Race Recap: Ragnar Relay, Pennsylvania

Where should I start? Let’s rewind to January 2018, my friend asked me if I wanted to join him and his Ragnar Relay team – I scoped out the website, saw I had a couple hundred days to train and said, “why not?” After which I was promptly added to the team roster.¬† I came up with a fairly reasonable training plan and figured I had plenty of time to work out the details.

My friend hosted a couple of meetings, where we all got together and chose our “legs” based on runner number and also met to discuss logistics. For those of you that are new to Ragnar, it can be broken down like this:

The Ragnar Relay is a 200-ish mile race from one city to another.¬† The relay race is made up of teams.¬† Each team is comprised of up to 12 runners.¬† The 200-ish miles are divided into “legs”, ranging from 3 – to 9 miles each.¬† Each runner is assigned predetermined legs.¬† The first 6 runners are assigned to “Van 1” and the remaining 6 runners are assigned to “Van 2”.¬† Each runner runs 3 legs over the course of the entire race.

The race started from Lancaster area and ran all the way up to the Poconos.  Our team of 12 looked at each runner number and predetermined legs to find one that suited our running best.  Since this was my first relay, I chose one of the runner positions that had around 18 miles total Рabout the middle of the pack compared to the other available slots.  Anyway, not to bore you with the details, but due to some scheduling conflicts and last minute trades, I ended up in the Runner 4 position (totaling 16 miles).

My legs were: Leg 4 (4.6 miles), Leg 16 (3.45 miles), and Leg 28 (8 miles).

Enough talk here are some photos I took (enjoy!):

Gear Prep: I had packed 3 sets of running clothes, 3 pairs of shoes (2 to run, 1 pair to relax), various hats and bandannas, Feetures! and Mojo Socks, Running belt, headphones, safety gear, and a CamelBack waterpak.

Not shown, electronic prep included a portable battery pack (which was stolen or lost on race day) phone charging cables, iPad, iPhone, Garmin Charger, Garmin Forerunner 225, and two GoPro cameras and batteries.

At exchange 12-13, our van was looking pretty awesome.

In hindsight, we brought too much food. Everyone on the team thought it was great to bring trail mix, nuts, water, and snacks. I also thought it would be awesome to supply everyone with HoneyStinger products. Needless to say, no one was leaving or going hungry.¬† We had some much leftover food it’s not even funny – and despite grazing on snacks the entire time I constantly felt like I could just eat a nasty juicy burger.

Here I am at exchange 3-4 about to head out on a nice 4.6 mile run not too far from home (top) and coming in hot to hand off at the next exchange (bottom):

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It was awesome and exhausting. Our driver had backed out so our Team Captain and I took over driving and navigating responsibilities. Not ideal, but it really made this a hands-on adventure and added to my experience. Since I had roughly 12 hours between my legs, I was willing to tackle the job. I should also mention, we decided as a team to split up the driving for the ride home, so I was more than happy to pass out!

I snagged a few pics from my GoPro from my second leg. It was a nice 3.45 miles around a park along the water and ended up at a Church parking lot.  We were on time crunch, so I literally arrived and jumped right into the Van.

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After this things got blurry for me. We had about 6-7 hours of downtime which would have been ideal for rest, but being short on a driver required our Team Captain and me to stay awake and navigate to the overnight exchange. I will say, it was worth it- there is so much to take it we hung around a little too long at the second Van 1 РVan 2 exchange. This put us back a smidge and we got a late start to the overnight point.  We skipped going out to dinner or even stopped for fast food, we just had a laser focus on getting to the next exchange.

Sleep was (is) optional if you can sneak in a few Zzz’s I’d recommend it! All-in-all I got 3 hours of restless sleep, and that’s rounding up a little.¬† When I did sleep, it was one of those wild and crazy “I’m past the point of tired” dreams.¬† I dreamt that a girl named¬† Megan joined our team and was out to sabotage us, which became the running joke the following morning.

The next morning I was slated to run at 6:30 am and since we were running about 40 minutes ahead as fast as I could get ready, I was off!¬† I got to take in some truly beautiful scenery and since my portable power supply was gone, I didn’t get a chance to charge up my GoPros. This hill (above) lead to some amazing sights, my teammates captured some of the beauty.¬† The course ran along many dirt roads, the further north we traveled.¬† You could just feel how remote we were running along these winding roadways in the middle of the countryside with not a house in sight.

