Monday, July 29, 2013

2013 Ragnar Relay Recap - Part 3

Catch up on part 1 and 2 ...

So, it's Saturday morning, team Six Pack With Racks is now on Whidbey Island and we all haven't slept one minute. It is about this time we all started getting a tad grumpy and didn't mind telling everyone about it.  At one point someone asked what was one word to describe the way you are feeling right now.  Rebecca proudly proclaimed "POOP"!  We all then determined that we all felt like poop, needed to poop and looked like poop...TMI? Sorry!

SSLLAAPPP, Robyn handing off to Bethany for her last run!
It did help that we all had one last run to complete and we snapped out of our poopy moods within a couple hours :).  Before Bethany took off on her last run she said the only support she wanted on her 6+ mile run was a hot Starbucks waiting for her a the exchange...done! It was almost run time for me but all I wanted was to eat everything at Starbucks.  I was starting to feel pretty bad to be sleep was making me feel kind of nauseous and making my stomach upset.  How I came up with the energy to run those last 10.5 miles I honestly have NO IDEA!

RUN #3 - 10.4 MILES - 1:38:28, 9:43 PACE <---out of body experience I tell ya!

Pre-run, can't keep eyes fully open!
Before this run I told my teammates the only support I wanted was photos during my runs since I didn't have many from the first two and they delivered.  I started off on my last 10.4 mile journey a little after 8:30AM.

10 seconds into my run, those arm warmers came off 30 seconds later
The first part of my run was super duper short...less than 2.5 miles so hearing everyone say "you're almost there", "this is the shortest leg ever" wasn't very encouraging considering I had another 8 mile leg to go.  We wound through some neighborhoods that were pretty hilly and I started getting in my groove.  Shockingly, I felt pretty darn good...legs weren't hurting yet and I didn't feel like passing out on the side of the road.

Eventually I made my way down to the water and got a glimpse of my first HILL...or mountain rather.  Leana from the Nuun team captured it all for your was worse than it looks!

see below for steepness

I ran up the first chunk, then started power walking until another team was cheering me on so much I had no choice but to make them happy and run up the rest of it! I made up some serious time on the downhills and was ticking off the miles at a sub 10 minute pace...NOT a clue how I did that.

My team was at the top of that first mountain and when they asked how I felt I shouted (sarcastically) "THAT WAS FUN!" Jessey said "good, cause you get to do it again in a couple miles"...lovely!

Based on the sheer fact that I knew I would be done soon I powered up that last hill, running the whole thing, and pretty much sprinted downhill to the finish.  As I was running up that last hill I got this giant smile on my face thinking..."hey! look at me, I'm running up a giant hill and I already ran 30+ miles in the last 24 hours".  I couldn't help but be insanely proud of myself!

My hips hurt, my feet hurt, my ankles hurt and even my shoulders hurt.  I figured I had nothing to loose so I just ran as fast as I could to the finish knowing I could rest as long as I wanted after.  I passed a few people on the way down and finished with a sprint through the chute and a slap on the wrist to pass off the bracelet to Rebecca...DONEZO!

Joyce captured this awesome photos of my steps from the end which sums up the way I was feeling at that moment -SOO happy to almost be done! Thanks Joyce!

P.S. In my delirious state of no sleep I wore pretty much brand new shoes and socks during that run...SO glad it didn't backfire on me, no blisters or major pain!

SUMMARY - In less than 24 hours I ran just over 33 miles in about 5 hours, 40 minutes!

We still had 4 runners to go until the finish line but the time passed pretty quick.  Still running on adrenaline and the excitement that we were doing so well and were going to finish strong for sure was all that kept all of us going!

Super runner Jessey had one last long run of a little over 12 miles and she finished strong.  There is absolutely NO way we could have run this relay without her endurance...runner 7/8 is the hardest at Northwest Passage as an ultra with over 38 total miles...most of which were hilly!

Jessey leaving for her last run!
Rira and Robyn rounded out our 6 pack and we all changed into our team shirts for some finish line celebrating!

Before Robyn's last run!! (Rira not pictured cause she was runnin) 

The finish line area is always one of my favorite parts of Ragnar.  Teams are all lined up along the sidewalk and they cheer loudly for every single team finishing. We saw Robyn coming up the sidewalk far away and started chanting "Robyn, Robyn, Robyn" and soon everyone on the sidewalk joined in.  We all joined her and crossed the finish line together and got a shout out from the Ragnar announcer for being an ultra team!

