Category Archives: Relay

Updates!

Once upon a time, I used to write on this little blog more often.

Hey folks! I’m not quite sure where the time has gone, but somehow when I kicked up my feet after running Boston, blogging got kicked aside too. In its place came a lot of sleep, a lot of work, and a lot of food. I played the marathon recovery game oh-so-well, if I do say so myself. It was wonderful and it was necessary, and I’m really starting to appreciate the vegging-out period that comes with big races.

One last stolen photo. Running and smiling knowing that rest, sleep, and cake are on the other side.

One last stolen photo. Running and smiling knowing that rest, sleep, and food are on the other side.

Luckily, all that cake and sleep did a lot of good for my recovery, and I’m happy to say I’m back on the roads and feeling better than I have in a long time.

I thought it best, since my life has basically been a whirlwind of change recently, to provide some updates on just what’s going on in my life currently. Some might be super uninteresting, so feel free to skim, but this is what I’ve been up to lately (and why my blogging has been non-existent).

Work Update

Did I tell you all I got a new job? Like, three days after moving? It happened ridiculously fast and threw me for a bit of a loop, although I’m not going to complain about receiving quick employment.

See? I'm official!

See? I’m official!

Since I’ve settled in and no longer feel horrified every day of asking where everything is, I’m happy to say things are going really well in my work life. I’m super busy most of the time, but I really enjoy that. My days fly by, and I like feeling like I’m actually getting into a groove with my workload as opposed to merely dog-paddling through it.

I work exactly 7 minutes from where we live, which is also super convenient. Run-commuting perhaps in my future? I’m generally just really thankful to have found a job, that I really like, so soon and to not be relying on Adam for all my running-related purchasing (…and food and living and stuff, too).

Health Update

I’ve had some people ask me, so I thought I’d give the skinny on the current state of my intestines. And let’s get real, you all have been along for the Crohn’s ride for a while now— you’re used to it. 🙂

After Boston, my focus became to get my stomach and general health back in order. I had a bit of a set-back after we moved given the change in routine and general stress of it all (I’m guessing?), so it was time to get back to the doc.I found a GI in Denver that I liked enough, and once I gave her all the nitty-gritty about my shitty stomach’s history (puns and rhymes forever!), she came up with a course of action.

So, despite me telling her that previously steroids did nothing for my flare ups, she prescribed a small, tapering dose of Prednisone which she hopes will kick my regular medications back into gear. They were working before, so apparently there’s no reason they should have fallen off the wagon. I was hesitant, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. Luckily, too, my charts all looked normal with the exception of higher inflammation levels – indicative of my current symptoms.

I’ve been on the ‘roids now for a week and despite some altered sleeping patterns, puffy cheeks, and emotional rollercoasters— I think they’re working. My stomach seems to be improving, and I’ve had two stop-free runs for the first time in months. Winner winner. I just hope that I’m able to seamlessly taper off the steroids and enter into a forward-moving health progression.

As always with these issues, we’ll see, but I have high hopes and fully believe that a positive outlook is directly related to increased healing power.

Running Update

Ah, running. You’ve been a fickle beast over the past 6 months.

I don’t need to recap all the complaining I’ve been doing since last November for you, but the short and long of it is that running had just been so hard. Honestly, since I was hurt and then sick, I could count on ONE hand the number of “good” runs I’d had…and it was getting to be so defeating. This thing that I loved so much and was so dedicated to had become such a chore and so frustrating. Running had never been as hard as it was for me, and between the constant emergency bathroom stops, the lingering IT band issues, and overall fatigue, I was wondered how I’d ever been (relatively) good at this sport.

Then something happened. I don’t know how or why, but within these past two weeks, my gears started to click again. My stride felt familiar, my legs felt strong, and running felt…good. Good! Like, really good. Certainly part of this has to do with the steroids and their impact on my stomach, but generally I think I’ve actually started to regain some of the fitness I once I had. My breathing no longer feels strained by the air, and I’ve found myself enjoying hills again rather than avoiding them.

I hadn’t been wearing a watch since I started running again after being sick, which I think was the only way I didn’t completely melt into sadness. But after being gifted with this beauty for my birthday (thanks fiancee!), I’ve started using the pace-awareness to keep myself a little more honest.

<3 <3 <3

❤ ❤ ❤

And it’s been great! I’m not keeping track every run, but I’ve found that with the numbers flashing at me, I’m held more accountable to not sink into my current easy pace and try pushing it a little.

Now, “pushing it” currently is equivalent to my former easy paces, but you have to start somewhere. And I’m thrilled to even be making a little bit of progress.

More than anything, I’m thrilled that—for at least the time being— running is starting to feel fun again.

Training and Racing Update

While I don’t have anything in the near future when it comes to big race plans, I certainly have a long-term outline of what my year will (ideally) look like.

I’m running Ragnar Northwest Passage again this year in July as an ultra team, so there will definitely need to be a step-up in terms of volume. I’m so excited to do this again! My base last year for this race was so much better than it currently is, so I’ll need to step it up in order to survive the 35+ miles of running in 24 hours.

