRIDAY: I rested. I ate more donuts. (Dot’s in Ocean City is DA BOMB.)

SATURDAY: Poof! And just like that, our week at the beach was over. We packed up and headed back to Connecticut. I was too tired to sneak in a run before leaving, so I ran 4 lovely sunset miles when I got home.

SUNDAY: Long run day! After a 7 month hiatus, my BRF Lori and I finally got to run together again and we were all:

Spongebob patrick butt bumps

And then we were all

Spongebob patrick serious running

and before I knew it, we had cranked out 8 hilly miles. Week number two was IN THE BAG!

Do you run on vacation? Do you run (gasp!) on sand? What’s your favorite donut? Have you ever walked through a men’s locker room on purpose? Are you more Spongebob or more Patrick?

Let me (and the world) know in the comments!

Advertisements

So Much Better Than a Chain Letter

I won something! Well, not really, but I was nominated for a Leibster Award, which means that someone other than friends or family reads my blog. I don’t know who Liebster is but I’ll take it. WHODATHUNKIT?

Thank you Darilyn at Time To Just Get Moving for nominating me. Now what? Darilyn asked me 10 questions about my running & fitness, and I answered them below. I then nominated 10 more bloggers that I love, to do the same. It’s like a CHAIN LETTER, but you don’t have to buy stamps.

What is really does is bring bloggers, who have small-ish followings, into your life. Who knows, you may pick up a great running tip, a yummy recipe to try, or a pants-peeing laugh. (You might want to go to the bathroom before reading them, just in case.)

Here are the questions that Darilyn asked me:

1.  Favorite piece of fitness/exercise gear and why?

This is actually a very hard question. I love ALL THE THINGS. Right now, I’m totally in love with my foam roller and The Stick. They should be required for any athlete over 40, because we need just that much more lovin’ on our sore muscles. And, I’m sitting on a baseball right now, wiggling it over a tight upper hamstring. You’re welcome.

foam roller, The Stick, muscles

My BFF’s


2.  Do you like to workout in the morning, at lunch, or in the evening? 

I prefer the morning, but most mornings my husband gets dibs on the exercise time, otherwise he’d never see the kids due to his work schedule. So most of the time I end up doing it right after work (but before kid pickup at aftercare) or after my husband gets home at around 6:45 PM. Never at lunch, as I teach 1st grade and I need every spare second of my lunch hour to prep. Plus, 1st graders are just unsensored enough to be like, “Ew, you stink Mrs. B.”


3.  What is the goal that you want to reach by the end of 2014?

I’m hoping to get a PR in the long-awaited New York Marathon in November, and I’d like to complete my first Olympic distance triathlon this summer.


4.  What is your go-to post-workout snack?

I will stuff my face with fig newtons from Nature’s Bakery like it’s my job. If I have some chocolate soy milk to go with that I’m in heaven.


5.  What has been your hardest training moment so far?

Fitting in a Ragnar Relay race about 7 weeks before my second marathon was way harder than I ever thought. It was so hot and quite challenging. Oh, and there’s the complete and utter lack of sleep for 36 hours. When I was done, I felt like I had run a marathon, and I had to recover accordingly, instead of jumping back into the marathon training schedule. Also, the open-water panic attack was a glorious moment in my training history.


6.  How do you find time to fit in training?

I don’t find the time, I have to MAKE the time, or else it won’t happen. I look ahead each week, see what are work and family commitments are, then schedule around it. I still can’t believe I’ve pulled off marathon training twice. I also just accept that something’s got to fall off the priority list. For me, it’s usually housekeeping. My house is a pit during peak training weeks.


7.  How do you train in extreme weather (cold, heat, rain, wind, etc)?

I dress appropriately, and then I think, “Suck it up, Buttercup. You GET to run today.”


8.  How do you respond to people who ask you “Why” (i.e. why on earth would you sign up for that event?!)?

I give them a genuine smile, mention how much I love [said event], and ask them if they want to come run with me. They may not say yes right away, but there’ve been a few people, months later, who mention to me, “I just signed up for a 5k!”


9.  What are you top 3 workout songs?

Oh, this is a Very Serious Question. I have so many favorites, it would be like picking a child – next to impossible. This answer would change with any given training cycle, but here are 3 songs of which I never tire:

  • Run by Vampire Weekend
  • All These Things That I’ve Done by the Killers
  • Keep the Car Running by Arcade Fire


10. What has been your favorite event so far?

That Ragnar Relay DC race I mentioned was effing awesome. Totally worth the heat exhaustion.

