Ragnar Pennsylvania 2018

After the Reach The Beach Ragnar I had almost entirely positive things to say so when part of my team asked me to join them on another Ragnar adventure I couldn’t sign up fast enough. While I still had an AMAZING time, I wouldn’t exactly be recommending the Ragnar Pennsylvania to anyone and was glad the person I recruited had run a Ragnar previously, as I wouldn’t want anyone thinking I knowingly signed them up for what was to come.

As is custom with Ragnars, multiple people dropped out in the weeks before the race, leaving my team short. We ran with 9 last time, which was a fun challenge, but this time we had multiple teammates new to running that we didn’t want to dump a 4th leg on. I was thrilled when my Instagram friend Lauren answered what I thought was a far fetched invite to run around Pennsylvania with 9 strangers. With her, we ended up with a team of 10 so only 6 of us had to take on the 4th leg. I found I still really enjoyed the rotation caused by not having a full team so everyone got to hangout with everyone, instead of just your van of 6 out of 12. Though the fourth legs of both of my Ragnars were very short legs (3 & 4 miles) and my worst by significant amounts. I want to say sleeping in the van both times is what killed me so if you’re also crazy enough to take on a fourth leg I would recommend having a means of sleep that isn’t crunched inside a van.

Like the previous Ragnar, we rented campsites for the nights before and after the race, which I would highly recommend! It’s cheaper (since you’re already spending a decent amount on the race) and bonding with your team by the campfire is pretty sweet. The night before the race we saw multiple horses and buggies traveling around our campground and I was starting to get excited for the rolling farmlands the course was sure to offer.

Leg 1

We woke up bright and early to head to the start where I would be sending us off for the first leg of our adventure! It was really neat being the first leg since you actually start at the same time as all the teams in your time slot. The track kid in me kicked in and without really thinking about it I decided I was coming in first.. Until 2 seconds in when we hit the highway. Not long stretches of highway either, this was highway with tons of intersections and on ramps that required you to click the cross sign buttons. I stayed behind the other guy who seemed to have the idea of being first, following him as he zigged and zagged across intersections, through traffic at least 7 times in the first 1.5 mile stretch. We changed direction so often I can only imagine he had done some research into the course in order to traverse it this quickly. There was absolutely no way I would have felt safe navigating it at a decent running pace without him in the lead. The rest was more of a residential neighborhood, but I just couldn’t believe they started us in the middle of roads I would never run on for training, without having blocked anything off to cars.

Even though I ended up in second, I arrived at the exchange feeling victorious.. only to find no one from my team there. As I looked around in my confusion, a volunteer asked if my team was supposed to be here. When I replied, “yes”, her response of, “oh that’s been happening all day” was a pretty good indicator of what the rest of this race was to be like. It was honestly crazy how many more times we got lost on the way to exchanges during PA than RTB when we had no cell reception for 90% of RTB and almost always had it in PA. RTB had ample signage for not only runners but also separate ones for vans. For this race, the signage was lacking for runners and non-existent for vans.

My team arrived a few minutes later and I hopped in the van to be carted around for the whirlwind of cheering the next few hours were to be. We quickly found that the roads of Pennsylvania were nothing like those of RTB. Almost the entire route in New Hampshire had road shoulders wide enough for multiple of the large Ragnar vans to pull of in. In PA you were lucky if there was any road shoulder at all. This made cheering significantly less of a thing since you couldn’t just pull over and hangout and instead had to pull into random peoples’ driveways, hoping they wouldn’t mind you staying just long enough to cheer on your runner.

Leg 11

Three of us jumped out at the exchange and watched as the van sped back in the direction it has just come from. I started to stretch and get ready for my next leg with no real idea of when it might start. It was too hot to sit on the pavement and I moved into the grass. I put my cellphone in my FlipBelt, something I hadn’t though I would need to during a daytime leg. After a few minutes we got word they had found our lost runner. He had run a mile off course but was back on track now. In the end, lost runners seemed like a relatively common occurrence. During one of Lauren’s legs she came to a fork in the road with no sign of which way to take. She texted us that she was lost with a runner from another team as well.

I don’t remember much of the actual leg except it was more winding roads with no shoulder, very sunny with no shade, and VERY hot. I was pretty much reduced to a pile of salt by the end of it.

Leg 21

While I found this night leg significantly less terrifying than my night leg in RTB, this one was definitely filled a with way more actual danger. The entire thing was along a high traffic highway winding through the mountains. While they put safety cones out to help, the shoulder was still barely wide enough for passing people and was paved in two separate strips of different heights. The leg started on an rather steep incline that lasted for 3 agonizing miles, then sent you screaming back down almost all the elevation you just climbed in the next 2.5ish. It’s honestly a wonder I didn’t kill myself as I rocketed down the mountain at the insane pace the decline demanded with the blur of the woods directly to my left, cars to my right, and darkness before me. After hearing about/seeing my teammates’ legs I want to say this was one of the most well taken care of legs, when it really could have been one of the least. There were a number of signs informing you to keep straight when you literally had no other choice if you didn’t plan on running off into the woods. AND there was a water stop when it was the middle of the nice cool night. Not only did I not need water (and would have KILLED for it to be out on one of my day legs instead), but it was also pushed way back off the road in a completely unlit little truck stop, which I wasn’t about to be stopping at even if I had needed it. Everything was going smoothly until I hit the first and only possible turn. It was an intersection with another highway and as I was getting closer I could see cars zooming through it. As I tried to look both ways while still moving, I didn’t see a pothole in front of me and stepped into it with one side of my foot, twisting my ankle and throwing myself into the intersection in front of a car. Luckily, it had been a super courteous driver that had seen me coming from further down the road and slowed their pace to a crawl/stop to let me pass without breaking my stride. After a few seconds of pain making me think I was going to have to call my team to pick me up, my ankle seemed good enough to at least finish up this leg. As I slowly sped up to a jog again I hit part of the highway that had tons of large loose rocks scattered on the pavement and I thought to myself it was kind of funny I had already fallen because if I hadn’t I definitely would have now. I ended up able to finish my leg back at a decent pace, iced my ankle immediately, and had no further issues with it!

