Category: Fitness

Ragnar Relay Chicago 2017 Recap

Welcome to Friday Fitness: Ragnar edition!  A few months ago my friend, Katie asked me if I would be interested in driving up to Chicago to run with her team.  I thought for a moment and decided to just go for it.  If you’re not familiar Ragnar is a relay race made up of 12 runners covering 200-ish miles in less than 2 days.  You run day and night.  This wasn’t my first relay, but definitely the longest!

I drove up to Chicago on Wednesday and helped pick up our vans from the rental company (which took forever!!).  Then we ran back home, threw our stuff in the van and headed to our meet up point to pick up the rest of the team.  Once everyone was loaded (6 people to a van) we hit the road and headed towards Madison, WI.  We stopped along the way and had a delicious dinner (and were super disappointed we couldn’t take the leftovers with us).  We finally arrived at our hotel and crashed pretty quickly.  

Our team had an 8 am start time.  Van 1 headed to the start line early and van 2 (my van) arrived around 7:30.  We chatted, finished decorating the van (including strapping an inflatable flamingo, who we named Maggie, on top) and saw our first runner off.  Van 1 headed to the next exchange and van 2 headed back to the hotel to eat and pack up.  

We arrived at major exchange 6, went through our safety training, picked up our bibs and shirts and checked out the vendors and the merchandise tent.  There was a BBQ food truck there that smell so good, but I was runner #7, which meant I was the first runner of our van so I couldn’t eat.  *sad face*

My first leg was 7.5 miles and was rated “very hard.”  It started off (at 12:48 pm) on some surface roads and toward a trail, which was gravel and a little annoying to run on.  Luckily there was a good bit of shade, but the heat and humidity was rising.  I stopped to take pictures of flamingos and an MRTT magnet along the way, but the first 4 miles went really well and then we were off the trail and out into the blazing sun.  Mile 5 smacked me with a bug in the eye and a hill.  Mile 6 was a little better and then with about a mile and a half to go I choked on my water and a van pulled over to ask me if I was ok.  I was fading fast and it dawned on me that I hadn’t eaten!  I struggled to the exchange point, handed off the slap bracelet and headed to the van for food!!!

The rest of my van ran through their legs and we headed to the next major exchange to trade off with van 1. While waiting for our runner to come in an announcement was made that the leg would be held because there was someone chasing runners on leg 13.  We hung out for a bit with the other half of our team (the only time we saw them was at the major exchanges) before heading out to drive towards our next major exchange, which was about 40 minutes away.

We stopped and had some dinner and then headed to the high school that served as our exchange point.  Some of the girls took a shower, most took a nap.  I tried to stay awake because I was the first runner and I figured if I went to sleep it would be really hard to wake up and run.

My second leg started around 12:07 AM.  I was really nervous about the night run, especially after the incident at leg 13.  I was hoping to buddy up with someone, but the closest person to me was planning on running about 30 sec. faster per mile than me, so I just headed out on my own.  She passed me about a mile in, but it turned out there were quite a few people out there.  I was never alone.  I even ran into a banana!  The scariest part was running under an overpass.  We crossed a few bridges, through a park. The last one had the sounds of a waterfall and then the bridge started bouncing!  There were 3 of us on the bridge at the time and we all let out a squeal when it started bouncing.  It through our footing off!  The cooler temperatures and the adequate fueling helped make the run less painful!  6.2 miles complete!

By the time our 5th runner was out on the course I was really starting to feel like lack of sleep.  I had been awake for about 22 hours at that point and I was starting to feel sick, so I laid down in the van and tried to rest as much as I could in a moving vehicle and arriving at exchange points.  I don’t know that I actually got any sleep, but at least I didn’t feel sick.  And when we arrived at the next major exchange at 5 in the morning we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise over the lake!  As our runner entered the exchange we sang happy birthday to her and it was a very cool moment.