(Followed a close second by the Philadelphia Marathon and the New York Mini 10K)

Here are the 10 blogs I nominate for this award. Please do check them out:

See? Best Chain Letter Ever. 

Here are my questions for you, bloggers:

  1. What is a fitness item you’ve splurged on, and was it worth it?
  2. What do you think about when you run/workout?
  3. What is your cool-down routine?
  4. What has been your favorite race to date?
  5. What are you looking forward to, fitness-wise, in 2014?
  6. What is your favorite sports bra?
  7. How do you fuel before a race?
  8. What is your biggest fitness worry?
  9. Top 3 workout songs? (Note that I will totally judge you by your answer…jk.)
  10. What is your proudest fitness accomplishment?

Here are the rules for getting a Leibster Award:

1.  You must link back to the person who nominated you.
2.  You must answer the 10 questions posed to you by the person who nominated you.
3.  You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award who have a small following.
4.  You must create 10 questions for your nominees.
5.  You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.

 

WebRep
currentVote
noRating
noWeight

Washing Your Hands Before Shoveling Jelly Beans In Your Mouth Is NOT “Clean Eating”

I rediscovered my love of Jelly Bellies during Ragnar Weekend when someone on my team (not me, I swear) brought along a giant 2-pound bag of them.

I swear (again) that I don’t normally eat Jelly Bellies as training food, nor do I seek out Lay’s Wavy Potato Chips, either, but that weekend, after those hot and sweaty runs, I was shoving alternating handfuls of them into my mouth like they were greatest foods on this blessed Earth.

ragnar eating food

Me in the back of the Ragnar van, trying to play it cool around the potato chip bag, as to not arouse suspicion.

Clearly, I needed to replenish my sugar and salt stores at that time. There are better ways to do it, I suppose. No, there’s not.

I think I’m eating “clean-er” than I have in prior training cycles. I have become a little better about listening to what my body needs, food-wise. Even if it means eating things that I might not normally eat. For example:

I do not eat beef. I just don’t. I was a vegetarian from about 2000-2005, and even before then, I didn’t eat much beef or pork anyway – I just didn’t like it and the way it sat in my stomach. I have since fallen off that wagon, adding fish and poultry back into my diet. But I still have a mostly plant-based diet.

But there was a time during this cycle when I took a big weekly mileage leap, and I felt my energy dwindling and I felt weak constantly. That’s when I knew I might be getting low on iron (not uncommon in females during a time of hard training, especially after a visit from Aunt Flo), because I HAD to have a hamburger RIGHT NOW.

NOW.

RIGHT NOW.

Just like a pregnant lady, I asked my husband to go get me a burger from the Whole Foods up the road. Because if I’m going to get a burger, it is NOT going be from a fast food joint. It’s going to be from a cow that was grass-fed, sustainably raised, groomed with conditioner and tutored in French. Oh, I’m just joking. The cow was tutored in Dutch.

And it tasted heavenly.

And when I was done, that was it. Craving satisfied. Iron levels restored.

Yes I could’ve just taken an iron supplement (though that makes me nervous, because too much iron is VERY BAD), or I could’ve perhaps eaten some extra spinach and lentils, but both of those things wouldn’t have squelched the craving, just like having some fancy-schmancy recovery drink wouldn’t have had the satisfying c-r-u-n-c-h and saltiness that the Wavy Lay’s had in the back row of that Ragnar van.

This is the first training cycle where I did not lose much weight. In prior cycles I’d lose 3-5 lbs during peak mileage. This time I lost about 2 lbs, depending on Jelly Belly intake. But I FEEL like I’ve re-arranged some of the poundage and I am RUNGRY constantly. Perhaps it’s losing fat and gaining muscle? Aside from the burger and the Ragnar food, I’ve been eating much better than last year’s marathon training.

