To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Stepping outside the comfort zone is the price I pay to find out how good I can be. If I planned on backing off every time running got difficult I would hang up my shoes and take up knitting.
-Desiree Davila

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ragnar Relay - Leg 1

So let’s talk Ragnar running!
Meet the Rum Runners of Van #1!
The leader of our pack!
Thursday night, after Downtown Disney, 4 of us from van 1 stayed at the Hilton in Costa Mesa. I was up at 3:15am to shower and thoroughly wash my hair and my body – twice! I figured I won’t get to shower for a long time, so I may as well make the best of it. At 4:30am we were out the door and on our way to Huntington Beach and the 2014 Ragnar So Cal start line. It was a parking lot full of vans, something we’d be accustomed to rather quickly. We parked and immediately met up with our other 2 van-mates. I just made that up. Teammates in our van… van-mates! Check-in looked chaotic from afar, but actually went really fast considering it was dark out and there was a mass amount of people everywhere not knowing what was going on. First up was our safety check for headlamps, butt lights and vests. We passed flying colors and moved over to our big safety briefing. Pretty common sense. Next bibs, Rag Mag, safety flags and shirts. In no time at all we were set and moving over to the official start line.

Heading off on my own adventure!
Garth was our first runner, and easy to spot with his long hair, kilt and bedazzled pirate on his sleeve! Once he took off the rest of us went to the van to make our way to the first transition point, which is where I started my running. We got to the designated spot and learned that it was moved about a half mile back. Quickly we jumped into the van and hurried back. I had time to get a swig of water, 2 small bites of food and then run up to have Garth hand off the slap bracelet to me. And there I was … beginning my Ragnar Relay adventure!

My Garmin was set, my music was on… and it was a perfect song for the perfect setting. There I was, running along the ocean at Huntington Beach with the sun rising, listening to Sugar Ray’s Every Morning. Absolutely wonderful! It was eerily calm. I had just been in the chaos of people and vans, and now was all alone with a handful of other runners, just watching the waves crash on the shore beside me. Immediately I had a huge rush of happy adrenaline! I had no plans for this run, other than to just go out and do my best and have fun. Along the way I kept hearing van-mate Tara’s voice. “Running is easy, you just keep going!” So that’s what I did! It never even struck me that walking was an option. I just pulled a Forrest Gump and kept running and running. I had turned to run east into neighborhoods and a major street with many businesses and apartment complexes. To get there though, I had to run up a long hill. Eh, no biggie – I just kept running. The van 1 Rum Runners passed by at one point cheering me on, which totally helped me not even consider walking. I can’t let my team see me wimp out, no way! At the top of the hill was a welcome surprise. I had a crosswalk I had to wait at, and also waiting for me was Man Friend with some water. Awesome!

The light switched and I was clear to run. And so I did. The only pauses were due to the crosswalks I encountered, but those also gave time to talk to other runners, all of whom seemed to be loving the day as much as I was. A couple of guys even let me “pass” them as we waited to cross – giving me a couple of pity “kills” – which I did NOT count in my final total, FYI. *"Kills" are when you pass people, and teams typically count them and track the numbers on the side of their vans! Around mile 4 things weren’t as lovely. The only Meniere’s attack I had of the entire race happened then. Fortunately it is where my van-mates were waiting with more water. Man Friend calmed me down a bit and just reassured me I could do it. Vertigo aside, I could do it! So I did! That was my last meeting with the team until the next hand off.

I passed all those people! Heading into the finish.
It was around mile 6 that I found myself in a cluster of women (that I was systematically passing). We were all at a crosswalk together and I was making conversation and giving a group pep talk since some looked like they needed it. I told them we only have just over a mile to go, we can do it! I then left a bunch in my dust and was focused on 7.2. I was running 7.2 miles, maybe I would kick it up in the last bit of my run? But then something strange was in front of me. I was 6.66 miles in and hit a sign that said 1 mile to go. WHAT?!?! It never dawned on me that Garth’s run was shorter so mine would be longer. Oh well, what can ya do? I just continued along keeping up a great running pace (damn crosswalks) and picked off runners one by one until I handed off to Man Friend. The “finish” area was pretty cool. Fellow Ragnarians lined the chute cheering on everybody that came down, teammates or not! I love that about runners, we all cheer for each other. Man Friend was waiting, wrist out, ready for the slap bracelet. It was pretty fun getting to pass off to him, and he looked set for a great run himself!