The End

My last leg was uneventful, just rougher than 3.5 miles should ever be. I felt so bad for my teammates who had longer runs out in the heat that day and didn’t even have the option of a sketchy water stop. Even though we got lost on the way to the finish line, the last leg was a decently long and uphill one so we were able to cross the finish as a team this time!

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They even played the Pokemon theme song as we crossed!!

Overall, I wouldn’t really recommend Ragnar Pennsylvania, especially with Reach The Beach (and possibly other great locations) being decently close. Having only run the two myself, I wasn’t sure if it was PA being exceptionally bad or RTB being exceptionally good, but from my other teammates experiences it sounded like a little bit of both. The roads of New Hampshire seem to almost be made for these activities with their seemingly infinite shouldered roads for people to pull off to hike or site see. The roads we ran on in Pennsylvania were mostly almost the exact opposite. There was also a notable lack of the covered bridges and horses and buggies that the race claimed covered our route. RTB was not only much safer, but also way more scenic. It was also an AMAZING experience to have locals at almost every transition participating in the event and providing food, amenities, and friendliness not because they have to but because they genuinely enjoy it. (I guess this is a more specific RTB perk.) So it seems in the end I’m once again recommending everyone run Ragnar Reach The Beach 😂

New Tips!

  1. Print out the leg information and put all the pages into a binder for organization!
  2. Wear more lights than they say! Reflective stuff is great when a car’s headlights are pointed at you so they can reflect, but at intersections when they aren’t you might as well not have any reflective gear on. A single head lamp and tail light are just one little point of light on each side of you.
  3. Put your clothes for each leg in a Ziploc bag to keep them separated, dry, and you can vacuum seal them to take up less space!
  4. Bring swimwear (or extra clothes) and a towel! You never know what lake or river you might pass with time for a dip!

Covered Bridges Half Marathon

I live for action packed, adventure filled weekends and the weekend of the Covered Bridges Half Marathon was definitely one of them!

Sometime last year, after hearing a bunch of people raving about the race’s beautiful course and hearing “bridges” in the name (I have a weird passion for bridges) I decided I NEEDED to run it. The only thing was, it sells out in about 15 minutes. So I threw caution to the wind and actually signed up for a race in advance for once.. like REALLY in advance, so I had no idea what else my schedule would hold at the time.

Turned out, it was to be my boyfriend’s grandparent’s 50 wedding anniversary party the night before. A party that I was to help prep for the two days before hand (when I wasn’t at work), then help set up, then party at. Of course, it turned out SUPER FUN, but after helping make about a million chocolates for the dessert table, eating half of them, and dancing for hours I was pooped and beginning to question my decisions. I left at 9:30 to make the 3 hour drive to the campground I where I was staying. I couldn’t believe there was STILL traffic going through Boston 😒 and I ended up getting mildly lost trying to get gas in NH because their exit amenity signs are different than the ones I’ve evidently come to know and love here in Mass.

In the end I made it to the KOA campground I was staying at in one piece, but questioning my decisions further, at 1AM. I pulled up to the office and was somehow surprised it was closed.. yes it was 1 in the morning, but they had even had an “Extra Comments” section in registration for late arrivals that I had filled out so I was kind of stumped why they’d just leave me. I honestly debated just camping in the parking spot in front of the office for a few minutes until I finally notice a “Night Registration” sign off to the side. It was above a what looked to be a brightly colored bulletin board with only one paper posting a “Non-Emergency Number” on it. It seemed off, but I figured this isn’t an emergency after all so I gave it a shot. After clearly waking the poor woman up, the park ranger explained to me that the “bulletin board” was actually a box.. the night registration box.. which had my info.. so I didn’t have to go disturbing people 😅 She then proceeded to try and direct me to my site even though it was literally the first one at the entrance. I think she thought I was clueless at this point (which I guess I kind of was). I parked in my spot.. 20 feet from the office and attempted to Google Map to the start line so I could figure out how early I’d need to be up. Of course I didn’t have GPS signal so I just went with more than 20 minutes to spare since I thought I remembered it being about that far of a drive. Exhausted and kind of exasperated with how things were going I set my alarm for 5AM and laid down in the backseat of my car. That’s when I looked up to see the sky FULL of stars that I was going to be sleeping under. I immediately felt better and like this was all worth it again and passed out after a short star gaze 😊

I woke up before my alarm, feeling pretty good that morning. I remembered it being a pretty straight shot to the race start so I figured I’d just start driving and hope to find GPS and/or signs. Turned out I just needed to go to the entrance of the campground for GPS AND the race parking (I had looked up the start line before) was 4 minutes down the road! I ended up being the first person there who wasn’t a volunteer! After how hot it was the day before I wasn’t going to be caught dead without my hydration vest. But that was fine by me because then I had more real estate to stash all my other stuff.

