Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (official RTB photos)

Finally the Reach to the Beach staff posted team photos. Guess I shouldn't complain too much since they are free, but I've been anxiously awaiting.

Team Photo before race started
(we had a lot of fun poses, but I guess flexing our guns was too much for the photographer)

Heading toward finish line
I love Katy's face (even though she's blocking me out hehe)

I'm glad it captured how happy we all were!

That's the end of all my relay posts- finally. For those that had questions about prepping for an ultra or what to expect from a relay in general, I wrote a lengthy post this weekend. Make sure you're comfortable before attempted to read it HERE

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tips and trick of an Ultra Relay

Thanks for all your positive comments on my first ultra relay experience, as well as the emailed questions on how to prepare / train/  etc when getting ready for your first one. I'm by no means an expert as I've only run 1, but I did learn some pretty valuable information that I thought I'd pass along- it's pretty long, so if you don't plan on running a relay (ultra or regular) it may be boring. Otherwise, enjoy :) 

For those who don't know the difference between a normal relay, and an ultra relay it's quite simple. The same distance, roughly 200 miles, is covered by 6 people instead of 12 (which presents for some interesting changes)

  • If you're new to my blog then let me preface with my unfortunate distaste for training plans. I'm not sure why I hate following a weekly plan, but I think it all boils down to lack of discipline and boredom. I desperately need a training partner to keep me on track. With that being said, I understand that when I get success (for me) it's not always duplicatable for someone else to follow suit. My BEST advice I could ever give is to be real with yourself. Know what you're willing to do, but most importantly, what you probably won't follow through on.... you'll save yourself a lot of headache that way :) 
  • Most people think you have to know your legs so you can plan runs accordingly. WRONG. I didn't know what I was running till the day before. All the knowledge I had was that the shortest mileage was 28, longest 38- aka farther than I've ran EVER (longest run to date is 17 miles... once!) I also realized that there were hills galore so I knew to anticipate that. Despite being 'in the dark' about what I was going to run, I just chalked it up to being difficult regardless and to not worry about times. 
Now on to what I DID do to prepare myself
  • I had EVERY intention of increasing my mileage- hence my 16 and 17 miler back in March, however it just NEVER happened due to poor planning with half marys in my schedule. What I DID do was make myself run on tired legs often. For me this was doing a long run on sunday, then running again on Monday, then Tuesday. Otherwise If I didn't get a long run in on Sunday then I would go to bootcamp at 4pm for 1 hr, then follow it up with a run. Although it was never fun, looking back I think this HANDS down mimics whats really going on in a relay more than being able to run 20 miles nonstop.  
  • Strength / Cross training- my oh my how important this is. I'm going to be honest here, I haven't stepped into a gym since I think my burst training treadmill vomit run... which was a LONG time ago. So when I say strength training I don't mean go pump some iron (however if thats what you prefer, so be it) For some it could be trail running since you are using so many different muscles than just regular running. For me, it was going to bootcamp 2x week. Our bootcamp is set up where you do different  stations (its all outside so there are no weight machines, but we do have kettlebells) for 60 sec each, then run 100 m down, 100m back, repeat over and over, and then at the end we do a "finisher" which is either JUST legs or JUST arms- aka torture.
  • Ugh ignore my awful wrist/t-rex arm action- This is myself and Kristi running. She's a bad ass and a huge inspiration for me. Kristi ran cross country back in college, so she's used to mileage, however within the last year she's lost a good amount of weight and just looks svelte. This winter we were talking over some beers, naturally, and I was telling her how I wanted to get stronger, more toned, but increase my mileage and I didn't think it was possible to do all 3. After finding my reasoning why I wanted to increase my mileage (to be able to handle longer distances), she pointed out I could run less and add in more strength and cross training and get the same results--- thats when I started going to bootcamp twice a week (except I sometimes took a week off if I had a race)  and I'm such a stronger runner because of it. I call it the new "run less run faster program" haha. 
  • I just wanted to add this last note under here because I've read a lot of people doing this: some people will try to run 3x in one day thinking its similar to a relay--- reality check, its not.  I don't think thats very realistic because all day long you are walking around doing things--- not at all like sitting in a cramped van with muscles that haven't been stretched out. Just wanted to re-iterate that if you're going for 'creating a similar environment' it will definitely be the running on fatigued legs as the most accurate depiction.
Your Team's Theme / Name
  • I think it goes without saying that you want to be around people you can tolerate for 48 hours (race + before and after), however it helps if you have the same mindset as well. There are some teams that are super serious and out to win it, some that are just out for fun and don't care about time at all, and others that have a mix of fun + competitiveness. We were the latter of the 3. If you can't have fun, why bother, however I'm not out there to pick daisies either--- after all I do want to get done and the sooner the better. I know my all lady ultra team in July doesn't necessarily care about winning, which is great, however we are all strong runners and what we do care about is challenging ourselves while still having fun. 
  •  Choosing a fun theme- seems silly that this should be a priority, but seriously, it makes the experience THAT much better. Some people have funny names but then they don't dress up or decorate their van accordingly- kind of a waste of a good idea. Both "Animal Print Pants Outta Control" & my other relay with the same folks, "Too Legit to Quit" were a HUGE success. Not only did we have fun getting dressed up- but what was REALLY motivating is having countless other teams come up and compliment you and cheer for you while running (its like you're the popular kids) Not going to lie--- it makes getting out of the van THAT much more fun to cheer as well when you have props and such....
2 Legit 2 quit we had hammers, stop signs, sweet matching gold outfits. Animal Print Pants we had Robot head, T-rex, fro, shades, and of course, animal print pants. 

  • Although it's not absolutely necessary, it is funny when everyone matches in some sense. For 'hammer time' (as we were called by fellow teams) when we cheered everyone had the gold pants regardless of top. For Animal Print... we all bought the same shirt and the guys chose to get same exact bottoms (I would have done the same if I had known thats what they were doing)

