Road Rash Rocked Ragnar!

The day after the Great River Ragnar, Jeff and I went scuba diving in Wazee Lake, and then it was back to work on Monday. It's actually been a really busy week, but I still wish I had taken the time to write this recap earlier.

Our team after 34h8m of running....
Let me start at the beginning...

I saw an old friend from jr/sr high school post something random about running Ragnar Great River this year on her facebook page. I'd only recently heard of this relay race and had looked over the website and was very interested in joining a team. Naturally, I zipped her a message asking for more details and if they had any more spots open.

They did! I was super excited. :-)

My confidence in my preparation waxed and waned throughout the following weeks. Two weekends before the race, I run a half marathon. I thought, if I can run a half, certainly I can survive Ragnar. Then I looked at the Ragnar suggested training schedule. I wasn't prepared.

Still....I CAN DO THIS! became my motto.

We spent the beginning of the week up at Big Lake Wilderness Lodge north of Ely on a family vacation. I had all Thurs morning to pack, but I was lazy, so only after Jeff took off for his scuba class did I realize that we hadn't taken all the bags out of the car. The bag that remained had so much of my running gear - hat, belt, shot bloks, bug spray, sunscreen, etc.

I had to get that bag! Thankfully, Bryce and Mike from my team were nice enough to pick me up and drive me to South Minneapolis to retrieve it. Jeff had stuffed it under the car - luckily it was still there!

We headed back to St Paul to meet up with the van and begin the journey down to Winona, MN. Since we had a 6:00am start time and a 5:00am safety briefing, we decided to get a couple hotel rooms for the night. Despite that, 4:00am came super early!

I was filled with growing excitement as we checked in and picked up our swag and, yes, even during the safety briefing. ;)

I wanted to RUN.

Of course, being the last runner in my van, I had hours to go before my feet would hit the pavement runnning.

Starting line
It was a cool, beautiful morning!

It certainly did heat up by the afternoon, though! Andrea and I got the worst of it during our first legs (okay, well, not nearly as bad as van 2. sorry guys!) plus the hills just about killed me!

Just after a beastly hill with another off in the distance
 I ended up walking a LOT more than I'd wanted to during my first leg, but its completion meant a break for van 1. While van 2 ran their first legs, we found a park in Pepin, WI, where we ate lunch.

We also found a public beach which was actually closed, but we pretended not to notice the small handwritten sign on Lake Pepin (i.e. the Mississippi River) where we swam lounged in the water to cool off and to rinse of the cake of dried sweat we were all sporting.
Lake Pepin - DONE with legs 1-6!
After a nice nap back at the park, we took off to Exchange 12 to meet van 2 to begin our second legs. It was still relatively light out for runner 1, and runner 2 started out without needing her headlamp, but it was dark by the end of her leg. Someone kindly gave her an extra headlamp to use. :-)

My second leg started at roughly 11pm. I'd never really run in the dark before and never with a reflective vest and headlamp. It was a weird experience! I'd totally do it again, though.

I ran with my own water bottle, so I didn't particularly need van support during this leg. I kind of thought my team was just going to meet me at the finish. I was listening to my music and concentrating on not tripping in the darkness, when I heard someone yell out "I love this song!" I refused to use headphones and just blared my music right from my running belt! Several steps later, it clicked that it wasn't just some random person yelling that out...it was my team. Unfortunately, they didn't recognize me. What?! All runners with the reflective vests and headlamps look the same?! :-) I kept looking at all the passing vans to see the one that said Road Rash.

When I saw the One Mile To Go sign, I still hadn't seen them pass me by, so I figured I should try giving Andrea a call. No answer. Sent a text that said something like You at exchange? I've got less than 1 mile to go.

They weren't.

Good thing I was passing off to the next van! This exchange was the most complicated for me. This could be due to the dark, but I had a difficult time figuring out which way to go and where to go. Thank goodness for a couple of teens randomly sitting on a busstop bench that corrected my wrong turn!

After the exchange, I texted Andrea again to say I would meet them where the vans entered this particular exchange. I found them with no problems whatsoever.

And we were off to Exchange 24 where there was promise of indoor showers and sleeping. It was a junior high school. So, yeah, the showers sucked just as much as you could imagine. Apparently, I had no problem sleeping on the gym floor, though. I slept soundly from about 1:30 to 3:30 when I got so cold I had to actually get inside my sleeping bag. I quickly fell back asleep until 5:07 when I heard my teammates rustling to pack up their stuff.

Runner 1 would be starting us off again soon.

It was another beautiful, cool morning. While it did heat up quite a bit before it was time for my 3rd leg, it was much more bearable. :-)

My tummy wasn't too pleased with me as my leg was approaching, and I did not really feel up to running another leg, but I did it. I was actually able to stick to my 10/1 intervals, too for the most part! The running got easier as I went along, and I actually did end up enjoying this leg. Towards the end, but before the 1 Mile To Go sign, another runner came up behind me and asked if I wanted to run with her for a bit. I declined. She was just a tad too fast for me, plus I was set to do a walk break right when she asked.

The end of my third leg came with mixed emotions for me. I was glad to be finished running but not so much looking forward to waiting the 5 hours for van 2 to finish. We headed straight to the finish to wait for our teammates. The after-party was in full swing - and the beer and pizza consumption began. If I drank beer, this might have been fun - and certainly would have made the time go faster.

Finally, we saw our last runner coming down the path along the river. We all ran to meet him, so we could cross the finish together. GO TEAM ROAD RASH!