And then we headed to the hotel to sleep!  I face planted into the bed and got 3 hours of glorious sleep!  I was really disappointed when I woke up after 3 hours!  But it turned out to be a good thing because van 1 was ahead of schedule and we needed to get moving!  We rallied the troops and headed out on the 45 minute drive the our last major exchange. After a stop for gas and to restock water we arrived with little time to spare.   

I started my last leg at 11:52 AM on a very hot and sunny day.  There was no shade on the path! Luckily it was a short leg of just 3.1 miles.  I decided not to even look at my watch and just run the best I could in the conditions.  I took it slow and easy and it went much better than I thought it would!  I was so happy to be done and checking off that final box!

With just 5 runners after me we were nearing the finish line!!!  We saw some great sights along the way, pretty houses, gorgeous views of the lake and lots of runners heading toward the beach!  The finish line was at Montrose Beach and because it was such a warm day the beach was crazy busy!!  We got stuck in a very large traffic jam causing us to miss our runner coming across the finish line.  Van 1 and runner 12 came across it together on our team’s behalf and we met them at the after party.  We were done!!!

We were rewarded with our bling and took lots of celebratory pictures.

We finished in 31:49:36.0, which was almost 2 hours faster than our predicted finish time!

We didn’t stick around too long for the after party because the 20+ mph wind gusts were throwing sand everywhere, including into our pizza.  

It was a crazy whirlwind of two days!  I’m happy I can check it off my bucket list.  I’m not too sure I’d want to do it again.  Sleep deprivation and I don’t get along!  But I had a great team who made it a great experience!  

Friday Fitness: Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon Recap

My winter of training was for the Pro Football Hall of Fame half marathon, which was this past Sunday.  I followed the Run Less, Run Faster training plan for this race, as I did last year.  I just love how this plan takes your pace and gives you a training plan with distance and pace.  It takes all the guesswork out of it!  I love having my intervals planned out!

The training went really well.  I had a few hits with sickness and one really bad 10-miler, but I also had a really good 10-miler and 11-miler.  And some hard, but successful interval runs.  And a 5K PR.  

Nasty weather moved in to the area the day before the race.  And it rained overnight.  We arrived at the start line to wet roads and puddles.  (and a delay because the traffic was so backed up – like 2 miles down the highway)  And it was the warmest day of the week.  Not a good start.

We met up with 3 other chapters of Moms Run This Town before the race, which was awesome!  And thanks to the delay I could make one more potty stop before heading to the start line (I drank 18 oz of nuun filled water on the way there!).

And I headed to the start line and settled in with the 4:00 marathon/2:00 half marathon pace group.  Pacer Mike was great!  He was very friendly and gave a great pep talk.  In full sun and warm temperatures the race began.

I was nervous about sticking with a pace group because I tend to want to start out just a tad slow and speed up as I get into a groove, but I also wanted someone to keep my sights set on.  There was a lot of bobbing and weaving to start (slow people – start in the back!), but we hit our target of 9:08 min/mile for mile 1.  The road started thinning out and we were cruising (8:55, 8:59, 8:56) even with two water stops (one unmanned) in there.  Somewhere between miles 5 and 6 there was a relay exchange and another water stop (9:11, 9:12).  And I was still just cruising, not feeling too bad (9:03, 9:08).  And I somehow lost sight of the pacer.  But in that 9th mile the sun was relentless, the roads were black and the water stops were spreading out.  I was getting tired.  (9:50)

And then I did something I hate to do.  I walked.  I was struggling in the heat and my hip was feeling really tight.  So I run/walked miles 10, 11 and 12 (11:29, 10:18,10:32).  My 2 hour finish time had slipped from my hands and then the 2:05 pace group passed me, which left me feeling really discouraged.  I was ready to give up in the last mile.  I just wanted to quit.  And I almost did, but then I saw an MRTT gal from another chapter on the sidelines cheering me on and I hung on for the last bit and crossed the finish line at 2:06:55.