TEAM SIX PACK WITH RACKS FINISHES 196 MILES IN 31 HOURS, 10 MINUTES, 59 SECONDS! Good enough to get us 2nd place in the Women's Ultra division...we won't talk about how there were only 5 teams in the division ;)

We are highlighted...does that mean we get a prize? 

We all started to crash pretty hard immediately after the finish line and decided to hightail it out of there and get in the ferry line.  We waited an hour and a half to get on the ferry but it was worth it since we were able to get Dairy Queen while waiting.  We talked about ice cream and blizzards almost the entire relay so when we saw a DQ in the ferry line we were certain we were all hallucinating! 

The ride home was very uneventful and after dropping off the rental I went home, showered, and crashed hard!  

Of course everyone asks me if I would do an ultra Ragnar again and my answer even hours after doing the first one is "absolutely YES!"  I would say that our entire team was made up of pretty average runners who just happen to enjoy running long distances and are pretty good at it.  Also pretty sure none of us really trained differently from a regular race and relied on our past fitness to get us through...and it DID! 

If you are on the fence about doing a relay as an ultra...YOU CAN DO IT! The battle is almost entirely mental and being prepared to get absolutely no sleep for over 36 hours ;).  

Who wants to be on my team next year? ;)

Friday, July 26, 2013

2013 Ragnar Relay Recap - Part 2

Read Part 1 here!

Where were we?  Oh yes, we were all geared up to start our second runs, all of which occurred through the night and into the very early morning. 

I was feeling pretty good going into the evening, my legs weren't super tired and I was fueling properly even though I wasn't hungry.  I honestly have no idea how it is possible, but I wasn't hungry for the entire relay and even for a couple days after...super super weird for me!  But I still ate a quinoa salad I brought for myself hours before my second run and then ate a snack about an hour before.  

Bethany started us off again and I prepared for my night run. The temps were MUCH cooler, cold even so I went with a short sleeve shirt for this run.  

RUN #2 - 10.65 MILES - 1:46:06, 9:58 PACE

I started run #2 run right around 8:30PM and since it was flat as a pancake my only goal was to not go too fast and remember that I still had 10+ miles to go and that would probably be on little to no sleep.  The road wound around the Skagit River and the shoulder was pretty much non-existent.  Luckily, I literally only say 3 cars come at me and just made sure to keep an eye on them and make sure they saw me too!

I'm not really afraid of running in the dark and actually kind of enjoyed it.  I ran past some alpacas and even some cows who were sleeping in their indoor enclosures for the night.  I heard a few things rustling in the bushes but nothing jumped out at me ;).  

Rocking the reflective gear!
These miles were really uneventful and I honestly don't even remember much about them even a few days later.  

An hour and 46 minutes later I handed off to Rebecca and was done! I was starting to get pretty sleepy at this point and vowed to try to put my legs up and close my eyes while Jessey was running.  Speaking of Jessey, she had an almost 17 mile run in the middle of the night...HARDCORE to the max!  Her stomach was upset, she fell in the beginning of the run and got hit on my drunk guys driving along her route...she definitely had the most eventful night run of all of us!

Jessey warmin up!
I let Bethany and Rebecca support Jessey and I tried to get some shuteye in the back seat. I didn't succeed very well but just putting my legs up and eyes closed for an hour revived me enough to survive my 3rd run.  It is seriously amazing how you can function on pure adrenaline from the excitement of being a part of this relay...a sentiment that would be 100% the case for my last run!

Jessey finished her 17 miles taking us into Anacortes and Rira and Robyn took us all the way to into Whidbey Island.  Robyn got to run over Deception Pass at sunrise...lucky gal!

Hey look, it's morning time! Rira handing off to Robyn.
MAJOR RELAY TIP: Considering this is my 5th Ragnar you think I would have realized this but it got COLD at night and we did not have enough layers.  I thought a long sleeve and jacket was enough...wrong. And since we knew we wouldn't be sleeping none of us brought blankets or sleeping bags.  Next time, I would bring blankets to wrap ourselves in outside the van or more layers.  It doesn't matter how hot it gets during the day in the Pacific Northwest, it most always cools off significantly at night.