In the end I had 7.66 Garmin miles, zero walking, and 11 kills. Not too shabby! Ragnar was proving to be pretty damn awesome!

Prior Ragnar posts:  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Miss Ragnar

I'm still pretty much thinking of Ragnar non-stop.I told Tara today that Ragnar topped Disney. Sure Disney is fun, but Ragnar is 2 days of non-stop fun and you get to go in the beach if you want!  After Vegas for days immediately followed by Ragnar I am pretty much STILL trying to get back into a normal sleeping and eating pattern. At night, even though I'm in my bed, I keep waking up thinking that it's time for a runner exchange and that I need to get up to go cheer - or get up to run. And the runger. Holy cow, I only ran 13.5 miles but you'd think it was a marathon. I guess I just never really ate while we were there except for once at a restaurant. My tummy is demanding more action that that apparently. Another thing I realized, from 3:15am Friday morning when I woke up for Ragnar until we got done with our van running and back to shower - I only went to the bathroom FIVE times! That's it! Clearly I was NOT hydrating at all. Bad form!!

In between Las Vegas and Ragnar I did have a moment of pure childlike excitement.... DISNEYLAND!!! We didn't technically go IN, but my hands and arms did! Nobody said you can't go up to the gate, stick your body parts through and take photos! Oh it was magical. I heard the area music, I went into the bakery at Downtown Disney, I had my purse checked at Security. Loved it! 

The purpose was our pre-race dinner at Downtown Disney. In attendance was myself, Man Friend and Carrie. Tara was actually able to show up just before we ordered, bonus! ESPN Club was setting. My food was yummy, but I hardly ate any of it ~ I blame pre-Ragnar nerves. And for those of you trying to figure out who everyone is, obviously Man Friend is my obnoxious, yet darling husband; Carrie is a friend from grade school; and Tara I met during the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2013 and then was part of Team Freedom during the Dumbo Double Dare. *You might recall we crashed the mass chaos of the Disney Health and Fitness Expo together. That right there should have been a clue as to the shenanigans we would be up to once Ragnar was under way. 

I hated to have to leave, but I know I'll be back.... and we would end up very close to the park again during our first round of running! So that's it for now. Basically I miss it. I want to be doing it still. Or again. Or maybe some day in the future after I catch up on much needed sleep!

And if you missed out on my very serious, advice from the pro post about surviving a Ragnar, click HERE!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ragnar With RR Survival Tips!

I'm in denial that the whole Ragnar So Cal 2014 experience is over. Before writing actual posts about the running, I've compiled a list of tips and things I've learned in order to have a successfully fun Ragnar experience!  *In photos RR is for Rum Runners, although a bonus that they are my initials, too!

The start of MINIvan decorating.
Get a BIG van. A minivan works, our team is living proof of that … but seriously, do NOT choose to use a minivan. Imagine this, if you will … 6 adults, each of whom have run 2 times already without a shower, all trying to sleep in the minivan at the same time. Not a pretty sight!

If you are travelling in a van with myself, Man Friend and Tara – be prepared for pure sarcasm and nonsense to come out of our mouths almost all the time. If we pronounce El Cajon as El Cajun – it’s not because we can’t read…. It’s 100% on purpose! And it will never get old for us to do it, consider yourself warned.

Keeping MF hydrated on the run!
Bring a Sharpie to mark your water bottles. We had tons of partially empty bottles laying around because nobody could remember whom they belonged to. Pretty sure I stole Garth's water after my first leg just because it happened to be in my line of sight and I was thirsty. Team Bonding!

A way to stay hydrated? Make “Rag Mag” a drinking game. Every time you hear “Rag Mag” take a drink of water or whatever you prefer to hydrate with!

So Cal seems to really care about status. Status is just material and a state of mind. Ignore it and you’ll be just fine!

