Monday, November 25, 2013

Ragnar Vegas with Team Nuun Pro Compression #sohydratedsotight

Well, per usual, I'm the very last person to post my recap!  Stupid overachievers on my team...!  :-)  And also per usual, it's impossible to recap such an amazing event.  It's an "experience", and words can't really capture what it was like.  So I'm going to leave you with some random bullet points of what it was like instead.  Hold on to your hats folks, it's a long one. 

What it was like to leave Baby J
It was hard. Shocking, right?  As I mentioned, you plan these things so far in advance that you imagine by the time the race actually arrives you'll be perfectly sane and able to deal with the situation.  But then it arrives and you're still not.  And you find yourself at the airport crying because another little boy has the same toy.  But once I got there it was great as I knew it would be, and it was nice to be able to say "I'm going to see him tomorrow" from pretty much the moment I got there.  Needless to say, I'm not planning another overnight trip away from him for a long long time.  He (and my husband!) did survive though!

What it was like to do a relay while breastfeeding
Hmmm.  Let's just say that I probably won't do another relay until I'm all done breastfeeding.  Though I could probably be convinced.  :-)  I'm SO glad I did it, but pumping every 3-4 hours wasn't exactly the most fun thing ever.  My vanmates were such good sports about the whole thing (sweet Sandy was even constantly offering me water and snacks while I was tied to the pump!), even when it was 4am and we were trying to sleep and the pump starts going again.  They graciously said the white noise helped them get to sleep.  I certainly am glad there weren't any males in my van though. 

Anyway, it was a huge hassle to say the least.  But if you're in the same boat, here's what I did: I dumped for the first 12 hours I was away, and I kept all the milk from the last 40-ish hours.  What I had read said in a cooler with ice milk can stay good for up to 24 hours (which is why I dumped for the first part), but I deliberately attempted to do better than average so I could keep it for a bit longer.  I loaded up ziploc bags with ice at the hotel before we left and stuffed my soft sided cooler to the brink (full coolers stay colder), leaving space in the center for the milk (so there would be ice on every side of it).  Immediately after pumping I put the milk in the cooler, and I got new ice 24 hours later, which lasted until I got home.  I checked the cooler (bye bye $20) on the way home and didn't even try carrying it on, even though the TSA rules say you might be able to.  The milk seemed very cold and I smelled a few of the older bags just to make sure and they all seemed fine so I immediately froze them after I got home.  

I brought home about 45 ounces and Baby J drank about 80, so I'm definitely still in the negative, but it was nice to not feel like all that hassle was completely wasted.  We'll also see if it had any impact on my supply, as there were definitely a few times when I went longer than normal without pumping (like Thursday night when I enjoyed some uninterrupted sleep!).  

What it was like to hang out with my vanmates
My vanmates were AWESOME.  My whole team was awesome, but sadly I didn't get to know Van 2 very well.  This is one of my big regrets from the trip.  It was made worse because, as Runner 1 I was usually running when the teams hung out at the major exchanges.  Hopefully someday we'll meet again, because they all seemed awesome from what little I learned.  But my vanmates are all amazing - I could not have asked for a better group of ladies to hang out with.  From sweet Kelsey, the adorable baby who hasn't even seen Dirty Dancing, to Caroline, who powers through every run despite intense stomach distress, to Sandy who is so modest and kind, to Vanessa, who is so caring and hard core, and finally Zoe, who was constantly tending to our needs and dominating her runs.  I'm truly blessed to have such wonderful vanmates.

What it was like to be Runner 1
Being Runner 1 was awesome!  It was fun to start the relay off and it was definitely awesome to be the first one always done and not be waiting around.  On the other hand, it's not that great to be the one who has to be super stressed about waking up on time to meet the other van after the sleeping exchange.  I barely got any sleep because I was so worried about being up, dressed, pumped, etc. in time.  If you do a relay while breastfeeding I actually recommend not being Runner 1 so you can pump when the runner before you goes.  

It was great to lead us off and get to toe the start line though!