Some of my staples for this training cycle have been…kale salads (prep ’em and let em sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes…it softens up the kale and reduces bitterness), “green” smoothies, lots of apples and bananas, eggs, whole wheat bagels with Soy Nut Butter, spinach salads, Greek yogurt, whole wheat pasta dishes, LunaBars (for snack at work), and lots of homemade, brothy soup or chili, courtesy of my school’s Lunch Lady, who makes soup…soup! and healthy sandwiches for the teachers. The night before each long run, I have one nice hoppy beer, which I usually don’t finish. When the higher mileage started cranking up, I started drinking one Emergen-C packet each day, so I’m getting a blast of vitamin C and some extra water. It also contains electrolytes and some athletes swear by it as part of their recovery plan. It’s also apparently good for hangovers, which would have come in handy for me about 20 years ago.

I’ve had to reduce my dairy intake (due to increasing lactose intolerance…thank you, Forties) and reduce my sugar intake due to being back on my steroid inhaler for the cold season (it lowers your immune system a bit and can therefore cause a wicked case of thrush). Some supplements I take regularly are fish oil (it’s mainly for Dry Eye, again, thanks ever so much, Forties), calcium, and probiotics. I don’t take a multi-vitamin much, mostly because I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t make me gag.

So while I’m not the “cleanest” of eaters, I’m pretty happy with how I’ve been fueling, and hopefully all of the above things combined with Coach Erin’s spot-on training will hopefully help me run 26.2 in SIX DAYS!

Someone had better have some Jelly Bellies at the finish line waiting for me.

marathon training eating food clean eating

Manna from Heaven.

The Heat is ON: Ragnar Relay Episode II

“I think I might be melting.”

That pretty much sums up my thoughts as I ran my first leg of Ragnar Relay: Washington DC as part of Team Sarah: The Badass Mother Runners. (Click here to catch up on Episode I. Key words: heat index, sports bra, and tutu.) But my leg wasn’t so much hot, as it was a doozy.

ragnar legs DC training marathonI’m not gonna lie, it was tough, but I knew it would be. I specifically trained for it and I really don’t mind hills. But the heat…OH THE HEAT. Hello October? July called. It wants it weather back. It was hotter than the Devil’s farts.

As soon as I started climbing I knew that I needed to keep my heart rate manageable or I’d be (burnt) toast. So I tried to keep my pace slow-ish on the twisty-turny bottom half of the hill, and as soon as I felt my HR creeping up I’d walk a little. My stoopid gut was still in knots, as it has been all day, but I had taken an Immodium about 3 hours earlier and it was finally kicking in, so at least I didn’t have to stop for that. About 1/2 way up the hill, I finally spied a runner in front of me, about 100 yards ahead. He turned around and realized someone with a tutu was gaining on him, and he turned up the speed a little. The Ragnar folks had set up a water station (this was a “no van support” leg) just ahead and he and I both stopped, and I caught him as he lingered at the water stop. He was red-faced and toasty. Here comes the tutu, dude. While I was hot, I felt okay, so I topped off my handheld bottle, and doused my hat with cold water and slapped it back on my noggin, and set off again, while red-faced dude stuck around. Technically, my first kill!. (That’s Ragnar-speak for passing someone.)

The next part of the climb was a looooooong, far-as-the-eye-can see uphill. Oh how I wish I had brought my camera. So, I just plodded along, and I just kept getting hotter and hotter. At this point I ignored my music and my GPS watch and just played a game of mental hopscotch: Just run to the crack in the road, then you can walk. Just run to that reflector, then you can walk. I did a few short walk breaks, again trying to make sure my heart didn’t burst out of my chest. A few welcome cloud breaks would come across…then BAM! pure sunshine inferno. My fellow Badass Mother Runners passed by in the van, cheering and pom-poming and cowbelling. That is a flash of a wonderful memory that is etched in my mind.

I won’t mention how many times I got “killed” on that part of the climb, because those are things of which we don’t speak, but at the top of the hill (oh who am I kidding – it was a mountain)  I did kill a guy who had stopped to stretch his calves – he had just killed me a few hundred yards back. So the tutu got ya, eh?

But then he just couldn’t swallow that and he killed me on the way down. Saving my legs, bro. Have a nice Leg 2 on your BLOWN OUT CALVES.

The downhill was just a blur. But I do remember the faces of the regular drivers as they noticed the string of crazy people running down the mountain and hey that chick’s wearing a tutu.