I got in line for the shuttle and chatted with others as they gathered for the race. One was staying in a cabin in the KOA campground and told me the pool (that my site was directly across from) was heated (so that’s a fun note if you ever stay there). I arrived at the start with insane amounts of time (especially for me) before the race. I was pumped my Instagram friend Meriam found me and we spent the rest of the time taking a bunch of pictures with her phone because mine was dead from trying to find signal ❤️

We ran up the mountain for warmup 😜

We lined up across the entire road at the start, which wasn’t really surprising, but what was surprising was we were allowed the entire road for a good 3 miles! It was pretty cool to see such a large pack of runners take over the road for so long. The course started as nice country back roads, went though a cute little town at one point, then became all roads along one or more beautiful rivers! It wasn’t super hot but they were those wicked clear, kinda shallow rivers that look too perfect not to take a dip in so it was really hard to just run past them! There was a medium length and incline hill at mile 5, but tons of people cheering and only one other REALLY steep hill at mile 8. That one they had a full out marching band at the bottom of to pump you up to the top! The rest of the course was only tiny inclines and declines and the race FLEW by! I don’t really remember much else for racing details.

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Already Captioned 😂😂😂😂

I could see it as a course you could definitely PR on. I think I’ll make a weekend of it (if I get in) next year, so I can explore the course by walking the day before and then go for speed during the actual race. Some other fun things about this course was they had clocks and live music about every 2 miles along with the water stops. The water stops were also generally really big, on both sides of the road, and manned by some adults, but also lots of adorable kids! It also turned out I hadn’t needed to shove everything I owned into my hydration vest since they shuttle your bags from the start to the finish (I’m just really good a reading instructions and hadn’t seen that 😅)!

I ended up taking my time and running 1:50:11. I will definitely be trying to get into this race again next year and would totally recommend you join as long as you don’t mind registering so far in advance! Even with a much less than optimal night before a race this race was 100% worth it!!

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Spartan Sprint Boston

Last weekend’s Spartan sprint didn’t go at all as planned. I have done another obstacle course race multiple years before and thought I knew about what to expect, but I was extremely wrong. Since Spartans seem to be THE obstacle race, I assumed it would be bigger, but also more organized than the previous one I had done. So when they said to arrive 2 hours before your start time in the pre-race email I figured that had to be an exaggeration.. It honestly wasn’t. The “parking lot” was your standard huge open field converted into parking for the day. We sat in line (that got converted into two lines and then merged back into one for seemingly absolutely no reason) for over 20 minutes, then had to walk a quarter mile to the shuttle stop to wait in another disorganized line. The shuttle ride was also about 15 minutes and dropped you off at the entrance to the campground which was about a mile away from the start line. Since I had assumed we’d be good with a 45 minute buffer we ended up on a time crunch and running as much as we could so we had a nice warm up I guess 😅 Luckily, registration check in and bag check were quick so we were fine once we moved to the next 15 minute start slot.

When I read 3+ miles I automatically assumed a 5k (with the plus just to account for obstacles) since that seems to be the universal “fun run” distance. I didn’t seem to be completely in the wrong though since as we jogged to the start, the starting line hype guy announced, “You know how you thought this was a 5k? Well it’s actually 5 miles!!” My non-runner boyfriend and I looked at each other slightly alarmed for him, but both thought while it would definitely be a challenge, the obstacles would break it up enough to make it doable.

The race began and we were immediately thrown into an EXTREMELY technical, single track trail. Far more technical than any trail I’ve ever seen in the area. It was super pretty and CRAZY fun.. for someone who enjoys challenging trails. The “path” was pretty much entirely rocks, roots, puddles, and mud. Sometimes there wasn’t even a clear path and sometimes the mud was so deep and thick it threatened to suck your shoes off. We ran though multiple streams and even through/in what I think was a small river at one point.

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I originally assumed the path would open up and get easier once we got to the obstacles, but all the running portions were this crazy trail, with field openings just big enough to house each obstacle.

Random Highlights/Memorable Moments

Rope Climb – I was able to do it AND it was easy!!! I was bummed they didn’t have a photographer there ☹️ but also get that’s probably not the most flattering angle for a photo 😆

Bucket Carry – Trudging along in super murky, ankle deep water and taking my next step into an unseen hole deeper than my leg.. only slightly terrifying. But I made it the whole way without stopping or putting the bucket down!

Sandbag Lift – I jumped up and held on to the rope hoping my weight would bring the bag down.. it didn’t. I had to lay down on the ground and prop my leg against the fence for even more force in order to make the bag budge.

It wasn’t a bad time for me until it started raining at the end of the first hour. It was a cooler day to begin with and the rain drenched you and chilled you to the bone. I was having a hard time moving my hands and shivering so badly that I wasn’t really able to give it my best for some obstacles. It also made most of the medal, hanging type obstacles so slippery they were near impossible. (I don’t think I saw a single person complete just the plain rings. Even the most jacked guys were doing burpees there.) Toward the end I was so cold that burpees were no longer a punishment and I was happily doing them for warmth.

By the time we saw the finish and the fire jump I think we were both pretty much at our limit. I honestly might have teared up a bit 😂

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The worst thing was realizing we had a mile walk back to the shuttle stop in the rain while freezing with my boyfriend now only able to move at hobbling pace. Plus the walk from the shuttle drop off to car.

