Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Change of Plan

Finish Line!
I am not a super human. I clearly spent all my mental toughness and physical speed the week before at Ragnar DC. I wouldn't change a thing about that.

Not every race is going to be a PR and filled with awesome self accomplishment. I was so looking forward to running in the Traverse City Lighthouse Half Marathon with my run buddy, Evie and my husband—helping them break 2 hours or come close to it. However, I had my doubts of being able to hold a 9-minute pace going into this. I had been tired all week to say the least. Recovery is tough after Ragnar with early plane flight thrown in.

Arriving in the dark at 6 a.m. to ensure we didn't miss our bus to the start line, we threw on our warmer clothes to discard right before the race. I have a special bag of frumpy fat clothes and maternity wear just for this occasion.  Items are picked-up and donated, so this makes sense and we don't have to lug them around.
Waiting at the Lighthouse in our toss-it coverups.

But this Lighthouse run sucketh for the first 5 miles with poor breathing, tightening in my chest
My funny run buddy on the bus behind us:
Scrunchy Face!
and my left leg extremely aching for the first 3 miles until I drowned it out of my head. Then it just kept crying anyways. The course was hilly with a few miles of two-track and I just couldn't muster up the speed. My run buddy later pointed out that the date on my shoes was her birthday in June. DANG-it! I just ran in over-the-hill shoes. What a stupid mistake.

After mile 6, I said forget it! This just wasn't fun at all. I turned off my tunes, started talking more and changed the plan. Evie wasn't lov'n this run either and was coming off of being sick the previous week. We stopped pushing and started enjoying the views and journey more.

At mile 11, my husband realized that these two ladies were holding him back with their chatter and he took off to finish 5 minutes ahead of us. He later said he felt like he had nothing left in that last half mile to the finish line. Hmmm, too much speed at once.

Evie and I finished at 2:14. It is what it is and my leg was grateful to be done.

My husband is already sign-up for his next half at Bay Shore to break 2 hours. Totally doable since he trains faster than I do.

Post Race Assessment:
What I have gone through since is a series of painful leg episodes extending to a burning under my knee. I have completely stop cross training and took some time off of running hoping it would heal. After xrays, a doctor said is was a sprain. That was two months ago.

I had shoe orthotics made and have been foam rolling, stretching and strength training with one leg squats but need to add to that. Lots of pushups being done to build upper body. But without a lot of cardio, I think I may have a hard climb this year.

I am just starting in with low miles right now and still get that strained ache and pain. The treadmill seems to be a little better. I miss my run buddy. We have had (2) 5-8 mile runs in the last two months. Come back 41 sounds too negative. I need to position this as a positive in some form. Maybe 41 and and gonna run.

I may still go in for an MRI and PT.  I have even thought that it could be a nerve issue. Maybe a Chiropractor is needed? I just don't feel like me without my constant fitness drive. An 8 minute mile looks more like a dream right now.

All of my drive has been poured into work in the last couple months … hey, didn't I once say that was kryptonite?! Yes, weight gain has happened. Time to Focus. Drive. And get this leg hell taken care of.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ragnar Relay: BadAss Mother Runners

What a ride this life can be when first you practice to run free.

Being on Team Sarah was both a privilege and a highlight to my running hobby and completed my Rock40 running party. 

Taking the trip to Washington DC was a leap out of my comfort zone. I have not traveled alone in about 17 years and trips with the family are but once a year for this country mouse. I hate traffic! I am use to two lanes on a road, and I may see 5 cars on a 10 mile run. It's just the way I like it, but for a grand adventure this mouse needed to leave the house.

After all the careful planning through Facebook with the Ragnar group and one amazing AMR assistant, Kristen, I felt comfortable in this journey. My itinerary was planned from my 6 a.m. departure from a nearby airport on Thursday, to my 6 a.m. departure from D.C. on Sunday morning. I was hoping to get just a few hours sleep on Saturday night because we had no idea when we would finish. 

I packed light with two carry-ons stuffed with Ragnar safety essentials like a night vest and headlamp, as well as the wealth of sponsor gifts we each received: the BAMRR (BadAss Mother Ragnar Runner) shirt, BAMR shirt (Team Sarah's name), 110% Socks, Ultimate Direction water bottle, Saucony shirt, capri and shoes. We also had received Nuttzo (which is long gone and I have purchased 7 more since) NUUN, Calms Forte and Skinfare.

In the bottom of my bag I flattened 24 pink pom-poms to cheer on our teammates and other teams. Some day I am going to run with pom poms. It wouldn't be this run, but just you wait. I am laying it on the table. I can't believe my bag fit under the seat, let alone that it even zipped, but it did! See, I really don't travel enough.

Upon arrival in D.C. at 9:00 a.m. I was eating my first 5-Guys burger and fresh cut fries as recommended by the Dulless airport information guy. I made that burger look so good that more people flocked the joint creating a line, and one lady said after she saw me there, that it looked too good to pass up. Was I moaning out loud? Sorry about that.

I proceeded to the lower level where we were meeting for our van pick-up with Dimity to drive to Cumberland, Maryland. We had to back-track to the start of the race which was ending in D.C. I had worn my Sole Sister shirt to be recognized and a really sweet mama named Janelle approached me in her AMR shirt and giant suite case and bag (um-maybe I under packed a little). We chatted for an hour or so and although she has lived about everywhere in the USA, she currently lives in Texas. I have to say, I don't know why she doesn't get told all the time that she looks like Kelly Clarkston.

We then caught up with a few more teammates as we waited. The excitement rose again when Dimity arrived. Woop woop! Here we go. 