And after catching up with my MRTT girls ahead of me we commiserated about how the course wasn’t as flat as they claimed it would be.  We would call it more gently rolling hills.  And the humidity was a killer!  (I felt like I was trying to breathe out of a straw).  And despite not finishing in 2 hours, I did PR and that was something to be proud of.  I shaved over 6 minutes off my previous half marathon PR.  

After celebrating with the rest of our MRTT crew (a few more PRs and first time half marathoners!) we headed out to get some food!!!

Swensons Drive In came highly recommended by locals and we’re suckers for milkshakes after a race, so we headed over.  And it was sooooo good!  The rootbeer milkshake was seriously amazing.

And included with our registration was free entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, so we decided to check it out.

And I posed in the leg cast of a football player who is well over twice my size and more than a foot taller than me.  It felt good to walk around a bit before the 3+ hour car ride home.  

Despite the race not going quite like I wanted I still had a great time with my MRTT crew on our runcation.  But I was pretty ticked off at my weather app reminding me the rest of the day how the temperature would be trending cooler the next day……….

I don’t have any more half marathon plans this year, just a bunch of relays, so this PR will have to hold me over for a while.  

OH, and in other exciting news this week I registered for next year’s Run Disney Princess Half Marathon!  Woo hoo!  That’ll be a fun runcation!!!

 

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Friday Fitness: St. Patrick’s Day 5K

I haven’t raced a 5K in 15 months.  I’ve run a few.  I’ve run two 5K races (here and apparently I didn’t do a race recap for the other!) as part of challenges this year, but not actually raced them.  So, last Saturday the local running club had a 5K race on the calendar, so I decided to run it.  And I’m so glad I did! 

My BRF (best running friend) joined me for the race.  And by joined me I mean let me chase her for 3.1 miles.  We checked in, got our shoe chips and headed back to the car to stay warm.  We saw a chicken get out of a car and did a lap around the track to warm up before a quick potty break and grabbing another friend.  And then we found ourselves at the start line.  And it was go time!

The course promised to be flat and fast and I had a PR in my sights.  We started out way too fast.  #raceproblems  We hit the 1 mile mark at 7:50.  It didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it should. But we just kept running.  My watch got all wonky and lost the GPS signal, so I really had no idea what pace I was running after about 1.5 miles.  I just kept running.

Lindsay was able to keep up the pace and I started to fall a bit behind, but I had her bright coral shirt in my sights and just kept chasing her.  The race started and ended on a high school track, so when we made our way back around the school and hit the track I looked up to the scoreboard and saw the time ticking away.  And I couldn’t believe what I saw.  As I made my way around the track the clock said 24:xx and I kicked it up a notch because I wanted to see if I could make it across the line before it hit 25 minutes.

I saw Lindsay cross the finish line up ahead and she turned back to cheer me in and I crossed the finish line in 24:54!  I (again) shaved over a minute off my 5K PR!  And (again) got 4th place in my age group. (If I was only 1 year younger I’d have gotten 3rd! – Lindsay got first in that age group, though there was a medal mix up and she ended up with the 2nd place medal!)  All the speedwork I’ve been doing has paid off!  Hopefully it’ll pay off come half marathon day, too! 

After the celebration at the finish line, I got my boobie prize and we headed back out to run a friend in.  (She also got a PR!!)  And then because the training plan said to run a million miles we went out for 2 more miles to make it a total of 6 for the day (which is less than the plan said………..). 

And of course we had to stop for a cocoa/coffee on the way home.  #tradition  (milkshakes in warm weather)

I’m still super excited about the new PR and tomorrow I have a 10K (MRTT virtual).  Is there another PR in there……?

