Sunday, November 17, 2013

Race Recaps: 8 Months of Races in One Surprisingly Short Post

Trying to recap a single race in a standard blog post is tough, but trying to recap eight months of races at once? Nearly impossible. Thankfully, I have forgotten most of the details about the races I've completed since March, which you'll appreciate since it cuts down on the reading.

If my calculations are correct (they probably aren't), I ran 6 races between March and October. These varied from a one-mile race with a field of eight to a full 26.2 on trails, and they took place in Georgia, Tennessee and Washington.

1 Mile: Market Street Mile, Chattanooga, TN, June 2013 (6:48)
I don't know why I thought this was a good idea. "I hate 5ks, but what could be better than running for less time and wanting to puke even more? Yes! A one-mile race!" It was actually kind of fun because they did it in heats, so I was only racing against other women between 20-29. I, uh, lost. I don't remember what place I took - out of 8 - but I distinctly remember it being toward the end.

5k: Run For John, Dalton, GA, April, 2013 (23:58)
This is known as a super-hilly course in the area, but the downhills were nice so it wasn't as bad as I imagined. It rained slightly, but this was still a 5k PR for me, with a 7:43 pace. Plus, I got second in my age group. (Ahem, this was out of four. I'll take it.)

10k: Riverbend Race, Chattanooga, TN, June 2013 - DNS
This is embarrassing. I picked up my packet a week in advance, and then ignored the date. I thought the race was on a Sunday, until I saw people posting their results on Facebook - on Saturday morning. Good times.

15k: Chickamauga Chase, Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, April 2013- (1:16:44)
This was a fantastic race! I got there late and didn't get a chance to warm up, but I don't think it mattered much in the end. 8:14 pace overall was fast enough to get me second place in my age group, which was framed artwork depicting the Chickamauaga Battlefield (where the race takes place).  I really loved this distance and would like to do another one. Not painfully fast, but short enough to recover from quickly.

13.1: Tehaleh Trail Half Marathon, Bonney Lake, Washington, September 2013 (2:12:38)
I raced this about a week or two after we moved to the Seattle area, so it was a pretty great way to experience running in the Pacific Northwest. Obviously, it rained. A lot. But most of the course was pretty, if laden with mud puddles, and I came in fourth out of 14th in my age group.  Also, this will be remembered as the race where photographers took insane amounts of photos, and one makes me look hardcore. The other 14 will not be shown on the blog. 1 out of 14 isn't bad for race photos, right?

13:1: Ft. Steilacoom Trail Half Marathon, Tacoma, Wa, October 2013 (2:05:16)
I had so much fun at my first trail half in Washington, I immediately went home and signed up for another in the same race series. (Evergreen Trail Runs) I'm in love with them - small, cheap and you only have to show up 15 minutes before the start. Heaven. This was a pretty flat-ish trail, and I snuck in as 5th out of 20 in my age group.

26.2: Scenic City Trail Marathon, Chattanooga, TN, May 2013 (4:44:41)
This is the third time I participated in this race, but in 2011 and 2012 I just did the half. The full was, as you might imagine, twice the fun. Amazing course, scenic, challenging and fantastic. I wish I could run it again!

Post-Race at Scenic City Trail Marathon

If there is one thing you notice about all of these races, it is that they are small. The reasons for this include:
1) I'm cheap. Small races = cheaper race entries.
2) I'm lazy. Getting to the race 15 minutes before the start? Yes, please.
3) I'm full of myself. Placing in an age of group of four is a lot easier than in a field of 1,000.

What to do you prefer? Big races or small races?
I will say that I like the swag at big races. The smaller races generally don't give out bling, which I am a big fan of. Expo crap I can do without, but I love the medals.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ragnar Las Vegas (Subtitle: I Think I'm Back?!)

Although I like to pretend that you have all been waiting around with bated breath, the reality is that many of you might not have noticed that I have stepped away from blogging, has it really been eight months? Crazy.

In that time my work has ramped up big time (don't worry, I still get to write from home in my pajamas), I have had the chance to run some great races and I even moved, with husband and three cats in tow, to the Pacific Northwest.

So, what brought me out of my self-induced blogging retirement? Ragnar Relay Las Vegas. This was my second chance to run a relay (first being Hood to Coast 2012), and it was every bit as fantastic as I had hoped. Unfortunately, that isn't because I secretly love being cold and cramped in a van for 30 hours. It is because I like being surrounded by awesome people who want to eat, breath and sleep (or not sleep) running.