The instant comradery surprised me. I thought it would be there as it was already online and in facebook. But the real thing FEELS amazing. I have never met so many people at once that I could instantly connect with. We just clicked and it felt like distance was the only thing that had separated this sisterhood. I had told my husband back in May that I really had a few things already in common with these ladies and that they really were not strangers at all. I was glad I was right. The adventures of Renee and Lorraine cracked me up on the van ride and thru dinner. These two friends know how to have a great time. My cheeks hurt from the cackling.

So many of these ladies came with the sweetest gifts created from their talents. Nicole from Team Dimity is an amazing quilter and gave us each a Ragnar personalized zip bag. Rebecca brought customized cookies for each of us. She is an Architect and these cookies are just something she does for fun. We have spent months talking about eating her cookies. Aimee brought a CD recently released with her singing talents. Terri brought BAMRR stickers she created to stand the test of time—meaning once they stick they are not coming off. Bethany shared a copy of a book, I Just Want to Pee Alone, that she is published in for her humorous, raw but articulate, honest views of motherhood. Check out her blog at http://bethanymeyer.com. I know she makes me feel much more sane.

Food Glorious Food
In a cookie monster voice..."Me like to eat things!" Put 24 mother runners together and we have one big slumber party. After we each ate a family sized dinner … I mean dinner served in family style with large portions passed around, we went for some frozen custard. I will be thinking about that chocolate malt with lust for years to come. Many food stops were made during the race even though our vans we stocked. Must have coffee and Chipotle!

The Race Details
Meeting back in Dimity's room we went through a quick debriefing on how Ragnar is ran and what to expect in the next 45 hours. I hadn't known that the team of 12 really becomes a team of 6 since the vans split, and I would only see the other half of the team at the 3 major exchanges—after all 6 of van one ran their leg. Luckily, I had a great, open-minded, supportive, funny and fabulous group of runners to be in a van with for 30+ hours. We beat the same jokes non-stop. 

Completely open minded and looking forward to running one badass hill that really did seem to go on forever. My roomie and van mate, Nicole, and I had discussed running Ragnar as an ultra race some time. Which sounds really great BEFORE the hill. During it how ever, I felt like that was the dumbest idea ever, HA!

I didn’t know how I would keep the expected pace on this one. I felt like I was running stupid, but how else would I make it up the climb in a decent time if I didn't run it. I went a little off course adding .40 miles to my total, but zipped back to take two kills on this endless climb. Both of those people broke into a walk after a long climb together with the guy outlasting the other woman. I just kept talking myself up in my head. "Gonna walk? Hell no! I'm an ultra runner. And...with my luck my team will drive by if I dare walk right now."  It was the battle I was looking for that went on through steep gravel hills that turned to thick dust as vans went by, and where I found my mojo and the right moments to strut a fast climbing walk.  

Then I found the downhill moments to make up time. The declines went fast and had many sharper uneven rocks. All I could think of was that someone is going to get hurt here today. 

As I approached the team doing a little dance, I started yelling, “where is she?” Sarah was busy and not in sight. I later heard she may have been serenading another van. Oh well, she seemed to have popped out of no where just when I hit the exchange. She wasn't quite ready but hit the ground running. I was 7 minutes under the predicted time. My reward was the extra metal belt buckle for taking the hardest leg of the race. And more importantly, that man I had battled on the uphill pavement came up to say good job and high five me, and tell me he had been trying to catch me the entire time since I passed him.

Okay, Ultra Ragnar is sounding pretty good again. Who’s with me?

Just a little disclaimer before you think the rest of this course is flat. Everyone will have some hills and get a beatdown. The total mileage for each person on a 12 person team is 13.4 to 21.9 miles. Train, and you will be just fine.

The rest of the race went flawlessly for the most part and was just one grand adventure of laughing and women keeping it light. Sarah was showered with fans … even to the point of being recognized in the community shower … naked. I took my spot further away and at least could turn away to silently laugh in my corner. It takes a certain kind of guts I just don't have or want to have to approach someone in the shower… naked. I wouldn't walk up to anyone in the shower and have a conversion with them. Hats and clothes off to this woman.

My final leg I had the best 3.4 miles of my life. I pushed thru the heat, humidity and had 2 complete stops at lights with narrowly escaping being hit by a car not stopping. I will remember that Corvette front end for a long time. 

Never running a 5k before, I just didn't want to let go of any speed when I didn't have a light. Plus, I came to pour it on. I past 4 people who looked like they were ready to croak. I was elated after seeing that I did it in 27 minutes and had one mile in there of 8:03. Now that deserves a pompom. 

3 Things I learned and should have known better:
1) Always pack a shirt and pair of shorts for each leg and another shirt for in-between legs
2) Pack a towel (you never know when you may get  to shower)
3) I should not be the one driving at night—do not allow hanging clothing over a mirror that you need to see out of while driving. Holy shit batman. Sorry ladies.
Bonus: Have a strong navigator like Terri. Or, getting lost could be fun too.

On a final note, if you ever have an opportunity to run a Ragnar relay with 6-24 strangers or enter a contest to run with Another Mother Runner … DO IT! Don't walk—RUN to register. These races are designed for any running level, granted you are actually a runner. Keep an open mind and stress free, and you will have the makings for a great experience. Don't be surprised when you feel like your universe has changed and that there was nothing else before Ragnar, except when you call home to check of your husband and kids. Live in the moment. There is already a BAMR Ragnar reunion planned for some of these ladies. I will be running a marathon at that time. So that takes me out of that mix.

Below are some of my favorite highlights in photos. Sorry, no shower photos here.

Check out this video for a glimpse of the 2013 Ragnar DC Relay Mother Runner Showdown 
set to an original song by Aimee Hoyt.