Ragnar So Cal Recap

Over the weekend I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to run Ragnar So Cal with Team Nuun. For those who don’t know what Ragnar Relays entail, it goes something like this:

  • Teams of 12 (or 6 for the Ultra crazy people) runners
  • Two vans with 6 runners each.
  • Each team member takes turns running their legs of the relay. You meet at “exchange points” to drop off the next runner and pick up the person currently running. The first 6 runners in “van 1” run while “van 2” hangs out/sleeps/eats. After the 6th runner vans 1 & 2 meet at the “major exchange” and van 2 starts running. Now it is time for “van 1” to chill.
  • Everyone runs 3 times. Distances vary. Total distance is 200-ish miles.
  • Little (if any) sleep during the event.
  • Lots of snacks.

We all met on Thursday afternoon at our hotel in San Diego. Aside from a little pre-race interaction on Facebook, we were mostly strangers from all over – San Diego, LA, NYC, Chicago, Honolulu, Seattle – we even had two from Canada (Vancouver and Winnipeg)! We decorated our vans with window paint, walked to dinner, and hung out before heading to bed.

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Van 1 looking fly. P.S. a “kill” is when you pass a runner on your leg.

Friday morning we woke up too early for our own good, had breakfast and then went to Better Buzz for some coffee realness. After packing up the cars van 1 headed to Huntington Beach to start the race. Yours truly was Runner #1. After pickup up our bibs and all that it was off to the races with a casual 1 PM start time.

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Starting the race with 5 fast dudes. I beat 2 of them! My first leg was only 2.3 miles.

The unfortunate part about starting so late is you hardly see ANYONE on the course or at the exchanges. It was sad and a little lonely. When we made it to Exchange 6, the first major exchange, there were like…3-4 other teams there? So much for huge party! At least we got some sweet shots and hung out at the Nuun booth.

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Exchange 6 team (minus Tony because he was running) jumping photo.

They took off and we went and had dinner. In-n-Out it was because why not? After that we had the long trek from Orange to Vista for the next exchange. The rest of our team was finishing in San Clemente (there was a gap in the course because Camp Pendleton is in the way and there is literally nowhere to run). After more coffee, hanging out with my NP Hugs & Harmony 2.0 friends, and a short warm up, I began my second leg around 11 PM. This one was only 3.9 miles. We carried on until the wee hours of the morning along dark streets and bike paths. At least at this point we had caught up to some of the other teams. Yay! People! KILLS! We finished up at Exchange 18 where we finally met up with the rest of the team again. We sent them off and heading to Exchange 24 and finally tried to sleep. I might have had 2 hours of sleep max. In the back row of an SUV. Sitting up. Quality napping right there. Around 5 AM I started my final leg. This was the longest of 3 at 7.9 miles. The best part is the second half of my leg was along Coast Highway in Carlsbad. The sky started to light up as I ran along the beach and it was awesome! I passed 57 other teams on the way. Peace, suckas! I made it to the exchange point and just like that I was done running for the day. What? ALREADY? Spent the rest of the gorgeous morning along the coast as van 1 finished up.

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Van 1 minus Winnipeg at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.

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Van 1 all done running! Taking in the views at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Because we are runners the only logical thing to do after we were done was to brunch HARD at Swami’s. We met up with Van 2 at a couple of exchanges to cheer them on and proceeded to the finish area to wait for them. Around 3 PM our final runner was making the turn towards the finish line and we all ran in with her. Woohoo Team Nuun was DONE! After having the obligatory free beer we headed to the hotel to shower – FINALLY A SHOWER – and relax. Pizza by the pool? Yes please.

Overall it was one truly amazing experience. We raced. We ate. We cheered LOUDLY for each other and other random runners. We bonded like crazy. Went in strangers and came out friends. Every last person on my team was positive, funny, fast, supportive, inspirational, and an all-around good time. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. I miss them already. Big shout out to Nuun Hydration for letting me be a part of this epic journey (and keeping me #hydratedAF).

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And the finisher photo! Boom.

Side note: still waiting on official results but we might have placed 1st in our division!

Goals Are Scary…and Awesome!

Goals are scary, but they’re one of the things I like most about running. Perhaps it’s the scientist part of me, but setting concrete goals that are easily measurable are the best. Time goals. Distance goals. Qualifying goals. Place goals. Split goals. You either hit them or you don’t. Meeting or surpassing them is the greatest feeling. Not quite making it sucks. Is it the end of the world? No. Does it mean you’re a complete and utter failure who should just give up? No. I usually go into every race with 2 or 3 goals. The races that I don’t have any goals are the ones where I tend to slack…a lot. I like multiple goals in order to avoid the “I’m a failure and suck at everything” disappointment.

A. Goal is usually a time goal or a place goal (usually place in my Age Group because overall is way too unrealistic for me unless it’s a super small race)

B. Goal is usually a second time goal or qualification goal

C. Goal is usually just finish without dying/injuring myself or getting terrible stomach cramps.

In the end, I only *really* failed if I had to be hauled away in an ambulance and didn’t get my sparkly medal…in which case I have much bigger things to worry about.