Otherwise, I have very little on my calendar. Which I’m currently very comfortable with— because other than getting my numbers up for Ragnar, I want to make a very serious transition into reclaiming my former speed…and then some. I’ll write about this in another post, but after Boston (as in, a few hours after) a fire was lit…and it’s currently blazing. I love the feeling, I’m scared of the feeling, but I’m ready to get serious about the long-term running goals I’d like to achieve.

That said…I do have one more race on my calendar.

I’m registered for the Philadelphia Marathon in November, and after a summer of heat and speed training, I’m absurdly excited to take on an aggressive marathon training plan. I love fall marathons with all my heart, and my plan right now is to go all-in on this one.

But, that’s a long ways out. But, for the sake of this being a running blog, I figured I’d share.

And the best part….

Adam’s running it too!

Denver Update

We moved! Remember? I can’t believe that it’s been over two months since we left Seattle in our massive Uhaul.

Getting acquainted with his new home wonderfully. These windowsills are heaven for a curious kitten.

Getting acquainted with his new home wonderfully. These windowsills are heaven for a curious kitten.

Life in Colorado is generally going very well. It’s been great to see our families and old friends so often, and I’ve loved meeting new friends as well. Despite having lived in Colorado for most of my life, Denver still feels like a very new city and with that comes all the fun surprises and a general sense of novelty. The sun, the people, the atmosphere…it’s all very good.

Car picture, but look! Sunrise!

Car picture, but look! Sunrise!

I do have to admit, though, that I miss Seattle more than I expected. I suppose I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of how severing my Pacific Northwest ties would feel, but on the other side of it all…I have to say my heart is a little broken. I know this is perfectly reasonable given that Seattle was home for me for so long, but that doesn’t really make it any less sad to think about. I miss the water, I miss the people, I miss my favorite spots, and dear lord do I miss West Seattle.

We’re visiting in June and I’m euphoric with excitement.

That’s about all I’ve got in terms of updates! I’m hoping to write soon about my plan of action for getting my butt back in gear. I’m feeling good about it.

Happy Wednesday!

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Spokane to Sandpoint Ultra Relay Race Recap

This summer has been a seemingly endless stream of events, namely in the form of sweating and running. And I’ve loved it! It’s been one of the best summers of my life, and despite the excessive traveling, late nights, early mornings, and chronically fatigued legs, it’s all been worth it. I feel like I broke out of my comfort zone a lot over the past three months, and along the way I learned a lot about myself as an endurance athlete.

The Spokane to Sandpoint Relay, furthermore, was sort of a grand finale to all the summer hoopla. Both in the sense that it was an intense, multi-day endurance event— but also in the sense that it was kind of my last “big thing” for a while. And let me tell you…I think my body understood the whole “this is the end” ethos of this race.

But let’s get to the running. This was a 200+ mile relay, which started at the top of Mount Spokane and ended on a beach in Sandpoint, ID. Our “Girls Just Wanna Run” ultra team of six each had 4 legs to take on, and I was lucky number runner 6.

It feels incomplete to write about my experience without detailing the runs of my teammates. I was so impressed with every single one of them throughout this entire race, and it’s truly not adequate to recap a relay without their stories, too. So while it’s not possible, I have to acknowledge that the magic of this race for me was in each and every member of the team—including our driver.

So to Tasha, Jordanne, Amy, Rose, Kaitlyn and Luke…you all are heroes. Thanks for letting me run with you!

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Buckle up, kids, this is a long one.

5:30 PM: Leg #1, 13.9 miles

I’d waited the entire day, since our 7 am start time, to run. I was equal parts really antsy and really nervous. The primary theme of the day was just how hot it was, and after seeing each of my teammates affected by the 90 degree weather, I got more and more wary of what my ~14 miler would hold.

Proof of heat: Kaitlyn using our go-to cool off method.

Proof of heat: Kaitlyn using our go-to cool off method.

Kaitlyn handed over our bracelet to me, and off I went— happy to be moving and excited to be knocking out the longest of my four legs.

See? So happy!

See? So happy!

Well, that feeling lasted approximately 3 miles, and that’s when the heat started to affect my stomach. I’m not sure if it was the end-of-the-day run, the food I’d had beforehand, or simply the temperature, but for whatever reason— I quickly went from happily running to extreme digestive discomfort (which we’ll just call “feelings,” because I’m fairly certain you all understand what I’m implying here).

I’ve experienced this running before, and normally it just passes, but whenever those “feelings” felt like they were going away, I’d immediately get another round. The frustrating thing was that my legs felt great. All of my body wanted to run, expect for my lower stomach. I tried my best to focus on the beautiful scenery (which WAS beautiful!) and I knew that when I’d run through the first exchange, my team would have fuel and supplements that could help.