That is, until I looked around and I saw that of the 15 or so starting, there was only one other female, and many of the guys were sporting six-packs, short shorts, or other tell-tale signs that they were FAST.  Umm.... why were WE starting so late with them?

Annnndddd, just like I was afraid of, I'm immediately in last place. See you later guys!

Leg 1:
Leg 1 was GORGEOUS.  Wow, I loved it.  I love downhill running so I was kind of excited for the challenge of running down Mt. Charleston.  Buuutttt who knew that running at 8,500 feet of elevation is actually really really really REALLY hard?  I seriously could barely catch my breath the first 4 miles, it was like there wasn't enough oxygen in the air to breathe.  Which, there probably wasn't.  I didn't think there'd be any problem because I've run Leg 2 of Hood to Coast before, which is down Mt. Hood, but I just looked it up and the start of HTC is only 6,000 feet, so my start was probably 4,000 feet.  There's probably a pretttyyyy big difference between 4,000 feet and 8,500 feet.  It's so crazy because Mt. Charleston sure doesn't look like much of a mountain compared to Mt. Hood!
As I mentioned, it was funny when we lined up at the start because there were about 20 of us, 18 guys looking like Ryan Hall in their no-shirt six-packs and short short running shorts, one other girl, and little old-me wearing a sparkle skirt.  Yep, I was in DEAD LAST PLACE from the moment they yelled "GO".  And it stayed that way until the very last half mile when I finally passed the other girl.  Why they started our nearly all-female non-elite team at the same time as all-male, practically elite teams I have no idea. It certainly left us feeling less than stellar with nearly 0 total roadkills (I had 1 on every leg for a total of 3).  

Yep.  Last place and all alone.

Seriously, these were for REAL my views while I was running.  At one point I shouted at my teammates - "Can you believe this???"  It was gorgeous.

Annnnd this is what a straight downhill elevation map looks like:

Friday, 12:30pm
Total time: 54:28      Total distance: 6.93 miles        Average Pace: 7:52 (WOOT! Yeah yeah yeah I had help.)
Splits: 7:50, 8:09, 8:06, 8:20, 8:00, 7:24, 7:09
Elevation loss: 2,011 feet

After a Chili's dinner and some hanging around shenanigans it was Leg 2 time!

Leg 2:
Leg 2 happened at about 9pm and it was COLD by this time.  Like seriously high desert COLD, and I was glad I had my huge parka even though my neighbor on the flight made fun of me (highs were in the 70's).  Leg 2 was in a residential neighborhood with the first mile flattish and then the rest all straight uphill.  Ugh.  Where I'm from we run up AND down hills - you know - like rollers?  Apparently in Vegas you just CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB unrelenting hills that never end and never give you a break.  It's ridiculous.  There's not much else to say about this leg.  Thank goodness it was only 4 miles.  I was still feeling prideful at this point and refused to let myself walk at all even though I wanted to SO bad.  1 more roadkill.

Seriously.  Lovely.

Friday, 9:09pm
Total time: 37:47       Total distance: 3.87 miles        Average Pace: 9:45 (hmm, 2 full minutes per mile slower...)
Splits: 8:59, 9:49, 10:02, 10:16
Total elevation gain: 354 feet

We tried to get some rest at the next exchange but I'm guessing I slept for about 30 minutes.  If that.  I suck at sleeping in weird places.  Then it was time to go again!

I also obviously didn't change my clothes after my 2nd leg, even though I had those lovely ziploc bags with different outfits ready.  Too lazy and too cold.  Don't judge.

Leg 3:
By leg 3, I was TIRED.  I was dreading going back out there.  Oh man, especially because my last leg featured another never ending hill as well.  This leg was made worse by not knowing exactly how far it would be - the book said 4.8 miles while online said 5.4, man I was hoping for 4.8, and it ended up being 5.5.  OF ALL UPHILL.  Ugghhhh.  At least it wasn't dark AND wasn't hot yet.  The sun was rising while I was running and it was again pure loveliness, except for the part where I climbed a mountain in another residential area.  This leg was actually really close to where I used to live which was some great nostalgia seeing all those familiar street names.  

And there you go Kelsey - I'M DONE!

