Ragnar Trail Wawayanda Lake 2018

I finally participated in my first trail Ragnar and oh my gosh was it fun!! I still think both types are unique experiences and fun in their own chaotic ways so you should at least try both, but the trail Ragnars are just so much more chill.. Also TRAILS ๐Ÿ˜

So just like most of our road Ragnars (because my team is awesome) we started out the night before camping! Mild disappointment at the fact that the sites were provided by Ragnar and therefore we had to listen to their rules of no fires, but I GUESS it was safer that a bunch of sleep deprived crazies didn’t have fire ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜‚ I got there really late that Thursday night and went to sleep almost immediately.. after scarfing down some food since Captain Dad said I should eat something. That’s one of the best things about the trail version, you can bring a camping grill and tons of food and snacks since you don’t have to shove it all into a car. I ate like a freaking queen that weekend! You can definitely stop and get food during the road ones (when you have time), but I prefer eating foods I’m used to whenever I want. They also had food trucks at certain times!

Race morning we woke up way earlier than our start time, watched the safety video (it’s a different one for trails!), and picked up our Salomons! The trail Ragnar are sponsored by Salomon and you can rent a pair of their shoes to test! The area was still really wet from the recent rain and I only had one pair of trail sneakers so I decided to give them a try and have to wear wet shoes at least one less time. I would highly recommend renting some! It’s free and they just take your license until you give them back.

I ended up taking the spot of 8th and final runner so I had A TON of time to kill. We hung out, ate, and overall just kinda camped. It was really fun not being split up or having to worry about driving. They also have “the village” which hosts tons of contests and activities! At night they have movies, fire, and smores. One of our teammates won the scavenger hunt and got a free pair of Salomons! And at one point I ended up in an inflatable ball race!

img_20181005_175557

Team Rocket caught Pikachu!

We also won greenest campsite and got 50% off our next Ragnar registration!

Now back to the race.. It’s kind of weird how the bracelets and bibs are the opposite of the road relays. You have one bib per team that gets handed off at the transition, but you don’t hand off the snap bracelet since you get your own for each lap that is the color of your loop. You may think it seems silly but by Saturday you’ll be glad you have a bracelet to remind you exactly what you’re doing ๐Ÿคช The transition also has a screen that will display your team name when your runner only has 0.25 left so that’s really neat!

As last runner I had yellow, green, red for loop order, (green being the shortest and red the longest). I would be running yellow and green in the dark, but that also meant I got to run the longest in the daylight, which was what I wanted. You don’t need vests for the trail ones so I got ready to run with just my headlamp. Make sure you know how to use your headlamp and that it’s set properly! I had mine set to red light while in camp and didn’t know how to get it to white so I ended up swapping with a teammate AS I was running to enter the trails. I’m so glad she was there because there’s no way you could navigate out there without light. It was hard enough with light! The trails were very technical at points and at others they were really muddy. The yellow trail was labeled super well though so other than being worried about falling it was really chill running through the woods at night. I really enjoyed it!

I actually enjoyed it so much that when a teammate didn’t think she could do her yellow loop I took it. My second yellow loop was also at night and super nice! The only issue was I felt like I twisted my ankle a bit.

img_20181006_025127_535

What? Ghastly is evolving!

After another long wait I had my green loop. The green loop had a lot of road to start (like I think it was the entire first mile) and I don’t know if it was that combined with twisting my ankle or just my knee being bad to begin with but it started KILLING me. I did a decent amount of speed walking because running motion hurt too much. I’m not sure if they didn’t put out as many signs on the green loop or I was just moving so much slower but I kept thinking I had missed turns. The combo of road, pain, and worry made me HATE the green loop. I would have absolutely swapped it for another yellow. Once I finished it I tried my best to fill my next wait with stretches in hopes of not being in pain for my final loop.

img_20181005_151014031_hdr

Team Rocket Recovery Area

Red loop rolled around in the morning and I got ready to end the race! My knee felt decent but in the end it went pretty quickly downhill. It hurt so I wasn’t picking my feet up enough causing me to keep tripping and making it hurt more. It was a pretty awful cycle. But at least it was through the woods during the day so I could see all the prettiness! I felt bad I must have slowed my team down insane amounts, but I tried my best to speedwalk, hop/skip, and jog to the finish!

img_20181006_115208

img_0857

Team Rocket Blasting Off Again!