Around 7 miles in, I made it to the exchange and took salt and magnesium pills which I prayed would help alleviate my issues. It was great to see the team also and I was amazed at their support– it felt like my own personal fuel crew!

Taking pills mid-run: true talent.

Pill swallowing mid-run: true talent. Looking this beautiful: even truer talent.

Unfortunately, the two pills didn’t do much, and in fact the “feelings” kept getting worse. I did all I could to not think about needing a bathroom, but simultaneously I started to plot exactly what I would do should the situation get worse. The heat was also starting to get to me at this point, and I could feel the energy quickly being zapped from my body.

Once I got to the next exchange area (I was running through twice), I debated using the port-a-potty or not. However, from experience I knew that one quick stop wasn’t going to make a difference in how things were feeling. I decided against it, told a few of my teammates how I was feeling, and just wanted to get the last 4 miles over with.

"Rose, I'm gonna poop my pants."  "Fine, but make sure you're practicing safety first with this vest and headlamp."

“Rose, I’m gonna poop my pants.”
“Okay, but make sure you’re practicing safety first with this vest and headlamp!”

Just after leaving the transition, I got to cross over the Washington/Idaho border, which was definitely a highlight. I was trying as hard as I could to distract myself from the heat and the discomfort, but things were seemingly getting worse. The miles that felt strong and quick before were starting to crawl by, and eventually when I saw a public bathroom on the side of the path, there wasn’t really another option.

I finished the last few miles a little more comfortably (and managed to pass a few more people), but as I got to the end, those “feelings” reached an all time peak of pain.

Al-most-done...

Al-most-done…

I was thrilled to hand off and be done running, but more thrilled to stop the stomach jostling. It was discouraging, to say the least. I still had 3 legs and over 20 miles in front of me, and things weren’t going to go well if they were anything like the first leg.

Peace out, first leg.

Peace out, first leg.

So, I frequented the Honey Buckets, took some Tums, kept my hydration and nutrition systematic and clean, and hoped things would be a bit better during my next three runs.

Didn't have satellite for first part (~.2 m) of the run

Didn’t have satellite for first part (~.2 m) of the run

leg 1 e

^^^ wtf, that’s not what the map looked like??

12:55 AM: Leg #2, 7.5 miles

First middle of the night run ever! Despite the pain of run number 1, the promise of cooler temperatures and a shorter distance kept my spirits higher for this run. Plus, I’d gotten a little sleep beforehand, so I tried to maintain a positive attitude. The run was all through farm land (read: DARK) and pretty flat the whole time.

There were very few people around me during this run, which meant that I was relying almost solely on my headlamp for guidance and light. I immediately felt so much better than I had earlier, which I was sure was due the decreased heat and sun exposure.

So, despite the run being a little spooky and smelly (so many cows), the 7.5 miles ticked by moderately pleasantly. It was encouraging to finish and know that not only had my stomach settled a bit, but I was over halfway done with my mileage!

The best part of this run was when it dawned on me halfway through that I was in the middle of nowhere in Idaho, at 1 in the morning, with a bunch of strangers, running. I almost started laughing out loud at the obscurity of it all, but I also realized that this was half the fun in relays…and in running. There isn’t a lot of sense to it, but we love it anyway.

leg 2

leg 2 e

 

8:15 AM: Leg 3, 8.9 miles

After my 1 am run, I’d been able to get a little more sleep, which meant that cumulatively, I think I totaled around 3 hours for the night…which in relay terms might as well have been a coma. I was so happy! Thanks goes entirely to our driver Luke, who ended up driving the entire race which enabled some uninterrupted van-sleeping.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about my next leg. It was about 9 miles, and although it was getting war,m I thought that running closer to the time of day I normally run would help with how I felt.

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And as much as I hate to say it, I was completely wrong.

I stopped enjoying this run about two miles in, and it got progressively worse until the very end.

What was going on?! I normally have a bad run once every three weeks or so, if that, and here I was in my second in less than 12 hours. Part of me found it amusing, but a bigger part of me was just frustrated. I was in good shape, I had slept-ish, I was hydrated, fueled, etc…there was no reason to feel like this.

Except for the most obvious factor which I’d been afraid of all along: the heat.

Let me paint a quick picture of what this third leg looked like: Approximately 75 degrees, on exposed highway, with the first 5 miles gradual uphill.

So looking at it that way, it sounds a little bit more understandable as to why it didn’t feel great. But, I was still down on myself for feeling so low. I knew all my teammates had struggled, but I felt like this just wasn’t acceptable. My inner monologue was something along the lines of:

“I hate running, why am I doing this?”

“Buck up captain! You need to keep up a game face for your team!”

“Better you than them, better you than them…”

“Where’s the nearest Slurpie machine?”

In essence, these miles all sucked. There was little to no shade, long and unforgiving highway roads, and a general negative attitude to boot.

As I’m sure you can guess, I was, once again, thrilled to see the exchange. It was great to know that handing off to Tasha meant that my team was in the homestretch of finishing this bad boy up.

Go, Tasha, Go!