Okay fine, this stupid elevation map says only the last 2.5 miles were uphill.  I say it was the whole time.  And fine, Garmin says I did get some breaks, but I sure didn't notice them!  LIAR GARMIN LIAR.  Oh yeah, I also walked during the hill.  A LOT.  My pride was gone and my quads were HURTING from all that downhill earlier. 
Saturday, 6:07am
Total time: 55:17      Total distance: 5.48 miles        Average Pace: 10:05 (I just keep getting slower!)
Splits: 9:21, 9:16, 9:49, 10:48, 11:07, 10:17         Total elevation gain: 289 feet 
The Finish!
Then we were DONE!  Okay okay, IIIIII was done.  I made sure everyone knew it too.  I'm so mean.  But soon the rest of my van was done too!  Good thing, because it was getting HOT.  I don't envy Van 2 (except for their view of Lake Mead) - they are all rock stars for toughing out super long legs in the direct sun on the 3rd leg. 

Love these ladies!

So we headed to the finish where we enjoyed our complimentary beers and pizza, but we were already sweltering since there was no shade anywhere.  Ragnar - you need some umbrellas.

But we cooled off with some Nuun with Megan at the Nuun tent and said hi to our Pro Compression friends next door! 

And then Brennan was bringing it in for the W!  Well, a W to us! 

My awesome amazing teammates:
Go read their stories!

And before you knew it I was back at the airport heading home and my whirlwind of a 48 hours was over.  And I seriously could not walk.  That first leg KILLED ME. 

What it's like to run a Ragnar
This was my 2nd Ragnar (Northwest Passage was my other) and 5th relay to date (all the others were Hood to Coasts), and my previous opinion on Ragnar stands.  Ragnar ROCKS when it comes to directions and signage.  It is so so so nice and comforting to have all of those signs out there directing you, even complete with flashing LED's during the night legs.  BUT, I still find it extremely EXTREMELY annoying how they "make up" mileage with silly loops around the block and out-and-backs.  That's just plain ridiculous.  If you're going to run 200 miles FROM somewhere TO somewhere, you should actually do that, instead of doing multiple loops around the block to make the numbers add up.  It was awfully ridiculous to find out the next exchange was ACROSS THE STREET!  Seriously.  

 Ragnar does bling right though.

Also, if you're going to do a Vegas relay, I feel like you should at some point kind of run at least NEAR the strip.  i realize it's not that safe and it's super trafficky and maybe it's just not feasible, but it seems kind of necessary?  It was also too bad that one of the most gorgeous parts of the route - Red Rock Canyon - is done in complete pitch dark blackness.  Go read Vanessa's race report about running that (she is such a trooper)!

Finally, similarly to Hood to Coast, we started nearly last even though we were an all female definitely not-elite team.  Why that happened I have no idea, but it left us in near last place for almost the whole race, and pulling into exchanges that were ghost towns.  Because of this I think we missed more of the crazy costumes / decorations relays are famous for.  

What it was like to run with Nuun and Pro Compression
Um, did you SEE our awesome Nuun Pro Compression socks?  We were seriously the envy of the entire relay.  I LOVE them and totally felt like they helped #keepittight.  I totally felt like they helped save my calves... now if only they made full-length tights because man my quads were hurting from that downhill leg.  Nuun and Pro Compression are AWESOME and I'm so thankful they gave me this opportunity.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU TIMES INFINITY!

Final Thoughts
Doing a relay always leaves you begging for more.  You can bet you could find us at the finish line talking to the Ragnar Trail people about upcoming races.  I am dying to do Ragnar Trail Zion in April - anyone interested?  Maybe pumping would be easier if I was stationed in a tent instead of a van...?? :-)  And I definitely want a reunion with these awesome peeps sometime SOON.

Thanks for Reading!
If you made it this far - CONGRATS!  You're amazing and must be really bored today.  As a reward - you've earned yourself a 20% off code on Nuun (using "ragnarvegas") and a 40% off code (plus free shipping!) on Pro Compression socks (use "nuunpc")! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Baby J 4 Month Update

It's hard to believe little Baby J is now 4 months old! He's growing up so fast!
Let's see. What's new since our last update?