We pretty much finished right on target!

Would I do this again? Absolutely!

Definitely it was physically challenging but also so much fun! I was surprisingly able to finish each of my legs really strong - which is, ultimately, always my goal of any race.

It was fun to run and make some new friends, but it was also really fun to see the creativity of all the other teams - from the team names to the costumes to the van decorating. There was just a lot of fun energy surrounding this race!

I think most, if not all, of Road Rash hopes to do this again next year. Sadly, I won't be able to join them because I'll just be settling into life in St Thomas.

Perhaps Ragnar Florida Keys in Jan 2013... Who's in??


Urban Wildland Half Marathon

What's that they say about good intentions? :)

Finally, I'm getting around to blogging about last weekend's half marathon. I'll use the excuse that it was my birthday this past week.

I had such fun running this race!

It was great to meet a couple friends from DailyMile before the start.
Ray, Treva, Me, Courtenay
I even somehow convinced my sister to join in the fun.
Me, Treva
A lot of runners had some difficulty with the weather, but I thought it was a perfect morning for a run. Guess I'm a bit more of a hot weather runner than most. I did notice a distinctive drop in humidity as the race progressed because I didn't seem to be quite as sweaty.

I was planning on just running and then walking through the water stops, but after looking more closely at the map, I decided to stick to doing 10/1 interval splits. I figured it would help give my legs a brief rest and keep me going strong through the entire race.

I also figured I'd be ok just getting water at the water stops, so I left my handheld in the car.

This turned out to be a bad idea. I was pretty thirsty by the time I got to the first water station and didn't quite get satiated during my 30-sec water walk. I think between WS1 and WS2 there were some kids handing out hard candy. I grabbed a piece just because I wanted to generate some saliva flow in my mouth (TMI??)

Other than being thirsty, I was feeling really pretty good when I met Jeff at the halfway point.

Of course, I grabbed my handheld to take with me for the rest of the race! I also ate some Clif Shot Bloks. Yum!
Overall, I think this course was really pretty. It was mostly roads, but there was also some trail running mixed in through some parks in Richfield. I liked the change of scenery. :)

I had tasked Jeff with meeting a few times on the course, so he could get some pictures of me running. I hate how most of them look like I'm walking, when I totally wasn't. Alas.

The second time I met Jeff was between mile 9 and 10. During the picture taking, my new DM friend, Ray, caught up with me. She started the race further back in the crowd than Treva and me. After the race, when I was looking through the photos Jeff took, I absolutely busted out laughing at how this series turned out. I had to put it into a slideshow.

I wish I knew how to make a slideshow not automatically start playing, because it's funnier if you watch it from slide 1. In the pictures, it looked like we were running together, but in reality, I had no clue she was so close to me.

I think it was around this time when I really felt like my pace had super slowed down. Technically I was still in motion like a runner, but I'd bet there were a few walkers that could have passed me.

Ray only ran with me for perhaps a minute or two before we separated.

Around mile 11, I had to stop to use a portapotty. I figured I could have probably made it the last two miles, but then I thought why put up with that discomfort, so I stopped.

It was SO worth it.

Probably around mile 12, the tummy queasiness set up, but I still managed to keep my pace fairly steady - from what I could tell without any kind of pacing device (gps, garmin, etc).

When I came to that mile 13 sign, I decided, hell yeah, I'm going to push it to the end. I increased my pace. A LOT. I ran and I ran hard. So hard that I didn't even see Jeff taking my pictures just steps before crossing the finish line.
To the Finish!

I definitely needed a few minutes after I'd finished to catch my breath! I couldn't even consider going through the food line right away; I was way too queasy. I walked around the park - sipping water and powerade until I started to feel hungry.

Eventually, Jeff and I headed back to the spot where he was when I finished, so we could wait for my sister to cross the finish line. Tony joined us just a few minutes later.

I started to get a little antsy after about 20 or so minutes, so I said I was going to walk back along the course to go cheer her on. I met up with her just before mile 13. She was walking, so I said we were going to start running once we got to the mile 13 marker. She agreed.

Racing with my sis

 It was fun to help encourage her to finish nice and strong!

So close!
I'm so proud of the two of us! We both met our goals and, look, we're both smiling at the end.

2011 Urban Wildland Half Marathon Finishers! Whoo hoo!
I would absolutely do this race again and recommend it to anyone looking for a good half marathon. Everyone was very helpful. During one of my 1 min intervals, a medical aid person even asked if I was ok. It made me feel good that he was doing his job and paying good attention to the runners on the course.

I managed to pull off about an 11 min/mile pace, which I'm very pleased with.

My time - 2:24:35
Treva's time - 2:57:29

Oh, and I almost forgot how great is was that several people had turned on their sprinklers for runners to run though. I definitely took advantage of every.single.one.




I'm 34 today. :)

It's going to be a crazy busy day, but just so.much.fun!

Here's a quick rundown:

Bubble bath to start the day out right. lol.
Birthday lunch.
I chose a summery menu - sloppy joes, watermelon, pasta salad, frozen strawberry dessert (not sure what it's called, but it should be yum-o)
Back to Work.
Free yoga class.
CorePowerYoga gave me a coupon for a free class on my birthday.
Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe with Jeff and Dan and Chelsea.
Hard Rock also gave me $10 off my purchase.

Plus, my birthday is already off to a rocking start with all kinds of fun birthday wishes and memories over on Facebook!

If you know me, please share a memory in the comments.
If you don't, please share a favorite post of mine that you've read. :)


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