Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ragnar Del Sol

This weekend I finished my third Ragnar, my first one out of state.

It was in Arizona and it was a really neat experience running in a different state. The idea of a cactus as a symbol for Arizona is not far fetched, since I saw countless ones during the four days I was there.

Personally, I am really proud of how I performed. I expected to maintain a 9:40 minute mile pace. My first leg, about six and a half miles, I started out with a 9-9:15 pace, but wore myself out too fast and ended with an exact 9:40 average pace (adding in my too slow last couple miles).

My middle of the night leg was slow, bleh. However, I know why- I screwed up my eating schedule and really should have eaten more before my leg, but it was really approaching my time to run, and I didn't want to have digestive issues while running. Plus, I never napped that afternoon, which meant that after getting up before 5am, running 6+ miles and starting this leg around 11pm... I was just tired. Oh well. I got to sleep in a high school gym while the other van ran, and felt great by the time my third and final leg started.

I finished this last leg five minutes faster than projected! I was so stoked! Plus, I forced myself to run the entirety of the last mile, plus sprinting to the hand off.

Lots of great memories were made on this Ragnar, just like all the others before, and I think it is safe to say that it won't be my last.

I've been asked, many times, why? Why choose to be in and out of a van, lose sleep, be away from family, etc.?

 First off, I will quote what was on the back of the collective medals:
 "We believe that being a Ragnarian is about more than being a runner; that misery loves company and happiness is "only real when it's shared"; that there is a badass inside all of us; that everyone deserves to be cheered at the finish line; that tutus make you run faster; that adventure can only be found if you are looking for it; and that a little sleep deprivation is a small price to pay to watch the sunrise with our friends. Together we ran 200-ish miles. Together we can accomplish anything."

 Sunrise on Friday.

 Here is where I slept.
 Sunrise Saturday.
 View when I finished.

 This highlights a lot of the big reasons, like having that support. My favorite single phrase, repeated often in our van by multiple people was, "What do you need?" Many times it was said as someone is trying to figure out the last location of their gear (which got moved multiple times as seats were shifted countless times). Sometimes it was said in reference to what food we were looking for, or what kind of support we needed on our legs. 

It is an amazing feeling to hear your van cheer for you as they run by, or to see how far you have come from the start line when you finally get to the finish. 

I had my Ragnar "mom," Tabitha, who took care of me and Olivia (both the same age) as the "babies" of the group, and helped us avoid dumb mistakes, open packages for us, rubbed in sunscreen spots, and made sure that I didn't leave my pillow at the hotel (a narrow thing). 

Olivia and I had lots of great conversations throughout the course of the four days, and kept getting in trouble for our talking. At one point, we were a bit more awake than our vanmates and literally had the door closed on us for our conversation lol! 

Stephanie had the best handle on where exactly all of our stuff was, and was so good at finding everything for us as we were digging around for it. 

Cindy did a great job getting us where we needed to go as she was frequently the driver, and even when she wasn't driving, she was using her gps (and we never got lost!). 

Esther was great at encouraging all of us, as well as being the person always there for me (as I handed off to her). This was especially huge to me as she made sure to be there early for me on that last exchange and made it so that my fast finish wasn't wasted. :-D

I was able to challenge myself to be my personal best, while still on a team, and constantly surrounded by support. There is really nothing like it. Sure it is long, and you are running on low sleep, infrequent real meals, and lack of a real bed, but when it ends, there are so many memories and moments to look back on. You also get to see a really significant portion of the area, and get to experience it more than a typical single race could do. 

Thank you to both sets of parents for watching the kids while Blake was at work. Thank you especially to Blake, who not only let me have this adventure with my friends, but took care of the kids as a single dad for four days, including taking them to the library, to visit my grandma, and to a birthday party. When I got home the house was picked up, clean, all but one load of wash was done (saving it for my dirty clothes), and a lot of it was folded too. I am extremely thankful for everyone's support, even if you don't get why these are so much fun for me. 

At the end of this race, I look forward to future Ragnars with these fine ladies, and have a new goal for myself. I hope to break a 2 hour half marathon, and plan on starting to train towards that (as well as future Ragnars).

Friday, February 5, 2016

Launching the "Give One Get One" Campaign

Anyone else have the problem of too many toys in their house?

Like many families out there, our family has many people that love to get our kids presents, not only for their birthday and Christmas, but other holidays, and other random times too.

I get it, I do, because I do it too. It is so fun to see them get excited, and it is hard to hold back.

But it results in this influx of toys, and without sending toys out again, we are reaching capacity for toys. So, I went on a hunt yesterday to figure out the best place to get new homes for the toys that we have convinced the kids to let leave the house.

Goodwill is certainly the most convenient option, but for those who might not know, the toys are put into the stores, and sold, and then the money is used for good causes. There is no guarantee that these toys will go to kids truly in need instead of families just trying to save money (no blame, I shop at thrift stores myself, just saying).

What I discovered though is that the most worthy of causes (in my opinion), like hospitals, foster homes, homeless shelters, Ronald McDonald House, Make a Wish Foundation, and others don't want our old toys, no matter how good of shape they are in.

Mostly for health reasons, none of these locations can or will accept used toys, what they need are new toys (and clothes, and many other things).

This got me thinking about a solution to my two main problems. One, too many toys at our house when they don't need them. Two, great causes need new toys, but good luck trying to get your kids to ditch toys they haven't played with yet.

Here is my proposed solution, that I would love to get momentum and become a campaign instead of just something for our family: Give One, Get One.

The Give One, Get One idea is simple: spend half as much on gifts for my kids, but instead buy two of the toys you do give. Wrap both presents, and put a note somewhere inside: Give One, Get One. Gift card givers can get two smaller amount gift cards, with "Give One, Get One," and one goes to others, and when my kids spend money on themselves, they can also spend money on toys explicitly for others.

Hopefully this will result in a birthday party with half as many toys to find space for in our house, and a car full of brand new donations to one of the many places that has kids that REALLY need those new toys.

Every spoiled time will become a time about teaching to give. My kids, seeing all those toys go to a hospital or shelter, learn about giving, and can know that another boy or girl will get to play with the same toys they are playing with. But since the "Give" and "Get" toys are identical, it won't hurt them at all to see them go, since they have one to play with themselves.
To family members that read this blog, please consider doing the Give One, Get One plan when you shop for my kids for all these occasions coming up.

When their birthdays come up again or when people ask me what to get them for Christmas, I will be including this blurb:
Our family would love it if you would consider participating in our Give One, Get One plan. Whatever budget you were planning on spending, please consider spending half of it on our kids, and instead buy a duplicate of the item or items you do purchase. Include the words: Give One, Get One somewhere on your card, and wrap both toys (or clothes, books etc.), and then we will donate the duplicate item or items to a local hospital, shelter, Ronald McDonald House, or Make-a-wish Foundation since they only accept new items. "Give One, Get One" works with gift cards as well, just do two gift cards instead of one, one to spend on themselves, one to spend on others. We appreciate your help in teaching our kids about generosity and giving to kids in need.