Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ragnar Northwest Passage ULTRA Style

I could write an entire book about this relay and at the same time I could sum it all up in just a few sentences.

Before it all began!

Here's the short version:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Yes, it was the WORST of times.

Here's the long version:
Without completely and utterly embarrassing myself (too late for that?), let's just say I suffered incredible intestinal distress such that I've never experienced while racing before.  I've been a complete arrogant snob - my gut has always been a "rock", and that was something that happened to other racers.  Well let's just say, I will never ever again relay without carrying Imodium.  That stuff is magic.

My happiest moment: before the running and distress began!

While this was my 3rd Ragnar and 6th relay (well, 7th if you count Mt. Si but that's not the same), I've never done one ultra style before (ran with 6 runners instead of 12).  And, I'm not sure I will again.  Let me be clear, I am incredibly proud of myself for finishing and for accomplishing this.  I'm so glad I did it and I'm happy to cross it off my bucket list.  But let me also be clear, this was probably the hardest race I've ever completed.  It was hard physically (oh the hills, the hills, hills, hills, everywhere) and it was sure hard mentally, and didn't I already mention I thought I was actually dying during it?  Like Robyn sneezed and I couldn't muster the energy to tell her 'Bless You' even though I wanted to.  That's how bad it was.  Like I was googling hotels in the area and Marilyn said 'Maybe her husband should come pick her up'.  THAT'S how bad it was.  So maybe you weren't clear about that.

But here's the lowdown of the race itself.  I got to hang out with 5 amazing ladies and one truly amazing driver (Marilyn's husband is AWESOME).  I loved each of these ladies and I'm so glad I got to know them more.

In order of legs, Robyn, Lauren, Marilyn, moi, Jordanne, Bethany.

These women are hard core, never give up, funny, kind, inspirational, generous... they are the kind of ladies one would be lucky to call friends.  I'm so lucky I got to annoy them for 48 hours!

 Reppin' Nuun!

We decided to divvy up the miles in a more "interesting" way than the typical 3 vs 6 leg conundrum, to avoid one person being stuck with an 18 mile middle-of-the-night leg, so we split them unconventionally across 4 legs for each person.  Sometimes we ran 1 leg at a time, sometimes 2, and lucky me once got to run 3 legs at a time.  So here they were:

1st Leg: Legs 7 & 8
9.67 miles  10:38 average  1:42:58   elevation gain: 807 feet (yes you read that right)
Friday, 2:48pm
Splits: 9:41, 9:15, 9:39, 10:06, 9:42, 12:07, 13:25, 12:14, 10:07, 9:49

They said this was the hardest leg of the entire course.  Too bad I didn't realize I had to climb a mountain until the week before.  It was DIFFICULT to say the least.  Steep and unrelenting and HOT in the middle of the afternoon.  It was pretty though - on gravel trails through forests and along a lake. 

A few miles is was when I started to worry about how my stomach was feeling.  Another mile or two and I was panicked and looking off into the bushes.  Luckily there was a bathroom at this lake park in the middle, I don't even want to think about what would have happened if that oasis hadn't magically appeared.  I majorly struggled through the rest of the leg.  The mile splits tell the story. 

I've never been so happy to hand off that bracelet!

Then I proceeded to die in the car for a few hours.  Like seriously, it was terrible and not pretty.  We saw Lindsay and the Nuun team at the exchange and I couldn't even go hang out with them, that's how bad it was.  Until Robyn had the genius idea to ask the first aid tent at the major exchange for Imodium.  And man that worked IMMEDIATELY!  Seriously, it was magic.  You could tell I felt better when I finally laughed (once! ha) and took a few tiny bites of my sandwich.  I wasn't 100% but it was 10,000% better than it was before. 

2nd Leg: Leg 18
5.55 miles  9:58 average  55:23  elevation gain: 26 feet (yes you read that right!)
Saturday, 12:13am
Splits: 9:45, 9:41, 9:58, 10:02, 10:10, 10:19


I felt much better during this leg and didn't need a bathroom.  Win!  Also it was cooler and flat as a pancake, so that certainly helped.  This was the closest to running on a treadmill as I would EVER thought was possible.  Who even knew such a flat road even existed?!

3rd Leg: Legs 25, 26, & 27
8.68 miles  12:09 average  1:45:36   elevation gain: 597 feet
Saturday, 7:38am
Splits: 10:25, 12:33, 10:42, 12:44, 12:35, 12:09, 12:57, 13:05, 12:18

Here's where I made a mistake of not preempting the bathroom issues by taking another Imodium.  Man I wish I had, because the intestinal issues were back, as were the relentless and difficult hills.  I was really hoping my team would come by so I could get that magic pill from them but they were off at Starbucks.  Luckily I ran through not one but two exchanges and I used the port-a-potties at each.  Once again, those splits tell the story.  It makes me cringe just looking at them. 