Spartan Beast Mount Killington 2018

After the Spartan Super and UA Killington I was actually starting to get kind of nervous for the Beast at Killington. During the super, some fellow sufferers were talking up the beast to me and my friend. Saying how it was impossible to run up the mountain, you couldn’t possibly do it without a hydration pack, how you needed to bring actual food since you’d be out there ALL DAY LONG, there’s a rule you need to bring a headlamp because you might end up still out there past dark, and that something along the lines of only 40% of the people who start the race actually finish it. At the time that really didn’t get to me much. I love the Spartan community, but most of them don’t do the races for the running bits so I figured a tougher running terrain like a mountain would affect them more than myself and that’s what most of the big deal was. Then the UA Killington 25k happened and most of my confidence was lost. Not only was it a BRUTAL race (that I wasn’t sure I could complete again with obstacles thrown in too) but someone also overheard me talking about the beast mid-race and said the UA course was a cake walk in comparison. Hearing that from someone participating in a full running race definitely made their comment hit a little harder.. Was I actually going to be able to complete this race?

Race day came and it was a strange feeling to be unsure if I was going to be physically capable of finishing a race. After reading about the large amount of water aid stations provided I had opted to just bring my FitKicks FitZip Waist Pack (with my 11oz FlipBelt Water Bottle, just in case) and Skratch Labs Energy Chews and Betty Lou’s Bars for fuel. This time (versus UA Killington) I was happy I was able to eat my whole pre-race breakfast of an English muffin and a Honey Stinger Gluten Free Waffle.

As we waited at the start I became slightly nervous at my hydration choice since everyone and their mother seemed to be wearing full out hydration packs, but I figured it was too late now and I’d just have to make the best of it. (In the end my bottle ended up working perfectly! There were plenty of water stations, but some were cup-less so it was handy to have something to store the water in.) I was also really happy with my fuel choices: to have light race fuel I could eat on the go, as well as something more substantial for “lunch”.

The start was pretty intimidating and straight up one of the largest/steepest inclines on the course. It was so immediate that you had to brace yourself at an angle in the starting corral (which I wasn’t a fan of. If I’m on a hill I want to be moving). Having run Killington for UA I wasn’t exactly surprised by the incline and was able to charge up it (not running, but speed hiking for sure). I’m not sure if it was just having seen the mountain before, taking it significantly slower, or that dude totally lied, but I felt like other than the start and the Death March, the Spartan course was actually significantly flatter. I felt really good the entire time and was my usual too-cheery-on-the-running-sections self. Compared to the other Spartan races there was absolutely no mud. The course was all field or wooded trails. The trails were really awesome (and actually may have been where all the elevation was that I was just having too much fun to notice)! They were definitely the choke points though so if you want to actually run the trails I’d recommend signing up for an age group heat, which is what I’ll probably be doing next year.

It was another good day for me and I was able to crush all the walls and obstacles I previously completed again. This time I made it fully through the Twister like it was nothing! I also feel I can count the multi-rig as completed since I was able to do the full thing except the final rope, which I was only unable because it was defective and half the length of all other ropes on the obstacle.

259-0660

Killington is unique and has a swim as well as an obstacle under the bridge across the water! You have to wear life jackets so the swim isn’t really a big deal except for getting all your gear soaked. The under-bridge obstacle was a rope ladder and then 4 hand ropes. I was really proud to be able to successfully complete that one as well!

234-112

How pretty are those mountains though?!

Another highlight of my race was the Bender. It’s another favorite of mine, like the Twister. But this time I think the extra adrenaline of being able to actually run (the Super was too muddy to run) kicked in because not only was I able to complete it with no help, but I also climbed it using only my arms! Two guys actually came up to me after and were like, “THAT WAS INSANE!” ๐Ÿ˜

Honestly I’m really glad Killington is my local Beast because the Death March there is ungodly but boy do you feel AMAZING for having accomplished it! It is straight from the bottom of the mountain up to Killington peak going the most direct route, right beside the gondolas. I know a lot of what killed me during the Under Armour race was thinking too hopefully that the incline was over, just to be proven wrong again and again; So I decided to pretend like it was NEVER going to end and then I’d be pleasantly surprised when it did. IT WORKED! I basically FLEW up the mountain. I only stopped about 5 times for a max of about 4 seconds. I passed an insane amount of people and didn’t get passed once. I felt like a true beast after the Death March!

Other than the Death March I think I felt much better during this race than both of the others. I think being able to actually run was extremely helpful. It was still an insanely intense challenge, I just think this type of climbing-a-mountain challenge is more what I’m used to versus wading through mud. I was REALLY excited at the end to see we got special medals that specified we did our beast up a mountain!

IMG_20180915_181130688_HDR

Mountain Series!!

IMG_20180915_190046406.jpg

TRIFECTA COMPLETE!!!!!

New Original BUFF

Disclaimer: I received the new original BUFF to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I already had both a polar and windproof BUFF that I love for winter, so I was thrilled when given the opportunity to test the new Original BUFF!

