Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Training for Random Events Week X

Since I seem to be training for a variety of different events (i.e., the Danskin Triathlon in 3 weeks and Hood to Coast in 4 weeks) plus several "possible events" (i.e., Pt. Defiance 50k and California International Marathon, better known as CIM), we'll just call this "Training for Random Events".  And whew, that was a long and tedious sentence.

Look, I'm getting "Nuun-tattooed"!  Thanks Holly!

So, last week.  It happened.  I completed a lot of workouts.  But I also rested a lot of days.  Resulting in a weird combination of many "double-days" and also many "do nothing" days.  I don't call that a win.

Monday - One of the "do nothing" days

Tuesday - 8 miles (my longest run since the marathon, if you can believe it!) of trail running.  It was lovely, but I was a sweaty mess by the end.

 1,268 feet of elevation gain in 8 miles - not too shabby!

Wednesday - A "triathlon" day!  That's right, I ended up not only doing a double but a triple workout.  Jordanne and I were supposed to practice "open water" swimming, but instead we went to the pool.  FAIL.  We suck.  After a mile of swimming (40 minutes), JMan and I had a lovely dinner at 5 Guys.  But then I decided to take to the bike for 15+ miles and an hour.  THEN I decided why not do a little "legs feel like bricks" post-cycling running and did 2 miles of running.  WHEW.

On Wednesday I had these gorgeous flowers waiting to surprise me.  Isn't JMan the best?!

Thursday - Whoops, another "do nothing" day

Friday - 5 miles of running in the morning, 1 mile of swimming in the evening

Saturday - 9 miles of running (NOW this is my longest run since the marathon!).  I wanted it to be 10-12 but my glute was not having it.  It has been displeased since Ragnar.

Sunday - All I did besides "do nothing" was pick about 10 pounds of blackberries


And there you have it folks. 

Total running miles = 24.

This week: less "do nothing" days.  A run longer than 9 miles.  More than 24 total miles.  Get 'er done. 

How was your week?  Do you pick blackberries?  It seems early for them, but I can't wait to make some freezer jam!  What's your favorite berry?  How was your weekend? 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ragnar vs. Hood to Coast

So, since this is the "Week of Ragnar" (see Part I, Part II, & Part III of my recaps), I figured I better end the week with one last post about it.  Then I promise to never talk about it ever again.  Believe me?!  :-)

As I've now done two Hood to Coasts and one Ragnar, I have some thoughts on the two different relays.  People have been asking me, "So which one's better?"  And I'm afraid there's no easy answer.  Like most things, there's good and bad with both.  But here are my thoughts on the pro's and con's of each:

Ragnar Northwest Passage:

Signage:  Ragnar does an AWESOME job of putting up signs EVERYWHERE.  I'm sure there were hundreds of them.  Although I still nearly got lost a few times, and I heard a few runners did get a bit lost, this signage is way better than at Hood to Coast (Hood to Coast really doesn't have any signage, though they have more volunteers at these intersections and turns). 

See - look at those lovely signs!

They also have Ragnar written on every trashcan and tattoos for you to enjoy!  Major plus for Ragnar.

Sleeping Arrangements:  Ragnar's sleeping arrangements are TOP NOTCH.  At Hood to Coast your choices involve sleeping in your van or sleeping outside in a field.  Ragnar had indoor sleeping at every major exchange in high school gyms with real bathrooms and often real showers (if you like group showering anyway).  I LOVED THIS.  It only could have been better if I'd had a mat to sleep on. 

The Bling:  Ragnar's medal is AWESOME.  I love it.  Not only is the medal hefty, heavy-duty, heavy, and AWESOME, but it also doubles as a bottle opener.  How cool is that?

Which we quickly put to good use.  

The Hood to Coast medals I've gotten, on the other hands, are awesome, but not AS awesome:

No Traffic:  We never encountered traffic at Ragnar.  With only 388 teams (versus 1,250 for Hood to Coast last year, 1,000 the year before), those numbers speak for themselves.  But last year the traffic at Hood to Coast was so horrible that it nearly overwhelmed all the good things about the race.  We did not get even 1 minute to try to sleep because we were in traffic that whole time.  Here is how we had to try and sleep at Hood to Coast:

Yeah, by the van while one of our runners was running.  Not very restful!

