Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Recap

September is over. Seriously, how is this possible?

It wasn't a great month, but really not terrible either. Swung into the first whole month of Wine and Dine training, and definitely felt the high points and hit a few lows with the mental running game. Sometimes it's just not fair! Man. But I also do believe, as I said this morning, is that you need to have bad days and bad runs sometimes -- it proves that running is all mental and that you are usually more capable than you think!

May was this:

·    Total Mileage: 69.92 miles
·    # Runs: 17 (56.14 miles)
 ·   # Cycles: 2 (13.78 miles)
·    Favorite Run: Do you really need to ask? Ragnar DC, obviously! If you didn't know that, you haven't been pay attention!

·             -  Races:
o    Running Nerds ATL 20K Relay - September 1
o    Ragnar DC - September 21-22

Other excitement and challenges included these:
  • Joining the #sweatpink community! I am so excited about this and excited to spread the pink & fitness love! 

  • Spent the weekend after Labor Day in LA for my cousin's bridal shower. Her wedding is the first weekend in November in Austin. It's crazy that it's almost here, given they've been engaged 15 months already! Excitement!
  • I had a week of winning aweosomeness -- I won five sparkly bands from Sparkly Soul (my fave headbands ever), then won a free pizza for lunch from CrowdRise via Twitter, and then won a free race entry from The Running Teacher. Can you say awesome?

On the agenda for October? A lot!
Happy October! Happy birthday to me!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ragnar DC: Part 3

Other pre-Ragnar entries: Ragnar DC: Packing List | Ragnar DC: It's Here!
Ragnar Race Re-Cap: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Yesterday's map ends at the wrong place, but it's close enough for reference. Our next adventure? Van 2's "graveyard shift" nighttime runs. Eeeeeek!

I said all along, from the minute I committed to this adventure, that the (estimated) 2 am run is what made me most nervous, and the part I was most anxious about. No sleep, no shower, confined to a van? Whatever. Running at 2 am down a back country road? Holy crap. I never run at night, mostly in fear of hitting a bad patch of sidewalk or road and jacking up my knee... but of course for safety reasons. And sanity -- I have an over-active imagination, you might say, and that definitely can get the best of me! So with all that, the thought of running in the middle of the night scared the you-know-what out of me (thankfully, it didn't). By the time it was my turn to run, I had lost sight of the fear and antsy... for a hot second.
What a 2 am run at Ragnar looks like.
As soon as I left the exchange, I got killed. Seriously... maybe 25 feet out, some girl blurs by me. And at first I'm like "Awesome, this is how that run is going to go? Not cool." But then I realize this girl's a really great potential running buddy during this pitch-black streak -- come to find out after a quick convo, this girl's trying to run an 8:30" pace on this 6.7 mile run. Yeah, not happening for this girl right here. Girl catches up with the male runner ahead of me already, and they stick together... the entire run. I figure to still use this to my advantage, and I figure as long as I can see their two blinking red taillights, I'll know someone's near me if I get hurt or if someone/thing comes running out of the cornfields to come get me. Brilliant. I struggled the first mile or so with my headlamp, as I couldn't get it to stay taut on my forehead and it was bouncing up and down and all over the place; struggled so much, as soon as my van caught up with me the first time, I yelled for a new one that they tossed me as I ran alongside them for a bit. After that was settled, I was finally able to get my head in the game. My run was country -- cornfields, houses maybe every 1/2 mile or so, trees. It has to be a gorgeous road during the daytime, but at night... yeah, imagine every scary movie scene that involves a cornfield and even though I've never seen such movies, they were running through my head. One particular moment comes when I passed a farmhouse, passed their cornfield, and passed the plowed road in the corn. On the other side of the "road," I could see some kind of... shape... out of the corner of my eye. I was terrified to look, but it was one of those things you just have to know, right? So I turned my headlamp to the side, just enough to see... a wooden cut-out of a cow. Seriously? Frightening.