Dl4zqqsU8AAEwhZ

The very first thing I noticed was how insanely soft it was! Like that so-soft-you-want-a-blanket-made-of-it soft. I then saw the tag saying it was made of 100% recycled material! Including two plastic bottles?! Not sure how BUFF managed to make plastic bottles so soft, but we should be using this technology everywhere! It’s also crazy stretchy compared to any other BUFF type thing I’ve ever owned. I could easily stretch it open to fit around my head and bun if I forgot to put it on before putting my hair up! It is also nice, thin, and wicks moisture so I was able to wear it on some warmer, sunnier runs without it making me overheat or even really being noticeable.

BUFFs are super versatile so they can be used for many tasks and you can always find a way to carry it on you. I personally love wearing it around my neck during races because you hardly know it’s there but it’s AMAZING to have a clean piece of gear to wipe your face and hands off with. Especially in mud races, being able to wipe your hands of mud so you can eat your fuel sans dirt has made the BUFF one of my favorite discoveries yet. It also is a savior during hot races! Just dunk it in some cold water. It’s amazing what cooling the back of your neck will do for you! Wearing it also provides UV protection and helped me not get my usual neck/chest burn during a sunny race.

Honestly I think I’m becoming a bit too attached to having my BUFF on me for runs.. so I went and bought another! ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜…

I also somehow never managed to put two and two together and realize BUFF is the maker of Survivor BUFFs! I’ve watched the show for forever and actually own a Survivor Marquesas BUFF (from 2002!) that I used to wear daily as a kid and still looks brand new!

img_20181016_2214241821

Literally had this since I was 9 years old!

197564_1875591219324_872538_n


Being a nerd with a Survivor BUFF in my school picture ๐Ÿ˜‚

So clearly I had to hope the new Original BUFF is just as sturdy and bought one of the ones from the newest Survivor season!

121279_o_survivor37-orange_721537396637-17752

Go Team Nerd! ๐Ÿค“

If you want your own new Original BUFF check them out on BUFF USA!! And if you’re getting a Survivor BUFF you have to let me know which team you’re on!

Vermont City Marathon 2019

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Vermont City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I’m very excited to say I am going to be running the Vermont City Marathon May 26, 2019!! After running the Covered Bridges Half I fell in love with Vermont and was lucky enough to get to run two more races on Mount Killington in Vermont more recently this year. The Vermont City Marathon is much more North West than the other races I’ve done there though so I’m excited to see what this new region holds! From photos it looks like a diverse course of wooded roads, bridges (love me some bridges!), water front, and city/town with pretty brick architecture.

race_3931_photo_61426773race_3931_photo_61426798race_3931_photo_61426856race_3931_photo_61426916

These photos were found online with the results, so really nice, free race photos seem to be part of the swag!! (My favorite!)

The course overview even boasts its starting view overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains!

Not only does the scenery looks amazing, but the course itself looks pretty optimal too. It goes by the start at multiple points for easy support without just being the same small loop repeated. Three of the four segments are even loops (not out and backs)! I’ve never seen a course quite like it, but I feel like I’m really going to enjoy it!

VCM18_Map_Course_final-01

One last fun fact is a friend of mine BQ’ed at this race, so clearly it has to be lucky! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, I’m super pumped for this race and if it sounds fun to you too you should use the code BibRave10 for $10 off registration and let me know that I’ll see you there!! ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ’จ

Nuun Immunity Product Review

Disclaimer: I received Nuun Immunity to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

img_20181001_110736612

I’m sure you’ve heard of Nuun Hydration, but have you heard of Nuun Immunity? Now your favorite hydration drink contains anti-inflammatories and antioxidants to help boost your immune system, as well as the same old hydrating electrolytes.

I’m no doctor or anything, but I did find it interesting that while drinking Nuun Immunity I made it though the change in seasons without getting sick. Normally, as soon as the weather starts changing at all I immediately get a never ending head cold. So far I’ve been completely clear though the change from a very hot Summer to a rainy, cold Fall! Also I have avoided my boyfriend’s cold so far too ๐Ÿ˜œ

I was fortunate enough to get to test both Nuun Immunity flavors: Blueberry Tangerine and Orange Citrus. Funnily, I am normally not a blueberry person and totally love anything orange, but I actually loved the Blueberry Tangerine in Nuun Immunity and thought the Orange Citrus was ok. I would definitely recommend not go judging the flavors by just the names and give them each a try. Also then you can try my absolute favorite, which is the delicious concoction created by combining both flavors!

If you want to try some Nuun Immunity for yourself use the code HYDRATEBIBPRO for 20% off on the US web store!