  • This is where the bomb was dropped for us. The  most important (in my opinion) factor that differentiates an ultra from a regular relay isn't the mileage... its the fact that your van is ALWAYS on which affects SO MUCH, but we'll start with food. 
  • Normally when running a regular relay when you're van is off you stop for a 'real meal' somewhere to refuel, use a real bathroom, and just wind down. Not an option with an ultra. What you bring is what you eat (unless you make a QUICK stop at gas station or are willing to fast food- neither were appealing for us) 
  • Protein. For our food we had the normal go tos- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, nuts, 'naughty animal crackers, gatorade, coconut water, milk, crackers (all things that are easy and don't mess with the stomach)  BUT what we really lacked were HIGHER protein items to get us through the last leg. If you haven't read how I fell apart in my last leg HERE- let me just tell you it wasn't due to sore muscles, it was lack of energy from no sleep + not enough protein.  For future races I will be bringing my shaker to make a recovery protein shake + beef jerky or some other quick protein source that doesn't require keeping cold. :sidenote- Cliff bars, Luna bars, and some other popular higher protein bars have sugar alcohols in them. Sugar alcohols aren't "bad" but they do get absorbed differently in your system. FOR ME this translates into 'intestinal digestion issues', as is the case for a lot of people, so although it seems like an easy protein fix, its not one that I can utilize:
  • Bring cash- this is something I did do right! Aware of my lack of protein, after my first run I bought at one of the exchanges a simple chicken and salsa burrito + 1 hard boiled egg. Generally food is super cheap at exchanges because it goes toward some type of fundraiser that whoever made the food is supporting. Burrito was $3, egg was either 50 cents or $1. Super cheap and gets the job done. 
  • Hydrate- water isn't enough, sorry it just isn't. You HAVE to have something to replace your electrolytes. We had tons of G2 (gatorade line) and Zico coconut water. I have to be in the mood for gatorade so that was a no go, but LOVED the Zico Chocolate coconut water. I know it probably sounds gross, but think of smores --mmm. On a side note, regular unflavored coconut water tastes like cheap vodka, bah! 
  • There are 2 ways to run an ultra relay. You can either have everyone rotate and just run 1 leg each results in having to run 6x (this may yield faster overall time, but less time to sleep) or you can do it the SMART way and have each person run 2 legs in a row, resulting in only having to run 3x (longer time to sleep) Surprisingly, a lot of the ultra teams we came across chose the first option. Funny because We beat them all. The team that took first is a team we never even saw, so the whole run rotating more often theory has been proven ineffective. 
  • I'm putting this in bold because it's THAT IMPORTANT - The 3 guys in our van all ran Ragnar FL Keys last year as an ultra, so they decided to utilize the same sleep system that worked for them on that course- here's the breakdown of our running orders: Jodi, Kyle, Craig, Scott, Lisa, Katy. So when Jodi runs, Kyle was "on deck" and Craig was "in the hole"- the "on deck" person was the navigator sitting in the passenger seat, while the "in the hole" person was the driver. This allowed the other 3 people the opportunity to sleep or stretch out which worked smoothly. A few times the runner who just finished had volunteered to drive to give others more oppty to sleep, but overall we stuck to this routine. 
  • Rent a 12 - 15 passenger van. Guys this is so critical. I understand there are only 6 of you and any way to save money is great, but you NEED to stretch out- whether you sleep or not (I didn't) just laying down and allowing your muscles to rest will do wonders for your body and your mental state. We had the back 2 seats as designated sleeping seats and the first seat closest to front could be used as sleeping if necessary, but its generally where the runner who just finished running sat to wind down, stretch, refuel, etc. 
  • For whatever reason, both myself and Scott were the only 2 that didn't really sleep at all. I did bring my ear plugs to drown out noise, but I think for us it was the culmination of the fact that we're both tall and hanging off the seat + Craig was driving and the terrain was VERY bumpy. At some point when you're driving- be mindful of others trying to rest and try to manage somewhat of a smooth drive if possible :)
  • I've read some crazy stories of how the van drops off a runner and then just drives to the exchange to wait for them- my response is WTF are you thinking?!?! Why, Why, WHY would you NOT cheer for you teammate? That is half the fun while you're not running, BUT also something you look forward to while you are running. My Ragnar TN team this year wasn't used to cheering bc apparently the year before they didn't, however both myself and Jill put an end to that and by the end of the race my van had commented how much more enjoyable that was- case in point! 
  • For an ultra you need extra support--- extra stops, extra *communication*, extra refueling. One thing we had every runner do was to put out all the gels / chomps, gummies, etc they wanted during the run in the front console so we didn't have to dig when they asked for it. We were also good about asking "what do you want on our next stop" so we could have that ready. 
  • Due to each runner being a little more tired after their run as compared to a normal relay, we allowed them a longer time of rest before we started up the van to follow the next runner. This generally resulted in us not getting to the current runner till slightly after mile 2. What we did is would drive up real slow next to runner and shout "what do you want?" so that way right out of the gates their first stop they were being pampered. I LOVED this because during my 3rd run I asked for some crazy things "a peeled orange", "bandana to wipe sweat" "water + gatorade+ gu" (ya I was NEEDY)
  • Lastly we always asked the runner that was "on deck" and getting ready to run when they wanted us to head to the exchange so they could tie up loose ends- stretch, bathroom break, get mentality ready. Then we would let the actual runner know it was going to be their last stop and what did they want for it. We definitely got an A in communication with our team, which makes all the difference in the world if while you're running you know 'ok I have 3 miles left and I won't see my team since they are heading to exchange' vs. constantly thinking 'where is my team, will I see them again?'
  • Although this last point isn't necessary, it just courtesy of being friendly: even though we were GREAT with support for our own team, not every team out there shares this philosophy. If you see a runner out there struggling, ask them if they need anything. We helped a couple runners out, and I was fortunate enough to have a van help me out AFTER I told my team to just go on to the exchange. Its the small acts of kindness that go a big way. 

  • Some people by the end of a relay want to kill everyone in their van. Not once do I recall anyone being annoyed with anyone else, having their patience run out, or just become irritable DESPITE lack of sleep. I attribute that to the great dynamic we had as a whole, but also for making sure we kept ourselves entertained. 
  • Katy was awesome enough to burn us several high energy, 'fun to sing to' cds that helped carry our spirits as well as blast when we'd stop to cheer. Naturally "Sexy and I know it" was one of the songs, but I also can't get "Call me, Maybe", "Stronger", and "Nooma Nooma" out of my head. 
  • Seems silly that something like that would even matter, but this is the first relay I've ran where we had good music the whole time and I believe its an energy changer, I will for sure be doing this for future relays. 
  • Have fun with it. For the first round of runs we made whoever was the driver wear the FRO for that rotation- everyone got into it. We also made sure someone wore the robot head when we got out of the van to cheer. Lastly, we were almost always dancing. The more fun you make it, the more fun you'll have. Scott took some AWESOME photos of us dancing and cheering, but still waiting on those unfortunately. 
  • A game that we like to play when we're getting bored is instead of saying "good job" to runners as we pass them in the van, we like to think of some way to compliment them. "I love you socks" or something like that was pretty popular. A few people had their names on their shirts so we would shout for them like we knew them "You're doing great Gail, way to pass them"- we cheered for Gail a LOT and she never once said thank you, so we stopped hehe. 
The Aftermath
  • We kind of dropped the ball here too. Know your time frames of how long things will take.We finished around 3ish? and got our free mexican food (not a free mexican like some people thought I said in my recap haha) + beers and sat around and talked for probably 1.5 hours. We didn't take into account that we still had to clean the van, drive 1 hr to boston to our hotel, return van, everyone shower, before we could go out. 
  • This translated into not eating dinner till 10pm. Most of us were ready to pass out at the dinner table, but we trudged on and went to a bar afterward. Katy and I finally called it quits and made it back to hotel room shortly after 1am, the rest followed suit a little after 2 (only due to bar closing). If we could have had a re-do I would say we just suck it up and eat something on way to Boston in our SWEET gear and then shower and go out at 10. Also I would have followed the lead of Scott and Craig and taken a 5 hour energy because apparently they do in fact work. 
To Recap- condensed version
  • don't worry so much about mileage (if you already have a great base) as much as  building up strength / cross training
  • have a few runs on fatigued legs to mimic what it will actually be like running on tired legs 
  • make sure everyone is on same page with expected outcomes of race- 'in it to win it',  'just for fun', or combo of both.
  • fun team name / theme- goes great for team morale and recognition / cheers from other teams while running
  • eat enough protein or that last leg will be brutal
  • bring cash to buy food at exchanges if you weren't able to pack all the right foods
  • opt for 3 longer runs vs 6 regular runs in how you run the ultra
  • designate from the beginning a set driving / sleeping rotation so everything goes smoothly 
  • the bigger the van, the more to stretch out
  • reminding yourself you are the lifeline to your runner- extra support and COMMUNICATION go a long way
  • as much as you all may love eachother, its important to find ways for entertainment to keep morale high- music, games, props
  • plan afterward according to how much time it will take to get everything done. falling asleep at dinner is not okay. 
Thanks for sticking to the end!
Was there anything I missed? Any clarification on what was mentioned above?
I'm sure there was so much I didn't cover, after awhile everything sort of runs together and its hard to remember everything that happened 

Although I literally had the time of my life, it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies- it.was.tough. Despite that I do plan on running the Ragnar Northwest Passage Ultra in July, AND I'm trying to put together a an ultra team with coworkers for Ragnar TN in November. Needless to say, they are addicting :) 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reach the Beach Ultra Relay (the final leg)

The death final leg
6.88 medium, 6.47"easy" (my ass)  13.35 miles. 9:42 pace

Incase you missed it...
Meet my team

Tip #1 when deciding to run an ultra- if you can avoid having your LONGEST leg be the last leg... go ahead and do that 

Tip #2 when deciding to run an ultra- if you can avoid being one of the last runners so you aren't waiting as long and sleep deprivation / not fueling properly is really setting in... go ahead and do that too. 