Go, Tasha, Go!

I don't even care that I'm getting a GoPro in my face right now, just hand me more water.

I don’t even care that I’m getting a GoPro in my face right now, just hand me more water.

leg 3

leg 3 e

Just before my final leg, our Runner #4, Rose, ran her final 4 miles—and managed to do so a minute per mile faster than she’d been averaging before.

Essentially, right before she started, Luke asked her if she thought she could push it in those last 4, and she immediately jumped at the idea. She’s a former track/cross country athlete, so I knew the idea of a little speed would be fun for her—despite her tired legs.

Watching her gut out those last few miles at a sub 8 pace was incredible! Our van followed along almost the entire time with Luke coaching her the whole time. It was so inspiring and it reminded me of just how much fun you can have with running, even in the most trying circumstances.

rockstar

rockstar

The best part (for me) came near the end of her leg. As we prepared to drive off to the exchange, Luke asked if anyone could pace her the rest of the way. It took me approximately one second to go from my seat belt and flip flops to my running shoes and running alongside Rose. We had about a half mile to go, and I had such a fun time helping her push til the end. It was the best my legs had felt the entire relay, too, and although I knew I still had 5 miles of my own to do later on, it was completely worth it to help Rose leave it all out on the course. And I say “help” loosely, since I’m fairly certain she would have done it all on her own. At least I got to enjoy the high with her 🙂

It was easily the best highlight from the relay.

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3:35 PM: Leg 4, 4.75 miles

I knew I shouldn’t have too many expectations going into my final leg, given how the morning run had gone. It was also hotter now, and although I only had about 5 miles to go, I knew it was going to be a test for my tired legs.

Nevertheless, I was SO excited to finish things up for my team and to complete the adventure. Since everyone was done at that point, I was so full of pride that I wasn’t too concerned with my own final leg. It had been so inspiring to see all of them finish, and I just hoped I could muster up a little bit of strength to bring it home for everyone.

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After being peer pressured by Luke a bit, I told him if possible…I would try to push my pace a little. As soon as I started, I didn’t see another option: it might hurt, but it would get me to the finish line faster.

So push I did. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was certainly faster than my end-of-relay legs were planning on. However, I didn’t see much point in trying to conserve.

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The sun was hot, but I didn’t really care anymore. The only thing I was focused on was getting those last miles run so I could get back to my team at the end.

The final 2.5 miles of the Spokane to Sandpoint course finish on a very long, open bridge—which I initially thought would be an awesome and scenic end to the race.

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And while it was certainly scenic, there really wasn’t anything pleasant about it—specifically after running over 30 miles in the day beforehand. It was so ridiculously hot, and there wasn’t anywhere to hide from the exposed sun. I kept my focus on picking off the runners ahead of me, while trying to ignore the desire to walk/jump in the water/curl up on the path. (5 kills in the last 3 miles!)

After crossing the bridge, I got a little jolt knowing that the end was near. There were spectators and fellow relay-ers along the sidewalks, which helped get me excited to finish. I was really feeling the 8 minute pace and the previous 35 miles at this point, but I didn’t care…it was time to finish this thing.

I don’t know if I’d ever been happier to see a finish line once it came into view. I got to run along a grassy lawn which felt like heaven after all the pavement pounding, and my wonderful team was right there waiting to finish what we started.

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my face here really explains it all...

my face here really explains it all…

33 hours and 13 minutes after Tasha took off at the top of Mt. Spokane, we made it.

leg 4

leg 4 e

It took me a few minutes to get my wits about me at the finish line, but after the sweat stopped dripping and my heart slowed down a bit, I was completely overwhelmed with excitement and pride. Somehow, all those brutal miles disappeared from my memory and were replaced with joy for my team and for the sport.

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We were announced the women’s ultra team winners over the loud speaker, and we gathered our prizes (shiny metal goblets) and medals along with our t-shirts and beer tickets (obviously the most important part).

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My favorite picture of the race.

Draping each of my teammates with their medals was a true highlight, and I felt so honored to have run alongside all these incredible women and athletes.

After some cheers-ing, reminiscing, and photo taking, we were spent with our Spokane to Sandpoint adventure and headed home for pizza and showers. The hour and a half drive back to Spokane was a little surreal; it took just 90 minutes to return to the place we’d started over 30 hours beforehand.

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This race proved to be a true momento to the summer I’ve had. It was an adventure in running but also in mental endurance, in teamwork, and in handling adversity—all of which, in the end, makes each of us a stronger athlete and competitor. This race, and this summer of running, has shown me that hard work truly does yield the most satisfying results. It may be tough getting there, but the reward is so much sweeter knowing that you fought hard the whole way…especially when it’s alongside such an incredible group of people.

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I’m hoping to carry the things I’ve learned this summer into my next running adventures, wherever they may lead. Because if I’ve learned nothing else, it’s that you never know where running (and running friends) can take you.

And I can’t wait to find out.