As I imagined, the downhill was almost harder than the uphill. Why? Three words: CONTINUAL QUADRICEPS ENGAGEMENT. Engaging one’s quads while trying not to have a hard landing for over 30 minutes is really hard and really burny. Despite efforts to land lightly, you still end up pounding the hell out of your feet on long downhills.

You know what’s important in a relay race? Spotting the next runner in the exchange chute (saw many runners fly by their teammate confusedly) and for the next runner to see the oncoming runner. The garish tutu colors made it easy to spot each other. For the second time, the tutu became functional. *Strikes contemplative pose*

ragnar Relay DC what the hill

Can you see me now?

OF COURSE this leg HAD to end on an uphill.

ragnar DC mountain hill

Hoofin’ it. I’m almost the same color as the tutu.

I hand off the slap-bracelet to my teammate Michelle, and I’m DONE! Iliana draped a cooling towel over my shoulders. I felt briefly like I was going to barf, then it passed. I stretched for about 5 minutes, then we’re off to the next exchange. No time for dramatic recaps. Such is life at a Ragnar race!

All things considered (those things being heat and gut), I’m HAPPY with Leg One. It was slower than my normal pace, but my average pace was 11:12 per mile, and the last 1/2 mile I was about 8:30, even on the uphill! SHA-BAM(R)!

We went though the next 4 runners in our van, which each person heading out with a “I’M GONNA KILL IT!” look on their faces, but coming back in afterward with a “HOLY HELL, DID I JUST RUN THROUGH HADES?” look.

After a short break to grab a quick bite of real food (well, Jersey Mike’s subs) to go and finding our van’s last runner, we stopped and recharged at the next major exchange point, which was a local high school. They offered hot showers for $1, which I gladly took. The shower made everything right with the world again. After the shower, we had about 2 hours to get some “sleep,” with “sleep” being a relative term. I rolled out my sleeping bag and my CHAWEL in a patch of grass near the van, put on my sleep mask and headphones, and tried to sleep…but my legs and gut were still twitchy and once I came close to falling into real sleep, then the town’s emergency siren went off RIGHT OVER OUR HEADS. Mudder fudger.

ragnar DC resting sleeping

Iliana took this. That’s me on the right wishing the dudes in front of me would be a little quieter.

My phone alarm went off at 12:30 as we needed to leave at 1 AM to get to the next major exchange and start our second legs. WAIT, I HAVE TO RUN AGAIN? Oh yeah, now I remember. I was stiff and creaky and kind of dehydrated from the heat of the day, but Rebecca drove and I took over navigation duties and off we went.

Ragnar at night feels like a completely different race. Our next major exchange point was at a place called South Mountain Creamery, a working daily farm. Despite it being 1:30AM, the place was hoppin’. It was all lit up, burgers and ribs and ice cream (of which I abstained and instead tossed a couple few alternating handfuls of JellyBellys and Lay’s Wavy Chips into my mouth – WAY MORE NUTRITIOUS) were being served, and it was generally a party kind of atmosphere.

ragnar dc South Mountain Creamery

There’s Renee, waiting at the exchange point. Note the Ragnar tent behind her – best tagline ever: “Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat.”

It also smelled like cows. Pair that with rave-style blinky bracelets and rings that we had, and it might have been a big ole’ DANCE party. With cows.

As we waited for Runner #6, Terri, to arrive, we were finally able to snatch a picture of the six of us from Van #2:

ragnar relay DC

Here we are all decked out in our reflective gear: Renee, me, Rebecca, Michelle, Iliana, and Lorraine. BAMRs!

Ragnar requires all “on” runners – one hour before sunset until one hour after sunrise – to wear a highly reflective vest, a headlamp, and a red blinking tail light. I repeat: You wear a red blinking light on your ass. Even “off” runners are required to wear the reflective vest anytime to you’re outside the van at night. Safety first, party second. That’s fine by me, as I’m not so much YOLO as I am YOLOSYBTCOY: You Only Live Once, (So You’d Better Take Care Of Yourself).

We watched Terri, who DIY’d herself a sweet LIGHTED TUTU, hand off the slap bracelet to Renee.

ragnar DC exchange

Kind of blurry, but you can see Terri’s lights through her tutu, and she’s giving Renee a sweet go-get-’em pat, I think.

After chatting a little with Van #1, we got back in ours and off we went. My leg was next.

