Monday, April 13, 2015

First Ragnar Experience

The tagline for this event is:

"Ragnar is the overnight running relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport.

You and 11 of your craziest friends (or 5 of your crazier friends for an ultra team) pile into two vans and tag team running 200(ish) miles, day and night, relay-style."

I'm not really sure what part of it appealed to me most, but it definitely sounded like an experience that I would never forget... and I loved it!

My dad picked me up at 4:00am on Friday the 10th, and then I was participating in the Ragnar until he brought me back home at 5:00pm on Saturday the 11th (including the 2 hour drive home).

During that time I had three runs, and lots of time spent in the van or in my aunt's beach house in between our turn to run (which I was told was a very nice way to do the ragnar, compared to normal camping or just sleeping in the van).

My first run was at 5:50am or so. I ran 4.15 miles in 39:07. It was dark, but fun, and I got to chat with some of the other runners. This was a very uneventful leg of my journey. Then, I didn't run again until 6:45pm!

In between I cheered on my fellow runners, and we saw the start of "code 731." As with all relay races, when one runner finishes, the next runner is supposed to be there, waiting, ready to start their run. With a crazy relay race like ours, with van rides between spots, there is occasionally delays. But we saw one runner, runner from team 731, who arrived with no one there... and still no one after 10 minutes... 20 minutes, 30 minutes plus... and then our runner arrived, we made the switch, and we had to drive off to our next location. But our whole team was worried about this runner, and kept an eye out for their van.

We did see the van, about leg 6, of team 731, and felt reassured that they were reunited once more. But by this point, code 731 had become our way of reminding others to hurry to the next runner, because we didn't want any of our team to be "code 731" where they were wondering where the van and runners were.

My second leg, starting at 6:45 was a beautiful run, very scenic, and I got to see the sunset. But there was a problem... the sign that there was one mile left, at which point we text the team that we are a mile out... wasn't there. I waited to see if my garmin was wrong... but by the time I knew it was wrong, I could actually see the exchange point! So... I texted "almost there," not sure what else to write!

It wasn't a problem, my team was there (no code 731...yet), but I did so well, I actually was too fast for my dad to see me finish the leg. I ran 3.98 miles in 35 minutes, way better than my typical 10 minute mile pace. He arrived as I was walking away with vanmates back to the car.

Around this time, one teammate got a horribly bad migraine, to the point where she could barely sit up, much less run. Another teammate took her place for the night run, and we talked about me taking her next run if needed, in addition to my third leg, or switching runs (I had a shorter flat run, she had a longer hilly run).

We got to head back to the beachhouse after our second legs at 10:17pm, and I think I went to sleep about 11pm. We were planning on getting up and moving at 2:00am for our next set, but at 1:40am, we discovered that our other van was moving fast, and we needed to hurry to get there as their last runner had already taken off! So, we managed to take off from the house in just a few minutes, and made it to the exchange on time.

At this point, my not feeling great vanmate was feeling better, but on the fence about switching runs with me, or toughing it out, so I was prepping myself to run my leg (at 3 or so), and drinking coffee etc. But she eventually decided that it was in her best interest to switch and to make sure she didn't push herself past her limits (and agreed after her run that it was good to switch), so instead I had 4 more hours before my run started, and now I was wide awake. I made the best of it, and was able to see each team member's switch through the night.

My last leg started at a little bit before 8. It was cold outside, while not running, and as the sun wasn't too high yet... so I was wearing a running skirt and a long sleeved team shirt as I set off. This leg started with a half mile "warm up" before I started climbing the hill... for the next mile and a half! I went from sea level up to 450 feet of elevation! Not easy, but I pushed through, and even passed a number of people.

As you would expect, the running, plus the hill, plus the day getting warmer, I got hot... and though I hated to do it... I had to change to just my sports bra after I made it to the top. While I was working on the process of removing my shirt... a girl I passed on the hill caught up and passed me.

I wasn't about to let that go, so I got my pace back up, and passed her again. I stayed ahead of her until the last little stretch where I look over my shoulder... and there she is again! I couldn't let her pass me again... so we did a full blown sprint to the end of the leg. (So fun) But alas, her teammate was there, got the switch, and I was a code 731! (no teammates there!).

They got the text (code 731) and my exchange person was there quickly. Problem was, my sprint to the end threw them off, and they thought I had more time before I would be there based on my average mile time of the first few miles as compared to my quick 9 minute last mile. They were there on time... just a bit off and talking.

With that, our van was done, and we feasted on a well earned IHOP breakfast, and then had what I honestly consider the worst part of the whole race... waiting for van 2 to finish. I was done, ready to go home, ready to see my kids... but there were 6 runners still going on our team before we could all finish together. I did take another couple hour nap in the van, but for the most part, I was just bored, walking around or resting till we got runner 12 done.

On our way to the finish line... who should we see but runner 731! We talked to him, took his picture, explained our code in honor of him, and discovered what had happened. His team had gone to the next exchange, accidentally skipping his exchange. He didn't like to run with a cell phone, and didn't know his team's number anyways. But they were at the next stop, wondering what happened to him, and it took them a whole hour before everyone was reunited once more, with the help of the Ragnar volunteers. Anyways, crazy that we happened to see him and his team, with so many people around.