Thank you Spokane to Sandpoint for making this event so memorable. You tested every ounce of endurance we all had, and while we may have cursed you at the time, in the end you put on one kickass show.

Girls Just Wanna Run, you’re an inspiration. Congratulations to you all!

 

Spokane to Sandpoint Relay Women’s Ultra Team Winners

I have an extraordinarily overwhelming amount of feelings and details to share about all the madness that occurred this past weekend. Unfortunately, the time and care I need/want to put into it isn’t quite available to me currently. So for right now, I’ll just give a quick overview.

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In a word, it was incredible. Incredible, in the very all-encompassing sense of the word. Incredible difficulty. Incredible fun. Incredible heat. Incredible women. Incredible support. Incredible scenery. Incredible inspiration.

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The list really goes on and on. And while I’m kind of still in the midst of unraveling from the adventure itself, I’ve already realized the biggest takeaway I learned this weekend: It’s the hardest things, the most trying events, that make the greatest and most lasting impact.

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I’m sure you can guess, then, that this race was not easy for me. Not that I expected a fun run, of course, but for a multitude of reasons—this was perhaps the hardest race of my entire life. It was humbling, and I learned a lot about myself as a runner. All the details will be saved for later, and believe me—there are lots of ugly ones.

But, pain and fatigue and chafing and discomfort aside, the thing I feel more than anything right now is pride. My team wowed me the entire time, and it was truly an honor to run alongside such strong females.

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We finished the race in 33 hours, 13 minutes, and 21 seconds, and finished as the first women’s ultra team. Every single one of us was beyond thrilled to see that finish line.

A true race recap will follow soon, and I hope I can try to convey the grit shown by these badass chicks on my team, not to mention to professional-level driving and general race support done by our awesome driver.

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And the best news is (thanks solely to my teammates) there are tons and tons of photos.

Stay tuned…

Deja Vu: Ultra Relay Take 2

So, on Friday I’m running another ultra relay…my second in a month.

"Hmm....how can I do this again as soon as possible?"

“Hmm….how can I do this again as soon as possible?”

I know, I don’t understand either.

My only excuse for this binge on intensive relay running is that I’m easily peer-pressured into running events. I’m also a little intoxicated with that summertime euphoria that makes you blindly agree to any and all activities that involve being outside with fun people.

The race, Spokane to Sandpoint, starts in Spokane, WA and traverses across Eastern Washington and finishes in Sandpoint, ID.

sts_overview

To top it off, thanks to a certain baby being born a little too close to this race, I’ve assumed the captain role. It certainly adds a different element to race day prep, and while it’s a little stressful, it offers a great distraction from actually being stressed about the running. Should be a nice wake up call when I start the first of my four legs on Friday night, huh? 🙂

On that note…the way I’ve arranged our legs is definitely different than typical ultra relay fashion, and I’m hoping it’s not a horrible flustercuck. Essentially, breaking down mileage into 3 legs per person (with each runner assuming two 12-man team legs at a time) wasn’t giving an even distribution of miles. One runner was going to need to do an 18+ mile run in the middle of the race, and it just wasn’t very fair overall.

So, I did some recalculations, and now we’re each doing 4 legs, and ALL of us have our longest leg first. I was proud for figuring that part out. I’m hoping it should be alright…four legs is a lot, but the distances gradually get fewer and fewer for everyone, so that should help.

I’m runner number 6 again, and here’s how my legs are going to break down:

Leg 1, 5:00 pm: 13.92 miles

Leg 2, 1:00 am: 7.56 miles

Leg 3, 8:15 am: 8.89 miles

Leg 4, 3:50 pm: 4.79 miles

Barring any casualties, I’m counting on those last 4.79 miles to feel like heaven. Not that my legs will feel good, but I’m thinking that only running 5 miles will be some good motivation to get to the finish line fast.

So, while I’m a little stressed with logistics, I’m truly really excited. After I crossed the finish line at Ragnar, I instantly knew I wanted to do it all again. Be careful what you wish for, right? This race will be much warmer than Ragnar (scary) BUT it will be much flatter and hopefully just as scenic.

This is where I get to run to the finish line...not bad.

This is where I get to run to the finish line…not bad.

And most importantly…my team! Our team name was originally “Awesome Bloggers,” but through several substitutions and roster changes, it turns out that only two of us actually have blogs (shock! I know).

Our new name is “Girls Just Wanna Run,” and we’re planning on blaring some Cyndi Lauper more than once while on the course. We are a motley crew that came together through random running connections, but I can’t wait to get to know everyone better. The best part of relays, in my opinion. This super fast chick is on the team too, and with her mutual love for relays and running, I’m predicting an enthusiastic van (well, at least between the two of us :))

I’m hoping to drop in before we head off to Spokane on Thursday night, but if not…you can expect delirious 2 am van tweets and plenty of pictures along the way from me.

The summer of racing and running continues! And really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Has anyone ever run Spokane to Sandpoint? Has anyone ever run a relay where they ran more than 3 legs?  