If you aren't familiar with the typical relay set-up, it involves a team of 12 running 36 legs, which totals anywhere from 185-200 miles. This particular adventure started on Mt. Charleston, just outside of Las Vegas, and ended in Lake Mead. My van of six consisted of:

Runner #1: Nicole
This woman just gave birth four months ago, but you would NEVER guess it.  She was incredibly fast and tackled the very first (hilly!) leg of the race. However, I have a feeling she had an advantage. From the little I know of parenting newborns, a nap in a van is basically equivalent to a full night of sleep for her, right? Nicole lives near me now, so I plan on getting her expert opinion on races nearby.

Runner #2: Kelsey
I used to live 90 minutes from Kelsey, and she is a complete sweetheart with one of those adorable southern accents. Seriously, she could be insulting me straight to my face and I would just be picturing Scarlett O'Hara and a big 'ol glass of sweet tea. I can't remember how many times this past weekend Kelsey said, "This is SO MUCH FUN!" I love how much joy she brought to the group.

Runner #3: Sandy
I was super excited to meet Sandy! She has a clear goal for running, and has had one for some time. Hey, her entire blog is named after getting to Boston! I really appreciate how hard she works to accomplish her dream, and she doesn't shy away from knowing what she wants. She totally underestimates how fast she is, and I really can't wait to see her succeed.

Runner #4: Caroline
Sweet Caroline! This lovely lady has been in my van twice out of two relays, so it has become clear that I am incapable of running an event like this without her. Thank you, Caroline, for your incredible playlists, fantastic photography skills and hilarious personality.

Runner #5: Zoë
Serving as both driver and runner of the MOST MILES on the team, Zoe pretty much put all of us to shame. After little sleep and lots of running, I can barely walk in a straight line, but Zoë managed to maneuver that van with style.  Plus, being the mother to perhaps the cutest little girl ever bumps her up even further on my list. Zoë: I am a fantastic babysitter. I work for hugs. Call me.

Runner #6: That's me!
I won't give myself a descriptive paragraph, because that's just odd.

Pure joy at being finished!

Alright, now I am going to try to recap the awesomeness of the relay as quickly as possible. Ready?

Thursday: Flew into Las Vegas, checked into a pyramid. Overpriced frozen yogurt. Water bottles that cost the same as bars of gold. New and old friends. Sleep.

Friday Morning: Relay begins! Drove to Mt. Charleston. Ears popped at 8,000 feet elevation. Snow. Let me repeat: Snow. In the Nevada desert. Confusion.

Friday Afternoon: Um, night. Not used to this early sunset thing. I ran my first leg in the dark, which was rerouted at the last minute. Four miles at 7:56 pace - obviously some downhills! Dinner at Chili's. Good times.

Friday Night: My leg two was a midnight uphill 10-miler through Red Rock Canyon. Apparently, it looks like this during the day:

 For me, it looked like this:

My knuckle lights died after mile 2, I had a near panic attack and my phone battery was dying. Basically, I am completely unprepared and a giant baby. I called my husband to tell him I might die in the desert, cried at the finish and then forgot about it altogether within minutes. Running is fun!

Saturday Morning: My final leg, and it was in daylight! Hallelujah. It was just under 3.5 miles, a lot of it was downhill, and my pace was 8:05. I was spurred on substantially by a van full of crazy ladies with cowbells signing "Call Me Maybe" on the side of the road. Oops, did I say crazy ladies? I meant fantastic teammates.

Saturday Afternoon: Finish Line! We waited around at the finish so we could watch Van 2 of our team come in. It was hot, sunny and absolutely beautiful.

For full disclosure, I have to say that the team was sponsored by Nuun and Pro Compression. It isn't really a secret that I love Nuun, but Pro Compression was kind to me. I have to admit that prior to this weekend, I had never wore their compression socks at all. Normally, I wear Swiftwick compression socks because, uh, I'm a cheapskate and they are the cheapest ones I can find that work.

Anyhow, Pro Compression has kind of converted me. I have to say that the two brands (Swiftwick and Pro Compression) are still pretty much equal in my opinion, but Pro Compression has cuter colors/patterns. I think that Pro Compression socks are normally $50 - kind of pricey - but you can almost always find a discount code for 30-40% off.

P.S. For reading this entire post, you get a prize! Kind of. Nuun and Pro Compression have discounts, and they are as follows:

Code: ragnarvegas
Good for: 20% order
Expires: 12/31/13

Code: nuunpc
Good for: 40% off + free shipping
Expires: 12/31/13

Also, I have to say that, obviously, six women does not a 12-person team make. Van 2 was a great group of five women and one sparkly-skirt-wearing man. Although I didn't get to spend as much time with this group, they all seemed pretty fantastic.

The whole group!
Next up, I attempt to recap all of the races from the past eight months in a single post. (And you thought this post was long!)