Looking back it was fun (I’m not sure if I would have told you that at the time lol) but the rain made it not only way more brutal, but also kind of ruined some of the bigger obstacles I was looking forward to. I’m glad we did it and this definitely made me want to do more Spartans to attempt to complete more obstacles and distances, but I think I’d pass on another rainy one.

Rhode Races Providence “Marathon”

So I only made it 23 miles.. but also I MADE IT 23 MILES!!

I had signed up for this race awhile back at the same time as Newport as part of my get-well-soon present. While Newport just wasn’t my day, I tried to get a little training in this time in hopes it would help and picked up a “How to Train for a Marathon in a Month” training schedule I found online. It definitely struck me as kind of an odd schedule (with a lot of 2 milers), but what do I know about actual training plans, so I went with it as much as my life allowed (my Master’s project needed work again so that’s where the 26, 27, 30, and 1st went).

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I switched most of the two’s to three’s

I felt a bit better after managing 11 miles at 8:27 pace in crazy wind and rain. And then I felt a bit worse after being able to complete 16 miles at 8:35 but feeling pretty darn crappy towards the end. I tried to focus on the fact I made it 16 miles on the first hot day (REALLY HOT, I got burnt pretty bad) of the year when I prefer running in the cold.

The morning of the marathon I woke up with my stomach feeling awful, but I recognized it as nerves and my boyfriend reminded me I had already completed a marathon through the freaking desert. Also while stretching before the race Marathon Panda Maurice found me! It was awesome to actually meet him in person and his super positive vibes definitely helped to calm my nerves further. By the time I was lining up I was back to feeling pretty good.

The gun went off and I started trying to keep with the 4 hour pacer, but they seemed to be going significantly slower than pace. Looking at Garmin connect now though I was faster even in the first mile so I’m not sure if something was up with my Garmin at the time or I was just completely impatient and ditched way too early 😅 Also looking back the start of the course was far more hilly than later so they may have been going for even effort. I probably should have known the pacers knew what they were doing and just stayed with them, but I was also feeling really good so I went with it. Miles 1-20 FLEW by. I found a few new and old friends to talk to at different points, zoomed (or felt like I was 😂) up hills, and cruised along the long, flat wooded back roads and bike path.

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I was trying to make sure I at least took a few sips of water at every water stop and after the half started eating a Honey Stinger chew every 2ish miles. Even so started feeling kind of off during mile 21. I slowed down in hopes that slower might ease my nausea, but it was only getting worse. By mile 22 I felt like I was dying of thirst (on top of the nausea) even though I had been drinking a decent amount and it seemed like the next water stop would never come. My mantra became, “Just get to the next water stop”. I thought maybe I could manage that, until I hit a short but rather steep hill. As soon as I started up the incline, the slightly hunched position it put me in pushed my stomach over the edge. I had to stop and step off the side in an attempt to be sick but I had nothing in me to get out. After battling back the nausea the last few miles, coming to a complete stop seemed to open the flood gates and I was hit with all the awful feeling at once. Every time I took a step I had to dry heave. I don’t remember actually moving but I definitely managed to make it a bit further in this state because the hill wasn’t where I ultimately stopped, but it was awful and I knew there was no way I was making it 3 more miles like this. Tons of runners saw me and offered me things to help. The cop stationed at the turn I stopped at was amazed at how many people stopped mid marathon to try and help me. (Love my running community!!) I ended up accepting some of a kind strangers water, with I think Nuun, but it seemed to be too late for anything to help. After 20 minutes of being unable to move without being sick I took the cop up on his offer to have someone come get me. Little did I know he meant an ambulance.. (In my out-of-it state I totally had thought he meant another cop to just bring me back to the finish.) so I accidentally got carted off the course in an ambulance 😂

Overall it was a really fun day and I’m really happy my legs (and everything else besides my stomach) felt great and definitely could have made it the full marathon! After talking to some friends, I think it may have been a salt issue and I’m mildly kicking myself for not taking a salt tablet someone offered to me. Now just to get in more long training runs to test some more hydration and nutrition before my next attempt!

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Cheesin it hardcore because I LOVE RUNNING!!!

Rhode Races Newport (Marathon) Half

This past Saturday’s marathon attempt went both better and worse than expected..

I originally signed up for the race while bummed and sick, as a get-well-soon present to myself. It was only a month away at the time so already knew I wouldn’t be really racing. But after how my first full marathon turned out (lots of walking) I wanted a little confidence boost and to know I could at least run 26.2 miles straight, even if slowly.

I ended up staying sick for about two more weeks after that and managing to slightly pull something in my left leg during one of the like three runs I did get in before the marathon so as it got closer I wasn’t feeling very hopeful.

Marathon Eve my leg actually felt fine! But I ate something (didn’t eat anything new so no idea what happened) that didn’t sit well with me at all and went to bed early with an awful stomach ache.

The morning of the race I woke up at 5:30 AM before my alarm feeling pretty good! I might have woken up because my stomach was still gurgling a bit, but I felt like I won! I groggily checked my “what to wear” poll and threw on the super sweet outfit you guys picked out for me 😎 After a short drive I found out the original address I put into the gps was wrong and I almost freaked out as I have NO sense of direction and I don’t do well in “emergency” situations. Luckily I found the real address relatively easily and the actual lot just in time for the last shuttle 😬 Also luckily, I had picked up my packet the day before for once because it ended up being a run away shuttle (it got lost as roads it was traveling before started getting closed off for the race) and I ended up with another tiny chunk of my predicted time gone.

