Wednesday, October 30, 2013

So...That Running Thing

I'm sure you have all been just devastated by my lack of posts lately ;) and I do have a running confession to make...I haven't really been running at all since Hood to Coast.  I literally run maybe once a week and it is only because someone asks me to go running with them!  I haven't been sitting on my couch though, I've been pumping the iron in my gym pretty diligently for the last 7 weeks and I'm kind of loving it!  I'm a bigger fan of the way my body looks from lifting weights versus running, but I would like to find a nice balance between the two...anyone know of a plan for that?!

Despite my severe lack of running lately, I have some running related news to share with you all!

First and foremost, I was chosen as a new Ragnar Relay Ambassador!!  Shocking, I know...considering I brag about this relay and have run it the past 5 years in a row ;).  Well get ready for more bragging and promoting of this awesome relay series.  In similar news, Six Pack With Racks will be re-uniting next year and going for the Women's Ultra win this year...hehe...perhaps?  Rira is ditching us next year, but Nicole will be rounding out our 6 pack and I know she'll bring her A-ultra game!  I'll probably start running again before having to run 30+ miles in 32 hours.

Evidently I want to put myself through this again...something is wrong with me!
I listened in on a little ambassador training call last night and go super pumped for Ragnar Northwest Passage in 2014.  I would also love love to run another Ragnar next year (which one should I do!?) depending on vaca and money! Plus you all know Nuun is the official hydration sponsor of Ragnar so being an ambassador for the both of them is pretty much the perfect match ever for me and them ;).

I'm pretty sure NuunKOTB ignited Nuun's fire to be more involved in Ragnar, or at least I tell myself that ;)
In an effort to get slightly more motivated to run I signed up for two races to finish out 2013:

1. Purple Stride Puget Sound 5K for pancreatic cancer - THIS SUNDAY, November 3.  My neighbor asked me to join her team, the race is across the street from where I live, it raises money for pancreatic brainer.  I plan on running it as fast as my non-trained legs will let me, then doubling back to join my friend who will be walking it...should be a fun morning.

2. Seattle Half Marathon - December 1.  This is all facebook's fault :).  Fellow runner, Jennifer, posted on the King County Women's Runner page that she had a half bib to sell.  I inquired about the price (you know just curious) and she gave it to me for the sweet deal of $20! Couldn't pass that up. A whole mess of ladies are going to just jog this race for fun so I figure I can muster up enough training to not die during it and maybe even have a little fun.  I've actually never run this race but have heard so much about it (like the HILLS!) so I'm anxious to give it a go! Are you running??

My participation in last years Seattle Marathon - spectating with Starbucks
Oh and I'll be volunteering at this year's Mustache Dashe on November 16! The $45 price tag for a 5k was just WAY too steep for me so I figured I'll help out a little while cheering on my friends...come say HI to be, I'll be helping in registration/merchandise!

I'll be sportin these socks again for sure!
So, how do I intend to train for these events you ask? Well, I don't plan on doing much.  I'm going to continue with the lifting program I'm currently doing, throw in a short run or two during the week after lifting and just focus on a long run over the weekend. I can run 6 miles still no problem so I'm pretty confident I'll be able to ramp up from there and be fine before December 2.  Will I be running any PR's?  Not a chance, maybe that will be a good 2014 goal...??

QUESTION: Who is running/thinking about running Ragnar Northwest Passage? What do you need to know to convince you to form a team?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ragnar Northwest Passage vs. Hood to Coast

Thanks to Andrea for reminding me I was going to do a relay comparison post and for giving me something to actually blog about ;).  Nicole posted a comparison a while back and while I agree with some of her points, I think we come to a different conclusion.

Hood to Coast Website - 2014 lottery already closed and teams decided
Ragnar Northwest Passage Website - July 18-19, 2014 - registration OPEN!

This past summer I had the opportunity to run both the Ragnar Northwest Passage and Hood to Coast relays.  While they are both 200 mile point to point relays with 12 person teams (or 6 in the case of Ragnar for me this year) they really couldn't be more different!  Let's compare some of the major aspects of relays and how they differ between these two popular Northwest relays.  These opinions have NOTHING to do with the people I actually ran with...there is no comparing that...everyone was AMAZING and I've made lifelong friends at each race.

2013 Rangar Northwest Passage Six Pack With Racks
2013 Hood to Coast Van 1 - Team Lemonade for Nuun

Full disclosure, I have run Ragnar Northwest Passage 5 times now and Hood to Coast only once but I have spoken with HTC veterans and my experience seems pretty consistent with theirs of years past.


Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - if you want to see the beauty of Washington then this is the race for you.  With the very minor exception of running through some more city like areas most of this course is on country and mountain roads and it gorgeous from start (at Peace Arch State park at the US/Canadian border) to finish (southern end of Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound).

Pretty country-like roads
Ragnar also has amazing signage telling you exactly where to go and makes it almost impossible to get lost running or driving.  You are out in the middle of nowhere most of the time and driving alongside your runner 99% of the time.  There are always TONS of spots to pull over and support your runner.