Needless to say, I had to deal with both of these issues and BOY did they affect me... HARD! It wasn't until after talking with my mom on the phone (yes they wanted updates) after my first run that she pointed out I would be running my 'half marathon' in the afternoon. CRAP- how did I not think about this. Despite living in Nashville, the heat and I don't mix. I can whip out some crazy fast times (for me) when its cold, however when its hot, I'm like a completely different runner. (heads up other Ultra team in July, don't expect same results from me )

I tried not to let the heat freak me out too bad, however, Scott happened to run 12.6 right before me, and he FELL apart with the heat. I have no idea what his time was, but he was definitely hurting and not even 1/2 way through his race he announced he was done. To give him credit where credit is due, he did have the hardest run and the most mileage, I guess it was just hard to conceptualize him falling apart since he is such a strong runner. 

Ignorance is bliss--- ready for my final run. 

I didn't match at all, and it was actually kind of fun to be in yellow socks, tiger print spandex, and a hot pink tank--- made easy spotting for my team. 

On to the trot run....
When Scott handed me the baton one last time, I figured it would be awhile before I saw my team since he would want to rest / regroup etc, so I knew I needed to take it easy. Add to that the fact that I have ZERO people in front of me, and it doesn't really feel like a 'race' for me. My legs felt surprisingly great (thank you compression socks), however my energy was LOW. 

My first 2 miles were 7:57 and 7:50---- I knew I was in trouble because there was no way my body would hold up for those paces. Right now with my running- sub 8s aren't hard by any means, however when I need to be 'refueled' for me depends on pace, NOT mileage. The faster I go, the sooner I need some replacements. Throughout the trip I had been downing a "new to me, but now obsessed with" drink...
Zico Chocolate Coconut Water

I've done coconut water before, but never chocolate flavor. Even warm it was AMAZING. Do you like smores?!?! Then you'll love this. So despite downing at least 3-4 of these, something was still off (I'm thinking  not enough protein)

By mile 3 I was toast. I finally said screw it and had to stop and redo my headphones so I could have them in my ears. I know they weren't allowed and even though I was told somewhere in the rule book it said if you were caught with them on there would be a 1.5 hour penalty, I didn't care bc they left out the penalty in the power point during safety check, so maybe I'd just get a slap on the wrist?!?

WOW did it make a difference in terms of motivation (although looking at my splits you wouldn't know it) I should really start all my races music less and then turn them on about 3 or 4 miles in to get extra motivation. Unfortunately there was an official RTB vehicle out patrolling, so I kept having to take them out so I wouldn't get caught. For quite some time I thought they were on to me, but it wasn't until later that I realized they were just monitoring more because of higher temps and being so close to getting done (temps were sunny and high 70s)

I cannot break down the miles for you, but I can assure you it was all a  miserable nightmare, so here is what was noteworthy...

During the run my van supplied 4 gus, water and gatoraide every time they stopped. They also gave me a bandana to wipe my sweat, then later taking that bandana and soaking it so i could wear it around my neck (which later got  moved to my chest) and 1 large orange that Jodi so graciously peeled for me. Despite all this, I was INCREDIBLY famished. I have NEVER been so tired or apathetic during a race in all my life. I just didn't care anymore. What really aggravated me is that my body felt fine (surprisingly so) but there was ZERO left in the tank. 

So here's the reality- I gave up. I walked like it was going out of style. Majority of my splits were in the 10s and  my slowest was 11:48---- yup, ZERO consistency.  Going through the first exchange was also a different experience- this time when I had to announce I was 'ultra', I got a lot of sympathetic, "ouch i'm sorry" vs. cheers. 

Not EVERYTHING about this run was bad though (surprisingly). The amount of support I got from the other vans was overwhelming. One van in particular, "The Misfits" stopped several times to ask me if I needed anything. (wow do I look THAT miserable, or is the fact that I standout and you're noticing that I'm still running way past the first exchange?) During the course of my 2nd half  they gave me 1 full bottle of water, 1 full bottle of gatorade, and 1 full bag of strawberry gu chomps (which are amazing by the way) 

Within the last 3 miles I was walking past this house and these 2 guys were carrying groceries to the house. They asked what I was doing, I told them, then they offered me some cold white wine since they didn't have water.... I'll take it. At this point everyone thats in front of me is running in pairs, which is kind of cool, so I made a goal to just run to them, run with them, then pass them. One pair were walking so i stopped and walked with them for a minute and as I went to go on, the guy announced "that chick is running an ultra, how cool is that!" Just hearing him say this was all the motivation I needed to keep going. 

I wish I could say that I picked up my pace and raced till the end, but that would be a big fat lie. What really happened is I ran for 2 minutes maybe then walked. Then I repeated that... over and over until the finish. I had NO kick when I handed off to Katy, and as soon as I was done I shouted to one of my teammates "running a half marathon in this heat, this late in the afternoon, on my last leg is stupid- I'll be in the bathroom" haha no joke. 

This is how you know you're close with your teammates: Upon returning to the van I said "I know this is a little TMI, but what does it mean when there is blood in your poop?" (mine was BRIGHT red after run). Apparently I was so dehydrated, that the gu chomps went right through me and that was the red I was seeing, NOT blood. 

So obviously you can see that my run wasn't pretty. I dry heaved a couple times. I fantasized about all the food I was going to eat when I finished, and even more so, going to the bathroom when I was done. I was so confused as to why I had no energy left. Normally I eat like crap during relays--- 3lbs of gummy bears (I had ZERO on this trip), granola bars galore, and crackers. This go round I had a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a few hard boiled eggs and a burrito at one of the exchanges, nuts, fig newtons, and a TON of gus / chomps, beans, gels during run... its not like I starved myself. I'm thinking next time definitely need some meat... beef jerky even since the salt will be good. 

Poor Katy had her longest leg too 14.4 miles--- she's a bad ass though and didn't need much help from us, so with about 4 or 5 miles left in her run, we high tailed it to the beach so we could park and then cheer / run her to the finish.
On our way to finish line- attempting to "wiggle"
Kyle, Scott and Craig looking all bad ass walking to our cheering point

We FREAKING did it.

Later we found out we placed 2nd in Ultra Mixed out of 13 teams and 40th overall out of 175

We got our free Mexican and beers and just sat and rested for an hour or two before we all hobbled back to our hotel in exhaustion. 

So that was our relay. To be honest it was really hard to recap this because with no sleep the whole time, everything just kind of runs together. I've had so many people ask me how I trained for the ultra and my first instinct is to say that I didn't, because when it comes to running, I didn't do anything different (even though my intentions were to increase mileage)

What I did do was a TON more cross training- at least 2x week I went to boot camp and really focused on increased leg, arm, and core strength. Lunges, wall sits, kettle bells, russian twists, planks galore. Its amazing how much EASIER running is, when you're just stronger. Although I fell apart on my last leg, it had ZERO to do with my muscles, and everything to do with proper fueling, sleep, and heat. 