I’ve run this race multiple times before as the half so I thought I knew what to expect. Little did I know the lines for port-o-potties that are non-existent by the time the half is approaching are INSANE before the full. I stretched as I anxiously waited in line, now feeling less like a confident veteran and more like I was running my first race all over again. I ended up making it with some time to spare and lined up with the 4 hour pacer at the start line.

The gun went off and it was SO weird starting a race so slow and relaxed (8:58 min/mi), but it was just what I needed. I wasn’t feeling great, but I also wasn’t dying so maybe I could have kept going had I not found a friend at around the 4.5 mile mark and picked it up due to fun conversation. I stayed with her in the low 8’s chatting until somewhere in mile 8, when I started feeling really rough and dropped off. My stomach still felt really off and I think putting so much of my energy into trying not to be sick just sapped me because I started feeling insanely drained. I tried to eat my Honey Stingers chews I had in my belt to see if that would help, but actually couldn’t open them I was so weak 😅 and at that point I was in a gap with no one around (except half marathoners who had caught up and were ZOOMING past) to ask for help.

The last mile of the half I got a wicked weird feeling in my chest, like I almost couldn’t breathe and I kind of started assuming I wasn’t going to finish the full. I made myself pass the half finish line in a last effort to keep going and grabbed a banana they offered in hopes that some fuel was all I needed. I gave it almost another mile, but the banana was having no effect besides probably making me look absolutely terrifying, so I finally decided today wasn’t the day.

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Breathing out of one side of my mouth trying to fix being unable to breathe..

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Glaring at the photographer sitting happily at the finish line lol

In the end I am glad I stopped as I felt completely miserable the rest of the day and just napped on and off, barely able to eat anything. I was still definitely sick and shouldn’t have pushed my body through the full. There’s always another race and I’m working on getting in some actual training for the Rhode Races Providence marathon May 6th!

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New favorite race photo! LOL But actually the most flattering one I’ve taken!

Howling Wolf Half Marathon 2017

This past weekend I had the pleasure of running the Howling Wolf Half in Stoneham, Mass. The original plan was to take a break from races for the rest of my full marathon training cycle (after finishing all the halves I had signed up for before I even had any thoughts about a full), but that quickly went out the window when an old track bud asked if I’d want to do a race with her. I’m a sucker for halves to begin with, but I absolutely can’t turn down the chance to run with a friend. Also this one was at a zoo and gave free admission as race swag!!

When I woke up race morning it was 27 degrees 😱 I hardly ever feel cold and run extremely hot when running so I honestly had no idea how to dress to be comfortable while also not getting frost bite. I ended up packing pretty much every piece of warm running gear I own (which honestly isn’t all that much) in hopes it would suffice.

I was super happy to find out the swag they gave away at registration was a winter hat (or baseball cap) and gloves so I at least had a hat now if that ended up seeming like a necessity. I found my friend and we warmed up and caught up some before the race! I wasn’t planning to go crazy, but I think between the cold and our reunion we were too exited and went out at 7:25 and 7:14 for the first two miles 😅 Once I looked at my Garmin to realize this we turned it down a notch for the next couple of miles 7:52 and 7:47.

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The course is made up of two loops. One big ~4.8 mile loop and a smaller ~3.4 mile one. You go once around the big one, then the small, then back around the big. As we passed the starting area after the first big loop at around mile 5 I got rid of my outer shirt (I had ended up deciding on two long sleeves), which I had been carrying for a good amount of time by this point. Soon as I did I felt like I was flying and took off for the next two miles at 7:35 and 7:07. It was honestly so amazing! It felt effortless!

Then suddenly right around mile 7 I stopped being able to breathe. It was so weird and I don’t think it was the cold because I’ve run in it plenty and never had anything like this happen to me before. It felt like I was taking deep breaths but there was no air to actually breathe in. My breathing became super rattly and I probably sounded like I was having an asthma attack, but I tried to push through. It was also up a nice large hill so that was extra fun. I managed an 8:03 so I was happy.

My breathing went back to normal as suddenly and seeming randomly as it had stopped. I felt infinitely better, thought I wasn’t getting my effortless flow back and definitely felt the effort of running again. The next few miles were slightly more difficult just because I had to get out of the funk my lack of breathing had caused. It also didn’t help that this segment was rolling hills that I normally would have loved. Instead, I got to think about how I should like them while they slowly killed me. 💀 7:39, 7:49, 7:34, 7:45.

At mile 12 the air disappeared on me again. It was a bit less intense this time (Possibly just because it had happened before so I was less shocked and knew it would go away..?) and I was able to stay at 7:55.

I was super grateful I gained my breath back for the last mile and there were no more hills to climb. I was able to stay at 7:14 and “sprint” the last 0.1 at 5:56!

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My final time was 1:39:38 for a six second PR! I also placed 1st in my age group and 10th female overall!! My friend also PRed by over a minute and got 3rd in age group!

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We finished the day by checking out the zoo! 🐆🦓🦒🐻

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Nice and warm in my awesome new hat!!

Marathon Training: Week 6

Now that I’m done cutting training weeks short with races I’ll start posting weekly updates again! I’ll post about the races soon I swear!!