I can honestly say that I have never felt unsafe running Ragnar, even on night runs.  Being around other runners most of the time and seeing vans drive by every few minutes always put my mind at ease and I never felt like my safety was being compromised.  I have heard about incidents of drunk people getting of the bars and harassing runners but that is worst thing I've heard.

Hood to Coast - on the flip side, if you want to see the beauty of Oregon then this is the race for you.  It is pretty darn awesome starting at the top of Mt. Hood and ending at the beach in Seaside and I had the pleasure to literally run down Mt. Hood which was breathtaking! However, ALOT of the course is alongside pretty major roads or highways and most of van 2's first runs are on a trail with NO van support or anyway to see your runner.  I didn't like this aspect of it, but the mountain views, city views, and beach views helped make up for that a bit :).

Course markers were literally non-existent but they did have volunteers at every single turn you could make so that was helpful!  My runs were either no van support or short enough that I didn't have my van stop for me once which was kind of a bummer.  Most of the course is this way and traffic is so hectic at a lot of exchanges you need to get there ASAP just to get your next runner on the road.

My second HTC run was on a trail and then through downtown Portland along the waterfront. What should have been a nice peaceful beautiful run turned into me being pretty scared by some totally drugged out homeless dude.  The end of the run was in an industrial area of Portland and again I didn't feel very safe. Since the vans couldn't follow me on the trail or the waterfront path I had no way of feeling like someone was looking out for me.  I HIGHLY recommended to HTC that they have police on the waterfront next year to put runner's minds at ease.

VERDICT? Although both courses are pretty darn beautiful in their own way, I have to give the overall course to Ragnar with their awesome signage, plenty of opportunities for van support and no safety concerns.


Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - In the five years I've run this race I have love loved seeing team names and team costumes, it makes the whole experience so much more fun! One year the team Lord of the Ragnar ran in full on Lord of the Rings costumes for all their runs...impressive.  Another year the ultra team Risky Business ran all their miles in tighty whities and a business shirt! Other teams cheer you on and it is fun to become friends with teams running around your same pace.  I literally only made it up a monster hill last year because of another team cheering me on!

The volunteers have also always been pretty awesome and do a good job guiding you in and out of the exchanges.  Local teams are required to supply 3 volunteers for the race so this is always a very hard spot to fill but luckily friends and family have stepped up and they all report back enjoying every minute of it.

Hood to Coast - Obviously there are thousands more runners at this race to that automatically makes it excellent for people/costume watching but I got the vibe that teams take Hood to Coast WAY more seriously than Ragnar.  Not a bad thing, just an observation.  I did find it rather odd that other teams pretty much ignored other runners on the course.  Of course, Nuun Team Lemonade did NOT do this but we all found it strange others didn't join in our fun :(.

We powerarched for strangers too!
Oh man were the volunteers at Hood to Coast TOP NOTCH!  With thousands of runners they kept the exchanges organized and keep runners safe.  I don't know where they come from but they were  an excellent bunch. They also had volunteers at every single turn on the course which was a very welcome site in the middle of the night runs!

VERDICT? I would have to call it even on this one.  Runners and people who like to support runners are just awesome overall so I don't think you could go to a relay and not have a good experience with others!

3. MAJOR EXCHANGES (where van 1 changes with van 2)

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - I don't have a negative thing to say about the major exchanges at Ragnar. THEY.ARE.AWESOME.  Most of them are located at a school and you usually have access to the bathrooms/showers, sleeping areas and some sort of food for purchase.  One school even has a padded wrestling room to sleep in...heavenly!  There is honestly nothing better than washing your hands with soap and water after using hand sanitizer all day in port-o-potties.  No accidentally flashing your body parts to runners while trying to change in the van either!  The exchanges are always VERY easy to get in and out of with plenty of parking for all.

Jessey warming up indoors before her run.
Hood to Coast - Sorry HTC, this is where you really really fail (in my opinion).  All major exchanges were usually some grocery store parking lot of just some field in the middle of nowhere. There were NO indoor restrooms/showers/anywhere to change and sleeping indoors...?? NOPE.  The worst part...when we were driving to our next exchange to TRY and get a few hours of sleep we encountered a mile plus long line of vans trying to get into the exchange. Our 3 hours of sleep turned into 1.5 and our options included the van or on the grass.  There was ONE school at one of the minor exchanges that had bathrooms and a hot meal and we enjoyed every second being there but would have loved to warm up indoors a little longer at a major exchange.  There might not be any way around this based on the location of the course, but this part really turned me off...sorry HTC :(.
4AM traffic???

VERDICT? Pretty sure I don't need to spell this one out for you...Ragnar gets it hands down! Keep up the good work.


Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - Ragnar is obviously smaller than HTC and so are their start/finish areas.  The start is easy to navigate and they make a big deal out of announcing your team before the start.  Nothing exciting, but effective! The finish line area has an announcer, a band, some food, a beer garden and vendors.  Pretty small and honestly nothing too exciting but they give you a nice place to hang out and celebrate your accomplishment.  Since it ends on Whidbey Island most people don't stay there overnight so you have to take a ferry back to Seattle.  The line gets LONG because of all the runners and after running and being up for 24+ hours all you want to do is go home and sleep! I've never looked into staying on Whidbey Island for the night, but I think it might be spendy and hard to fine a place for an entire team.
Hood to Coast - Ok really know how to throw a party!  The start and finish areas were both so electric.  We found ourselves dancing on Mt. Hood and the beach from the music and the atmosphere.  The start was relatively easy considering how many people run this relay, BUT the finish is where HTC really takes the cake.  Of course, I was extremely lucky to stay right by the finish line (courtesy of Nuun), but I think most finishers stay in Seaside after running.  The beach is packed with vendors, a HUGE beer garden, and of course...THE OCEAN! We enjoyed tons of walking around time, put our toes in the ocean and enjoyed an awesome band and fireworks show in the evening...I never wanted it to end.


VERDICT? Hood to Coast takes this one.  Their finish line party takes full advantage of the awesome beach location and Seaside is the best place to spend a couple days post relay to hang out and enjoy!  The Oregon Coast in general is one of my most favorite places on earth so you should go there even if you don't run HTC!


Being 100% honest here I prefer Ragnar Northwest Passage over Hood to Coast.  Did I have the most amazing time at HTC this year? Absolutely! Would I organize my own team and try to run it in future years...probably not (but I'll jump onto anyone else's team...wink wink).  I really like the smaller, more laid back nature of Ragnar and I thoroughly enjoy being team captain and showing others the awesomeness of Ragnar.  If you are a running relay junkie you, without a doubt, should try to get on a HTC team once in your is the Mother of all Relays after all!  Did you enter the HTC lottery this year and not get in? DEFINITELY check out Northwest Passage. Don't live in the Pacific Northwest? Ragnar has road and trail relays ALL over the country.

I can assure you, the relay hangover you get from both of these relays will make you want to come back for more every single year!

QUESTION: Anyone get in the 2014 Hood to Coast relay? Who wants to run Northwest Passage?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Government Shutdown So I Played!

So, some of you probably figured out (via twitter and instagram) that I am a federal employee...big news huh ;).  Without going off on a political rant or anything (this ain't that kind of blog!) I will say I am thankful to FINALLY be back at work.  I will, however, not be thankful to any member of Congress for missing a deadline and shutting down the government even though they figured it out eventually.  I am super super lucky because I will actually get paid for Congress taking their sweet sweet time to actually pass a budget, but unfortunately there are MANY others that will not get paid lost wages for the past 16 days.

Just in case you are interested in reading about the impact of this shutdown on the economy (SPOILER: $24 BILLION LOST!) check out this article:

After sitting around the house for a couple days watching CNN like it was my job I finally decided to try and make the most of my time off and do something!  Because in reality, I will probably NEVER have this much time off in a row again before retirement (scary thought!).

Here is what I did with my unexpected free time in photo form...enjoy!

Celebrated the soon to be arrival of baby Ellie with my childhood friend Annie and my mom!
I got an iPhone and promptly took my first photo ;)

Went to the Seattle Aquarium with this cutie!
Did some hiking in Eastern Washington while visiting my parents
Watched the Sounders get their butts kicked :(

Went to the Seattle Symphony for the first time.

Hiked up to Tiger Mountain!

Babysat an adorable miniature pincher...much to the dismay of Stacey!

AND...on October 17 all things resumed in the real world and I went back to work.  It is good to be back!

And maybe now that I'm back to my normal routine I actually blog about promises :).

Question: Did the government shutdown affect any of you??

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2011 Chicago Marathon Memories

Ever since running my first, and so far only marathon, in 2011 I get all sorts of memories flooding back around this time of year.  Especially, since training for my marathon was the reason I started this blog! This Sunday, 40,000+ runners will toe the line at the 2013 Chicago Marathon and I know a good handful of them! I wish more than anything I could stuff myself in one of their suitcases and cheer them on but I'll have to settle for stalking them via runner tracking.

Mile 2ish
Are you running Chicago this weekend? You can get excited by reading my post from two years ago. It looked like the weather was going to be HOT and stormy but I just consulted and it looks a little more reasonable now in the 60's and cloudy, sounds perfect for some PR's and BQ's all around.

Totally in the zone here
Stacey, Katie and me after completely our 1st (and so far only!) marathon

And be sure to follow the Chicago ladies running this weekend including:
So sorry if I totally spaced someone running this weekend...good luck to everyone!

And sorry for the lack of posts lately...I do have some stuff to say so maybe I'll get my act together and put together something in the near future.  Until then, hope you all are having a great fall and enjoying all things pumpkin and fall marathon running!