Hood to Coast

The Atmosphere:  While Ragnar DID have some awesome costumes and a few cool van decorations (the "Risky Business" team wearing just their tightie whities and a work shirt get my vote for being the bravest, while "The Runger Games" gets my vote for best team name), it's just not as ridiculous as at Hood to Coast.  And this is perhaps because Hood to Coast is the largest relay in the world, or because of it's long history, or perhaps because you have to go into a lottery to get in unless you win "best team name" or "best costume" or "best van decorations" contests, but Ragnar just can't compete with the atmosphere at Hood to Coast.  

The Course:  At Hood to Coast you're on a freaking MOUNTAIN.  Sorry Ragnar, Blaine just doesn't compete with Timberline.  Also, at Hood to Coast you seem to be making progress towards Seaside the entire time.  At Ragnar you seemed to be doing lots of out-and-backs or loops or nonsensical routes that seemed to just be to add miles to the route.  This was annoying. 

It really can't get much better than starting on Mt. Hood:

And ending on the beach:

The End Party:  Hood to Coast's end party has more booths, is on the BEACH, has better food options, a better beer garden, and is in general more exciting.  Basically you can't make me happy, because I like Ragnar because it has less people so we can have better sleeping arrangements and no traffic, but I love Hood to Coast because it has more people and therefore a better atmosphere and party.  I just can't be pleased. 

Final thoughts: I LOVED Ragnar, and yes I will definitely do it again.  My undying love remains for Hood to Coast though, and I CAN'T WAIT to run it with Team Nuun in a month.  Go Team Morning!

Have you done Ragnar and / or Hood to Coast?  What are your thoughts on the different races? 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay Recap - Part III

Are you ready for the CONCLUSION TO THE EPIC TRILOGY??!!??!!  I bet you are.  You're all, "when will you EVER stop talking about RAGNAR?!?!  Get on with your life already".  And I will.  Soon.  But not today.

When we last left off (Part I and Part II) we had just woken up from our 2.5 hours of rest and headed off to meet Van #2.  We were all pretty tired but I was actually feeling pretty good!  Just sad that I had to wait so long to run again and get my run out of the way.  That's definitely the worst part of being Runner #6.  But everyone except Andy had shorter runs for this leg which was nice and greatly appreciated.

Kevin and Justin started us off:

Wait.  That's not Kevin you say!  Well there were no pictures of him.  Sorry Kevin.

Then it was Jordanne, Andy, and Kasi's turn:

And finally Kasi was running in to slap my hand (that's what you do when you lose your official snap bracelet!).

And then I was off for the 3rd and final time, on a 3.4 mile out-and-back jaunt in Coupeville, Washington.

Saturday at 8:38 am
Total Distance: 3.41 miles     Total Time: 26:27    Average Pace: 7:46
Splits:  8:15, 8:12, 7:05, 7:14 (.41)

As I mentioned before, there was some road construction that forced a change in my original leg (scheduled to be 6.5 miles), forcing them to basically "make-up" some mileage for me to run just to have a leg at all.  So I did an out-and-back that in no way helped our progress from "Blaine to Whidbey".  Although it seemed dumb, it was fun to do the out-and-back because everyone was happy to be on their last leg and telling each other "Great Job!" and slapping hands.  Plus I got to see my favorite costume - Luigi - and he did a little Nintendo video game jump for me. :-)

 Total elevation gain of 158 feet

It was uphill on the way out and then downhill on the way back, and I decided why not go big or go home on your very last leg, right?!  I was really trying for a sub-7 mile but the little uphill at the end ruined those chances, but I was still super proud of my 7:05.