Stats. At 2 months Baby J was 12 lbs 5 ozs and 22.5 inches.  Our 4 month appointment puts him at 16 pounds 12.5 ounces (63rd percentile) and 26 inches (67th percentile). Considering he started out so little I think he's HUGE now! 

Cooper is not amused.

In terms of health, Baby J has had an annoyingly persistent case of cradle cap, but it seems to bother me more than him. On the other hand, his belly button hernia (where his intestines are literally pushing out 

of his belly button, kind of gross but apparently super common for the first year) has seemed to improve, if not disappear completely!

Baby J has officially rolled over! The crazy thing is the EXACT SAME DAY I typed the part of his last 3 month update post saying I never ever ever thought he would do it he did it that same night! He only does front to back (not back to front), he seems to use his massive head for leverage, and he certainly doesn't do it on demand or even every day.

Clearly this occurred on a Sunday and my husband is obsessed with his fantasy football team.  

Baby J is definitely grabbing things these days. He still doesn't seem to so it intentionally (as in, he's not reaching for toys much, but if you put them in his hand or he happens upon them he'll grab them).

He's also discovered his voice!  I've been practicing mamamamama with him but no luck yet.  :-)

Halloween happened! Child abuse much?  I really wanted him to be a monster for Halloween since he's a "Monster Baby".  Too bad he wasn't a fan. 

In terms of sleep, we're working on putting Baby J to bed "drowsy but awake" as every single sleep book says to do so so he'll learn to put himself to sleep. He's done it successfully a few times so far, but definitely has a sleep association of nursing to sleep.

We also invested in "Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit" after hearing Michelle's success and the first night IT WAS MAGIC. I was screaming (i.e. tweeting) it's praises from the rooftop. Then the 2nd night it wasn't even remotely magic.  The only thing that seems to be magic about it is helping baby go to sleep easier, especially after waking in the night.  But it has NOT helped him sleep longer.  I don't know if it's the 4 month sleep regression, him being in his own room, me being back at work full-time, no more swaddling, or WHAT (since all these things happened at kind of the same time) but his sleeping is worse than ever.  He wants to eat every 2-3 hours around the clock, including the night, and there's no consoling him with pacifiers or rocking.

 He looks pretty adorable in it though.
Also, we NEED to invent some product designed to get babies to sleep. I swear parents of infants are the #1 most desperate buyer very susceptible to false promises and impulse buys.  It's a gold mine.

And that's a wrap!  Once again, we're closer to 5 months than 4 at this point.  AND I promise you a Ragnar Vegas post SOOOON.  Probably. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I Can't Wait to Sleep

Ragnar is here ALREADY????  Crap crap crap.  CRAP.  When I signed up for this and booked my flight it was SO far away.  It was kind of like it was never actually going to be here.  

On the one hand, I'm ridiculously excited about spending the weekend running down a mountain, hanging out with some fun Nuunies, and in general relaying it up.  It was SO HARD missing first Ragnar, then Spokane to Sandpoint, and THEN still Hood to Coast this summer.  Relays are like my most favorite thing EVER, so while I missed deli meat and caffeine and alcohol (and let's face it - even now I only get caffeine and alcohol in restrictive moderation), I missed the relays WAYYYY MORE.  So I'm WAY excited to be able to still do one in 2013 and am really appreciative to Nuun for the opportunity.  I'm also beyond excited to sleep a full uninterrupted night's sleep tomorrow night.   
 But I'm going to miss this face SO much!

On the other hand, I'm ridiculously nervous about leaving Baby J for the first time.  While I'm away from him for about 8.5 hours every single work day, that's the longest I've ever been away from him.  And sometimes I cry about it during those 8.5 hours.  Yes, that happened.  This weekend will be about 54 hours away.  EEK.  That just gave me anxiety to add that up.  I'm also worried about my husband, who will be on baby duty alone for about 24 hours straight, plus an additional night alone.  I've done it and I know that taking care of Baby J alone without back-up is exhausting, especially on days when he decides not to nap.  