Friday Fitness: Frostbite 5

The weather here in Ohio has been crazy!  Up and down. Up and down.  On Saturday, when I would normally do my long run it wasn’t even 20 degrees outside.  I didn’t run on Saturday, not because it was too cold, but because I had a race on Sunday afternoon.  Our local running club has several events throughout the year and this was the first of the year that I could attend.  I did this race last year, too, but pushing the stroller.  And, just like last year the weather was unseasonably warm.  Despite the bitter cold temperatures on Saturday, Sunday afternoon was a gorgeous one!  It was in the upper 40s and sunny.  But quite windy.  So of course I had no idea how to dress for the weather.  And I overdressed.

This is the only picture of me in the race photos.  And it’s a horrible one.  I had to wear the Buff because of the wind.  My ears don’t like the wind.  These races only give you a gun time (no timing mat at the start), so I placed myself sort of close to the front (but nowhere near the 5 and 6 minute mile runners).  I started off at and 8:46 min/mile, which might have been too fast, but by the time I made it to the photographer around 2.5 miles I was maintaining the pace.  Mile 3 brought a small hill, mile 4 was into the wind, and at 4.5 miles there was another decent hill.  So the last half slowed me down just a tad. 

But I crossed the finish line in 44:38 (8:50 min/mile), which is a 5 mile (race) PR for me. Though, this was only the 3rd time I’ve raced the distance. I felt great at the finish, too.  I even turned around and went back out to find a friend and run her into the finish line (so I got another 1.5 miles in). 

It was great racing with my MRTT crew and a nice change of pace to run in the afternoon! And it’s fun to run these little races and see the strong running community we have! 

 

Friday Fitness: Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon

A few weeks ago I completed my second triathlon, but this one was an indoor sprint triathlon.  I hadn’t planned on doing it because it was a week after the Beast Challenge, but a bunch of friends were doing it and there was an open spot and well, the next thing I knew I was in the pool practicing my laps in preparation.

The race was 10 minute swim, 30 minute cycle, 20 minute run.  I spent all of December practicing 10 minutes of straight swimming, as I’d never really swam 10 minutes straight before!  I also got in a few brick workouts of a swim and bike or a bike and run.  So when triathlon day came I was feeling pretty optimistic. 

Our group was split up between waves, so we were able to cheer on our swimmers, especially me being in the second to last wave of the day (last of our group).  But that meant we missed a lot of each others bike and run. 

After one last bathroom break it was time to get in the pool.  We had to share a lane and luckily I had a friend to share with.  Except once we started swimming I was super paranoid about running into her and I actually bumped hands with the person in the next lane at one point.  Despite hitting 400 or 425 yds in 10 minutes consistently in training I only managed 375 yds. 

Out of the pool it was into the locker room to go to the bathroom again, because wet bathing suit.  I put on a pair of shorts and shirt over my suit and headed upstairs to the cycle studio.  I had gone into the studio before the race started so I knew what settings I needed on the bike.  So I grabbed a bike without clips and got my feet into the straps just in time for them to say go.  Except no one showed us show to start the recording on the bike.  So I started pedaling and it didn’t start recording.  We had to call someone over to get it recording, so I lost some time/distance there.  I also didn’t like how the bike didn’t tell you what gear you were in so it was a  guessing game and I kept adjusting up and down trying to find a good gear.  In 30 minutes I biked 8.3 miles.

After hopping off the bike we had to head down the stairs, across the fitness center and back up the stairs to get to the treadmills.  The wave before us was finishing up so we cheered on some of our girls and when the timer stopped for them it started for us.  I hit the quick start jog button and we were off.  Every few minutes I upped the speed a bit and sprinted to the finish.  When the 20 minutes was up I had run 2.31 miles. 

Overall I was pretty happy with how it went.  Since it was my first indoor triathlon I have nothing to compare it to, but now I have some numbers to improve on for the next one.  I’m not sure when the next one will be, though.  Until then I’ll just keep running (cause I still have some running races on the calendar and well, that’s what I do) and I’ll keep swimming because I really enjoy swimming.  I’ll bike if I have to.  It’s my least favorite part.

Mostly I had fun because my MRTT crew was there.  And then we went to Whole Foods for lunch afterward.