Still a win in my book, and I'm anxious to see how my next ultra goes with my all lady team for the Ragnar Northwest Passage. Unfortunately this week we had a runner bow out due to family conflict, but Katy graciously agreed to step in so now I get to do another race with her (and it helps that shes stupid fast too )

I know a lot of people out there are curious about ultra relays and what would you have to consider before making that decision etc. I'd like to do a future post where I can lay out everything I learned / recommend, so if you have any questions you want addressed, please let me know and I'll make sure to include them!! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reach the Beach Ultra Relay (2nd / night run)

Night Run- aka "I'm going to smoke your cocky butt run..."
6.6 hard, 2.8 easy- 9.4 total 7:55 pace
How I ADORE night runs. There is something about the peace and quiet mixed with the colder air so its easier to breathe that just REALLY agrees with my body. Looking back I don't remember exact time I started my run- 1, 2, 3??? The time just runs together since you're always in a continual rotation. For sake of math we'll say around 1am.

At this point we've been cooped up in the van for 12+ hours. I got ZERO sleep so far, and EVERYONE'S stomach is doing a little dance. The most frustrating part was when your brain / stomach / butt are NOT on the same page. If you're reading this and are grossed out- get over it, obviously you must not run much.

I wasn't feeling so hot, so when Scott had 3 miles left in his 14 mile run we told him we were going straight to the exchange so I could shake my nerves and utilize the restroom (boy did I ever) There is something to be said about feeling 'lighter' before a run... its like a renewed sense of energy, which is exactly what I was feeling.

Going in to the run I was confident I wouldn't have any 'issues', I redid my music set up to be more comfortable, AND I switched out my stupid vest for Jodi's sweet V string-- for those that run relays--- i HIGHLY recommend this because it doesn't ride up and its fitted so no bagginess getting in the way

Get the baton from Scott and take off telling myself to keep a steady pace. For the first mile its pitch black and I'm EXTREMELY thankful that I happen to have an awesomely bright headlamp. For my first relay ever I had a dimmer headlamp and fell countless times. 

I'll be honest, my goal was to just see if I could keep a consisten 8 min/mile pace, however due to it being dark, I didn't look at my watch until the actual mile hit. 7:39- whoopsie

One thing about my van of awesome teammates is we stop a LOT to cheer on each and every runner- thats half the fun right?!?! During Scott's run at one point I gave him some water and he commented how the downhills were really messing with his digestive system and he couldn't wait to be done. I knew he would be taking care of business after he gave me the baton, so I figured I'd have a solid 2-3 miles before  I saw my van.

Right before mile 3 they were there with water and I told them to give me gu around mile 5ish so I could keep up my speed. Next 2  miles clocked in  7:38, 7:56.

Finally into the 4th mile I started seeing more blinking lights ahead aka tail lights on runners- my absolute FAVORITE sight to see in a night run! Forget the fact that I'm not even halfway through my run yet, I want to go into 'racking up my kills mode' *spoiler alert* I did.

Passing people at night is different for me than passing someone during the day, mainly because at night its eerily quiet and I don't want to be running right behind someone huffing and puffing, and conversely I don't want someone doing that to me- thus its all about timing. I'm not into 'passing someone' during into night runs, i'm into 'smoking them' (why half ass it?!?!)

Somewhere in the first part of my run there were 3 blinking lights in a row- first 2 were obviously people that our team just happen to catch up to, and the one in the front was someone who was keeping a descent pace, but still smoke worthy. I calculated my move and decided because he was a guy (they tend to not like it too much when a female passes them) that I would go faster than I'd like by him to get some distance, then slow down afterword.

Approach CM (cocky man) from behind, run next to him and say with a smile "Good Job!" and attempted to keep running by him. He speeds up a little bit and looks at me in disgust saying "oh ya?!?!" as in (oh ya you think you are passing me?!?!) and for whatever reason, CM really struck a nerve so I put a BIG smile on my face and said "ya!" and took off (literally) to show him ' don't mess with me cm'

Shortly after Katy was waiting for me on the road with gu and water and I told her what happened and asked how far he was behind me because I didn't want him to think I was worried by looking back, she said he was toast--- sucker! I told her I was good and if she could just go to first exchange for water I'd be fine after that.

Miles 4, 5, 6- 7:43, 7:54, 7:50.

That stunt was enough to carry me to exchanged, no sign of my team, but I got to say 'ultra!' again and there was a lot of hoot and hollering... I don't think I would ever get tired of that feeling knowing that people think 'wow, she's a badass'- honestly 9.4 total miles isn't a lot, but to someone else it is, and it makes me happy that my mindset has transformed to where I can think 'no big deal'

After the exchange there seems to be more kills to be had, and I speed up against my better judgement but then lack of sleep is starting to set in. "Where the hell is my team" and "Did Katy misunderstand me and think I meant I'll see you at the last exchange" kept plaguing my head. Surely they can't think that I would be fine to just have my last 5 miles be water / gatorade free??

I finally see my team, get my water, and start wishing that if we weren't ultra I'd be done by now. I knew since this was a shorter leg 2.8 miles, there was a HIGH chance I was going to get HAWKED by people that only had to do that short distance---- sure enough it happened twice. First time wasn't a big deal bc the guy came and went, but the 2nd time.... man this guy had to be 6'8 or something near there and was the noisiest breather and foot planter I have ever come across. Since I had zero mojo left to go faster, I was really hoping he would just get it over with and pass me, which took him over 1/4 mile to do, but he finally did- good riddance.

I tried to kick in as best as I could, but I felt like I left it all out there. My body felt GREAT, breathing was on track,  the only thing that was bothersome was just digestion / little low on energy. Surprisingly for running 19.4 miles, I felt pretty good!

Miles 7- 9.4. 7:57, 8:06, 8:27, 8:03

After the run I was pretty wiped and went into the backseat to lay down. I'm the most sensitive sleeper and Craig was not handling the hills and terrain very well, so sad to say I got again ZERO sleep after my 2nd run- awesome. So far so good for first two runs, and now whats left is my longest run- 13.3 miles- in the afternoon Woo.

coming up next...
worst run of my entire life (mentally)... EVER (and I've had some bad runs) 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reach the Beach Ultra relay (start and first leg)

Reach the Beach Relay Ultra Start 
I've been putting off writing these recaps in hopes I could get my hands on my other teammate's photos, but no such luck thus far. I'll have to have a separate post of just the really good photos 

The start was held at the ski lodge near the base of Wachusetts Moutain--- translation Hills, Hills, and you guessed it... MORE hills.  

We made it!                                                                      

Despite the challenge, it was a gorgeous starting area- the lodge, the greenery, the weather... 
that is actually a ski lift that takes you up the hill.

They allowed any spectators that wanted to ride the ski lift to top of moutain so you could cheer on the runners as they passed, how neat is that??

Check in was a little lengthy- you had to check your team in, prove you had certain number of vests / headlamps/ front & back flashers,  as well as have a print out rule book and maps. We had the maps, but not the rule book-- $5 charge if you didn't print ahead of time. 

After that ordeal you had to go to a different part of the lodge for safety check, wait around till the next time frame, then get escourted into a room to watch a power point. It was actually pretty informative and I learned that there was NO HEADPHONES allowed on the course. A little part of me died... I just spent the better part of the week updating my ipod to keep me energized and entertained. Good news is I could listen to music, just not having the head phones IN my ears, hmm let the ideas roll...