Once at the next exchange point, I got on all of my reflective gear. SO MUCH STUFF. It felt like a triathlon. Headlamp, reflective vest, blinky red tail light (which I stuck on the back of my hat – GENIUS), knuckle lights, tutu…check! I opted to forgo the blinky rave-bracelets, as I thought wearing them on my wrist while running might give me a migraine. Luckily, this wasn’t a “no van support” leg so I made plans with other gals to meet me around mile 4, which was about the time I would need a GU and some water.

ragnar DC night running

I’m ready! You can’t see it well here but I’m also wearing my flaming skull-themed capris. They juxtapose well with the tutu.

As you can see by the way I’m dressed that it was still quite warm, but thankfully it was just in the low 60’s, so it was manageable. I was feeling pretty psyched and my gut was in check (though not 100%, and it wouldn’t be until I got home the next day). We spotted Renee easily with the tutu and blinky lights, she handed the bracelet off to me, and there I went, off into the DARK OF NIGHT for 6.8 miles, at about 2:30 AM!

I started in a residential McMansion-y kind of neighborhood, but then the course switched to country roads. The stars were out (no moon, though, bummer). I felt strong. I did not run with music this time, (again, YOLOSYBTCOY) so it was just me and my breath and the deer (at least, I hoped it was deer). The runners were pretty spread apart by now, but I made one kill in the residential neighborhood and almost made another on a big uphill, about a 400 foot climb in less than a mile. Obvs nothing like my first leg, but still, PERSPECTIVE, it’s still a big one, and I walked once. The van met me at about mile 4, ready with GU and water like the awesome professional pit crew the were. After that, I ran through some more residential neighborhoods that were just PITCH DARK. Thank god I had the knuckle lights – they’re like using the high beams on a car. I made one more kill and just surged and SURGED! Due to me not knowing how to work my (new) Timex GPS watch properly, I didn’t get my mile pace info, but it offered me a running time of 1:09, which is a 10:10/mile average pace, even with the uphill walk parts. DON’T MIND IF I DO.

After I handed off the bracelet to Michelle, I stretched a little, and climbed back in the van. That’s when the sleepiness hit me HARD and I just about fell asleep in the JellyBelly bag. Luckily, we had an unspoken rule in the van that whomever just ran didn’t have to drive or navigate. So I changed out of my running clothes (using my new CHAWEL) into comfy clothes, took over one full bench on the van, put my head on my CHAWEL, and actually fell asleep. I think I might have drooled. (BTW, if you do a Ragnar, just splurge and rent a big 12-passengar van. I honestly don’t know how people in minivans survived.)

The rest of those morning legs was another blur. I think I slept for about 90 minutes. I do remember waking up when Iliana needed someone to drive. I remember Iliana running the hardest leg (IMHO) – 9 miles through a dark and scary forest. This cool photo isn’t Iliana, but members of the other team on that same leg. I just love it. Mostly ’cause I didn’t have to run it.

ragnar DC night running

The tutus are coming to haunt you.

I remember dawn breaking beautifully on Iliana’s run. I remember cheering Lorraine, our last runner into a major exchange. I remember that instead of us plopping down to sleep, we found a Panera and got some real food and caffeinated beverages. I then remember people in Panera staring at us as we laughed and laughed over this video:

This video IS pretty funny, but at that moment, it was the FUNNIEST THING WE HAD EVER WATCHED IN THE HISTORY OF FUNNY THINGS. That’s what Ragnar does to you. You’re so loopy that little things are hysterical and you end up with secret in-jokes for life. It was a nice bonding moment for the 6 of us, who, up until 36 hours ago, had never met (well, Lorraine and Renee are buds and Iliana and I had met briefly at a running event, but we were all pretty much strangers).

The STOOPID government shutdown was happening during all of this, so many of the routes in DC were closed, including most of my leg #3. The Ragnar folks, instead of re-routing everything, just paired up the last 6 runners. So I was going to run 2.2 miles with Renee (instead of 6.9), and being that the temps were climbing to hideous highs again and that I had slept a total of NEGATIVE 2 HOURS, I was totally cool with that. It turns out, the Tea Party saved us about 17 miles total from the 199 miles we were supposed to run.