My nice teammates were making fun of my outfit.

4th Leg: Leg #34
5.69 miles  9:38 average  54:54   elevation gain: 476 feet
Saturday, 2:54pm
Splits: 11:05, 9:02, 10:06, 8:25, 9:51, 9:12

And NOW the going gets good!  I was just about writing off relays FOREVER.  I was begging others to take that leg.  Thank goodness Robyn and Bethany and everyone else told me to SUCK IT UP LADY and stop being a baby and just finish this thing, because this was easily the best hour of the whole entire race.  Again, look at the splits!  This was still a hilly leg - and yet there's an 8:25 in there and a bunch of 9's!  I felt amazing, I felt like me, THIS is the Ricole that comes to relays, not that girl I didn't even recognize from before.  Who was that?!?!

This was exactly my favorite kind of run - on rolling hills (hills are okay as long as you actually get to run down them!) through beautiful countryside with animals (I saw a deer and her baby!) on backcountry quiet roads on a coastal island.  Seriously, does it get any better than this?  And I was truckin'.  I still powerwalked the huge hills but now I FLEW down the downhills.  I picked out people to pass like "come here little one" and passed 8 people one-by-one.  THIS WAS ME.  It was a wonderful way to end the relay after such horribleness. 

Isn't running wonderful?!?!  I yelled this to my teammates during this run and they all thought I was being majorly sarcastic after all of my complaints but I wasn't!

In all it was 29.6 miles of running, 1,906 feet of elevation gain (YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT), and 5 hours and 19 minutes of running.  WHEW! 

I was too grouchy to cross off any of my legs until after I finally had a good one.  

All done!  32 hours and 17 minutes later... and cheersing with some pizza, and later with some DQ.

And thanks in advance to my husband for not holding all of my sad sick texts against me the next time I want to relay...

And that's a wrap!  Let's hope Hood to Coast is a little more friendly...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Baby J 9 & 10 Month Update

I am so terrible.  9, 10, AND 11 months have come and gone without an update.  It's hard to believe that my next update will be ONE YEAR OLD.  How has a year almost gone by already?!

It's really hard to break apart what has happened in each month, since the changes are so gradual, but I know I need to write down SOMETHING or I won't be able to do his 1 year book (since yes, I'm a procrastinator, and I haven't even started.  It's going to be a SUPER daunting task).   So here's some bullet point changes. 

Our first Mother's Day!

1)  It's hard to tell who he loves the most - Roomba or Cooper.  But it's certainly, undoubtedly, neither Mom or Dad.  Him and Cooper have such a special relationship and it makes me so happy.  Baby J is OBSESSED with Cooper's toys and wants them so bad.  Which of course is disgusting whenever he actually gets them and immediately starts eating them!  He'll chase Cooper around in the litte walker car and laugh so hard when he "gets" Cooper!  I think that his ONLY incentive to EVER crawl is to get Cooper and / or his toys.  It still might not be enough though.  He also is obsessed with Roomba though.  He will literally shove your face out of the way so he can see him. 

Happy Easter!

2)  Speaking of Easter - Baby J went to his first Easter Egg Hunt!  He didn't seem to get it.  Also, the weather didn't really cooperate.

He DID get the idea of getting presents though!  

Well, kind of.

3)  At his 9 month appointment he was 21 pounds 13.5 ounces and 29.25 inches.  Both were about the 80th percentile.  I'm sure we're way bigger now.  We WERE wearing 12 months clothes for the most part with some 18 months thrown in there in some places.  **Update** At about 10.5 months I put the 12 month clothes officially all away and we're strictly in 18 months now. 

He's a big boy!  Clearly those pants needed to be retired!

4) He is OBSESSED with taking his socks off.  He think it is HIL-AR-IOUS how much we DON'T want him to take off his socks!  We try to put shoes on to hold the socks on but now he's figured out how to get his shoes off too so that just compounds the problem.  Oh yeah, and did I mention he thinks velcro is amazing?!  **Update** Funny - but this has kind of gone away!   Not entirely, but at 11 months sometimes he'll keep his socks on for full hours at a time! 

5)  I've mentioned before how much Baby J loves bath time. 

 Bath time with friends!