My van stopped for my Gatorade supply around mile 4 -- at which point I had decided this was the most exhilarating and terrifying experience ever. I said it out loud to them, loud enough for 2 or 3 other parked vans to hear and chuckle at my seemingly desperateness. After they left me, I turned the bend in the road to find nobody -- no vans pulled over, no vans driving by, no red taillights. Me, my headlamp ... and nothing but stars. Beautiful and scary as all get out! My van came up on me again, during my brief moment of panic, and asked them to leapfrog me every half mile or so. A few minutes later, I saw my two taillight pacers ahead of me, and calmed down enough (even though this is when the wooden cow appeared) to text my van to meet me at exchange, and I'd be okay. The best part is that apparently these pacers slowed down enough that I was able to book it past them during the last two miles or so! Best moment ever ... and then finished my run 30 seconds under estimated time (6.67 miles at 1:05:26). Also awesome is if this were a legit 10K, it would have been an awesome PR).  After my heart stopped racing, I grabbed a donut, changed, and passed out for nearly 2 hours until our next major exchange, and the end of nighttime hours! I woke up in time to walk out with my vanmates to see the sun start to rise and cheer Cathryn in to her finish. A gorgeous morning in Maryland, beautiful weather and hot chocolate made life a whole lot better at this point! We went straight on to Exchange 30 after seeing Devin off -- ah, 30: the beginning of the end! We got to 30, at GEICO Headquarters - really early; so early, there were not even a dozen vans in the parking lot when we got there. I secretly hoped there'd be a mascot lizard dancing around... but no (given the number of dressed up cows, Ragbears, and other animal-esque characters, I figured there was a chance). We all passed out again for about an hour, only to wake up and see that the parking lot had exploded and was now nearly full. What a buzz! We got ready to go and waited for Shannon to finish his final leg.
Chillin' at 30 - at GEICO!

The tricky part for legs 31-36 was that we were now in metro DC, but all the legs were short so for the most part, we would hardly see the exchange happen, pick up the finished runner, and hightail it to the next exchange! We didn't even see Keeley leave 30, and had just made it when she arrived (because she beasted that run). By the time my run came around, I was a super ball of nerves -- last run, only 2.7 miles, wanted to make it count, especially for how well I did on my first two! Serves me right -- most of my run was a rolling downhill through a residential area in Virginia somewhere and on to a recreational trail. Easy peasy, right? At 0.8 miles (kid you not), I got one of the worst stitches in my side that I've ever gotten in my life. Serious. I started to walk, but wasn't up for the feeling of being defeated on my LAST RUN, so I ran holding my side and chugging along with one arm. Woof. Terrible. I only finished 2 minutes later than anticipated, which also worked in our favor since one of the major boulevards given in the Ragnar driving directions had been closed and our van didn't make it to me until 2 minutes after I arrived, and dropped Heather off to get started. Heather's final exchange was awesome (for us), as it was at a city plaza full of fountains and ponds, perfect for feet therapy. Happy feet!

Heather pressed on, finished, and we sent Rose on her way. Rose finished about a minute before we even pulled into her exchange parking lot, and we sent Cathryn into the grand finish! We made our way to National Harbor, find our Van 1 friends and waited for her to come in. She said she was taking it easy (it got uber hot out) and wouldn't be surprised if she walked/ran most of it, so we anticipated her in another 15 minutes or so. No sooner than we had found Van 1, that Cathryn came around the corner! She wanted us all to cross the finish line together hand-in-hand (I'm in full support of such things), so we plowed through as a team all together (mostly?) and got our sweet Ragnar hardware.

Teams got coupons for free beer at the end on race bibs, and those swag bags from the beginning contained coupons for one whole free pizza from Little Caesar's per van (uh, thankkk youuuu Little Caesar's!). Heavenly. After spending too much money at the Ragnar store (it was necessary!), we were off to our hotel for showers and naps. We had original plans to go out for dinner and celebrate, and conceded to ordering pizza in and running to the store for beers. The entire team piled into our room and we spent a few hours crashing on couches, inhaling pizza, watching football and reliving the weekend. So fantastic.
We did it! Team Four Score & 7 Miles Ago : RAGNARIANS!
I spent Sunday adventuring around DC with Keeley and her friend from high school, who gave us probably the sweetest free 2-hour tour ever, and flew home Sunday evening, totally and utterly exhausted. As it should be. That's for another post. Looking for it soon, promise! Maybe this weekend. I'm kind of blogged out. All in all, an amazing adventure. I'm so grateful to Heather for letting me in on her initial invite, to Shannon and Cathryn for coordinating all this craziness and for an amazing bunch of vanmates and teammates to share this with! What a great time. Ragnar... 2013?