And then I got there... and... NO RUNNER!!!  Apparently even though we texted them that I was running and even though they were at the exchange, Van #2 was not waiting for me in the chute.  So I stood around.  And stood around.  The rest of our van were all on a mass man-hunt to find them... and finally... there Ben was!  It was probably only a few minutes but it felt like an eternity to just stand there like an idiot!  But I was done!

I'm finally all done! 

And then we headed off to the finish line to wait for our team.  We got there before much of anything was set up or ready, but we googled restaurants in the area and we didn't find many that were open yet either.  So we were kind of at a loss of what to do. 

Finally they opened the beer garden so we headed in there for a few beers, and finally the free pizzas arrived so we grabbed ours, but it still seemed like we waited... and waited... and WAITED!

And when our runner finally got there the other van still wasn't there yet so we WAITED some more!  But finally FINALLY we all ran through the finish and got our sweet medals:

Biggest most heavy-duty medal I have to date.  It's also a bottle opener, no big deal.  

Team Sexy & We Know It DOMINATED Ragnar in 29.5 hours!

We didn't stick around after that, as we were hoping to beat the masses on the ferry back to Seattle, which we did - we got right on.  It sounds like the wait for the ferry later was upwards of 2 hours - ouch!

And this is what the team looked like on the ferry.

And we got one last fabulous view of the weekend:

After some fabulous and much-needed showers, we put our medals to good use:

 Turns out these were actually twist-offs. 

Total Distance Across the 3 Legs: 15.4 miles
8.4 (more than half!) of those miles in the 7's.  Boo-yah.

I love relays.  I'm sad it's over.

Did you make it through the trilogy?!?!  Sorry I had to do that to you.  Ever done a Ragnar or relay?  Do you want to now?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay Recap - Part II

Where we last left off (in Part I), we had just finished our 1st set of legs, driven to Burlington, and eaten some delicious hamburgers.  And then before we knew it, Van #2 was texting us saying runner #12 was off and on his way to us! 

But before that, I FINALLY got to meet up at the big exchange with Laura.  We've tried to meet up at both Portland Rock n Roll AND Seattle Rock Roll and both times it just wasn't met to be, but we were finally united (at the port-a-potties of course) and it felt so good:

But then we were off!  Kevin and JMan started us off again:

We saw even MORE beautiful views, though the sun was just not cooperating with us today:

And then it was Jordanne, Andrew, & Kasi's turn:

Then things REALLY started getting crazy, with glow in the dark axes, glow bracelets, glow necklaces, and all that jazz.  I tried putting on chapstick with the lid on and other ridiculously funny (at the time, clearly, not in recapping!) things happened.  During relays - everything becomes hilarious.  When you recap it though - it just sounds dumb. 

It got a little scary there for a bit after I accidentally threw away our LED taillight and our head lamp, and had to go digging through the trash not once, not twice, but THREE times to find it (and the glow axe I accidentally threw away while I was LOOKING for the other lost items!).

But then it was time to go again on leg #2!  I was none too pleased that my van-mates got away without running in the dark for the most part, except for me.  I was also quite cold by this time. 

That headlamp bothered me every step of this leg.  It would NOT stay in place.

And then they were calling our number!  Kasi came in and told us she'd lost our very important official Ragnar snap bracelet baton - oh no!

This is high quality photography.

And then I was off again on a 5.6 mile jaunt through La Conner.

Friday at 10:56 pm
Total Distance: 5.58 miles     Total Time: 55:56      Average Pace: 8:08
Splits:  8:23, 8:20, 8:27, 7:58, 7:54, 7:27 (.58)

Another quality photo

The first 3 miles of this leg were SO boring.  It was so freaking dark, so freaking flat (see elevation map below!), and so dead straight on the straightest, flattest road in all of Washington.  It was along farmland, there weren't many people out there, so there was not much to look at or think about.  It felt like I was NEVER going to be done.

Total elevation gain was LITERALLY 0 feet.  How is that even possible? 

After those 3 miles I decided that with 2.5 miles to go it might be more entertaining to walk the fine line of "can I keep this pace up for the rest of the time?"  It's a risky little game.  So I picked it up a bit and suffered through to the end.  And success - a few more miles in the 7's!