Ragnar Ultra Relay- The good, the bad, and the ugly

Such an original title, no?

Oh well…it is very appropriate in describing how this post details what went well and what did not go so well this past weekend.

Something that went well: tattoo application.

Something that went well: tattoo application.

Overall, I would give the race and my experience two big thumbs up. The memories I know will stick are all the happy ones, and that’s really what’s important in the grand scheme.

However, there were certain dark points this past weekend, some of which could have been avoided, some of which were inevitable. At any rate, I thought I’d give you a look at the behind-the-scenes footage, besides elevation charts and mileage.

And a fair warning, there’s a lot of honestly coming up, some of which might be an over-share. But, my hope is that perhaps some of my experience can help others in their own relay experiences, and sometimes that requires getting a little bit nitty-gritty. And let’s be real…modesty doesn’t really exist in a running relay, especially in an ultra. So, sorry I’m not sorry I guess.

The Good

The thing that surprised me the most on this adventure was that the running actually was—dare I say—the easiest part? Well, not necessarily that it was easy, because it certainly took a lot out of us. But much to my surprise…I felt the best all weekend when I was out on my runs.

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I attribute this to a few things:

1) Fresh air—after sitting in the van for hours, it felt really good to spend time outside.

2) Moving! I would get restless sitting for so long. And, as runners, I think we both consciously and subconsciously get jealous when we’re witnessing others running. Basically, it really just felt good to do what we came for—to run.

3) Endorphins, runner’s high, etc.—when you’re desperate for energy, even these physiologically-created sources do wonders for a person in a depleted state. I felt much more awake after my runs than I did while chilling in the van.

For example, after my 5:30 am hilly 15.5 miler, I got in the van, exclaimed I felt “so great!” and everyone in the van said that positivity wasn’t allowed because they were all grumpy (okay, it was mostly a joke). But, just goes to show that while I was definitely as exhausted as all of them, running really helped offer a boost.

The Bad

Don't I look like I'm having  fun?

Don’t I look like I’m having fun?

In my opinion, the hardest part of Ragnar/an ultra relay is the lack of sleep. I’m a runner who really loves her sleep; I try and get as much as I can, and I can almost always attribute a bad run to being sleep deprived. That said, I knew running 35 miles on “van sleeping” would be interesting.

I think I underestimated just how little sleep there would be…and by little, I mean “none.” I was definitely warned about this, but I figured a half hour nap here and there was bound to happen.

Nope, nada. The best we could all hope for was a few minutes of eyes closed and feet up. I did manage to do this for a little while around 3 am, and it was definitely helpful, but obviously it didn’t make up for a full night without sleep.

To make matters worse, on Thursday night before Ragnar, I think I slept 5 hours or so as prep and race excitement got the better of my normal in-bed-by-9 schedule.

The most zombie-esque point of the race was between 11 pm- 4 am or so. I felt foggy, cranky, and my head hurt from being awake for so long. Luckily, as stated above, my early morning run woke me up and gave me enough energy to crank through the rest of the day. It’s weird how that works; it’s like your body forgets you haven’t slept and somehow generates enough energy to keep going.

Of course, this would end immediately after crossing the finish line. We were all zonked on the drive back to Seattle, and while it’s a petty thing to be upset about…I feel like the fatigue takes away a little bit from the glory of finishing. It took until the next day for me to really internalize just how awesome the race was, and I’m certain it was because I was too tired to process it beforehand. I guess this is the same thing that happens after a marathon, and it’s kind of like wanting your cake and eating it too. But, you know, it would be nice to actually feel up for a beer with your team after the race, right? I don’t think that’s too whiny.

But, of course, the fatigue is all part of the experience and makes the craziness of running 200 miles all the more crazy. I have a feeling 50 and 100 ultrarunners would be laughing in my face right now.

The Ugly

So those stomach issues I’ve been mentioning over the last couple of months? Yea, so, turns out…digestive diseases really, really, really don’t like straight-through-the-night relay races. And in fact, they will punish you cruelly for thinking that you can take them on one.

Basically, from about 9 pm through 5 am, I couldn’t stop using the bathroom. Thank goodness there were so many port-a-potties everywhere, because at every stop we came to I would need to beeline for those life-saving Honey Buckets. And once I’d be done, more often than not, I’d have to turn around and go right back in.

It sucked. And while stomach issues seemed to be a theme for our van, I think that my colitis just had a raging fit and amplified to uncontrollable levels. I think it also didn’t help that I was so hydrated (something that tends to fuel my issues). It was a catch-22; I needed to stay hydrated because of all the running and all the “going,” but it was one of the causes of all my ailments. I also really wanted to try and drink more coffee for the aforementioned fatigue, but I couldn’t handle anything that would be a diuretic.

Fortunately, things seemed to calm down after my second run (and thankfully nothing went wrong during the run), but this was definitely the worst part of Ragnar for me. I’m going to try and figure out exactly what fueled it (besides the off-hours and the excess water) before Spokane to Sandpoint so I can try to avoid these issues a little bit.