Suggestions, tips, things to do/not to do on your Ragnar:
- Pack each leg outfit in gallon bags. Life-saving. Re-pack in said bags after they're gross and sweaty.
- Have enough drivers so runners don't also drive. You know, it didn't kill us, but I imagine it'd have been nice to really just chill.
- Team coordinate food. Cathryn did this amazingly and I think even though there was a ton leftover, it all worked to our advantage.
-  Make sure your camera has its memory card (points to self). Thank God for iPhones.
- I'm out. More to come as  I think of them, or share your own!

PS. I haven't even plugged in my Garmin all week, literally. Map/pace/elevation charts to come, because I know you're dying of curiosity. Really.

PSS. You can read Shannon's recounts of the adventure here. Love his version of Van 1's trip!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ragnar DC: Part 2

Other pre-Ragnar entries: Ragnar DC: Packing List | Ragnar DC: It's Here!
Ragnar Race Re-Cap: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Today's post covers day 1: the adventure of getting started, crossing state borders (!) for the sake of a photo or two, and the distance:

Cumberland to Clear Spring, Maryland. Just in day 1!

Two more states off the list! Hooray
Make sure you don't miss the Part 1 post.. even though it's nothing exciting. The shenanigans start here! So, after we left the starting line, we had just about five hours to drive the 30-ish miles to exchange 6, where we (Van 2) officially started our running portions. Needless to say, we were tired of the van already. Thankfully, I had some really awesome teammates who supported my quest for the state line signs -- we had passed two or three really tiny Maryland signs (it was my first time in Maryland) on the night drive in, so we figured we'd do it on Friday morning during the stretch of hours we've got to kill. Well lucky for me, Cumberland, Maryland is pretty much right on the line of Maryland and West Virginia. Two states in this trip? Oh, the excitement! Side note: my qualifications of having been to a state is a) not counting airport layovers because that's not the state and b) spending money in that state. Pretty easy, for the most part, right? So we head down to West Virginia determined that all we need to find is a gas station so I can buy my morning caffeine and so we can get ice for our cooler in the back. It couldn't have been easier -- we crossed the bridge over the river, saw the state sign, and just before the sign was the uber-classy Eddington's Country Store. As a sorority sister commented, "Did you want to see the hill-billies in their natural habitat or what?" We got our supplies, turned around to the bridge, and got my Maryland sign. State sign success. Thanks, van-makes for being awesome and supporting my ridiculous life bucket list quest.

From there, we really did head down to Exchange 6, on that whopping 30 mile drive that took us a lot less than it would to run -- the first part of the course was gorgeous. We could see some stretches of the road that runners were taking, and we drove into Exchange 6 in the direction that runners would be taking back out and down the country roads. Beautiful. Exchange 6 itself is a huge clearing, surrounded by trees and not really near anything particular. A gorgeous site to park the van for a few hours, nap, and lounge.

Exchange 6 provides Van 2 their safety briefings, a little bit of entertainment in the form of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and temporary Ragnar logo tattoos. We first have to check in with race crew, prove that we have at least 2 taillights, 2 headlamps, and 6 vests (one for each runner in the van). You then make your way to the safety briefing, which covers rules regarding reflective vests, taillights, and headlamps, in addition to covering the different signage Ragnar has all over the course for directions (for both runners and vans), and emergency contact information for Race Command. I'm impressed on how together they have it, really, for as expansive as this race series has gotten and how technical it is with keeping runners safe on back country roads at 2 am in the pitch black. Truly, impressed. And I was starting to feel a lot bit better about my 2 am run!