The day got hotter and hotter. We met up with Van #1 in a DC suburb at our final last major exchange before the finish. I was able to find some shade, roll out the CHAWEL again and catch about 30 minutes of pseudo-zzz’s. I was trying to keep my body as still as possible, because moving = hot. Meanwhile, Terri, Runner #6, had been promised a burrito from a nearby Chipotle after she finished her hot long bitch of a leg, so this exchange from Terri to myself/Renee, became known as the FLYING BURRITO EXCHANGE.

ragnar DC

I’m witnessing the handoff.

I’m glad I had someone to run this leg with, because that meant I had someone with which to WALLOW IN HOT MISERY. Renee was awesome. We tried our best to distract each other with small talk, but honestly, we were DONE…just DONE. But not done enough to not take a running-selfie:

Ragnar DC

GET US OUT OF HERE!!

2.2 miles felt like 22 miles, and it took just about that long. And OF COURSE, it ended on an uphill! In this next photo, you can just SENSE THE ENTHUSIASM as Renee and I reach the exchange.

ragnar DC

Clap…clap…clap…

The next couple of hours, we were just hanging on for dear life, and we were barely functional. We got word that Dimity’s team had finished, and that our team’s Van #1 had also arrived at the finish area, so now, everyone’s waiting for us, Van #2. Did I mention it just got hotter and hotter? HOTTER. More “stay hydrated” texts arrived from the Ragnar people. We got lost more than once. Finally, we sent off Iliana and Lorraine on the final leg! HOTTER, STILL. Heat index 99 degrees, no joke. WTH, October?

Our Van #2 arrived at the finish area, in National Harbor, MD. It was set up like a party! We waited a little for Iliana and Lorraine to come in, when lo and behold, from across the bridge, over a 1/4 mile away, we see 2 hot pink streaks coming toward us. TUTUS!!

ragnar DC

OK, this wasn’t shot from 1/4 mile away. But seriously, we saw them coming from the bridge ramp in the background!

The rest of the team gathered about 100 feet out from the finish, so that we could all run in together. And FINALLY, through the finish chute we go!

Here we are at the finish, looking hot literally and figuratively:

ragnar dc

Hotties.

We didn’t stick around long, just long enough to grab a slice of pizza and a cold beer, then we had to go clean out the vans (NOT AS EASY AS ONE WOULD THINK) and Iliana and I had to get back to our hotel. Let me just say that I slept for 12 hours STRAIGHT, with no bladder wake-up calls. That should tell you how tired/dehydrated I was!

All in all, Ragnar was a BLAST! I think I might have enjoyed it more if I weren’t so zombie-fied from the…everybody say it now…HEAT!! It took a lot out of me and I needed a few days to recover before I could resume my regular running routine. I’m not sure I’d do another Ragnar in the middle of a marathon training cycle again. My only TRUE regret is that I didn’t get to spend more time with these awesome Badass Mother Runners (on both teams). They are just the BEST! Luckily, we have a private Facebook page where we continue root each other on and the inside jokes can live on forever (“NOT Pat.”, “Cows!” and “I’m under a tree!” come to mind…I guess you just had to be there.) I only hope that I can do another Ragnar with them someday.

As for the tutu, well, let’s just say you MIGHT be seeing a 40-something woman wearing a Badass Mother Runner cap and a hot pink tutu with black trim at the Philadelphia marathon on November 17th. *Caresses tutu lovingly*

Run on, BADASSES!!

ragnar dc finish

What the Hill?! Ragnar Relay Recap Episode I

There are no words to describe last weekend’s 3-weekends’ago Jaw-Droppingly Epic Experience Called “Ragnar” but I’m gonna try. Brace yourself.

Participating in a Ragnar Relay long-distance race is like running race mixed with a slumber party on a roaptrip with a dash of nightclub party thrown in for good measure.  I was part of the Another Mother Runner teams, where I was one of 24 strangers to be picked to run a long-distance relay race, on a team of 12, and share a van with 6 other women… Hmmm, it’s starting to sound like the intro to MTV’s The Real World, and it kind of was, but with less alcohol poisoning and more cowbells. I would explain the race format and all, but I’m tired and I kinda already did that here. So go read it. Then come back. I’ll wait.

As one is wont to do the day before a race, I spent half of the day on my feet teaching and the other half on my butt driving 6 hours to Cumberland, MD, our starting point. After a group dinner and meeting, we headed out for one of the “party” parts of Ragnar: Decorating the vans. I got to write “Badass” on a van, which made me feel rebellious and…well, badass.

ragnar DC running van decorating

That’s me in the blue dot teacher dress and recovery flip-flops.

ragnar relay van decoration

My handiwork.