Oh hey, we are almost done with 196 miles!  Next up - run #3 and the finish!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013 Ragnar Relay Recap - Part 1

This was our "do something silly" pose at the start...

Yep, this is going to be in multiple parts, 3 to be exact...maybe more...I haven't decided.  I'm mostly dragging this out so I don't write the longest blog post ever, plus I like the documentation of a 3 parter, since it is essentially 3 different races.

Since everyone but Jessey has a blog (Bethany is starting one because of Ragnar!!) I'll let their blogs do the talking for them and I'll commentate on Jessey's runs since they were super super hard and she was a major badass for completing them all without passing out on the side of the road!

Rebecca - recap up already!
Robyn - recap up already!


In running order...backwards :)
We made our way up to the start line at the U.S/Canadian border early Friday morning, making time for a Starbucks pit stop of course, and got all checked in and safety briefed in no time.  We started at the same time as the Oiselle team Party Like a Flockstar so it was fun to hang with them before they left us in their dust around leg 3 ;).

Van 1 Party Like a Flockstar and Six Pack With Racks!
We started at 9:30 and it was pretty awesome because when they announced our team at the start they made sure to mention Bethany and her amazing story in the Ragmag (on the Ragnar blog here too!)...tears welled up a bit in my eyes and it made me even more excited to get the party started!

It was already sunny at 9:30 so we all knew we were in for a day of hot, sweaty runs!

Bethany Boston Strong and ready to start us off!

Sarah caught this sweet shot of #sixpackrack and #partylikeaflockstar starting together!

I was running after Bethany completed the first two legs of the course and I was definitely ready to run at this point and started to get nervous about starting on my journey of 33+ miles.

RUN #1 - 12.03 MILES - 2:00:25, 10:01 PACE

Met Leana at my exchange...she ran on the #nuunsense team! (pic from her Instagram)

I started running right around 11:30 and took off on my long journey east and the south of Birch Bay.  The road I ran on for the first 5 miles was pretty gross.  It was clearly the main road that the oil trucks took to the refinery so a giant oil rig truck would blow past me every minute or so. The breeze it created felt nice, all the road dirt it kicked up did not!

Bethany handing off to I look like a giant next to her :)

After I turned at mile 5 it was much better.  The road was a gradual uphill for most of the first half and I was really really good about keeping it slow and conservative around 10:00 miles the whole time. The first exchange was around mile 8 and I felt pretty badass for running straight through it and even got a few applauses...definitely lifted my sprits for the final 4 miles.

The last 4 miles were uneventful, I chugged Nuun the whole way and ate some Honey Stinger gummies to keep fueled up.  I came into the exchange shoot in almost 2 hours on the dot...exactly what I was hoping for.  Legs felt good, heart rate never creeped up to high and I began my recovery immediately with a Muscle Milk and a pumpkin oatmeal protein bar.  I executed this run exactly how I had hoped and began to think I might actually make it through this whole ultra relay thing (SPOILER: I DID!)

I handed off to Rebecca and she took us to the first major exchange at Bellingham High School. We caught up with Oiselle and Nuun teams there and said HI to Nuun's Megan who rocked her first half Ironman at Lake Stevens on Sunday...that girl is hardcore to the max!

I want Megan's Nuun tank!
Jessey went next and had some major hills and trail running during her 9+ miles that took us out of Bellingham and up towards Lake Padden.  She told us after she was chatting with a guy running this leg as an ultra too complaining about the heat and elevation and he just said something like "fun right?...we still have a whole marathon to run after this"...Jessey had over 38 miles total and not one of those runs was flat!

Rira and Robyn rounded out the first runs in the heat and sun and just like that we were done with our first runs!

Rocking the "support your runner" look
No breaks for an ultra team...we just start all over again and Bethany takes off on her second up, night time runs!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Six Pack With Racks Finishes!

Don't worry, I'll be posting plenty of very wordy/picture heavy posts in the coming weeks about this experience but for now I just wanted you all to know that we survived! No one got injured, nobody cried, and we all ran pretty well.  To say this was an experience of a lifetime is an understatement and I'm so glad I got to share it with 5 other fabulous ladies.