[Day 36] Monday, September 25
Easy 6 MI (@9:02-9:45)

Monday was SUPER humid and didn’t feel like Fall at all. It was scheduled for easy and after having run the Jamestown Half and Rugged Maniac Saturday I made sure to do so. Even while taking it slow I felt like I had turned to liquid by the end of my run. My Performance Condition went down for the first time since getting my new watch ☹️, but I blame passing by the evil dog’s house because I can guarantee I slowed down my pace and my heart rate went way up all at once (even though the dog wasn’t actually present). My right foot bothered me a bit again. (It started during the half Saturday.)
7.26 mi @ 8:46

[Day 37] Tuesday, September 26
6 x [800 (@7:02), 400 Recovery (@9:02-10:19)]

I felt pretty awful all day Tuesday so I didn’t think a track workout was going to go well or get done at all. The sun is starting to set SO early so I tried going to my high school track instead of college because I had been told they had lights. It was really nice to actually have other people still out and running “with” you since they didn’t have to be insane enough to run in complete darkness. They even had bathrooms right next to the track that they left open at night!!! I actually was so excited about the bathrooms that I used the men’s twice before realizing. 😂 The workout ended up going just fine, but my foot was hurting pretty bad by the end.
800s @ 6:55, 6:56, 6:51, 6:50, 6:54, 6:41
Total : 6.52 mi @ 8:25

[Day 38] Wednesday, September 27
Rest

On Wednesday I decided to try using my Kinvara again since it felt like my foot was hurting where my Pegususes had a bump for support. My foot felt somewhat better. It kept misting, making it even more humid than Monday’s run. 🤢 Today was just a day to makeup some miles for my Challengeville Bigfoot challenge so I took it easy.
7.26 mi @ 8:54

[Day 39] Thursday, September 28
Tempo 5 MI (@8:01)

Race pictures for the Jamestown Half came in on Thursday!! Needless to say I was pretty pumped! I wasn’t super feeling the tempo workout scheduled for today. Definitely was a bit of a rough time keeping the pace at points, but did it!
5 mi @ 7:45 [7:50, 7:53, 7:48, 7:44, 7:44]
Total: 7.22 mi @ 8:09

[Day 40] Friday, September 29
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

Oh man it actually felt like Fall on Friday!! I got out of work early to run so I could help my boyfriend’s grandparents stomp grapes to make their wine! That also meant I got to do my whole run in daylight 😎. I felt overall better than Thursday and my foot felt better too!
7.24 mi @ 8:27

[Day 41] Saturday, September 30
Easy 6 MI (@9:02-9:45)

I cut Saturday short since I only needed 5 miles to complete the challenge and had extended other days longer than scheduled. I even managed to be the first newbie to complete the Bigfoot Challenge! (Might have been by default.. dunno.. but still counts!)
5.14 mi @ 8:37

[Day 42] Sunday, October 1
Long 10 MI (@8:42)

Felt really good! It was a nice confidence booster to feel so good running 10 miles decently fast, but I couldn’t keep a pace to save my life. It literally felt like every time I tried to slow down I sped up and vise versa. I’m hoping to improve upon that before the marathon since pacing myself early on is going to be pretty important.
10.09 mi @ 8:19

Weekly Total: 50.72

Thanks again for reading!

Ragnar Reach the Beach Tips

If you enjoy the adventures of misadventure like me you will love this race! I personally loved it so much I might go so far as to say everyone should get to experience this at least once. To me it was an extreme throwback to track meets. You’re having insane amounts of fun but also stuck for what feels like forever waiting for your race. You have the anxiety of having a general idea of when to warm up but don’t know exactly when your race check in will be called (the runner before you gets there). You go through every possible phase of excited, hungry, tired, overtired, and many other emotions/states with a huge group of your friends there to support you. It’s the perfect mash of testing yourself physically and mentally while also having a freaking blast!

Normal teams are 12 man and use 2 vans each with 6 people. You are going to be “stuck” with the people in your van for the next 24 hours, but really won’t be seeing much of the other van group (only at major transitions). From what other normal teams were saying it sounded like you’d be pretty safe to not really even know the group in the other van. If you are still dedicated to getting 12 people that actually have some connection to one another (like my team was) then you are in for a treat because getting 12 people to coordinate is quite the task. My team ended up being a team of 9 due to last minute injuries. With 9 people instead of 12 we had to get creative and ended up making 3 groups of 3 which then rotated about the vans such that two teams would be in the active van, and one would be in the benched van. The teams rotated so all groups got to hangout with the others at multiple points. I really liked this setup since I then got to spend time getting to know everyone instead of just the 5 others in my one van like a normal team would. The only real issue was we all had to take on a fourth leg. (Each person only does three legs on normal teams.)

TIPS:

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Meet Strangers!
I was a sub for one of the injuries and my friend who was the sole link I had to everyone else was another injury who had to dropout so I didn’t actually know anyone in the end. Even without really knowing anyone on my team I had an AMAZING time. Granted they just seemed to be a very welcoming and friendly group of people overall, but that seems to be the type of people this race draws so I wouldn’t be afraid to give making new friends a shot! The community as a whole was amazing and other teams cheered on/helped each other constantly during the race.

2. Expect The Unexpected!
Now even if you do happen to have 12 reliable friends, you still have to deal with pacing and other surprises, so don’t think everything will go perfectly as planned. Unless you’ve done the race before almost all legs are going to come with some unpredictable surprises.