Our van by this point was looking pretty rough as well, but all in good fun.¬† I had added a few more tick marks to our miles and a few more sayings along the way.¬† Despite having backup cameras, we still couldn’t land the perfect parking job when reversing into spots.

Our final meeting was at a drive-in theater. We were all exhausted and over it, but still amped up for the finish.  Once we finished our legs, I drew Larry Enticer on the side of the window of our van, encouraging Van 2 to just send it to the finish line.

Drive-in pics:

All-in-all this post isn’t doing my experience justice. It was hands down awesome and I’d do it all again.¬† I knew 2 people on the team when I joined, and that’s being generous – when I left I never felt more comfortable with a group of new-found friends than I have before.¬† You wouldn’t think you’d go through so many emotions in such a short time, but we all laughed at the good times and shared in the pain when the running (and hills) got tough.¬† I walked away from this experience amazed at what the body is capable is doing despite fatigue, and feel an added boost of confidence in myself.

Here’s to the next one!

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Confessions of a Sock Aficionado

Hold up, before you go any further, this post is not sponsored, endorsed, or paid by Feetures!¬† This review is my own experience purchasing and using these wonderfully awesome socks.¬† Also, I know I’m getting older when the thought of a brand new pair of socks excites me, and these bad boys take the cake! Psst, Feetures! Call me, let’s get hooked up.

When it comes to socks, I have an obsession. I’m a stickler for comfort, and will destroy a laundry basket of perfectly clean wash in search for my go-to pairs. I become a sock archaeologist and will remove layer after layer in search of perfect pair. And when I discover my match, a sigh of relief from my feets and cry of joy from my heart.

You may all know of my love for Mojo Compression socks (and I still hold them in high regard), but I found out quickly that while they were great for recovery and road running activities, trail running proved to be a different beast.¬† Keep in mind, I used and swear by the Mojo Coolmax socks for recovery and for extended runs.¬† They are light, breathable, and offer full support, but this isn’t about Mojo socks.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk Feetures!¬† I was getting discouraged after being introduced to trail running when my Merrell shoes were giving me blisters after about 5 miles of activity.¬† I tried various socks, and combinations of socks, to no avail – I was starting to think I struck out and picked a bum trail running shoe.¬† I even doubled-up on socks and found they kind of helped, but my feet were still a little sore afterward – and who wants to have to double-up on socks? It just feels like a waste.

I was in my favorite local running store grabbing some supplies, when I spotted a wall of Feetures! socks and noticed they boasted a money-back-satisfaction-guarantee.  Insert my face, with a dark smirk, I knew the perfect test.  Enter the 7 miles of trails with my local running club aka HELL on shoes and socks, a true battleground for proving equipment claims and effectiveness.

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I grabbed the first pair of socks, sized to my foot (L), and decided it was on.¬† The next morning I woke up excited to hit the trails and slipped on my Feetures! socks.¬† It’s crazy to think that something like socks can be a game-changer, but you’d be surprised.¬† The trails were wet and flooded out following a recent rainfall, so I knew this would be a true test of quality.¬† After the first 3 miles, I was feeling good, and the socks were holding up well.¬† I was doing my best to avoid the puddles, when after hopping over a log lead me to a full on mud bath splash down.¬† I was soaked and started to get worried that maybe this wasn’t the proper way to break-in a fresh pair of socks – but I pressed onward.

By the end of the 7 miles, I was re-charged, I spent so much time focusing on where I was landing that I completely forgot about my feet and my socks.¬† In fact, it wasn’t until I got home and took off my socks did I realize there wasn’t a blister or soreness to complain about.¬† Feetures! YOU ROCK!

Since purchasing these bad boys, I’ve logged about 20+ miles on them and have no complaints – these are my go to brand now for all distance running activities.

 

iCare 5k

Every year a nearby food bank hosts a 5k almost in our backyard. Blessings of Hope has a huge yard sale, auction, food vendors, activities for kids, and of course a 5k race in beautiful Lancaster County. The company is predominantly Mennonite so it attracts the local Amish and Mennonite community at large. Turn out is always HUGE.

This year the 5k drew a much larger crowd as well. The course was the same as the previous year, a nice easy run on the back roads of Amish Country. There is a slight incline, at the very start, but for the most part it’s nothing too crazy and very runner friendly.

At the very beginning I noticed a lot of kids hanging around the starting line- in fact there were a lot of kids and I thought how fun it will be to blow past them at the half way mark. The announcer’s voice boomed over the handheld speaker as she yelled “GO!” and we were off. Truth be told: those Amish kids took off and I didn’t see a single one after that. Even though my first mile was complete in 7 minutes, and my second mile at 7:20, those kids were fast and long gone.