But ultimately? The good parts far outweighed any of the less-than-stellar parts. I’d do again in a heartbeat (and obviously I will be doing it again…:) ) and I think that some experiences need to have a little grit and grime in them to really bring to light the awesome parts. Running down that finishing chute probably wouldn’t have felt as good if I didn’t suffer a little bit to get there.

Just like running in day-to-day life, it’s the bad runs that make the good ones that much better, and I think it’s the tough parts of Ragnar that make the whole experience so memorable. And hey…if you can’t bond with people while having uncontrollable bathroom issues, when can you, right?

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What do you think are the BEST and WORST parts about relay races?

Go Time, Ragnar Northwest Passage

It’s finally here, Ragnar!

I’ve wanted to do a relay ever since I started hearing about them last year, and I’m actually kind of excited that my first will be an ultra. Go big or go home, right? I suppose if I ever do a 12-man team, I’m going to be thinking…wait, that’s it?

I’m really, really excited for this. I love the idea of taking on a whole new kind of challenge/adventure…especially since it involves running! As someone who loves new experiences and equally loves to run, this is right up my alley—and I truly can’t wait.

In case you’re just tuning in, here’s the dirty details:

A team of 6 of us will be tag-team running nearly 200 miles starting tomorrow morning and ending on Saturday afternoon. Yes, that’s straight through the night running. And you thought running a marathon was crazy? 😉

The thing I’m most excited for though is hanging out with a bunch of awesome gals. I don’t especially know anyone very well, which makes it that much more fun. And there will be plenty of time for conversation, given the 10 hour gaps between runs.

We’re starting tomorrow morning at 9:30 am, and since I’m Runner 6…well, I’ll basically be chilling all day until my first run. Despite the fact that I’ll probably be feeling a little restless tomorrow afternoon, I’m actually pretty pumped about my projected running schedule. Here’s what my (projected) run times and distances will look like:

Run #1, 6:30 PM- 10.7 miles

My first run is near Burlington, and it starts on a long downhill, followed by flat-as-a-pancake terrain. Lovely. I’m also thinking that temperatures will be cooling a little bit around this point as the sun will start to set. I have a feeling I’m going to be itching to get out on this run given that I will have been in the van all day, so I’m hoping that translates into happy running.

Run #2, 4:30 AM- 15.4 miles

At first glance, this looks kind of brutal. And it probably will be, but it’s actually a perfect time to have a long run. It will be cool, the sun will be rising (pretty scenery!), and I already get up to run at this time of the day during the week anyway. Obviously that will be different given the lack of sleep that is inevitable, however at least I’m not too phased by the 4 o’clock hour.

This run is hilly, but not too daunting. It’s also on Whidbey Island, which I’ve heard is quite the spectacle to run on. I’m really excited for this run, needless to say, including the challenge of it. Teammates, it is certain that I will need to be reminded of this when the time comes 🙂

Run #3, 3:30 PM- 8.5 miles (aka: the last leg for our team!)

It’s going to take some patience to get to this run. Everyone will be thrilled to be finishing while I’m twiddling my thumbs, waiting to carry in the caboose. But, it will definitely be fun to finish things up for the team. Oh, and there’s a ton of climbing on this leg…thanks Ragnar.

And team, be warned, despite how tired I’ll be, I tend to gun it when I see a finish line…so there’s a chance I’ll make us all sprint for it 🙂

Are you tired yet thinking about this? Me too.

But I’m SO excited! We’ll be sure to post updates along the way via Twitter, Instagram and #sixpackrack. Oh, and our team name is Six Pack with a Rack. I have neither of those things…but you get it. I can certainly supply a six pack of microbrews at the end, so hopefully that will count.

Let’s do this!

Check In

Hello friends! Long time no chat. How’s everyone doing?

It feels a little like summer vacation recently, which is part of the reason I’ve been MIA from my little blog. Lots of activity going on, lots of plans, and generally lots of fun. I feel like I’ve been busier with social “obligations” than I have been since college, and it’s been great. I blame the sun—it turns everyone into butterflies who flutter toward each other.

#proof that I wore fake eyelashses and glitter in honor of Pride.

#proof that I wore fake eyelashses and glitter in honor of Pride.

So, while I’ve been staying out later and swapping second runs for happy hours, there’s still been plenty of race prep going on. And by “race,” I should say “races” because right now I’m in trifecta mode—trying to improve my fitness for three different types of events coming up in the next few months. It’s been…interesting. So let’s recap those sweaty and non-sweaty endeavors shall we?

Tri-Specific Training

I haven’t necessarily been doing more or less in regard to triathlon training. Honestly, I would run every day if I could, but since I can’t I’m trying to tuck swimming and biking/spinning in once or twice a week. It’s not that I don’t like either of these activities (although swimming can be boring…) it’s just that in the summer I want to be running outside.