After our safety meeting we got our team photo (which we get for FREE once they post on facebook) and went back to decorate the van / help Jodi get ready for the start. We weren't really sure how to decorate the van, so we just used a bunch of painters tape and animal print fabric and this is what we got

Scott, Katy and myself walked Jodi to start line while the other boys finished up with the van. Our start time was at 12:30 and we started with about 8 other teams. Although the weather was GREAT, 70s, for standing around, it definitely would have been too hot for my liking actually running. 

Standing around the starting line 
Jodi's game face 

Start line chute

Jodi's first leg was spent on the actual ski trail, so it was the only run (with the exception of Katy finishing along beach) that the van couldn't follow. During her leg I was all about using the T-Rex to cheer with, he's easy to spot and super fun...

However he took up WAY too much space in the van, so we resorted to tying him up on the top of the van and he remained there  for about 12 hours before we finally deflated him- RIP Trex. 

For the first several legs we were constantly by the same vans--- my favorite was the "Ultra Scumbags" due to their van

So if you have difficulty reading it says "Free mustache ride" and "Candy and Puppies Inside"
They were doing the ultra as well, hence their name, however they decided to go a different route and have everyone only run 1 run at a time, thus each runner having to go 6x--- NO THANK YOU. We eventually got ahead of them for good :)

Everyone did AMAZING leading up to me. We got so many comments on our outfits, robot head, wig etc. I absolutely LOVE running with Scott and their friends because they get really into the part

So through all the ridiculousness energy and spirits were HIGH going into my first run....

1st Run- 10 Miles- my "european men LOVE me" run

  • First run started around 6ish, so the weather was PERFECT, the only annoying aspect was I had to wear my safety vest since the rule was after 6:30-- for the record it was still light out when I finished. 
  • I tell you what, our shorts are GOLD mines for conversation. For all those who have asked thus far, we bought them from bskinz. As I was waiting around for Scott to hand off, there was a group of European men standing around asking Katy and myself a bunch of questions and wishing us luck. Everyone at this race is so freaking friendly.
  • Scott comes through and hands me the bracelet- I ask him for my ipod (I let him borrow it for his run) and he says he'll give it to me when they stop next (translation, in 2 miles)- I tell him that I want it now and after he finally gets it off it takes me a bit to get situated before I'm off. I found a genius way to wrap the headphones around my headband and land right behind my ear- its not as loud as in my ears, obviously, but its enough.
  • During the whole ipod maneuver process the european man got ahead of me, but I was feeling great so I figured I'd be able to catch him. First part of my leg was 6.38 miles with the first mile being a slight incline. 'Inclines' I do really well at, so I was actually gaining ground on the man.
  • As soon as I start running I'm about 20 ft behind my european guy, EG for short, and I turn the ipod on. Song that was a continuation of what Scott was listening to was a Girl Talk mix and it was at the part "I love having sexing but I'd rather get some head"-- crude I know. I was so embarrassed that EG might hear me that I stopped to change the song. 
  • It took me a solid few minutes before I was able to pass EG- as I was approaching I apologized if my music bothered him while I was behind him. He told me and I quote "you run ahead of me, I could stare at your spandex and legs all day long" hehe. For whatever reason, that was enough boost to kick it into gear and my first 3 miles were faster than anticipated- granted I didn't really know what I was going to pace, but was just hoping to keep it steady.
  • Somewhere in the 4th or 5th mile I felt like I hit a wall, I massively (or so I thought) slowed down, I had quite a few long uphills, and I had to stop several times to adjust my headphones bc the buds were bouncing against my head which was super annoying. Add to that the fact that I could hear someone's heavy breathing behind me, and mentally I just wasn't feeling so tough anymore. 
  • My EG came up eventually behind me telling me how much he enjoyed watching me from behind  and how it motivated him to run fast-- I couldn't help but chuckle bc he was older so it was cute vs. creepy.
  • Shortly after that another European guy (didn't meet him before the run) came up behind me and said I was keeping a good pace and we should run together. He tried speeding up saying we only had 1 mile left- I finally told him I was doing the ultra and he gave me a high five then started to take off----- his high five distracted me from looking at the ground and I accidently stepped on a snake. oh my freaking heart attack it was NOT dead and it moved. I screamed like a bloody school girl and the guy came back asking what was wrong and I pointed to the snake which he then moved out of the road. He told me to be safe and he'd see me when I was done. Nice fella. 
  • As we're approaching the first exchange that I unfortunately have to run through I get HAWKED by 2 different people. I wish we could have written ULTRA on the back of our shirts so people know they don't need to 'race' us... also so it goes without saying that "ya, you passed me, congrats on running 1/2 the distance- good job!" bahaha 
  • I do have to say that passing an exchange is AMAZING bc the volunteers are shouting your number and then you yell "i'm ultra" (bibs didn't differentiate) and all the other teams shout and congratulate. This particular exchange EG was waiting for me and when I kept running through he yelled "where are you going, are you running away from me" hehe. I shouted back I would see him at the next exchange. 
  • Shortly after passing the exchange, I finally got my second wind. After about a mile I saw a guy that appeared to be slowing down since we had a LONG SLOW uphill, which although I'm not great at, I'm better than those who don't have hill training- thus i could slowly see myself getting closer to him. 
  • Eventually I caught up to the man and realized it was EG's teammate who I spoke with before my run. I wished him well as I passed him and decided to just see how long I could hold on till the exchange... which I was able to hold my own
  • 10 miles done in roughly 1hr 20 min (1:19 and change)- 7:59 pace. 
  • Best part of this run was AFTERWARD- due to my BRIGHT spandex shorts + purple top + purple compression socks I was easily recognizable and so many people came up to me asking if I just ran an ultra (guess its cooler when girls do it??)
  •  I went to my van and EG came running over to me telling me he thoroughly enjoyed running behind me and he was upset that I ran through first exchange and couldn't talk to him. He said that the teammate I passed is thoroughly embarrassed, but at least he got passed by a good looking girl. I thanked him, said goodbye, and then the teammate I passed came up to me thanking me for helping to push him at the end and that he really liked my spandex etc etc. 
  • Needless to say I got massively made fun of by my teammates for having some weird effect on foreign men... its what I do I guess?!?!
  • First leg complete and I was shocked that my pace was sub 8 (barely) I wasn't sore at all, I thank compression socks for that. The hills I was not anticipating, but managed to get through them at a decent pace. 
  • My 2nd run will be slightly under 10 miles, so hoping for a repeat performance... 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reach the Beach Ultra Relay (the before)

Reach the Beach Ultra Relay
The before and leading up to my leg

So much to divulge on Reach the Beach this past weekend, that putting into one post would be mind numbingly boring and impossible to read in one sitting.This was my 4th relay, however my first time doing it ultra style, so there was so much to learn- what I did right and where to go from here. I love coming back from these relays because it always renews my love for the run and especially all the camraderie and joy it can bring into your life. Cheesy? maybe. Truth? Absolutely.

So we'll start out with "The Before"

About 1/2 way through my work day on Thursday I was looking over arrival times of the rest of my team for later that night and I realized Scott and I came in at the same exact time. I texted him if he had a layover anywhere, and sure enough we were on the same connecting flight from Baltimore to Boston!! I normally travel alone and meet my party at XYZ destination, so its always a treat to get to fly with someone and actually talk on the plane - especially because I haven't seen Scott since October and it would be nice to catch up.  (as a side bonus, that meant I would be able to save some of 50 shades of Freedom for return flight... yup, priorities in check)

We both had free drink coupons complimentary of Southwest, and considering heavy drinking is always a ritual the night before a relay (I mean, ya carb loading comes in all forms folks), he told me that for my flight from Nashville to Baltimore get 2 drinks (the max you can order on a SW flight) and ask to be able to pour yourself so I can stowe the alchol for later in the night- a grand idea. I order a cranberry vodka and when they brought out my bottle of vodka they had brought it to me capless- crap. Obviously Scott had a simliar experience on his flight from Tampa to Baltimore, so our plan of free drinks for later was unravelling. We'll get to further unravelling later...