Screenshot_20181001-212026

Reebok Boston 10k for Women

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Reebok Boston 10k for Women as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

For living so close to Boston, I definitely don’t get out there often enough so I’m excited to say I’ll be running the Reebok Boston 10k for Women on Monday, October 8th. I’m not normally a city type of girl, but every time I’m in Boston I remember how it’s such a unique type of city that I actually very much enjoy it.

This event isn’t just a race, but actually a whole bunch of activities to help you start of your Monday right!

10kSchedule

I’ve never been a yoga person before, but recently have heard from so many sources that I need to give it another shot so I’m excited they have two different types to try on the schedule! I’m interested to see how well all these other activities will warm me up for the race!

I’m especially excited about this race’s course, as I’m pretty sure it’s long the river that all of my friends who live in Boston have told me I NEED to run multiple times. I overall just love any run along any water, but I’ve been told this is THE SPOT to run in Boston!

b10kw-course-map.png

Also while I’m definitely not an out-and-back type of runner, I AM 100% a cheerer, which this course looks PERFECT for! It also isn’t just a plain old out-and-back since it’s not just a straight line, but has a more interesting T shape going on. But what matters most is that a majority of the race is run by other runners allowing for maximum cheering! I honestly feel like I run better myself when cheering for others!

If trying new activities, supporting other runners, and running along a beautiful waterway in Boston sounds fun to you come join me and let me know I might see you there!!

Brilliant Reflective Strips Product Review

Disclaimer: I received Brilliant Reflective Strips to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I suck at being a morning runner so for a large part of the year I end up doing my runs at night. Because of this, I already have a large arsenal of night time running gear (which one day Iโ€™ll turn into another post) but after testing Brilliant Reflective strips I can happily say I will be adding them to my stash!

I personally think itโ€™s really important to have both light and reflective gear as a runner (or anyone) out at night or near sunrise/set. Gear that actually produces its own light is important for times when light isnโ€™t around to reflect off your reflective gear (ie. crossing a t-intersection so a carโ€™s headlights arenโ€™t on you until you are completely in front of the car). But also light gear will be drown out when in partial light, like under a streetlight, during times of day when itโ€™s transitioning between light and dark, or when a carโ€™s headlights are close. Thatโ€™s where Brilliant Reflective comes in!

img_20180921_215020571

Bummed I didn’t get to run that leg, but at least I’m a disco ball!

With Brilliant Reflective you donโ€™t need to buy special gear for at night, but instead turn your old favorites into night gear! This is super important to me as Iโ€™m pretty picky about clothing and have been wearing almost exclusively the same make of shorts since middle school ๐Ÿ˜‚

img_20180925_175234945.jpg

You might recognize these from EVERY one of my flat runner pictures

Not only does this help picky runners, but it also allows you not have to re-buy a new reflective version of every article in your wardrobe. This hit me especially hard when I had the new reflective sports bra I recently purchased on for a Ragnar leg, but it was so cold I needed a long sleeve shirt. This made that purchase completely useless. Instead of having to buy a reflective sports bra and long sleeve, I can just add strips to ones I already own!

It’s also super easy to put them on and you don’t need to get them perfectly flat for them to stick well.

img_20180925_1753597131

My back strip that I quickly threw on by myself while wearing the shorts was still stuck after the whole Ragnar!

I like you can put them where YOU want, instead of where a clothing designer sees fit. While the usual strip down the back may work for most people, it would be pretty much completely covered on days when I run with my hair in a ponytail. You can decide where fits you best, and if you use the temporary strips, you can always change it later too.

I was honestly really impressed with how much thought was put into this product. My mom has been trying to get me to use reflective tape for years, but it always looked super stiff and awful. Brilliant Reflectiveโ€™s strips are really soft, light, and flexible. I stuck some to my running shorts (which are also super thin, like a soft windbreaker material) and socks and wore it for the night and entire second day of Ragnar (and even slept with it on) without noticing it once.

img_6210

Still stuck to my shorts and socks for the finish line picture!

Another awesome feature that I hadnโ€™t ever even thought about was colors. Brilliant Reflective strips come in a variety of colors! You can probably tell from my page that I am no fashionista and never really match anything, but I really liked that Brilliant Reflective strips come in many different colors for when they are seen in daylight. While I could use that to add even more color to my running wardrobe, other normal people could match the strip color to their clothes, making it barely noticeable during the day.

img_20180925_1745120362

The green looks a little funky because it’s the iron-on and therefore has a plastic layer to peel off later.

Brilliant Reflective strips come in both permanent iron-on and temporary stick-on models. The stick-on seem pretty heavy duty since, like I mentioned before, I wore them all night and the second day of Ragnar without them falling off. With all the running, sleeping, stretching, and getting in and out of the van, Ragnar definitely put them to the test through tons of different movements. Also while I canโ€™t say how they would do in rain, I can say after multiple days of running around my clothes were thoroughly drenched with another liquid and the strips stayed put!