I know they say babies only need a bath every 2-3 days but Baby J gets one every night because it's his absolute favorite thing.  So I've been really excited for him to have swim lessons and go on this spring break trip to Great Wolf Lodge.  But... of course.... as we should have predicted... he wasn't so sure about this different, bigger, busier, colder water!  The first 4-ish times we even just put his feet in the little baby pool he cried.  We were starting to think we'd made a HUGE mistake.  But then he started getting more and more used to it and finally he would sit down and then he thought it was AMAZING!  He still didn't love being fully submerged (well, to his neck - I'm not a monster!), but he got carried around up to his waist and walked in it and sat in the wave pool while the waves lapped at his legs!  SO fun and cute.

**Update** Speaking of swimming - at 10.5 months we started swimming lessons!  Well, lessons is quite the stretch, because the lady hasn't taught us one-single-thing.  It's parent-tot, but somehow all the other kids are swimming geniuses and could do "torpedo arms" and "jump in" and all the other things she tells us to do.  She is not a good teacher.  Sorry lady.   But he LOVES it!  He will lean forward until he falls in the water when he's sitting on the edge!

6)  Baby J's laugh is just the best thing ever.  We love making him laugh.  So then you find yourself saying ridiculous things in ridiculous voices (like "coookies"... "donuts"...  "cheese please!"... "I smell baby poop" - but imagine these things said in really deep slow voices or super high pitched voices, for example).  But it works!  Once.  Then you have to come up with something else.  New material is key. 

I call this one, scenic Baby J

7)  Did I mention he's not even remotely close to crawling still?  We totally failed that questionnaire at his 9 month appointment.  We had to fill out this really long questionnaire with all these random questions that made me feel like a bad mom and like Baby J was completely failing.  But some of the questions were crazy: does baby try to get at a cheerio inside a clear plastic bottle???  Ummm????  I don't know!!  But he's not crawling, walking, pulling up, talking (he says lots of things but nothing FOR anything, although he has said "dada" at JMan a few times he also says "dada" about a 1,000 times a day so it's really hard to say that it really was TO him!).

He does roll EVERYWHERE.  I seriously don't know why he would ever be motivated to crawl when he can get anywhere he wants by rolling.  We like to joke that he'll be rolling around the kindergarten classroom to turn in his homework.  

 A standing machine!

**Update** He's still not crawling.  He just wants to stand which he can do with assistance (and he started pulling himself up in his crib at around 11 months).  We're calling his first "steps" June 5, but since he can't really get himself to a standing position on his own and he walks like a crazy drunkard who is also a crazy person and has no idea what's going on!!! I definitely wouldn't call him "walking".  

8)  We're FINALLY getting some teeth!  We have the two lower teeth coming in, one is about halfway done and one is just poking through.

**Update!  When it rains it pours?  He's getting the 4 top teeth now too.  He's very toothy. 

9)  Sleeping is such a roller coaster.  Just when you think you have it figured out it changes.  Just when you think YES WE'RE ON A SCHEDULE he is like "No way Jose, I do what I want" and then he has a nap strike and you have a horrible day.  Sleeping at night is WAAAYYY better but we're still not 100% sleeping through.  And the problem is that now when he wakes up hungry at 5am it is waaayyy harder to get him to go back to sleep than when he woke up hungry at 3am.  So we've had several super early mornings that weren't that fun. 

10)  Baby J got his first haircut!  I barely cut anything, just those really long bangs in the front, but I pretty much immediately regretted it.  He went from being "laidback surfer dude" to "where's my pocket protector"!


11)  Breastfeeding is pretty much over.  It was a slippery slope, and we went downhill quickly.  It happened by accident - one day at 9.5 months we were in Portland and we *GASP* forgot the milk when I had to be gone all day.  So we gave him his first taste of formula (thankfully he took it no problem - that could have been one horrible disastrous day!).  After that since we'd already given him some, we decided to try giving him a bottle before bed to see if it would help him sleep better.  DID IT EVER!!!  Wow I wish we'd done that a long time ago.  I think the problem is that my supply just kept decreasing and decreasing gradually and he just wasn't getting full at night. 

At 10.5 months my supply had decreased so much that it didn't seem worth it to pump at work anymore, so I gave that up.  It really shows how little I was making because I went cold turkey not pumping in a day (I had been pumping twice a day) and there was ZERO engorgement (I had only been pumping 3-5 ounces total in those two pumpings).  Then I kept up with 3 other feedings for a little while, but I've just dropped the afternoon and night feed, and I'm about the drop the morning feed too.  I feel a little bit like a quitter but it's also so freeing! 

12)  Baby J is going to be a circus performer.  He's all like "I don't always hold things, but when I do, I hold them with my feet."

 Seriously - ANYTHING he gets he immediately puts between his feet.

13)  Baby J loves shopping and going places (he loveessss riding in the cart), he loves riding in the stroller (that's the key if he's fussy), he loves play dates and his "friends", he loves being outside, he loves swinging at the park, he loves Roomba and Cooper, and he loves food (especially cheerios, raspberries, and cheese, but he wants to eat anything that we're eating!). 