At the start line! Myself, Robyn, Jessey, Bethany, Rebecca, Rira

There were times when we had lots of energy, times when we were all a little grumpy and times when we were pretty much acting drunk because of lack of sleep...but I'm pretty sure we all wouldn't change anything about it!

There were only FIVE all women's ultra teams and we came in 2nd!  Team Six Pack With Racks finished 196 miles from Blaine to Langley in 31 hours, 10 minutes, and 59 seconds.  

I personally ran a little over 33 of those miles and shocked myself at how strong I felt during every single one of them...I'm honestly surprised that I can actually walk normally and I'm not too sore.

31+ hours later...DONEZO! Jessey, myself, Bethany, Robyn, Rebecca, Rira
Stay tuned for more Ragnar posts!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Running Through!" - Ragnar Relay Ultra Legs

My fellow Six Pack With Racks teammate Robyn tweeted this the other week and it gave me the chills and butterflies at the same time, I can't believe this whole ultra relay business is finally here!

For relay newbies out there when you run an ultra you have the option to run 6 legs (instead of the usual 3) or you can run 3 double legs, essentially 3 long runs.  Instead of being runner number 1 in a regular 12 man team you might be runner 1 and 2 or runner 1 and 7 for example.  We are doing it the 3 long run way and the best part about it is getting to yell "running through" to all the volunteers as you enter an exchange and you still have one more leg to run.  Hopefully I'll be able to muster an enthusiastic "running through" instead of a mean, sarcastic, I wish this run was over with one ;).

Let's break down my runs shall we?

I'm runner 3 and 4 for the Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage.  I'm kind of obsessed with analyzing elevation and don't trust those maps they provide on the Ragnar website so I plugged my runs into to give me a more realistic view of my run.

Run #1 - Legs 3 and 4 - 12.1 miles total distance (well 12.3 according to

These 12+ miles will take our team east of Birch Bay to start our journey towards Bellingham.  They wind you around a lot in this relay to make sure and get the total team distance to around 200 miles so it is kind of annoying seeing that I'll basically be running in a box for a few miles, but I understand the whole 200 miles thing is the Ragnar way.

The first part of this run is yes gradually uphill but gradual is the key word and I'm going to try not and focus on that and remember that the last half is all gradually downhill.  Goal will be to try and not "race" this 12 miles but treat it like a slow long run...aiming for a 9:45ish pace. According to Ragnar's handy dandy pace calculator I should be running this around 11:30, so this run will probably be my warmest.

Run #2 - Legs 15 and 16 - 10.8 miles total distance

This run takes us south of Mount Vernon along the Skagit River and then we start heading West to make our way over to Anacortes.  NOTE: should probably wear bug spray on this run.

This run is SUPER flat so depending on how my legs feel I'm just going to aim for a consistent pace and stay hydrated and fueled so I can prepare for 10 miles on no sleep the next morning.  Should be running this leg around 9PM so I'll be decked out in reflective gear and hopefully enjoying a cool evening run.

Run #3 - Legs 27 and 28 - 10.1 miles total distance

Talk about saving the hardest run for last when I probably haven't slept and already run 22 miles...yeah! This run will be on Whidbey Island which is absolutely gorgeous so I'm hoping the scenery will distract me from that 7% incline.  This run takes our team west of Oak Harbor then south directly on the Puget Sound towards Penn Cove.  To say the running on Whidbey Island is gorgeous is a huge understatement.  Running as the sun comes up on this island is seriously one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had in past years.  I should be running this around 8AM so cool temps will be very welcome.

Supporting Holly last year on Whidbey Island
My only goal for this leg is to survive it and make sure my legs don't fall off.  I'm fully prepared to power walk up the hills (especially that FIRST one!) and just slog through the rest since it is the last of my 33+ miles.

Surprisingly I'm not super stressed out about this relay despite the fact that I really haven't run much high mileage in a row for this race.  I'm fairly certain I will survive and might even be able to actually run most of it at a decent for me pace.  I think I'm mostly looking forward to running with some new lady friends and having fun with them along the way...the running will be an added bonus/challenge.

Oh and how could I forget our sweet logo!? My brother and his friends have a clothing company along with a super talented designer who made this for us! Thanks Jon, Jeff and Swagger and Young!