The course was beautiful as always, and the atmosphere and iCare event was a lovely experience. Even though I hit a few PRs, fastest mile (7:11), fastest 2 miles (14:31), I still finished 25th overall. I placed 3rd in my age group and received a fidget spinner medal- all-in-all, it was pretty fun.

Last year I ran a lot slower, with an average of 9:00 min/miles and placed 2nd in my age group. So this year I’d say the amount of competitors was a lot higher and the skill levels were just as high to match. This is a fast course and we saw some really fast times! Looking forward to next year!

It’s all about the Food!

Running aside, my life’s passion is food.¬† Losing weight was the motivation I needed to start eating and fueling my body right.¬† After all, losing over 60+ lbs I wanted to maintain my weight loss and maintain my good health.¬† “Let food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.”¬†‚Äē¬†Hippocrates

Get yourself ready for these awesome eats!¬† Typically we are vegetarian, and only eat meat a handful of times throughout the month, so I thought I’d change it up, but going a little heavier on the meats.

First up, Paprika Chicken and Chickpeas!  This awesome meal was combined with roasted broccoli and cauliflower for an amazing and satisfying meal! Especially after my long morning Sunday trail runs, and a day full of activities.

Next we have a Cauliflower Bolognese! One of my favorite meals Рthe pasta, the bolognese, everything about it is pure awesome.  We paired ours with a homemade Caesar salad and it took everything to the next level!

Finally, we have a local farm that produces some of the best tasting grass-fed beef I’ve ever had!¬† These Baked¬†Beef Samosas are so delicious, so flavorful, so awesome that I’m getting hungry just looking at them!¬† If you are vegetarian or vegan, feel free to use your favorite meat substitute, you won’t be disappointed!

Episode 20 – Diet or Lifestyle

In this episode of the Beyond 24 Days podcast, we tackle the difference between Diet and Lifestyle… at least what that meant for us, and what that can mean for you too! ¬†Listen¬†in to hear Brooke sharing her insight about her experience in school food nutrition and sharing healthy eating with kids.

Oh yeah, and I babble on about Trail Running.

Hot Chocolate 15K!

My race packet has arrived! I’m super pumped to be running the Hot Chocolate 15K in Philadelphia this April! This year I intend on getting yet another PR, so I’m double-pumped to get started. ¬†This will mark my third year running the race, and word on the streets is that there is a special “legacy” gift for past participants.

So I’ve got my packet, now what’s inside?

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Inside: The official Hot Chocolate tech long-sleeve shirt, bib, pins, and race information.

Initial thoughts: Every year I’m always excited for the swag, and the first and second year I ran the race the zip-up jackets were a huge hit. ¬†This year they’ve decided to go with a long-sleeve tech shirt, and I’m a little torn on how I feel about it. ¬†I’m on the fence because on one hand I was hoping for, yet another, jacket to add to my collection, but on the other hand appreciate something new and this long-sleeve tech shirt is nice and thick and perfect for late fall, early spring running.

All-in-all I’m grateful the Hot Chocolate organizers mail out the packets, having to drive 2+ hours to expo the day before the race and back again in the morning would be crazy! ¬†Kudos to the HC15K team for the awesome work!

Being my third year running this race, I’m supposed to receive some type of legacy swag – I’m not sure if this is after the race or before? ¬†If another has received the legacy swag, when did you receive it? ¬†My bib doesn’t seem to indicate anything in regard to the legacy status either, so I’m not 100% confident how this will be handled.

EDIT, as I’m typing this, I went to the official¬†rules: HERE

**We encourage all Legacy participants to join us at the Expo, to celebrate their achievements! Legacy items will not be mailed out pre-race. If you are unable to attend the Expo, we will arrange to have your Legacy items available for pickup on race day. You must pick up Legacy items either at the Expo, or on race day; no Legacy items will be mailed after the race.

Guess that answers that question! Anyway, I’m looking forward to this year’s race! Post-race recap to soon follow!

The Hard Cider Run Returns!

Feels like I’m a little late to the game, but we’re registered for the upcoming Gettysburg Hard Cider Run! This race is a must on our list of semi-local races.¬† The course has its challenges, from steep inclines to rapid descents… not to mention running through a vineyard, it is 100% awesome.

Speaking of 100% awesome, if you’d like to register, be sure to sign up HERE and join in the fun. Let us know if you’re going to be there and we’ll be sure to have some cider with you!