The permanent are a super quick iron-on session away from being stuck to your clothes permanently!

Iโ€™m excited to continue using Brilliant Reflective strips. Especially for those times where Iโ€™m running at sunset and itโ€™s bright enough where my light gear is just more stuff to put on, but Iโ€™d still like a little something just in case. The best part is once you figure out where to stick them, you can apply the iron-on strips once and never have to put thought into it again. Just put on your normal gear and go!

img_20180919_220448772

img_20180919_2207214143

Under Armor Mountain Running Series – Killington

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Under Armor Mountain Runner Series – Killington race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Last weekend I ran the second race of the Under Armor Mountain Running Series at Mount Killington in Vermont! It also happened to be my first race with BibRave as a BibRave Pro and boy was it a memorable one!

I LOVE trail races, but due to a lack of them being offered in my direct area I have raced far fewer than I would like. This race was not only going to be the longest trail race I’ve ran, but also most likely the most intense based on the name “Mountain Running” compared to the non-technical, flat trails around me. It was also really exciting to see the trail system it was being held in was large enough to allow for 25k of unique trail so the course wasn’t just multiple loops of the same trail. (Almost all trail systems in my area are so small a larger distance race must be laps.)

img_20180825_063303408_hdr

No loops!!

Being the AMAZING planner that I am, I got home from my trip to Oregon with a less than a day before this race so I was unable to attend the pre-race-day packet pickup even though they generously kept it open until 8PM. I did hear from others it was ultra quick though. I had also been so focused on finishing my Master’s project before (and during.. oops) my trip that I hadn’t figured out my sleeping arrangements until the last T-24 hrs either. I ended up staying at the Happy Bear Motel which was 9 minutes down the road from the start line and a fine little place to stay the night. Had I had more time to be in the area, this race was held <50 minutes from the AWESOME KOA Quechee Campground I stayed at for the Covered Bridges Half and I would have LOVED to stay there again and actually explore the Killington and Quechee Gorge area. (That might be my master plan for next year! ๐Ÿ˜œ)

I woke up bright and early and attempted to eat my first ever actually planned race breakfast. I wasn’t able to eat it all, but looking back I’m insanely glad I ate something to have some energy in me.

Race parking was super easy. It was in an actual gravel parking lot, right where the GPS address said it would be, and SUPER close to the start line! The race venue also had great service which is always nice since I am directionally challenged so there’s no way I’m finding my way back home without a GPS or directions.

It was nice to see there was no line at packet-pickup/resgistration. I had a problem with my registration but they were able to quickly and painlessly fix it for me. I also overheard another woman had forgotten her previously picked-up bib at her hotel and they quickly replaced it for her. With everything so close and run so smoothly I had a lot more time than I thought to just hangout before the race. I chatted with some people, met some of my fellow BibRave Pros, and then cheered on the 50k start.

image_from_ios

Before the insanity I met Brendasrunning!

Another note for next year is this race seemed extremely supporter friendly. Not only did they have a supporter tent that had bells and sign making stuff, but they also had multiple supporter viewing points along the course. I didn’t have anyone with me since I always feel bad having people sit around for hours to only see me at the start and finish so I don’t know exactly what it entailed. I did see supporters at multiple points up the mountain and people in the gondolas though so I’m assuming they were providing transport to these spots for the supporters.

I knew going into this race that it was going to be tough. I wasn’t well trained since I had been focusing on my Master’s and neglecting running, and it seemed it was going to be the toughest trail race I’ve run. But soon as the gun went off I forgot all that and sprinted off into the distance. The first mile was a super easy, mostly gentle decline through grassy fields circling the mountain. It felt like cross country and I was running it like so.

I’m not sure if it was all the travel, the smoke and altitude in Oregon, or what, but the instant we started uphill into the woods back toward the mountain my heart started racing way faster than any other time I can remember. It especially freaked me out since my breathing and everything else felt fine (like I wasn’t even putting in that much effort) so I decided it was already time for a walking break. It was honestly a real bummer since this first little bit of uphill was some of the only uphill you could actually run.

The rest of the race consisted of extreme uphills and crazy downhills (up and down mountain really). We climbed what felt like straight up from about mile 3.5-6.5 and you thought for sure you had to be at the top.. but it had only just begun.

img_20180825_090138839_hdr

The view there was BEAUTIFUL!

You then got a taste of the crazy straight down-mountains you’d be facing. This was also when you became alarmed as it was only a little over 6 miles in and you already felt like you were going completely back down all you just came up.. What were you supposed to do for the rest of the race if you had already climbed and descended the mountain? Well, go right back up and down multiple other times of course! The terrain varied between deep thick mud, tall thick grassy (vertical) fields, paths made of fist/baseball sized rocks, and technical wooded paths.

johnkellyphotos_course_uamtn_vt-547

The guy with trekking poles behind me had the right idea..