So there are so many worries running through my head:
  • Will I spend the whole weekend crying from being away from Baby J?
  • Will Baby J be okay without me?
  • Will JMan wake-up in the night to feed Baby J (JMan is a very deep sleeper) or will we be accidentally be making Baby J CIO (cry-it-out)??  Sad face.
  • Will I annoy all my vanmates with my incessant pumping?  I'll have to do it every 3-4 hours the whole time - is that going to be the most obnoxious thing ever??  I already predict yes.
  • Will I be able to keep the pumped milk cold enough to at least not have to throw all of it out?  That stuff is liquid gold and the thought of throwing it away makes me want to throw up.  
  • Will my lack of training come back to haunt me as I run 15 miles including 7 straight down a mountain and 4 straight up a hill?  How will my quads feel?  
  • Is it going to be SO COLD?  Current forecasts are for highs of 70 in actual Vegas but only highs of 50 on Mt. Charleston (where my first leg is) and lows of 40's at night (when my 2nd and 3rd legs will be).
  • Will Baby J forget about me while I'm gone????????????  Don't answer that if it's yes.
See you on the other side folks.  And just because you made it this far through all all my fears, you've earned yourself a 20% off code from Nuun (code "ragnarvegas", expires 12/31/13) and a 40% off + free shipping code from Pro Compression (code: "nuunpc", also expires 12/31/13). 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Transformation of a Mess to a Nursery: Part 3 - the Final Chapter!

So you've all watched as Baby J's nursery came together - though it took a really really really really really long time to be finished!  But, since he just slept in his room (kind of?) for the very first time last night, I guess it didn't need to be done until now!
***This post was written a month ago!  He's been sleeping in his crib / own room since 3 months. 

 Can't precious just always sleep on me instead??

Yes, I had major anxiety about him sleeping in his own room.  Yes, I know it's unlikely someone will break in and steal him, or there will be a fire, or a carbon monoxide issue, or he'll need me and I won't hear him on the monitor.  I know it's VERY unlikely there'll be a zombie apocalypse (yes, I just finished reading World War Z!).  Yes, I know these are irrational thoughts but they're thoughts nonetheless.  So sue me!

Spoiler alert: He slept in there until 3am, when he woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep until 5am, when we finally caved and put him in his swing.  Unfortunately this is a fairly common occurrence, unrelated to sleeping in his own room.  We try not to negotiate with terrorists, but sometimes in sleep deprivation states the terrorist wins.  Yes, Baby J is a terrorist sometimes.  A very precious one!

But I digress - let's reveal the final FINAL nursery!

You saw the mess of an office that started it all.

This is embarrassing.

You saw us paint stripes on the wall (no easy feat, just ask JMan!):

You saw the mobile my crafty friend Lisa helped me make:

 I mentioned already how the cuteness is directly related to the size of the googly eye!

You saw the nursery mostly done when we added the furniture:

But here's the FINAL nursery shot!

Recent additions include:

Using gutters to make book shelves for the wall (idea from one of those remodel on a budget shows) - these shelves cost about $30 - less than ONE much smaller shelf, and I LOVE the look of it:

The painted letters on canvas on the wall (thanks to Mom's Little Running Buddy for the inspiration): 

Although I originally had used fabric glue to adhere the letters to the canvas fabric, I ended up nailing the letter through the canvas onto the wall just to ensure 100% that it stays adhered to the wall and doesn't come crashing down onto Baby J's head!

**Hint - I bought an additional window shade and cut it up so the fabric on the canvases matched.

A changing table (thanks Mom!).  Originally we were just going to use the dresser top but my Mom wanted something a little taller for her back - and it is WAY easier and nice to have the extra shelves.

An organized closet!  Also thanks to my Mom!  Originally the closet just had the standard bar / shelf across the top.  We added a closet organization system and voila - so much more storage space!

 Although it looks pretty messy - babies need way too much stuff!

Finally - a very distorted panoramic photo of the final product that makes the room look huge even though it's DEFINITELY not.  Sidebar - I need to get a wide-angle lens for the camera.

And that's it!  Baby J's nursery!  I hope he likes it!