I was crazy tired that night, and I am still sore, but I still felt like it was a great experience and I do hope to do another Ragnar someday, possibly in another state!
 Checking off 1 mile done
 Van 1 cheering on Tabitha as she conquered a crazy hill (also distributing well earned candies to people as they finished their hill when we were waiting for her).
 Van 1, leg 1 done.
 (no pictures of leg 2) This is my last mile of my last leg picture... such a pretty sight!
 I finished the running portions of my ragnar!
 All 12 of us crossed the finish line together!

 Don't let a code 731 happen to your crew!

 All twelve medals actually go together. It is hard to read but says, "Together we ran 200ish miles, Ragnar Relay series"
 "Silly face" team picture
 Van 1 team picture
 Checking off my third leg... which was actually Tabitha's (yellow check mark meant run by someone else for our team)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Snapshot of Life as I turn 31

In a rare occurance these days, Grace and Remington are both taking a nap!

I decided to take it as an opportunity to write a short, no picture blog of my life before I turn 31 tomorrow.

My life is full, blessed and I feel that most days I am able to find that delicate but beautiful balance of time for me, time as a mom, and time as a wife.

Grace has preschool twice a week, and those mornings are special because I have time with Remington that he doesn't have to share with Grace. We sometimes run errands, or go to the park, or Pretend City, or just stay home, but he gets all the mom time, and he loves that, and I do too.

Tuesdays we visit my mom, and have special grandma mornings with her followed by a lunch. Then Remington falls asleep on the drive home (and sometimes Grace does too, but almost always wakes up as I get her out of the car.

But most afternoons, when Remington is napping, Grace and I have a special time where we play board games together. She loves a princess game my brother got for her and she always is Snow White, and loves to win. Recently we got a cooperative game, and she just couldn't understand how we could both win, but she loved it.

I have never lost the love of reading that I got as a child (and have passed onto my kids), so I get my doses of me-time in my reading at two main points of the day- breakfast and snacktime. At lunch and and dinner, there are no books, phones or tv (unless it is a Ducks game) allowed, and we focus on actually having a conversation. But at breakfast and at afternoon snack, both kids know that mom is reading. They are happy and content in their food, and I read that it is actually really beneficial for kids to see their parents reading, as it sets a good example. As Grace has gotten older, she actually will ask me about my books from time to time and I share what I can about what I am currently reading.

Perhaps it is because of that, or something else, but both of my kids love to read. We get stacks of books from the library, in addition to our extensive library at home (inherited from years in the classroom) and a good chunk of my time with the kids is spent reading books to them. Both of them love to bring me a book (Remington will say, not so politely, "Read it!") and sit on my lap as I read them a story, and are getting good at telling me the story of books we have read together many times.

I try for an afternoon walk with them every day, but when that doesn't happen, I try to get Blake to take them instead. But even at home, Remington especially, the kids get a lot of exercise with the variety of balls we give them access to, and hockey sticks/net, baseball tee, etc.

I strive for running before everyone wakes up two days a week, and then once on the weekend, and I also have added weight training a few days a week when Blake gets home. This is another good me-time place where I don't have to worry about anyone but me, and Blake has been amazing at giving me occasional evenings where I can go out with friends too, and he watches the kids (and I return the favor for sporting events or what he wants to do).

We have started "cry it out" with Remington and it seems to be going well, though it is heartbreaking to do with a kid with his advanced vocabulary, as you won't just hear crying, you also hear, "Momma, where are you?" and "I love you, " as he tries hard to get me to come back early. However, with his wider understanding, we can talk about how mom will come back after he goes to sleep, and that seems to be helping. Last night was only a few minutes of crying, and I hope that it continues to go down (as I truly hate hearing him cry).

After the kids go to bed, Blake and I get our unwinding time either with a tv show- recently we are on a superhero kick- or the video game that we have returned to for the upteenth time, having started it before we graduated college and have played and quit multiple times.

I sneak art projects in from time to time, but most days, in the down time between preschool, Grace's dance class, my mom, their other grandma time, and playdates, etc. I just let them play. I really push the divergent thinking toys (which are toys that can be played with a multiple ways). The latest favorites are things like the train tracks/train set, the dollhouse, and the small animals. I love seeing their creativity come out. I have seen Grace give the tiger a shot and Remington have a princess riding a dinosaur. Remington, the other day, set up a bunch of animals in a row, and started feeding all of them with a pretend fork, and saying, "Yummy," as he went. Grace will cook us up crazy foods in her play kitchen, and it never ceases to amaze me what creative minds my (and probably most) kids have when you just let them play with a toy with no specific, predetermined purpose (like so many electronic games and toys these days).

Not to say that I even meet my own perfect image of what parenting should be. Perfect world, my kids wouldn't watch any tv... but the only way I can find to be the wife I want to be is to make a compromise here. For an hour every day, I let the kids watch a show while I clean up the kitchen and prep dinner if I can. They do have to pick up toys first, and whoever cleans up best gets to choose the show. Another way that I am less than my own ideal is with cloth diapers. I feel the need, on this blog of mine, to admit that while Grace still uses cloth diapers at night, we still haven't made the switch with Remington. It is hard to get away from the better look, and ultimately ease that the disposable diapers offer, especially with the many outings we go on.

With that, Remington woke up... and so did Grace... but suffice it to say that I am at a great place of peace and happiness with my lot in life these days.