Hot runner calves -- Rose, me, Keeley, Cathryn.
After our safety briefings, we're provided our team swag bag (tattoos!, Gus, energy bars, random coupons and things) and made our way to the table of more free water (can never have enough!) and PB&J (best lunch ever before a run). After that... it was chill time. We had until about 1 in the afternoon to wait for Van 1 and Shannon to come through, so we had a little fun with the tattoos... and studied the Race Bible and our legs... laid in the sun... you know, really difficult tasks prior to a run. We also got to meet lots of other teams, and gawk and laugh at fun team names and ridiculous vans. One of my favorite teams was the Mousqueteers, which consisted of American, Canadian, French, Belgian and Lebanese runners who had three things in common: they spoke French, they ran, and their kids go to school together at an international school in DC. Awesome. Another team van I particularly liked (though not their mission, per se) was the team van decorated in Romney signs, but the back window read "Are You Better Off Than You Were 4 Miles Ago?" The other funny (and potentially disturbing) van was the one whose back window read "Will you help me find my puppy?" and "I've got candy!" -- if you read it aloud for the driver or passenger to hear you, they threw candy your way. Not gonna lie, I like free candy! Team vans like the Cincy Porkers (van had a pink pool noodle as a tail!) or the multitude of cow-related team names and decor (also with tails). So much fun -- note to self, next time, we're going all out with theme and decor and ridiculousness. Love.

I have nearly no clue what time, but maybe around 2 in the afternoon, we got word that our time was near! Hooray! Finally something to do! (I kid, I kid) Our van (in order) was Keeley, Michael, me, Heather, Rose, and Cathryn. I think we were antsy enough from sitting around and studying our legs and van support and plans and such that we were just ready to go already. Being runner 3, I still had a little ways to go, which really only made me more antsy and more nervous! Michael and I were also the only two signed on to drive the van, so with a few exceptions, one of us was always either running or driving.

Leg 1, done!
My first run was 4.5 miles and deemed to be "mostly flat" with a few rolling hills, per the Race Bible. That was partially a lie, as it rolled more than I thought, but was utterly gorgeous! Part one was up a slight hill and over to the other side of the highway, then down a stunning country, creek-side, tree-lined tunnel of a road. It eventually turned into a residential area and ended on a downhill into a cute city park in Hancock, Maryland. My estimated time was 44 minutes and I killed it at 41:56 -- so basically my longest tempo run to date at this point, with a pace about 9:30. Hells yes! I would certainly say adrenaline got a hold of me on that run, but I was also feeling pretty motivated to keep our team on pace, as we were still right on target to our finishing time.

Then the fun started! Our last runner (Cathryn) finished her first leg at about 7 pm or so. Exchange 12 was at Clear Spring High School in Clear Spring, Maryland, approximately 29 miles into the middle of nowhere. Van 1 took off again from here -- the buzz at major exchange is awesome. Whole teams coming back together, seeing each other for the first time 4-5 hours, it's just a lot more alive than at any other ordinary exchange. What fun! Van 1 had been at the school since 4:30, so had killed a few hours themselves before we even arrived in the van, let alone for Cathryn. After they took off, we headed inside for our delicious $6 spread. For the last three years, the high school has opened its doors to runners and van drivers, doing fundraisers for their athletics booster program -- pretty awesome. For $1, you could shower (lots more people took advantage of this than I really thought would), and for $6 you got a spaghetti place that was actually pretty kick-ass (spaghetti, bread, green beans, applesauce, cake and a drink), albeit a school lunch. But it was fun supporting them and talking with the parents who were working who really got into the whole idea of the crazies running 197 miles and stopping into their high school for the night. We happily inhaled our spaghetti and marveled at the fact that school lunches had never looked or tasted so good -- and probably will never again. After dinner we opted to sleep a little bit in the van. Most of us hadn't brought sleeping bags, so while lots of runners were camped out on the school lawns, we curled up on our seats and benches in the van to try and sleep for a bit. We went to sleep (well, tried) around 9, and set our alarms for 10:30 pm, since we had a 30  mile drive and an estimated 12:15 am start time for Keeley's second leg. Whew!  Apparently most of the van didn't sleep, but I'd say I passed out for a solid 25 minutes or so -- better than nothing? I was driver, so I had to get at least a power nap in!
Mmm... school lunches!