It was exhausting and I was really glad I wore my hydration pack even though I could have easily survived off their aid stations were I a normal human who can drink from a cup. I drank almost my entire hydration pack as well as took cups of water from a few of their stations. Their stations had EVERYTHING, full packages of Honey Stinger chews & waffles, Coke & other sodas, sports drinks, candy, pretzels, and at least one even had bacon! I always crave Coke after races so I decided to give it a try at one of the aid stations a bit over halfway. It definitely helped and so I took another one or two cups at other stations. I also decided to bring and try my Skratch chews from my box from The Feed and was surprised how much I liked them. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Honey Stinger chews right before or toward the beginning of runs. They’re so good I actually sometimes just eat them as fruit-snacks for snacks. But as a run goes on, their consistency gets to me because I can’t chew them fast enough for them not to get slimy/stuck in my teeth. The Skratch chews were mildly more firm and coated in sour crystals like a Sour Patch Kid. They only actually had a slight hint of sour, but the coating really helped the texture for me.

There were so many points where I was told it would be the last big uphill, only to go down a bit and find another large up waiting. When the insane inclines and declines continued into mile 12 & 13 I started to doubt we were ever getting off this mountain. It seemed impossible we could finish at the same elevation as we started with how often we seemed to be going up. (Thinking back I think it was just because the downhills were so short due to how steep they were.)

johnkellyphotos_course_uamtn_vt-1565

Wishing I could have looked happy for such a pretty photo lol

FINALLY with under a mile left the course flattened out. By that time though even these baby inclines you probably wouldn’t normally notice felt like Mount Everest. I had to muster every last bit of energy in my body to jog across the finish line.

johnkellyphotos_finish_uamtn_vt-2353

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

While Under Armor sure knows how to destroy you, they also know how to pamper you as well. They had a whole recovery station in the after party with all sorts of rollers, yoga pads, hammocks, and Normatec leg compression sleeves.

img_20180825_063352656_hdr

Recovery station!

img_20180825_122246990_hdr

Finally got to try some NormaTec!

My fellow BibRave Pros had both run the other past race from the UA Mountain Running Series, Copper Mountain, and said the two races were completely different. While Copper Mountain had altitude as a factor, it was just up and down the mountain, nothing like the constant up and down here. I also heard from someone else that Mt. Bachelor is similarly its own unique challenge, this time in the terrain, since its volcanic rock and much softer and different from most mountains. Now that I am off the mountain, I kind of wish Killington had been the first of the series and I hadn’t JUST gotten back from a trip to Oregon so I could participate in all three races. I would also be very interested to see how things would go had I been more trained. (Would it even help since I still wouldn’t be “running up a mountain” trained?) Either way I am extremely grateful BibRave let me experience such an amazing race that was previously unknown to me! One that was so great that I will most likely be attempting to add the entire series to my roster for next year! ๐Ÿ˜

If you’re crazy like me and this all sounds like fun to you, use the code BIBRAVE20 for 20% the Mt. Bachelor race on 9/15 and race Mt. Bachelor for me!!

img_20180825_113126302

On top of the world!

Ever “run” up a mountain? Ever wanted to?
What’s the longest trail race you’ve ever run?
What’s the toughest trail race you’ve ever run?

Running & Volunteering for the Spartan Super Boston 2018

I’ve had a Spartan trifecta on my goals list for awhile now, but had thought of it as more of a far off/B goal, until one of my old college roommates invited me to join a sprint back in May. Even just the sprint was WAY tougher than I expected and it immediately moved a trifecta up on my goal list. Lucky for me, one other friend from the sprint group was also struck with the need to complete a trifecta so we began plotting.

While I do really believe you get your money’s worth from a Spartan race, they are still rather expensive, so when my friend suggested volunteering in order to wave the ENTIRE race cost I wasn’t about to say no. Also it’s not often I have a chance to give back to a race by volunteering while still being able to run it. She actually ended up volunteering for two different “jobs” on two different days to get two free race entries from the single race! I opted to just volunteer on race day since it was a bit of a drive and I didn’t want to make it twice. Her first job was course building (not on race day), which she said was very fun and didn’t require as much prior building knowledge as their instructions might lead you to believe. (They literally ask you to bring your own hardhat if you own one ๐Ÿ˜‚)

We arrived at the race venue bright and early Saturday and were checked in quickly. We were given the choice of a short or long sleeve technical tee (I honestly want to volunteer again just for the shirt!) and told to grab what we wanted from a selection of snacks and water. We were separated into groups by our jobs: my friend had signed up for the festival and I for the course. I later found out she had been delegated a job at the merchandise tent (unsure the other possible festival jobs) and course jobs seemed to consist of water stations and obstacles. My group’s boss gave us a choice of which obstacle/water station we wanted (within his section of the course) and I wanted an obstacle (but one that most people can’t mess up or get too hurt on) so I chose the A-Frame. This also put me within viewing distance of the rope climb, which is a favorite of mine, but too much responsibility with a way higher chance of people falling.