IMG_8580At Ragnar, you also get to decorate yourselves, apparently. Before the race, I had read reports of tutus and tiaras for our team (aren’t tiaras the the opposite of badass?), and I must admit I was a little UGH about it. I have a few of running rules for myself: I do not run in costume, mud, or while getting pelted with rainbow-colored chalk clouds. I kept my trap shut in the name of team spirit and all, and my fears only 1/2 came true: Turns out there were no tiaras, but I was handed a HOT PINK TUTU WITH BLACK TRIM. *Raises one eyebrow curiously*

Despite my nervous stomach getting nervouser and nervouser, I managed to get a few hours of sleep. Up at 5:30AM, we took some team photos and headed to the start area at Rocky Gap State Park. We were all smiley and bouncy as we entered the mandatory safety briefing corral, in which the director mentioned, “The heat index is predicted to be 99 degrees today, so hydrate. Someone will be leaving in an ambulance, don’t let it be you.” Whoa. Geez, dude, way to be a buzzkill.

ragnar relay start rocky gap

May I present to you…the Badass Mother Runners! (I kind of skipped the tutu for the group pic at the start.)

We saw our first runner off with a round of cheers at 7:30 AM (the race staggers the starts all day long) and as the 1st exchange also happens in the state park we got see the hand-off to Runner #2. I finally did put on the tutu, so that we could look uniform. The tutu has toggles on it in which to hold your race number. Hmmm, a functional tutu? Curious, indeed. *Raises other eyebrow* After Runner #2 took off, we wished Runners 1-6 in Van #1 well and headed off to buy ice, snacks, and get to the first major exchange, in a big field in the middle of rural Maryland.

While we waited for runner #6 (and Van#1) to arrive, I sat in the driver’s seat, put on some dulcet tones of Vampire Weekend, closed my eyes, and tried to make my gut behave out of sheer will, as it was tossing and turning something fierce. I also pulled out “The Stick” massage tool (yes, that it’s name) and my teammate Rebecca and I “sticked” each other. It was sooooo goooood.

ragnar relay DC

Stick pro quo.

I was starting to whither as Mother Earth’s furnace kicked on high, but then we got to cheer in Runner 6, and cheer out Runner 7, Renee, and I perked up a bit. This is where things got interesting.

By the time Renee took off, it was after 1:00 PM and it was SCORCHING. Renee’s leg was ONE LONG, SUNNY, UNFORGIVING HILL. She took it like a trooper and the badass that she is. The rest of us quickly realized that we needed to be “pit crews” to each other. Vans are not allowed to “pace” with runners, but we pulled over to the side several times to offer support.

ragnar relay DC

Don’t we look supportive? I don’t know what I’m doing, but THERE’S THE TUTU. Rebecca is studying her upcoming leg map. WHERE IS YOUR TUTU, REBECCA??

We really were like an expert pit crew: One person filled water bottles, one person held bag of ice, one person shoved the ice down Renee’s shirt, one wielded the misting bottle. I was super helpful by taking pictures.

Ragnar Relay DC

Ragnar? Or NASCAR?

It was so hot, we even helped rival teams.

ragnar relay DC

We help all fellow tutu wearers.

ragnar relay dc

This is Bethany from Van 1 spraying a random racer dude. WATCH OUT, SHE WILL SPRAY YOU WITH KINDNESS WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT.

By the time we got the the next exchange, MINE, my stomach was still not settled, it was 3PM, the heat index was easily 95, and we just got a text from the Ragnar folks:

ragnar relay DC

One of many we received that weekend.

Well then. I pulled on my tutu. It’s pretty light, and I didn’t have to put pinholes through my shirt for my race number. *Eyebrows starting too give look of approval*  I didn’t feel that nervous anymore, but I think that was LESS DUE to actually being nervous, and more due to the heat making me give a few less $h*ts about life in general. In fact, it was so hot, and my race number was already on my tutu, and I was in fact, giving so few $h*ts, that I decided to take off my shirt and RUN IN MY SPORTS BRA. Big whoop you might say. I say to that, yes…yes it is a big, fat, whoop to me. Here’s why.