No sooner had our alarm gone off at 10:30 (and we hit snooze once) than we got a text saying that Shannon had taken off -- mind you, Shannon was runner 6 and this would mean that the Van 1 runners had beasted their runs so much, we were nearly an hour and a half ahead of schedule. Umm... what? Needless to say, we freaked out, woke up, and hauled ass to the next major exchange. En route, we learned that the text had been stuck in cell phone cyberspace for a number of hours and in fact, that text was from Shannon's first daylight run, you know... like 10 hours ago. Oops. After our panic attack ended, we stopped at a gas station nearby for ice and coffee (you know, important things) and continued our way to the next major exchange at 18. Exchange at 18 is at the South Mountain Creamery in Middletown. Given that this is a major exchange (van swap), this place is not well-suited for the crowds that took over. We went through the first major parking area, which was completely full, and told to go across the street where there was a strip of land being used as parking. Awesome, except for the fact that there was only one way in and one way out, and in 15-passenger vans, that's not entirely effective. We also discovered, while attempting to parallel park inbetween a van and a tractor, that there was a runner fast asleep underneath the tractor. Part of the safety briefing goes over that you can't sleep in an active parking lot -- we hollered at the volunteer, who attempted to get him to move, with not much luck, and eventually this guy moved... to another place in the parking lot. Way to go buddy. At any rate, the actual exchange area was then overflowing with people and vans and was kind of chaotic, small, and way too packed in for a major exchange. Ah well, we got Keeley off and running and made our way through. Mind you, this is all at 12:15 am in Maryland back-country. Fun times!

Part 3... the excitement, the nerves, and the run I'd been dreading most: the graveyard shift 2 am run. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ragnar DC: Part 1

Other pre-Ragnar entries: Ragnar DC: Packing List | Ragnar DC: It's Here!
Ragnar Race Re-Cap: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

I know this has taken me a billion years to get to, and I promise I'll crank these all out as fast as possible. I'm really glad I took the time to write at the airport (I mean, I sat there for 3+ hours) so all I have to do is type out what I've already written. Brilliant, if I do say so myself, especially so I can share with you all the ridiculous details, stories, and memories that still have me smiling. What a race, what an adventure, and what new friends I've made! Of our 12 team members, I had personally met/known two prior -- others were friends on Facebook or Twitters (since joining the team together), but I really didn't know most of these folks! What a fun bunch we are (no, really)!

Think we have enough food? That's $190 at Costco... and then some.
Thursday we all slowly convened in Pittsburgh, where most of the team lives already, while five of us flew in  and one took the bus in from New York; Pitt is also only about two hours from the start line in Cumberland, so it was the perfect place for us to be able to get ourselves together before hittin' the road Thursday evening! Thursday morning I caught up with Heather and Michael after their red-eye in from California, and we all managed to be on the same flight up to Pitt from Atlanta, where we were met by Cathryn and Shannon, our kick-ass captains and coordinators of all these shenanigans. We hung out at Cathryn's for a while, gawked at the piles of food everywhere (!), and waited for the slow slew of people to show up. 
After the traffic disaster of picking up the vans at the airport later that afternoon, we were on the road for Frostburg (home for Thursday night) around 5:30, our ultimate goal, so off to a decent start! The drive into Maryland was absolutely gorgeous -- hills, valleys, and trees! Lots of trees. Given that I've never been in that area at all, I was pleasantly surprised with what the drive down there provided us (and me, as the driver). We stopped in super exciting Somerset, Pennsylvania for dinner at Eat'nPark (another new place for us non-Northeasterners) and made our way into Frostburg for the night.