Yes...those are boobs!
Well here goes nothing I suppose, team Six Pack With Racks will start our journey to Whidbey Island Friday morning at 9:30. Please follow along and cheer us on on twitter and instagram with #sixpackrack.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 See Jane Run Half Marathon

Thanks to being an ambassador for See Jane Run I got a free entry to the Seattle race and man it could not have been a more beautiful day for a race in Seattle! I'm sure some would argue it was "too sunny" but I found it just perfect, especially since a lot of the course was shaded.

Let's rewind to the expo though...

The expo was really really really small and held in the W Hotel downtown.  Even though it was super tiny they had some great stuff there and the packet pickup was a breeze and my friend and I chowed down on samples of See's Candies and Soy Delicious ice cream bars!

They had motivational sayings leading up to the expo and in the expo area which I thought was pretty cool.  I also picked up my ambassador t-shirt and to my surprise got another bag filled with some awesome goodies...thanks See Jane Run!!

Softest tee ever...I love it! And those Gu Chomps were delicious at mile 7 during the race!
I spent the rest of Saturday hanging out with friends, chowing down on Thai to carbo load and heading to bed at a decent hour.

My neighbor/friend, Lindsey, was also running the half (her second one ever, the first being a super hard trail half) so we met and carpooled to the race.  I decided (very wisely I might add) to run with Lindsey and help pace her to a hopefully under 2:15 race.  This would keep me a bit slower than my average race pace, which I was completely fine with since Ragnar is just days away.

Race morning, eyes aren't quite open yet!
We arrived at Gasworks Park about 30 minutes before the race started and had just enough time to use the port-o-potties, check bags and do the pre-race warmup.  Location for this race was just too perfect for me since it is only a couple miles from where I live and parking wasn't much of a hassle at all! I missed the ambassador photo at the start but I think I saw a few of the ladies running out there and everyone looked great!

Miles 1-4: We started right at 8:00 and took off north of the park and over the Fremont Bridge.  Then we proceeded to a small out and back on the ship canal trail which I didn't even know existed! Pretty certain the turnaround was a bit short because after that the mile markers were off by about .25 miles for the rest of the race.  Lindsey and I were hitting miles in the 9:30-9:45 and she was feeling strong so I kept trying to keep the pace a little under 10:00 as much as possible.

Miles 4-8: After the out and back we made our way south to South Lake Union park and then back north on the eastside of Lake Union. The miles were pretty uneventful and Lindsey and I kept a good pace.

Miles 8-10: These miles started to get a little slower and I think those speedy beginning miles were beginning to wear on Lindsey.  She really powered through and we made our back towards Gasworks Park and literally past the finish line (talk about a mental battle!).  We headed north of Gasworks on the Burke Gilman trail for our last out and back.

Rira caught us before we headed out and back on our last miles!
Miles 10-13.1 (err...12.9): Heading out on the out and back was tough! My right hip/butt was starting to really hurt and I was ready to be done. I was a tad tempted to just pick up the pace and go for it but I ran with Lindsey this far, I wanted to see her to the finish!  After we turned around I just kept telling her "we are almost done, let's go!"  We both had enough energy to sprint to the finish and my watch read around 2 hours, 8 minutes! 

MAJOR BUMMER: This course was short by .25 miles which was really the only major CON of this course.  Lots of people with distance watches were talking about this, so I think that first turnaround was just a bit biggie but I know some runners are really particular about that kind of stuff :).  Next year, course officials really need to go double check the course.

Happy finisher!

Rebecca was chasing us the last few miles!
Lindsey and I post race! 
Rebecca, Lindsey and I barely made is 100 feet from the finish before we collapsed in the grass to re-hydrate and stretch. We finally made it up and made our way through post race activities, including another ice cream bar...yumm!! You collect a champagne glass filled with chocolates and then into a "champagne garden" for a post race beverage.

Call me crazy, but the last thing I want after running 13.1 miles is alcohol so Lindsey and I called it a morning and headed home for showers and food!

Thanks again to See Jane Run for choosing me to be a 2013 ambassador and putting on an awesome race!  I would highly recommend this race to newbies and advanced runners alike.  Great course support, great post race treats and an environment where the fastest runner and slowest runner are treated equally.

Follow See Jane Run on Twitter and like them on Facebook to keep in touch!

Question: Have you ever run an all (or mostly) women's race?