Now, generally I am ok with my body. My need to live life and run for sanity > fretting about my body. But…I don’t have a easy shape to dress (apple-shaped, yo) and I’ve never loved my proportions, but I have enough body-love to be content. Still, I had a navel ring for many years that never saw the light of day, because I’m just not a belly baring-gal. No bikinis, ever, for me. My short waist has never been toned, and now after having kids, if I jump up and down it kind of resembles an angry muppet mouth, like when Bert gets mad at Ernie. Anyway, my point being it’s just not my favorite body part by a long shot. So that should give you some perspective on the effect that the heat had on my brain. “I’M SO HOT, NOT FIGURATIVELY, BUT LITERALLY. MUST HAVE ONE LESS LAYER!”, my brain was slurring to itself. My purple tank got handed to a teammate, who was probably temporarily blinded by my never-seen-the-sun torso.

In my zest for shirt liberation, I kind of forgot what my race leg would be like. So, while I waited at the exchange for Renee, I turned to look at THAT MOUNTAIN. Yes, I know technically I think it’s a hill, but WHAT THE HILL?? I’m going to run over that! Check out this sweet photo (thanks, Meryl!) of the hand-off from Renee to me in a bra, in a tutu, about ready to run over that THING in the background:

Untitled

I going to end this post now, as it’s taken me almost 3 weeks to write it, so I’m declaring this Part One. Come back again for Part Two, I may actually have it written by Thanksgiving!

Ragnar-y a Lick Of Common Sense

So the crazy train that I jumped on taking me to the Philadelphia Marathon on November 17th is making one stop on October 3rd.  For about 36 hours, I will run a total of 21 miles (really 20.6 but yes I’m rounding up), chopped into 3 different legs, with 12 strangers, in a van, with some running in the middle of the night.

This stop is called Ragnar Relay: Washington DC!

Yes, a relay! Like the kind where you “pass the baton” on a track. Only this race is made for distance runners and crazy people, who quite often are one and the same. And we “pass a slap bracelet” instead of baton. But does it really matter what you pass when you and your 11 teammates have to cover 200 miles in about 36 hours? Actually, it does matter, as the 12 runners share/live in 2 vans for the duration of the race. So I would say that passing out and passing gas are to be avoided. Passing GU, headlamps, and other runners are to be sought out. Got it?

How did I get roped into this? Well, I roped myself, truth be told. I’m a big fan of the Another Mother Runner gals, Sarah and Dimity, who have written books (Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother) specifically for us Mother Runners.

ragnar another mother runner run like a mother

Here we are (Sarah, left and Dimity, right) looking adorable and sweat-less at Another Mother Runner house par-tay back in April.

Upon hearing the news that they’d be forming 2 teams for Ragnar: Washington DC, and without pause to consider my actions, I applied immediately and was chosen for Team Sarah!

It turns out that Ragnar fits quite well into my marathon training plan. Each person on the team runs three “legs” of the relay. According to the Ragnar website, here are my distances and difficulty ratings:

ragnar training marathon legs

Wowza. Apparently it’s the 3rd longest total mileage of the course.

BUT WAIT…the crazy train serves up some Challenge Pie at this stop. Here’s the description of my first leg :

ragnar training hills DC

Yum, yum, I eat hills for breakfast. But that’s like a Denny’s Grand Slam. Pass the tums…

Let’s take a closer look at that elevation chart:

ragnar legs DC training marathon

Sweet mother of Philippides. I’m not worried about the 20.6 total. I’m not worried about running at 2:00 AM. I am however, doing a well-groomed eyebrow raise at that chart, and saying a little prayer that I don’t bonk on the first leg. Because that’s the thing…

I’m used to running for just me! me! me! But now I’m a part of a team…who’s counting on me and my stoopid feet…not to bonk…and to live up to my official  9:02 race pace (that I got at my favorite 10k back in June) that I reported at the onset of this adventure.

So while I’m a little worried, I’m buoyed by the fact my team’s name is…wait for it…

the BADASS MOTHER RUNNERS.

“Badass” is only my favorite word ON THE ENTIRE PLANET! It ’twas meant to be. Killer hills and all.

Oh friends, I have so much more to tell. But I am in The Hell That Is a Teacher’s September. To be continued, after I grade some assessments…