Now, my main goal this year is getting #FastAF for SeaWheeze in August. This is the only race this year where I am setting an AGGRESSIVE time goal. My time WILL have a 1:35 in front of it. Or less. My current PR is a 1:37:32 (missed it over a year later by 2 sec because I suck at math while I run, but I didn’t care because I was going for an AG award and nailed it). Yes, it’s only 2 1/2 minutes faster than a time I’ve obtained at two different races. But I feel slower. Heavier. Generally not fast. Like I’m the only one not getting PR after PR. It is going to take a lot of work. I need to find people to push me through my training. I’m already scared that I won’t be able to pull it together in time – but I just need to visualize crossing the finish line with my goal time on the clock. Or remember the feeling beating my goal time and qualifying for Boston at my first marathon. Scary and hard goal? Yes. Worth it? TOTALLY. Besides, it’s SeaWheeze and lululemon magic. You can’t help but being stoked the entire freakin weekend!

A Short History

I am not some freak that woke up one day and thought “hey I’m gonna be a runner!” and was magically good at it. For the people that I’ve met in the past couple years…

  • There was a time when I thought my 8:30 timed mile was so incredible
  • There was a time when I thought running a mile without stopping was amazing – and going on a 4 mile run/walk was super amazing. FOUR WHOLE MILES!!
  • There was a time when I thought the kids doing cross country were off their rockers. Seriously though why would you want to run that far?

Lets bring it back to high school. I joined the JV track team in 10th grade to get out of PE because it was super boring. Now, I believe my last timed mile at PE prior to joining the track team was around 8:30. When I was on the team I only did the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay…in non-scoring heats. Basically I was NOT GOOD and only ran super short distances. After that season of track I started gymnastics and running was over – unless it was full speed towards the vault.

The rest of high school went by. College went by. Any “running” was limited to a 10-11 min mile warm-up on the treadmill before strength training. Oh and by the way in college I tore both of my ACLs and medial meniscus on separate occasions, and re-tore a meniscus they had tried to repair, resulting in THREE separate knee surgeries. Still went back to gymnastics every time becuase I am a glutton for punishment.

After moving to SD for work I would occasionally (read: once every 6 months) go on a run/walk outdoors…mostly 3 miles or less averaging 11-13 min miles. It’s all in my RunKeeper history. This was circa 2010/2011. On one occasion I proudly told my uncle I could run a 35 min 5K as if that was the shit Olympians were made of. He looked at me funny.

Fast forward to 2013. They had personal training specials going on at 24 Hour Fitness and I was like “eff it” and signed up because, let’s be real, I was sick of being a little butterball. I would show up a little early to my sessions and jog a mile on the dreadmill as my warmup. Every time I would try to go a little faster. Over the course of the year the 10 min mile turned to 9…8:30 (back at my high school time! SCORE!)…8:00…omg under 8!…and so on until I was running sub 7 min miles. My trainer was like “Why don’t you try running more than one mile?” and I was all “pssshhh why? That would make my knee hurt.” But then one day I did it. Two miles. That wasn’t so bad. Two became three. Then 5 and 6 and so on. At around an 8 min mile pace! I was tempted to sign up for a half marathon, but then I remembered Boston and was like hmmmm no thanks. I don’t know what changed late that year, but I ended up signing up for my first half marathon: lululemon’s SeaWheeze 2014. It was a solid 9 months away and I was already up to 10 miles. Then my friend convinced me to sign up for a half that was only 5 months away. I ran 13 miles a couple weeks before the race. Race day came and I was FLYING. Yesss racing is the best! RUNNING IS THE BEST! I LOVE EVERYTHING…and then My IT Band tightened up so bad that I couldn’t even WALK. I got a ride in the ambulance to near the finish line and hobbled through. I was so upset that I spent the next few hours crying on and off.

Anyway, my point is I wasn’t always “fast” (whatever that means anyway). I didn’t even finish my first half marathon. I am not a magical unicorn.

And so it begins…

I’m not quite sure what possessed me to start this. Awesome blog posts by friends recently? Funny blog posts from internet famous running bloggers? Truth be told, I’ve been toying with the idea for a few months, but wasn’t sure what I’d write about, what the “theme” would be, whether or not anyone would care, if I was comfortable spilling my guts on the internet. But two days ago, in a post-midnight shift haze, I decided to go for it. It took me a while to come up with a name (um, that whole 2.5 hours of sleep thing), then I spent what felt like hours making a simple banner because I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to graphics (tbh still not 100% in love with it). For better or worse, here I am.

Listen, I’m one of *those* runners. The one posting evidence of my training runs and race outfits on Instagram, spamming people with race tracking on Facebook and then posting a medal selfie afterwards, uploading my GPS logs to 4 different apps, and constantly talking about running or working out in between those things. 100% being the person non-runners/gym rats roll their eyes at incredibly hard. So, while I will continue to do most of those things – can’t stop won’t stop – I figured I can at least put the talking (er, writing) here instead. I may add some posts about non-running fitness, feelings, and food.

My first real post will probably briefly cover how I got to where I am today and how I am indeed not some freak who was kind of fast to begin with. I’ll save the whole “fast” issue for a separate post.