IMG_20180811_062249

Do it for the shirt!!

IMG_20180811_080515

My majestic A-Frame โค

I was given a walkie-talkie, a rundown of the basics, and a laminated printout of them as well. I was asked to call out when the first, second, and third male and female elites made it to my obstacle and after that my job was essentially just to cheer people on, call in any medical issues, and direct people off the course in the case of inclement weather. I didn’t have to do anything besides cheer ๐Ÿ™Œ and gained a partner part way through the day so I got to chat and learn a bunch more about Spartan stuff!

[Just a note for others thinking of volunteering and not a complaint at all: They didn’t give us a full out lunch, but as many of the snacks as you wanted. You also were allowed to bring your bag with you so you could just bring your own lunch if snacks aren’t enough.]

One o’clock rolled around soon enough and we went back to registration to sign out of work and get our race packets since we opted to race the same day as volunteering. (You can race same day or save your free race for another time.) The rain had mostly held off all day.. right up until we were getting ready to run ๐Ÿ˜ญ It wasn’t cold like last time though so even with on and off showers throughout it was fine.

The first mile was almost completely running (with only like the last 25 meters being the vertical cargo) through insanely deep, shoe-sucking mud in a corn field. At certain points people were going through the corn a bit because of how hard it was to get your foot back out of the ground along the beaten path. I think I jogged that whole bit thinking the running could only get better, but it sure proved me wrong. I pride myself in being a runner and always trying to run the running part of races, but there really wasn’t a whole lot of this course that you actually could run with the insane mud. There were some technical trails again, but even in those it was mostly just ankle deep mud, just now in the woods instead of in corn fields. It was still very fun, just VERY hard.

For me the first 4-5ish miles were mostly hard just because the mud made running impossible. The obstacles during that part felt really easy. Lots of different walls, which I finally figured out a technique that worked for me to be able to scale all of them without help!!! INCLUDING the inverted! Of course no pictures were taken during that part of the race ๐Ÿ˜† I was feeling really good, I think partially due to the adrenaline of completing obstacles then helping me through the next.

There was a definite lull after that for me. Some basic obstacles, like trenches, crawling under the barbed wire, dunk wall. Also there were a few move-heavy-object type obstacles during that portion, which I don’t really like so they added to the lull.

5b717a700311b85510ce6c7f

The dunk wall makes me sad lol

5b716aeba9ba225910dd33b9

Still smiling.. for now.

Then the real race began.. Between mile 6 & 7 was where they put all the toughest, most technical obstacles. The twister, bucket carry, multi-rig, Olympus, monkey bars, javelin, Hercules hoist. It was honestly just insane. I hadn’t done a single burpee up until this point and suddenly I became the burpee master. I had heard (while volunteering) about people dropping out suddenly at the bucket carry and was confused, but when I got there myself I completely understood. Last time I was able to carry my bucket without putting it down once. This time I “put” (more like dropped) the bucket down about every 10 feet. It was horrible.

5b70d5110311b85510ce34981

Excuse me while I sob into my bucket

It also began to really rain at this point, which was a bummer since it was where all the obstacles I had wanted to try dry for better grip were (twister, multi-rig, olympus, monkey bars). In the end I was able to do all of those obstacles (minus the monkey bars I opted out of) at least half way!!

5b71546715af56571050efdf

Wasn’t even going to try this.. then suddenly I was just doing it

It was a REALLY tough race. Just when I though the sprint was the hardest thing I have done, this one might have topped it in its own horribly, awesome ways. The second half I kept thinking I had given my all and then the next obstacle came up and I mustered a little more from who knows where. It also felt AMAZING to see that amount of progress. Going from needing some help on some walls to instructing others in how to get over them, and being unable to do any of those last hard obstacles to being able to complete at least half way on all of them.

I always find it crazy to look back on races, when you KNOW in the moment you thought about quitting and NEVER racing again multiple times, but soon as you’re done you’re thinking about signing up for your next one. Now I CANNOT WAIT for the Beast at Killington and all the new challenges it will bring to test me even further.

5b70d0160311b85510ce32ae

FIN.