However, I’m really starting to like biking. In a new-crush, giddy kind of way. I always loved the idea of being a biking person, and now that I have a good bike, good weather, and good company—it seems the stars are aligning. Super bike pro Lindsay invited my slow self last weekend for a Burke-Gilman ride (34 miles!), and I really enjoyed myself. It feels really good to shake it up, and I actually like feeling like a beginner at something, strangely enough. It’s also really nice to have another option besides running where I can be outside, go for a long time, and all the while not worry so much about the impact. I’m hoping by the end of the summer to have a few extra-long rides under my belt.

And all this bike love is definitely a good thing—because when it comes to the triathlon disciplines, it’s definitely the one I need the most work on.

Ultra-Relay Training

This is how I feel about running 35 miles in 24 hours. Also how I feel about how neon has taken over my life. Neon bra is showing THROUGH neon shirt. WTF.

This is how I feel about running 35 miles in 24 hours. Also how I feel about how neon has taken over my life. Neon bra is showing THROUGH the neon shirt. WTF.

I was initially feeling really good about this training. I was logging at least once-a-week double run days, and my training felt pretty specific to ultra-relay conditions. However, ever since life started getting busy and the first ultra race started to get closer, I’ve been feeling a little more apprehensive about my prep. However, I did run 12 miles at 7 am Sunday morning after being out really late the night before (see eyelash photo above), which I decided was good Ragnar simulation. Right? Right.

I’m running 35 miles at Ragnar in 24 hours, which is A LOT. It was always going to be a lot, no matter how well trained I was, but it’s getting to be intimidating in a scary kind of way. I’ve been averaging between 40-45 miles a week lately, which is good—but compared to what I’ll be doing at Ragnar, it seems measly.

That doesn’t mean I’m not excited though, because I really can’t wait. And despite the high mileage, I’m feeling good about my projected running times. According to our pace calculators, I should be running around sunset, sunrise, and then late in the afternoon (I’m the last runner). So, although I’ll be waking up in the 4 o’clock hour to run 15+ miles, I’m hoping I’ll get a sunrise out of it 🙂 Can’t complain, it’s all part of the adventure—I just hope my legs hold up.

And, if I do horribly, the good (?) news is that I get to try again a month later at Spokane to Sandpoint. I know, I don’t know who I am either.

Goal Half-Marathon Training

Meh. That’s all I have to say about this one. With nearly three months until my big scary goal race, I’ve been a little lackluster about my speed-dedicated workouts. I did 7 x 800 last week and it was HARD. Please, don’t let me postpone a speed workout until the afternoon ever again. It was hot, my stomach hated me, and it was harder than it should have been. I ran each 800 at 6:55 pace, and I could feel every one of them. Two bathroom stops too, fun times.

So, for right now I’m focusing on one speed workout a week, which will pick up after Ragnar. I also have the See Jane Run half coming up in two weeks, and while I don’t expect anything spectacular—I’d like to use it as a bit of a check in. It’s a flat course, and presuming it will be somewhat shaded, I think it will be a good opportunity for a “test run.”

Basically, I could be doing better with speed-specific work, but with the heat it’s not necessarily the best time to push the envelope every day. However, I do trust heat training to have rewarding benefits once the fall comes around. Oh dear, sweet fall running…I’m excited for you.

Other things

I haven’t been photographing much that’s been going on (per usual), however I do have some photos to marginally depict my life as of late:

Seattle sunset by the Seattle Big Wheel. I can't stop photographing the sky. And because I'm now obligated to say it, #nofilter.

Seattle sunset by the Seattle Big Wheel. I can’t stop photographing the sky. And because I’m now obligated to say it, #nofilter.

I look like a child at Disneyland. Except I'm surrounded by drag queens and nearly naked men.

I look like a child at Disneyland. Except I’m surrounded by drag queens and nearly naked men.

And speaking of…

Yes, he is one of my best friends. No, he doesn't go to the gym very much. Yes, you are allowed to hate him.

Yes, he is one of my best friends. No, he doesn’t go to the gym very much. Yes, you are allowed to hate him.

You’re welcome/I’m sorry.

Yesterday morning at 5 am. This is the view from my house, i don't hate it.

Yesterday morning at 5 am. This is the view from my house, i don’t hate it.

 

Reading at the park, one of our new favorite activities.

Reading at the park, one of our new favorite activities.

So there’s my training and life check in. I’ve been orchestrating a bigger balancing act between the two than I have in a while, and to tell you the truth—it feels really good. Besides the apprehension about my preparedness for upcoming events, I am really liking the shift in prioritization that’s been happening. Like I said, it feels like summer break—and in that sense, it shouldn’t be all about the miles. And while it may seem like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with all my upcoming races and goals, it’s all in the name of having fun and trying new things—and I actually wouldn’t have it any other way.

And on one final note…CONGRATULATIONS to Miss Nicole “Ricole Runs” on her beautiful new baby boy!!!!! I think he came early because I wants you to run a PR in every distance sooner 🙂