4. Rate The Legs Yourself!
Since our team was still shuffling things around last minute we had relied on Ragnar’s leg ratings. One of my most important tips would be not to listen to their leg ratings. I’m still not sure what formula they used for their calculations but it never seemed to match what our runners reported afterwards.

Leg 1: Hard
This leg was one of the most extreme examples of what we thought of as a terrible rating. It was only listed as “Hard” when “Very Hard” was the highest difficulty. THIS LEG WAS LITERALLY STRAIGHT UP AND DOWN A SKI MOUNTAIN. It was only a mile, but the incline was so steep not a single runner could run it. It had to be walked. As we were waiting for our team’s runner to complete it one of the other runners who already did stumbled over to us quite literally foaming at the mouth and in complete delirium of having just run it mumbled (almost to himself sounding like he was traumatized), “You can’t run up the mountain! You just can’t!”. It was like a scene out of a pirate movie where the crazy guy is warning you of the treasure’s curse. Not only did it sound insanely awful to get up, but then you have to run back down this insanely steep mountain trying not to destroy your knees. I honestly think the leg sounds silly to be in a running race since you can’t physically run it and that it clearly sounded like the absolute hardest leg of the race.

Leg 7: Hard
My first leg! Not only was it the first leg so I was fresh, but it was also pretty much down hill. It was absolutely my easiest leg, but for some reason was rated as “Hard”.

Leg 34: Easy
It was a shorter leg, but much hillier than my first AND it was my 4th. Although it would normally only be someone’s 3rd leg it still was much harder after multiple other runs and so many hours having passed from the race’s start.

Those were just some examples of the difficulty rating not aligning with how it felt and my thought process as to how to rate legs.

My recommendation for making your own ratings:

a. Thinking about elevation!! I’m not sure if it was just because it was a New Hampshire Ragnar or what but even the flatter legs were decently hilly.

b. Think about how much you’ve done before this leg.

4. Have A Game Plan For Night Runs!
I run at night a decent amount so I thought nothing of it when I found out I had a 6.5 mile leg around midnight. A few other teammates had said they didn’t love their night leg but I had mostly attributed that to them having never run at night. I started off really confident but almost immediately decided SHIT WAS WAY TOO SPOOKY. After passing 2 runners and some awesome locals throwing a party to cheer on runners at the very beginning there was NO ONE. No runners, no vans, no houses, no lights. It was literally only me and my headlamp on the middle of a forest. To make things even spookier it was crazy foggy so I was only able to see about 3 feet in front of me. (Another runner on my team said he actually ran out into an intersection and only saw he was there once he got to the center.) After seeing no signs of this being part of a race course for multiple miles I became pretty convinced I had missed a turn sign in the fog. I messaged my team to possibly leap frog me but they were distracted with trying to get to the transition safely themselves and didn’t see until later. Eventually the route met a town and I felt much better for the end. I would recommend planning to leap frog, buddy up, or keep tabs on night runners.

5. Check Up On Your Runner!
The course was very well marked for a 200 mile race through roads that couldn’t be blocked off, but there were still a few points where people got lost. I had to shout at a runner during one of my legs to take a turn, we had to drive after another team’s runner to redirect him, and our own runner ran some extra due to a wrong turn. You aren’t allowed to follow your runner too closely due to the roads being open still, but check up on them when you can! Also to cheer them and others on!!

6. Bring cash!
Many of the transitions have lots of delicious food/snacks made by volunteers and while it’s mostly free, they take donations. I was pleasantly surprised they even took care of the Celiacs and multiple stops had specialized, homemade gluten free foods (like cookies and soup)! The volunteers are also some of the nicest people you will ever meet so you’ll definitely want to donate!

7. Bring lots of water!
Reach the Beach tries to be Eco friendly and not use cups so bringing your own water is your best bet.

8. Be there for your runner!
It is the most heartbreaking thing to see a runner coming in, giving it all they’ve got, only too have their next teammate not be there.

9. Snap bracelet are hard!
Most of the hand offs where people tried to actually snap the bracelet on the next runner failed. It’s not a super big deal until you start getting to the end and are too tired/delirious to find/bend over and pick up the runaway snap bracelet.

10. Get ready for the finish!
You are supposed to join your last runner in the shoot. While we didn’t have the normal van situation/schedule so we probably cut down on time even further, it still seems like a challenge to get your whole team to the finish before the runner gets there. The last leg of Reach the Beach was only 4 miles and the railed off part of the shoot was decently long so we didn’t get into it in time and just ran alongside it.

IMG_20170916_162852

Ragnar was an insanely amazing time and I actually am hoping to run it again with the same group! I hope these tidbits will help you with your Ragnar or make you want to run one if you somehow didn’t already!