Have you ever volunteered at a Spartan or another race?
What’s the hardest race you’ve ever run? Would you run it again?
What’s your proudest progress moment?


Current Antics

Spartan Beast
September 15

Ragnar Adirondacks
September 21 & 22

Ragnar Trail Wawayanda Lake
October 5 & 6

Tackle the Trail
October 20

Rhode Races Narragansett Marathon
October 28

Silver Falls Trail 50k
November 3

Antelope Canyon Ultras Trail Half
March 9, 2019

Vermont City Marathon
May 26, 2019

Tough Mudder Boston 2018

Not going to lie, going into the Tough Mudder after the Spartan I wasnโ€™t exactly beyond pumped. The forecast was showing not only rain again ๐Ÿ˜ซ but THUNDERSTORMS. Their website didnโ€™t really have full details about weather, just stating it was a rain or shine event unless it was more inclimate weather (not what theyโ€™d actually do in that case). After looking at the obstacles the Tough Mudder looked far more like a team race, where the obstacles werenโ€™t just hard, but impossible as just a single person. Iโ€™m all for teamwork, but that honestly didnโ€™t spark my interest as much as the Spartan obstacles where although I couldnโ€™t personally do them all on my own, they were doable by a single person. But I had already signed up, paid, and I was at least going to give the race a try!

My boyfriends legs were still recovering from the poison ivy he got from the Spartan (๐Ÿ˜… yikes is he allergic) so he was out. Luckily, I have too many crazy friends so I was able to recruit another of my old roommates (one is how I got into this whole Spartan/Tough Mudder mess to begin with ๐Ÿ˜œ) to take his spot the night before!

The three of us who had originally planned to race lived close together and carpooled there. You had to pay for general parking, but it’s literally across the road from the fancy parking, which is literally right in front of the course. We didn’t realize how close it was until the return shuttle ride. We honestly could have easily just walked ๐Ÿ˜… I thought it was really neat that they put your parking pass in the same QR code as your race registration so you wouldn’t forget it! The parking lot was your standard “field turned into parking lot for the day” and they made parking a quick and easy process.

Technically we didn’t try to switch the registration until the day of the race, at which point the website no longer supported registration switching. We decided to just go to the race and see if they could help us. They asked to see the email saying my boyfriend sent a transfer request to my roommate, and then just signed her up quick. It was really nice they were so chill about it.

One of the only places I felt this race was lacking was in identification. They only gave you a normal bib to stick on the front of your shirt, which generally isn’t going to be very visible in a mud race. They did have markers out (that looked like sharpies), but no instructions. They ended up being easy enough to clean off so I would recommend writing your number on your forehead (like how Spartans use a headband) to be able to find your pictures easily as possible.

The Race

The atmosphere of this race is AMAZING! When the starting line hype guy was giving a speech about being one giant team I kind of thought, “yea right sure ๐Ÿ™„”, but he wasn’t lying at all. At any point during any obstacle if you even looked like you were having trouble you would be asked, not by the staff, but by multiple other participants if you needed any help. It wasn’t uncommon to see the more skilled groups quickly complete an obstacle and then just hangout there for a bit helping or giving tips to random people from other groups. You ended up making friends with random people as they helped you with an obstacle and then you helped them with another later.

The running part of the course was far closer to what I expected of a mudder. It was still a bit more woodsy and scenic (fine by me!) but far less advanced trails than the Spartan, so you could enjoy more of the view without the constant worry of falling on your face. I wasn’t worried for my non-trail runner friends like I was during the Spartan so that was nice.

Random Highlights

Inverted Wall – I was able to get over it all by myself. And I did it so quick everyone kind of missed it ๐Ÿ˜‚ and was just like, “how/when did you do that??”

Warped Wall – This was one of my favorites because it was INSANE how amped everyone got. People were going nuts cheering and we honestly just sat happy to watch and cheer for like 10 minutes before we even got in line to go ourselves. I also got it on my first try (with help from people at the top).

The Blockness Monster – This one was super unique and I’ve never seen or heard of anything like it. It was also insanely fun/cool! You had to all work together to use your weight to turn the blocks. I also didn’t realize how deep the water in the middle was but enjoyed the surprise of having to swim!

gopr0515-11

Laughing at being too short to stand

We only did the half but were able to see some of the other obstacles that were included in the full. One was a combo of doorknobs and ledges, which was really cool to see some of the more advanced things we practice in ninja warrior class on the course.

They don’t give out medals, but sweatbands instead which I thought were really cute. The shirts are also really nice technical t-shirts!

img_20180623_160256

Looking like an extra from the movie Dodgeball lol

I think it’s safe to say everyone in my group wants to run another Tough Mudder and wants to complete a full (10 mile) now.

gopr0517-2

They also had colorful water!!