A quick team meeting sent us into a panic attack over a missing vest -- each runner is required to have a reflective vest during night hours (6 pm - 7:30 am), whether or not if you are running, but even if you're just standing outside your van. Safety first! All of a sudden, we were down to 11 vests and mass chaos occurred... only to find that in fact, we had 12. "Everything is fine, nothing is fucked," because the motto for the weekend... I think we started to abuse that motto at some point. But, regardless, we were fine. Team shirt fun, vest fun, and a few good laughs later, it was time for bed and time for the adventure to start! 
The start line for Ragnar DC is in the gorgeous Rocky Gap State Park -- trees were just starting to turn colors, and the fog was hanging over the lake just enough to add a little coolness. Gorgeous morning! Despite the fact that Van 2 folks don't need to be at the start line (Van 2 folks are required to check in an hour in advance of our anticipated start time at Exchange 6), but we wanted to be sure we were there to see our first runner, Devin, off (duh!). Van 1 (Shannon, Alys, Tim, Maria, Devin and Dan) were headed to the start line wellllll ahead of us (we got to sleep an extra half hour or so!) and did their safety briefing and started decorating their van once they were cleared. The van ride to the start line showed that this run was going to be absolutely gorgeous -- again, not knowing what to expect kind of helps!
Stunning views, inbetween the pockets of fog in all the valleys.

We got caught up with our van, got to decorating! I really wish I had taken the time to take photos of some of these vans -- I assume a lot of the intricate and really done-up vehicles are from Ragnar veterans, but man! Some folks sure do have fun with this (note to self: next time). We had markers, which really, gave us enough entertainment over the course of the weekend anyway. The vitals: window to track kills on, our hash-tags (duh), and each runner's leg check-box for when we completed our respective runs... and then some random fun stuff as we continued (last post will reveal the best addition, by far).
Obligatory pre-race team photo!
And then it was go time! Start waves are anywhere from 6:30 am to 10 am, depending on your estimated finish time (or rather, how many hours it will take you), which is based on your average runner pace. Our estimated finish time was 30:00:07, so our start time was stacked in the middle at 8:30 am, which really... I think was perfect. Not God-awful early, but early enough to get the day going and get most of our distance done during daylight hours. Our runner 1 was Devin, who got a gorgeous 5-mile loop around the lake. We got to see him off, mellow out again for a bit, and headed over to the first exchange to see the first official slap-bracelet exchange to Tim. Van 1 of course headed off to follow their runner to the next stop and us Van 2 folks? We were on a separate (but related!) adventure of our own (mostly thanks to me and my ridiculousness)... 

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wine & Dine: Week 5

 How is week 5 here and gone already? Insanity. I can't believe September is almost over -- where did summer go? This week I tried to get my work in but also tried not to push it too much, in anticipation of RAGNAR DC. Oh my god, the excitement! I couldn't believe it was finally here! 

Sunday: Cross-train
Cycle 7.32 mi / 30:00 / 14.6 mph 
 Am learning to love my cycling days. I've turned it into my own challenge -- 30 minutes through October 7, then up to 45. Trying to push further and further into how many miles I can get done in 30 minutes. Most of the time, I use song tempos (chorus) to push hard, and downgrade a little bit during the body of the song. It's been a fun work out. Straight to weights afterward for some arm and leg work. I think I like doing this on Sundays since I'm at the gym anyway, rather than incorporating it into Wednesday's regiment (given my long days at work are Wednesdays, for sanity's sake I think this works better too!).
Happy cross-trainer after cycling!
Monday: 4 miles 

 Was not feeling life on Monday morning, which sucked considering the high I was on leaving the gym on Sunday afternoon! Oops. But I also knew that if I wasn't into it, pushing it through this week wouldn't necessarily be the best idea with Ragnar looming ahead at the end of the week. I think this worked in my favor.

Tuesday: 40 minute tempo
2.03 mi / 17:57 / 8:50 pace
Tempo Tuesday success! Far from the 40 minutes scheduled, but the rain started up again right as I was near my house, so I deemed it a sign. Fair enough? This was an awesome 2 miles though and I kind of wish I had continued, rain or not, just to see how far I could push myself. Love seeing how much these tempo runs are becoming easier and easier, and not as much of a pain as I kind of anticipated them to me. Happy times!