So last week I had posted that we hadn't decided on which runner we wanted to be and I had it narrowed down to runner 3 or runner 5, with a strong conviction toward runner 3 so I could get my longest run out of the way. So shortly after meeting up with Scott in food court he asks me with some skepticism what made me decide on runner 3. I thought the answer was obvious- longest run first to get it out of the way, duh!

Apparently even though I PROMISE you  I did look at all the elevation charts for these runs, I underestimated how to interpret the ease / challenge of these runs. He pointed out that because we are running it ultra style, we have to factor in the total elevation gain and elevation loss for our entire runs to get an idea of what our body was going to be put through. Runner 3 had 2473ft elevation of uphills, and just as many downhill 2487 ft, now factor that with the mileage I normally don't run and it wouldn't be wise. 

Since no one else STILL hadn't chose their leg (nevermind the race is only the next day) he gave me the option of runner 1, 5, or 6. No way I was going to be the last runner, and the fact that runner 1 had 750 ft uphill climb (a ski lift) in the first 1.5 miles, I decided on runner 5 (nevermind the fact that runner 1 was 28 miles and runner 5 was 33 miles.)
*sidenote- the hardest runner was #4 with 39 miles.... it wasn't decided until driving to the start line on who was going to tackle that beast (Scott) procrastination at its finest.*

Once we arrived in Boston we started to try and connect with those that had already landed- after many confusing back and forths with Kyle, we realized that Southwest flies into the International section of the airport, while every other flight across a few parking lots that you have to hustle and bustle through a skyway to get to. It was the better part of midnight before everyone connected and we were settled into the van and on the way to hotel.

Apparently Boston is SUPER lame and everything closes REAL early. Craig and Katy had flights that came in around 9:30ish so they had quickly got the van and headed to grocery store to get our food before they closed at 11. Since they were cutting it super close before getting kicked out of store, they didn't have time to get alcohol. After a few ppl were calling around to their Boston friends we realize that you can't even really buy alcohol after 11pm anyway--- CrAzY TaLk! Reluctantly we decide to head to our hotel and grab some food on way there, however it has be fast food because no restaurants are open on the outskirts after midnight-- so far Boston you're really making us mad.

On our never ending journey to figure out how to bypass construction and get in the general vacinity where we need to go, we realize Scott booked the room by the finish line... not the start- aka 1.5 hours away from the airport and over an hour of where we needed to be in relation to start line. Luckily Craig happened to be driving during our mad confusion on what were going to do about hotel and food, so he remained calm the entire time and never once raised his voice. He's definitely a 'go to person' in time of crisis because surely any one of us would have pulled over on the highway until a decision was made.

We decided we might as well make the drive to hotel and find some fast food that was still open around 1am. The only *hard limit* was McDonalds. We ended on Wendy's where I got my bacon fix and all was well with the world.

We got to hotel around 2ish- normally we would be breaking open the liquor and beer, but since none of that was to be found, we started prepping for next day outfits and comparing what others bought.

Apparently all the boys coordinated and bought the same pair of TIGHT spandex shorts- Scott showing off the shorts the boys bought to match-- they were perfection! You can't tell in the photo, but the hilarious part about the shorts was that there was an obvious difference b/n the length of the 2 patterns... it added even more charm to them.

When it was time for bed around 3ish, per usual all the guys piled into the same exact bed to sleep, and remained there till our bright and way too early wake up call at 7:30 am.

I maybe fell alseep around 4ish and kept tossing and turning all night. Large Starbucks coffee at 4pm apparently was a bad choice, and I was nervous that coming into the relay, I would have at best 3 hours of sleep...

The morning of
Right on schedule we get up at 7:30 so we have time to eat, shower, drive to the start, and have time to decorate before our 12:30pm start time. I tried to stock up on protein since I knew I'd be lacking during trip and went with omlet, 2 hard boiled eggs, yogurt, and some breakfast potatoes. No bacon served... le sigh.

We loaded up the van and were on road by 9, about 30 min later than anticipated. Loved the looks we got from everyone in the breakfast area

On the hour drive to the starting area, Craig and Scott got busy making our Robot head. The 3 guys are very much perfectionists when it comes to making things, so they had to measure Scott's eye length to make sure that the opening of the mouth is where one could see properly out of...
Their tediusness paid off because I think the end result is pretty hilarious ....

Craig used black duct tape to create cheetah spots on his yellow shorts. I kept referring to him as the Flinstones.

I'm aiming to have everything recapped before the week is out, so this is 1 of what will surely be 4 or so posts.... 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Reach the Beach Ultra sneak peak

Thanks to a 3 hr delayed flight added to my 2.5 hr existing lay over, I discovered the Blogger app!

This past weekend was by far one of my most memorable weekends to date.  It solidified my love for running and continually working to get better. I will recap my legs once I get settled (I chose to be runner 5, bc apparently once again I can't read an elevation map and runner 3 was the 2nd hardest leg)

Animal print pants outta control was a HUGE HIT amongst the runners and volunteers...and of course each other.

In our division we placed freaking 2nd (woo woo) with an overall time of 27:19:29, an 8:10 avg pace. The exiting part (for me) is that only one of my runs, 13.30 miles, was over an 8:10 pace, so I never felt like I was 'the slow one'

The race itself had 165 teams finish, and we placed 39th.

More photos will come- below is Katy, me, and Jodi before the race. Kyle, Scott, and Craig (the robot) walking toward finish line so we can run in to the finish line together as a  team.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Three things thursday (ultra!)

It's here, It's here!!! I'm finally leaving for my first ULTRA relay. Some may laugh at me because I did zero prep running wise to train for this (outside of just what comes normal)  ya, its how I roll. Despite that, I'm a much stronger runner due to all the different cross training / strength training via bootcamp, as well as getting my mentality in check- although I do still have some dips here and there. So with that being said- I know it will be hard, but I'll survive and be able to walk when all is said and done. As far as times go, no idea what that last run will look like, but I embrace this new challenge and look forward to using what I learn toward my next ultra in July with some amazing bloggers :)

So traditional 3 things thursday in celebration of my ultra....

You can meet my ultra team HERE
If you're looking to pick up some sweet dance moves, look no further

1. Carb loading. 2 glorious words that sometimes add to the perk of "I run so I can _____" 2 days before race day is always my BIG carb load day and then a little bit day before. Last  night, I went all out ....

All 8 breadsticks + 1/2 the pizza, demolished. Despite being a nutritionist, I do indulge every so often. Its taken me awhile to find a good balance between what I "think I deserve" bc I run, and what my body actually should get. I'm just a few lbs shy now of my goal *running weight, so obviously its working.
*At 5'11 I weigh 153. This is perfectly acceptable as a healthy weight for my height, however, its still weight that I have to carry around and bears on my joints, thus I'm trying to get to 150. It's an extremely slow process since its less than what my weight should be at my height, but I'm going about it the right way so fingers crossed I'll get there shortly. 

2. I leave later today to head to Massachusetts, conveniently this came in the mail yesterday. Perfect timing. Generally when we all meet up for relays we stay up late drinking and making decorations and goofing off... guess my party is starting a little earlier than anticipated.

I'm told you're only allowed to use 2 at a time... thats okay 2 there, 2 back :) Blood Mary(s) + finishing up 50 shades of Freedom (I've been saving it for the plane ride) = perfect flight! 