And that is MORE than enough about Baby J! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hippie Chick Half Marathon Race Recap

On Saturday I ran the Better Series Hippie Chick Half Marathon as a Nuun ambassador (Nuun is working with the Better Series for their hydration!).  Thank you to both of them for the opportunity!  I haven't run more than 3 miles since the Seahawks 12k a month ago, and I've been in a bit of a running funk as you might recall, so running this race was probably not one of my better ideas!

Ready or not?

But, you start with the quarter marathon (how many races have you ever seen are actually quarter marathons instead of 10ks?!?!?  Very cool), so I figured if I felt terrible I could do the quarter race instead.  

I got there and got my packet without many problems.  It was a WAY bigger race than I anticipated!  The traffic line up into the parking area was really long and I was worried for awhile I would be late, but I ended up at the start time with an easy 20 minutes to spare, no problems.  It was very well organized at the start with the packet pick-up and such.  It all took place in a big stadium so there was tons of space and *gasp* real live bathrooms!  That's a major major plus. 

And then we were off!  I felt fine, so I kept going when the quarter marathoners turned off from us around mile 2.5 - it's so early to make such a big decision!  And sure enough, at mile 3, I thought I'd made a HUGE mistake!  There was still SO FAR to go!  Oh man. 
The course is GORGEOUS though.  I mean, if you like beautiful meadows and forests and seas of red flowers.  If you're into that kind of thing.  I say the more cows and horses, the better.
So I had zero plans going into it, but after seeing my split at mile 2, I decided my goal would be to aim to hang on to sub 2 pace (my goal for the year is to get under sub 2 again) for the first half (through mile 6.6) and then I could walk as much as I wanted to the rest of the race.  

Well, I made it to 6.6, so then I was like just make it to 7, then just make it to 8, then 9, then 10, and then... running 3 more felt IMPOSSIBLE.  It's funny how your brain works.  At mile 10 running 3 more felt like climbing Mt. Everest, so I walk a bunch, but at mile 11 I'm like, oh, just 2 more miles, I can do that easy! And then I start busting out  my fastest miles yet.  I'm a weirdo.  

So basically, spoiler alert, I threw it away at mile 11.  IDIOT!  It would have been close either way, it would have been super tight if I would have even made it without walking any, but I did manage to hit 13.11 (on my watch) at 1:59:21.  It's crazy folks!  How did I do that?!?!  
Splits: 9:04, 9:03, 8:54, 9:07, 9:02, 9:09, 9:00, 9:00, 9:03, 9:12, 10:10, 8:43, 8:58, 8:07 (.26)
SO consistent!  Well, except for when I threw it away - can you spot that?!
This was just the motivation I need to get my butt into gear.  I want to train!  Think of what I could have done if I had trained for this race?!?!  (The lesson here might be that I do better when I don't train than when I do?!)  I definitely want to keep working and train for the next one.  I want to train for that triathlon!  I don't want to just hope to finish!  I want to race!  Now let's see if I can get this plan into action.

Now let's talk about the race.  Folks, this is THE race to do if you want to PR.  It is FLAT AS A PANCAKE. 
Speaking of pancakes, they give you a free pancake breakfast after the race!  Speaking of breakfast, they also give you a free beer!  Speaking of beer.... they also give you a ton of free chocolate!  I don't know how that relates but it does.  :-)  You also get a necklace instead of a medal, and I'm pretty sure all participants got the necklace, not just the half marathoners.

Here's the caveat though - if you want to PR, I think you should carry your own water. I thought the race was fantastically run in every area EXCEPT the hydration.  There were only three water stops during this race - at miles 4, 6, and 10.5.   I know I am high maintenance in that I prefer more stops than most (I think 6 is ideal!), but even keeping that in mind I think 3 is a bit low.  I also only got Nuun at mile 10.5 - no electrolytes anywhere else that I could see (maybe they were refilling?).  

I think there was supposed to be one more water station:

It was unmanned the whole race.  I saw person after person try and fill their own cup from the jugs but it was sad and empty!  :-(  So there must have been some sort of mix-up.  By mile 10 or so it had been 4 miles since the last water, the sun was beating down on us, and I was seriously thirsty.  I'm not going to blame my dark times then on this, since I'm SURE it's *mostly* not training (ha!) but I did feel 100 times better after I finally got that glorious Nuun at mile 10.5! 

Other than that though, it was a lovely race and a lovely time had by all!  I will be back next year!  I love local races that don't involve 10,000 people and parking fiascos.  It was fun to do an all women's race and feel that energy.  It was a great way to kick off my first Mother's Day!