Wednesday: 3 miles + strength
2.51 miles / 23:55 / 9:31 pace
 Again, though I didn't get my full run in as expected (ran out the door way too late!), it's really exciting to see when a 9:35 pace doesn't feel like a ton of work. Like I probably could have pushed on (had I not been out of time) and really done a full 5K at least at that pace, which is just awesome to think about! You know you're making improvements and getting in better physical shape when you see a pace like that at the end and don't feel like you're going to die from pushing on so hard. Win.

Thursday: Rest
Seems like the only day I'm good about following my schedule is on Thursdays. Convenient, huh? This was travel day, anyway, so I had no choice but to rest. My flight was at 7:25 up to Pittsburgh, so I was out the door at 5:45 to get to Hartsfield-Jackson -- who wants to run that early anyway?

Friday-Saturday: Ragnar DC (recap coming soon)

Leg 1: 4.43 miles / 41:56 / 9:27 pace
Leg 2: 6.67 miles / 1:05:26 / 9:48 pace
Leg 3: 2.7 miles / 27:54 / 10:19 pace

Decent week, considering Ragnar was coming up. I feel like I could have pushed it a little more, but I'm glad I didn't attempt and risk injury before such an amazing adventure. Can't wait to share my Ragnar experience with y'all -- hoping to get those done tonight since now I'm a little behind on blogging life!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear Monday...

want to join in? link up!

Dear Monday, You're providing the worst weekend hangover ever.

Dear Ragnar Teammates, Thanks for the best running adventure of my life! Though I really only got to hang out LOTS with my Van 2 (aw, Abe!) crew the most, you all contributed to an amazing adventure that I'm really glad I got to be a part of. Ragnar again, anyone? (Awesome 4-part recap, coming soon!)
At the Ragnar start line! Team 4 Score & 7 Miles Ago.
Dear body, while I understand I put you through a lot this weekend, I really don't appreciate the wide-awake status at 3 am this morning. Doing that the last two weeks was fine, but after minimal amounts of sleep this weekend, I really could have used that hour and a half I didn't get back. Work with me, here, huh?

Dear Washington, D.C., you seem like an awesome city and I'm definitely adding you to my cities-to-come-back-and-visit-for-longer-than-12-hours list. DC's the only one on the list. ;)
Typical tourist. Jeez.

Dear self, you're capable of more than you thought. Ragnar just taught you that. Rock it.

Short Monday post today. I've got lots to write about -- training recap week and at least 3 posts on Ragnar adventures alone. More coming tonight, get excited!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ragnar DC: It's HERE!

If you're still not sure what Ragnar is, watch the following video. Wasatch Back looks like a stunning race, so maybe I'll run it one day. But you'll get the idea this way!

And oh-emm-gee I am so freaking excited! It's Thursday morning, and our team is slowly gathering around the vicinity of Pittsburgh before we caravan our way down to Cumberland, Maryland, where we'll camp out like sardines in our hotel room before we start at 8:30 am (EST) Friday morning. 
Me? I'm on a plane, somewhere between Atlanta and Pittsburgh, a bundle of nerves, excitement and energy for this adventure. We've been talking about this since June, I've been packing since last Thursday (or at least thinking about packing), finished packing on Tuesday, and after work on Wednesday, drove down to Atlanta, camped out at HP's, and got to the airport at the freaking break of dawn this morning. Needless to say, I'm tired -- but tired is pretty much the only way I can preemptively describe the adventure that is about to come!  
All my stuff, pre-packing. This fit into the duffle and tote bag you see on the right. Impressive, no?
Every coworker, friend, dog parker, family member I've talked about this to probably thinks I am legitimately and certifiably crazzzzzzy. Runners think it's awesome. Duh. Here's the low-down of things you need to know:

I am Runner 9 for Team 4 Score and 7 Miles Ago. My legs are as follows:

So over the course of about 30 hours (we're currently estimated to finish in 30:00:07!), I'll run 13.9 miles. Not terrible and totally do-able. I didn't train doing double runs as much as I should have, but my legs feel really strong lately and I feel ready to go. My Leg 2 is currently estimated to start somewhere around 2 am, which I am positively terrified about -- I hate running at night! So this will be a mental and personal challenge of all challenges. Can you say excitement? I am hoping the sheer adrenaline will get me going and I can run a personal best 10K. ;)

You can also follow our team along on Twitter at #4score7mi for all the shenanigans, fun, updates and exciting news from Cumberland to DC. Sunday I'll be playing in DC for a few hours (since I've never been!) and will return to Atlanta Sunday evening. So so so excited about this -- please feel free to follow along on Twitter for our adventures! If you're running Ragnar DC, see you on the road!