3. We still haven't really chosen legs. Part of the reason is because everyone on my team (minus myself) is a bad ass and they don't need to mentally prepare themselves and will just run whatever. The other reason is there were a lot of conflictions on the website on what the listed distances are vs. what the elevations maps are saying. I think we have it figured out and I've narrowed my options down to either runner 3 or 5- which would you prefer?

Runner 3 (combo of 2 legs = 1  ultra leg)
1st leg - 7.63 easy + 6.71 hard = 14.32
2nd leg - 3.3 easy + 4.15 easy = 7.48
3rd leg - 4.55 med +6.65 easy = 11.2
total mileage 33.

Runner 5
1st leg - 6.36 hard + 3.68 med =10.04
2nd leg- 6.51 hard + 2.75 easy = 9.26
3rd leg - 6.88 med + 6.47 easy = 13.35
Total mileage - 32.65

Major difference is if I want my longest leg to be my first, or my last leg.
Suggestions / thoughts/ previous experiences are welcome :) 

I'll be MIA from blog land till Monday. For all those racing this weekend, I know there are a few joining in on the Inaugural RnR Portland, I'll be sending good luck vibes your way. 

Kim, just want you to know, I made a check list this trip. You'd be proud!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sexy and I know it.... I work out (the outfit)

Came home from work today and it was like CHRISTMAS with all the packages I received. Among other things, one of my outfits for our Race to the Beach Relay came in .....

As said before our team name is "Animal Print Pants Outta Control", and we all bought different types of animal print pants. I bought a "patchwork" animal print from bskinz, which I think a few other people did, AND we all bought the "Party Rock Gym I work out" shirts from ebay.

I will probably be cutting my shirt up to make it more like the video, however I'm going to wait to see what everyone else does because I am not the creative genius in the group. I would just like to say that I ordered both of these items on Thursday and I got them by Monday, excellent service!

So Adam (the roommate) and I were having a little fun with my new outfit and we were trying desperately to recreate some of the dances in the "Sexy and I know it" video. After many failed attempts, and a little bit of alcohol, I came up with the Lisa freestyle version. I hope you all laugh as much as I did. (please note I never claimed to be a good dancer- at the end of the video it's me saying "Adam, I'm tired")

Obviously if you can't tell, I'm a bit goofy and like to have my fun. I'm extremely anxious to see what the guys come up with in their outfits as well. Aside from their love to dress funny, they're all pretty handy and were able to make 2 hammers for our MC Hammer theme this past fall out of scrap carboard
Tonight I emailed everyone to see if they were going to make a robot head-- immediately got 3 wayed w/ Scott and Craig laughing about it saying they were literally discussing it as the email popped up.

Not sure if people will run with it on for a temporary run, or if its just for dancing... I'm all about the dancing. All the boys DO have speedos from a spring break a few years back... I was trying to convince them to bring them along--- we had to do a 4 way chat to get Kyle's consent (he's the only one in a relationship) and after probably the funniest conversation I've had in a long time-- the men decided to wear speedos...but there's a catch. 

I have to bring all my colorful bathing suit bottoms for them to choose from and to see which ones fit best. I have a bigger butt than ALL of them, so it should be interesting / embarrassing / entertaining to see if any fit. Basically I learned that a camera is going to be HUGELY necessary for this trip. One of the best things I like about co-ed relays is they add a whole different funny element to things, it will definitely be entertaining to say the least!!! 

Have you ever done any fun themed relays?
this will be my 4th relay, but only my 3rd where we dressed up for it

Any suggestions on different props we could use for our outfits?
Right now we have animal spandex, workout shirt, afro, gold chains, glasses, and we're making a cardboard robot head. Few people are bringing chuck taylors

Ultra Relay in T-Minus 4 days

I leave for Boston Thursday evening so I can take part in my first ever relay running it ultra style- Race The Beach- MA

I'm so excited/ nervous, so be prepared for every post this week to be about this relay!

I wish I could say that I've been a good girl and have put in my mileage and I'm ready to dominate, however quite the opposite is true. I feel utterly unprepared. Although I'm faster than the last time I ran with these folk, Las Vegas Ragnar, running an ultra relay is a whole different beast. Last weekend I ran a back to back in Idaho and Portland. Although I had no real goals for either races, I really wanted to test out Portland and see how it would be running on dead legs- the fact that I PRed was definitely a shock, but it did give me the confidence that I needed to be able to pull this off. Now its just a matter of stretching out and getting some sleep to help with recovery which will determine how my legs, and ultimately this weekend goes.

Meet my team- "Animal Print Pants Outta Control!"
The boys: will be my 3rd relay with all of them!
Scottie- Hailing from Tampa Florida, Scott is the culprit who introduced me to relays. I've known him since age 13 and he was the first love of my life, so he's  always near and dear to my heart. Everyone on this relay, I know through him.
First relay together- Ragnar TN
Craig- Flying out from Raleigh, NC, Craig is probably the most consistent of the male runners. Due to this we generally always give him the longest legs... he loves us for it. I'm generally known for being forgetful, however Craig takes the cake and makes me look good in those regards!

Kyle- Greensboro, NC and  by far the fastest on our team- generally always sub 7s. We call him the sweaty beast because he's fast and generally always runs shirtless- I assume this weekend will be no exception
Back when we ran Ragnar Vegas- most beautiful scenery!

The girls:
Yours truly- from Nashville, TN. Generally when on relay teams with the guys, I'm by far the slowest of the group, so generally I'm given the shortest distance. Considering all the legs are pretty tough, I'm sure I'll be the wild car.

Jodi- representing the west coast, L.A. Ca Jodi is the life of the party!! I met her first time for Vegas Ragnar and she wore me out. Pace wise, I think her and I are pretty similar. She's got a much greater mileage base than I do, so I'm going to say I'll be slower than herself

Katy- coming in from the windy city, Chicago, IL, she is the only one I haven't met yet. Solid proof that it is not easier to be faster when you're tall. She's a freakin SPEED DEMON and stands barely at 5'0. Although we didn't get to meet up, she ran the Country Music 1/2 a few weeks back. Despite the heat and hills, she still whipped out a 1:39. She's definitely going to be helping bring down the average girl pace.

 Coming up next- choosing my legs (we still don't know) and crazy outfits!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday- worst race photo edition

This was taken in the finish chute from this past weekend's Lake Lowell Half Marathon.

My question is how do you go from this 'look of determination'

To this, 'falling apart', in a matter of 3-5 seconds?

I can't help but think "I'm sexy and I know" everytime I look at this haha

When I saw this saturday night, Kim and I could NOT stop laughing. Got to be able to take the bad with the good I suppose.

I'd love to hear / see if any of you have some race photos where you are just like "what the heck am I doing"??

If you are willing to share, and have me share at some point on here with a link to you blog, I'd be happy to do so

All laughs can be sent to

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cinco de Mayo 1/2 (Race Recap)

Cinco de Mayo 1/2- Portland Oregon
Half Marathon #33
State #28

40s and chilly at start. Overcast and high 40s maybe low 50s most of race, intermittent sun.

Official Stats:
Time: 1:42:54- New PR*
Overall Place: 54/352
Gender Place: 37/215
Age group: 6/51
*as you'll see further down in my recap, I was stopped by a train twice on the course. Luckily I had enough sense to stop my watch because the race officials DID NOT adjust anyone's time. Depending on if you were one of the people that jumped the train or not to cross, your "official time" could range anywhere from 7-16 minutes off. Mine was on the lower end since I jumped the train. With that being said,
I'm not going to let anyone 'taint'  my PR by saying it doesn't count because at the end of the day, my watch records what I actually ran :)

Pre Race:
This was our 2nd half marathon Kim and I did for our double header weekend. Idaho recap from day before is HERE . Kim's great recap for this same race is HERE. We arrived from Boise around 4ish, went back to her house to unwind, then headed out for burgers and fries for a quick dinner. 