Marathon Training: Week 3

[Day 15] Monday, September 4
Rest

Monday I decided to take the scheduled rest day and wait for my new new shoes to come in! (They were scheduled for Tuesday). I didn’t want to just sit around though so I went to the nearby college to do some walking and Pokemon catching. I knew they had a paved path around the pond, but also discovered they have a little wooded trail! Will definitely have to go back there for a run!
Rest/Walk

[Day 16] Tuesday, September 5
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

Tuesday I conveniently had my yearly doctors appointment and mentioned my foot. He referred me to an Orthopedic, but told me in his opinion I just wasn’t warming the muscles and tendons up enough. That seemed fair since I need usually just static stretch. I know.. bad, but I just wanna run! Anyway, I went home to my new shoes after work, heated my foot, stretched, and tried to do a bit more moving than usual before heading out. The first half my foot didn’t feel great again and it had me kind of down since I really had hoped it was just my shoes. The second half was much better but with my foot having hurt the whole first half I was already out of wack so the whole run was kind of blah. I ended in a pretty bad mood and it didn’t occur to me until taking to my friend that my doctor was probably right and my foot was still just warming up during the first half of my run. That definitely made me feel better, but I’m not quite sure what to do to warm up without causing pain that’ll ruin any activity afterwards 🤔
5.16 mi @ 8:40

[Day 17] Wednesday, September 6
Rest

Wednesday I got news that my foot doctor’s appointment was officially scheduled for the 13th. It was a scheduled rest day so that’s what I did! I got Chinese food with my boyfriend and just lazed about ☺️
Rest

[Day 18] Thursday, September 7
Easy 4 MI (@9:02-9:45)

I started classes Thursday so didn’t end up running until late. I decided to get serious about warming up and ran ultra slow (actually just the pace I should have been running this whole time 😅) for the beginning. Hm.. my foot didn’t hurt. AND THEN I felt so good I accidentally picked it up! It got dark really quick though and I forgot my headlamp so I had to slow down again to watch my step. My legs felt a bit achy during the second half but I think they just had a hard week last week with all the foot drama. I made sure to do some rolling so they’d hopefully be 100% for FriYAY!
4.08 mi @ 8:54 

[Day 19] Friday, September 8
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

So pretty darn sure it was the warm up deal because I started slow again and felt perfectly normal on Friday’s run! I was even able to pick it up at the end when it started down pouring and looking really thunderstormy.
5.18 mi @ 8:16

[Day 20] Saturday, September 9
Easy 4 MI (@9:02-9:45)

I wish I could say I planned Saturday as a rest day but it really was accidently turned into a rest day when plans lasted later than expected. I should honestly know to run in the AM because all my plans end up going late. Going to work on that! For now I had planned to join Strava’s attempt to break the record number of halfs run in a day Sunday so I’ll make up the mileage then.
Rest

[Day 21] Sunday, September 10
Easy 6 MI (@9:02-9:45)

The half started off really well (with no foot pain!) but I completely forgot to bring water and slowly became dehydrated. I had planned to run my it and back route 2.5 times (rough for me to begin with since I hate repeating routes) but started thinking it wasn’t going to be enough toward the end. (I’m generally good at math but while running even my simple math skills go completely out the window lmao.) Between dehydration and thinking I was going to have to do even more laps than planned I started freaking out and slowed down to a crawl for the last few miles. Luckily it totally was enough and I was able to participate then chug water like no tomorrow!
13.20 mi @ 9:00

Weekly Total: 27.62

Next week starts speed/strength workouts AND I’m running my Ragnar at the end of the week!!

Thanks for reading!

Marathon Training: Week 2

[Day 8] Monday, August 28
Rest

Since I didn’t run the scheduled 5 miles on Sunday I felt I should probably make up some mileage Monday. I actually managed to get up and run in the AM and it was AWESOME! I used to frequently get up at 5AM to run 5 or 10 miles with friends, but since they’ve been away at school I’ve had a hard time prying myself out of bed to run alone. But AM running is totally worth it. It was so nice and cool! PLUS I was barely awake to notice I was running, so if you don’t enjoy running, just do it in your sleep as a zombie 😉 Also once I woke up fully I was so much more awake and energized than normal! Only problem was after the run my foot was acting up quite a bit. After work I ran again, but this time just a slow short one with my boyfriend since he needs to train for the Rugged Maniac and I didn’t feel so well. My foot was fine after the second run!
AM: 4.09 mi @ 8:28
PM: 2.01 mi @ 13:19

[Day 9] Tuesday, August 29
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

Tuesday’s run was pretty awful. My foot really hurt and then I think I started running with poor form making my legs hurt too.
5.27 mi @ 8:39

[Day 10] Wednesday, August 30
Rest

Rest daaaaay! Just stuck to resting since my foot felt so bad last run.
Rest

[Day 11] Thursday, August 31
Easy 3 MI (@9:02-9:45)

On Thursday my foot was still off so I was glad that I was only scheduled for 3 miles.
3.27 mi @ 8:21

[Day 12] Friday, September 1
Easy 3 MI (@9:02-9:45)

By Friday I decided I needed to try something different and broke out my old running shoes. I was hoping that while more worn down, they might be worn down in a more correct manner than my current ones since I had worn my current ones when my ankle was sprained and super swollen. It definitely seemed to work because I actually felt good enough to pick up the pace!
3.28 mi @ 7:47 [7:48, 7:58, 7:41]

[Day 13] Saturday, September 2
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

Saturday I ran in my old shoes again and my foot went back to hurting a little. Still significantly better than with my current shoes, but not 100%.
5.17 mi @ 8:25

[Day 14] Sunday, September 3
Easy 5 MI (@9:02-9:45)

Although the weather channel promised it wouldn’t start until 5 PM, it rained all day Sunday. It was a really light misting when I started off but by the end it had increased slowly into pretty heavy rain. Most of the first half my foot felt pretty awful, but got better the second half.
5.16 mi @ 8:31

Weekly Mileage: 28.24