And I was all done!  Check out my sweet "animal print pants out of control". 

And it was finally time to sleep.  But first we had to get lost a few times on our way to Oak Harbor High School at the next big exchange, getting there around 1:00am.  It was so lovely that Ragnar has indoor sleeping arrangements at many high schools in the area.  It would have been lovelier if there had been mats.  But beggars can't be choosers, can they?

It doesn't sound that interesting when I write it, but it was actually VERY shocking how when I went to sleep the gym was empty and looked like this:

And when I woke up a short 2.5 hours later the gym looked like this:

Jordanne, Kevin, JMan, and I were sleeping in a row, and it was so packed that there was actually a new person now in between JMan and Kevin and another new person in between Jordanne and Kevin!  I tried to go back to sleep until 4:00am (our scheduled wake-up time) and couldn't, so I just packed up, then woke up the others, and we were off to meet our runners and start leg #3!

Ear plugs and eye masks: I cannot say enough good things.  Those are freaking necessities.

Come back tomorrow for the final conclusion in this epic trilogy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay Recap - Part I

So I know you all hate multi-part recaps, but sometimes... you just can't help it.  It's not even that I have so much to say about the race that I really need at least 3 parts... but it's just that I have way too many pictures to have it just be one part!  So this is just the week of Ragnar. 

As you all know, I LOVE relays.  JMan called this "my Vegas" (he has a Vegas trip with his friends every year that he looks forward to all year), and so now I'm so sad that it's over!  EXCEPT.... HOOD TO COAST WITH TEAM NUUN!  Yessss I can't wait for August 24!

Anyway, back to the task at hand.  Ragnar Northwest Passage was this weekend, and it did not disappoint.  Tons of laughs, lots of ridiculousness, plenty of running, and an abundance of gorgeous views, kind of like this one at the start in Blaine:

As you might recall, JMan's Valentine's Day gift to me was that he would do this race, since I've been begging him all year.  I also promised I would never ask him to do one again if he hated it... so I will have to try extra hard to abide by that promise!

He's having fun?

My awesome amazing Dad agreed to be one of our volunteers at the race, and he worked the start line.  He was a real trooper, since not only did he have to be there at 4:30am but it also RAINED much of the time.  He ROCKS. 

We did the safety briefing, checked-in, got our gear (bibs, t-shirts, flags), and then we were off!

Kevin started us off with Leg #1.

Justin took over from Kevin for Leg #2 - and he dominated his long leg - pretty much the longest he's ever run at 6.8 miles.  HE DOMINATES! 

More beautiful Pacific Northwest views seen during the first set of legs: Birch Bay.

Then it was Jordanne's, Andy's, and Kasi's turn.  I was getting SO antsy to run this whole time!  Going last isn't my favorite thing.

Until finally it was MY turn!  Did I mention our team name was "We're Sexy & We Know It" and we went with the LMFAO theme?  Well, we interpreted that as all neon all the time:

I know my outfit is awesome. 

And then I was off on a 6.4 mile jaunt through Bellingham!

Friday at 1:21 pm
Total Distance: 6.40 miles     Total Time: 51:08      Average Pace: 7:59
Splits:  8:58, 7:32, 8:10, 7:51, 7:56, 7:43, 7:24 (.4)

Total elevation gain of 195 feet.

This first leg is totally already a blur, which I don't know how that's possible.  The scenery wasn't anything special, though I did run by some adorable old houses in Bellingham.  I definitely felt that first hill, and I am proud of pumping out all those sub-8 miles, which so rarely happens in everyday life. 

Handing off to Ben - our first runner in Van 2! 

And then we were all done with our first set of legs!  We set off for Burlington, where our second set of legs would start.  We stopped for some hamburgers and a beer at "Train Wreck Bar & Grill", where the food was delicious but the timeliness was horrific (apparently they weren't ready for the onslaught of Ragnarians!).

Come back tomorrow for Part II.... if you dare!