Race start had an odd start time of 7:45 so we left Kim's house at 6:30am. We got to downtown Portland relatively quickly with time to kill so we had to make a necessary stop---  At the start of  our double header trip I knew I had LONG flights and layovers, so I needed something good to read. I broke down and finally bought 50 Shades of Grey. I'm sure you're all familiar with the Heathman Hotel... well it was a few blocks from the race start, so I HAD to get a photo
yup, thats me holding the 2nd book 50 Shades Darker which I had to buy Saturday night since I was almost done w/ the first. 

We make our way to the main square where the bag check is and where the huge after party will be located. Luckily port o potty lines were minimal so we had a quick cycle and just kind of talked and froze ( repeat use of yesterday's throw aways) 

Trying to balance the sombrero on my head

We finally brave the cold, drop off our throwaways at bag drop, and slowly make our way to the race start. 
ignore the THO, proof how cold it was.

Start line festive arch

Since the race was not chip timed, I said goodbye to Kim and made my way closer to the start line to alleviate clusters of people. 

Actual Race:
  • When the gun went off, everyone literally zoomed passed me. Although I wasn't sore from yesterday's race, I felt stiff which made me feel like I was moving in SLOW motion and I just couldn't keep up with everyone's paces around me. When we hit the first mile marker and my time was 7:34 I was SHOCKED because I felt like I was going a full minuter slower. People in Oregon can MOVE. 
  • Shortly after mile 1, let's say mile 1.2ish a train went through the course- what!?!? Not that I had any goals for this race, but I was annoyed since it wasn't chip timed. After standing around for a little bit I decided to just stop my watch and start it back up when I was able to pass through.
stupid train
 More and more people starting to join in on the wait 
  • After waiting around for a few minutes the train stops and there is an empty flat bed cart that stops in front of us-- probably 20-30 of us scramble to jump up on it to cross to the other side. I REALLY wanted to take a photo of this, but I was too busy trying to hoist myself up. I couldn't help but wonder how the shorter people are able to get up and over this. 
  • After that excitement, the select few of us that were able to make it over before the cops stopped everyone else (Kim was with the group who couldn't cross) continued on for about half mile and got stopped AGAIN because the train track intersected ANOTHER part of the course. Not only is this just annoying, but its hard to get into a groove when you're constantly having to stop
2nd time we're stopped. Guy in green shorts ending up winning the entire race. 

  • Once we got going we had maybe a mile of flat ground before the HUGE uphill began. Again I looked at the elevation profile before the race and was dreading miles 5-9, but knew the downhill would be a nice treat. 
  • While running around mile 3ish we started to go uphill... the entire time. I kept thinking to myself, holy crap how much worse its going to be once mile 5 hits. Basically it was a L O N G uphill battle from miles 3-7. So the elevation chart is pretty accurate in terms of what we ran, but the mileage was off. Miles 3-7 were the uphill, 7-10ish were downhill, then it was flat the last 3 miles. 
  • As we're climbing on the mountain, its consistently bending and turning and you think you're going to get a break when turning the corner, but nooooooooooo just more climbing. Aside from all the greenery ( I felt like I was in the movie Twilight) there wasn't much exciting to look at.  To be honest I'm really surprised I didn't walk. I was TIRED. What helped was the train really narrowed the field so I was consistently by the same few people and I used them as target pacers so I wouldn't slow down significantly.
  • We had a true gift somewhere on that mountain with a slight downhill for 4/10 of a mile--- I took FULL advantage and really opened up my stride to gain some ground, plus it felt GREAT on my legs to work different muscles. 
  • Shortly after mile 7 there was a brief turn that took you from trail to the side of the highway- thus begins the nice downhill descent. Unfortunately there were only 2 people I had my eye on at this time, a guy in front of me who I passed with ease, and this girl I had been eyeing the entire race. 
  • It took  me well past mile 8 to finally get close to her--- plan of attack was to hold it easy for 10-15 sec behind her to conserve energy, then sprint past her (I just really don't like running side by side with people, especially on the highway... and with girls since we're super competitive ) 
  • Happy to report I did BLOW by her but 1/2 mile later I was just minding my own business and I see her out of the corner of my eye drafting off me. She must have KICKED it into high gear to catch up to me and then was playing stupid mind games with me. I moved over several times to let her pass and nope, she didn't. I thought if I went faster she would leave me alone--- negative as well. 
  • We leave the highway and are running through 'city parts' before hitting mile 10 and meeting back up to get to the finish line the same way we started. Once mile 10 hit my annoying female "friend" took OFF (easily beat me by a solid 3 minutes). By this point the course is flat so I don't really get to use the downhill, but at least I have more targets to keep me going. 
  • Suddenly I see HUNDREDS of runners turning a corner to join up with half marathoners- it was the 10kers. Congestion wasn't bad because they were on left side of road and the 3-4 of us 1/2 marathoners were on the right, HOWEVER as we start getting closer to the finish line the 5kers come out of nowhere and join us. 
  • You've got to be FLIPPING kidding me!! Half marathoners have yellow bibs, 10kers are green, and 5kers are red. At this point (in the last mile) I am the only half marathoner around and am having to bob and weave b/n the runners. Not to be rude, but majority of 10kers and 5kers weren't actual runners they just did the race for the after party (which was amazing) so despite keeping an even pace, I was passing people left and right- not because I'm fast, but because they were just slow. 
  • I think the worst part is that because the race isn't timed as soon as you cross the finish line you were supposed to "hold your spot" so they could rip off part of your bib to determine your time. Only PROBLEM- you had to walk further down in a chute, it wasn't single file, and you were mixed in with all other race distance participants. SO annoyed at the cluster. Thank goodness for my height- some guy was specifically looking for half marathoners since we were the only ones who got medals and handed me one at the last sec. 
The After Race:

  • I was stoked that I got a new PR on such a difficult course on day 2 of double weekend so I HAD to call my mom and tell her.  
  • While waiting for Kim I watched the Mexican band, drank one of my 2 free beers (IPAs vs. crappy mich ultras that are served at Rock n Roll events) and chatted with some of the fellow runners (some of them were already drunk)
  • Once we met up we grabbed our free burritos and chowed down while I finished my 2nd beer.
  • Afterward we dropped our stuff off at the car and made our way to the infamous VooDoo Doughnuts to indulge in a sinfully delicious Oregon famous hot spot (totally worth the 20 min wait in line)

  • Got our treats, headed back to Kim's place, and indulged in treating our sore muscles to her hot tub-- heaven on earth :)

Quick Thoughts on Race:
-Zero chip timing- apparently trains run often through race courses, wouldn't be a big deal if race directors got on the ball and just chip timed their race if they have a train that intersects the route.
-No time adjustment for lengthy train stop
-Going up a mountain for 4 solid miles
-Having the 10k and 5k meet up so EVERYONE is finishing together
-No spectator support
-Ill fitting race shirt 

-Small field size
-great running weather (love 40s and 50s for me)
-After party was GREAT
-Runners in Oregon are FAST (which helps me be fast)
-Downhills after the long 4 mile uphill climb

Mile 1: 7:34
Mile 2: 7:46
Mile 3: 7:39
Mile 4: 8:30
Mile 5: 8:11
Mile 6: 8:30
Mile 7: 8:06
Mile 8: 7:28
Mile 9: 7:30
Mile 10: 7:33
Mile 11: 7:43
Mile 12: 7:55
Mile 13: 7:58
.1          : 7:25