Have you ever done a relay, Ragnar or not? Advice, things to know?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wine & Dine: Week 4

Tough week is over -- felt pretty off this week, even on the days I did run. I'm glad that for the most part, I stuck with it and got the miles in, but I just didn't feel like my head was in the game. It happens, I just that it happened so early in this training plan!

Sunday: Cross-Train
1.54 mi/14:26/9:22 pace
Since I was still in California until Sunday afternoon, I didn't have access to my gym. Being that I was sitting on a plane all afternoon, I figured it'd be better to get some road time in since cross-training wasn't in my cards for the day. Set off on a super quick, albeit short, tempo run around my neighborhood. Felt good -- beautiful morning in Southern California. Can't wait to run my marathon here in February! Nothing like running on your own turf -- in non-humid weather.
Leaving on a jet plane ... my favorite part of flying out of LAX.
Monday: 3.5 miles
Super tired from Sunday and feeling generally blah. Considering changing up my schedule so Mondays are rest days intentionally, because I feel like the last few weeks have been, but not on purpose. We'll see how this goes.

Tuesday: 35 min tempo
1.68 mi / 15:27 / 9:13 pace

I feel like I barely made this run count. I did run in the evening, so knowing me, I probably did it right after work, wasn't feeling super hot... and regretted that decision! Ah well, at least I got out for a little bit, right?

Look what came in today! Sporting my tank as we speak & planning on rocking it at Ragnar this upcoming week. Who's excited? Meeeeeeeeeeee!
The card is my favorite: Kicking Ass is Best Done in Pretty Shoes.
 Wednesday: 3 miles + strength
2.22 mi / 20:26 / 9:14 pace
Well, I guess the good thing about this run (and Tuesday's) is building up that consistency in my running paces. Now I just need to work on building endurance over long distances so I can bust out a 9:13 for a 10K or something, because that would just be amazing. I guess my upcoming second leg on Ragnar will be a great test for that! *wink*

And todayyyyy I got
These are my new babies, the Brooks PureConnects. I  love my Saucony Kinvaras, and am saving to get an other pair that I can rotate with these guys, but I wanted to also try a new shoe as well to see what fit was like. They're kinda funky, as they have more of an arch compared to the Kinvaras, but so far they've contributed to some decent runs. Trying to break them in prior to Ragnar!

Thursday:  Rest
Again, being that my head just wasn't in the game this week, I was totally okay with it. Such is life.

Friday: 3 miles
2.62 mi / 24:42 / 9:25 pace
Happy way to start my Friday - and I think the kick-start I needed ... you know, to end the week. Better late than never, and at least I got those miles in. Hoping this rough week is almost over and I can move on to a better, happier week!

Oh, and these came in on Friday! Thanks so much Sparkly Soul! I am so excited to represent next week at Ragnar... and forever. <3

Saturday: 3 miles am + 4 miles pm (Ragnar training)
5.57 mi/ 57:37 / 10:20 pace
First off, I was not mentally prepared for this run, whether I did it in two parts or one. I set out to do one 7-miler. I'm realizing more and more how much the mental game really plays into how you do on a run. Really. I felt alright until mile 2.5 or so -- when the dreaded runner tummy issues kicked in. I walked to try and calm my body down, and from there went downhill. Ran to RiteAid (thank you for being open at 8 am on a Saturday) and then tried to get back into it but just couldn't. Check out those lousy paces... I'm glad this running week is over and I can move on!
So overall, a rough week. Hoping the excitement of Ragnar can get me pumped for next week and get in the mindset of getting in some quality runs! Here's to hoping!

Do you have anything getting you pumped soon? What's upcoming on your race calendar? How do you deal with difficult weeks?