Go in the ocean!! It might not feel tropical, but you are in Southern California with beaches as far as the eye can “sea” ~ take advantage. The cold water actually felt really nice on my legs and it was “boatloads” of fun!

Sleeping is pretty much hardly even optional. When you are trying to sleep there WILL be vans coming and going next to you and those runners will be talking, so just don’t talk in your own van to try to keep at least a small bit of quiet. Did you know Jamie feels a little hurt and has a blister? I know that, I learned that in my first attempt at sleeping. Fine – just don’t even bother pretending to try to sleep during the daylight hours. It’s not going to happen.

Tagging. It is a must, if you want to be one of the cool kids. Tagging was the best part of the whole race! Hardly anything is off limits – sorry elevator. ;)

Have at least one totally laid back guy in your van. Check! (Thank you, Garth!)

Have at least one totally silly, obnoxious guy in your van. Check!  (Thank you, Man Friend!)

You’re probably not going to eat all that food you are bringing. So don’t overbuy. And don’t bury all of your food and drinks. It’s hard to hydrate when you have to unpack the entire back area just to get to the water.

Be FUN!!! Ragnar is not serious. Relax, have a sense of humor, go with the flow, goof off, tag vans, wear a costume if you want. Have the spirit of fun! We had clappers, pom poms, a sword, pirate hats, eye patches, flags, heck we even had a parrot!

Tara is ready to High 5!
High five people cheering you on! I high fived the heck out of people on 2/3 of my runs – and I only didn't do it on run #2 because it was completely dark and the only people out were fellow runners and vans driving to their next exchange… so no opportunity. But yeah, put your hand out and I will be reaching for it, it always puts a bounce in my step!

And you know what else is good for lifting the spirits? Seeing your van’s tag on another team van when you are running. I was pushing through my final leg and trying to keep my spirits up, and what do you know, a van went by with a huge RR right across the back. Boom! We did that. Awesome!

Once you stop sweating, change your clothes. I used my Chawel (and looked like a pillow case) to change and it was so freaking simple. I never felt disgusting the entire race because I was constantly in fresh clothes. Mentally I think that helped me survive the close quarters! ---and the other 5 in your van will appreciate your effort to change and not stink!

My Chawel - a life saver!
Your van WILL stink. Fact.

Have a sheet with everybody’s phone numbers on it (big font!) where all can access and read it. It’s hard to communicate with your other van if you don’t have a way to do it.

Have a big group meet up or dinner the night before the race so you can at least meet the other half of your team before you all start running.

You’ll get sick of the Rag Mag (take a drink!!), and when you do – just follow the runners. On a few occasions we just followed intuition, and runners, and got to the exchange with no problem. Relax! It’s the key to having a fun, successful Ragnar experience!

And with relaxing know this, the course very well might change without you knowing it until it happens. My first leg ended up being about a half mile longer than expected, and the first runner had his leg cut short by half a mile. No biggie, things change…. It’s all part of the adventure!
Whoa, time to start! Adjusting to a surprise course adjustment!
Last.... Hug the signs! -- Do a Ragnar and it will all make sense! *And with that, maybe bring a soft blanket. I had mine and it was my BFF for a few hours!

Thank you, Ragnar, for selling comfy pants!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Viva Las Ragnar

And here it is.... the beginning of the major procrastination. I am supposedly packing for the So Cal Ragnar Relay via fabulous Las Vegas. Really? Am I REALLY packing if I am sitting at my computer listening to iTunes and blogging? In my defense I hardly ever blog anymore and I'm officially on vacation, so I'm allowed to slack! Technically I am working on MF's race shirts and hooking him up with some pirate action, so I am preparing in my own way!

My spare bed is covered with all things Ragnar. Not just tech clothes and gels, but eye patches, bandannas, pom poms, a pirate hat, sword and much more along those lines. I may not have been able to train at all (thank you, Meniere's Disease), but dang it my mind is so ready that I know I'll pull through and do my best! *With regard to Meniere's ... I gave in, bought a cane and I'm nearly over feeling embarrassed about it. Now I just joke that I am some old lady that will defend everybody by shaking her cane around. I'm hoping to find one that is ME when I'm in Vegas! I have multiple packing lists to check off and I am seriously hoping I do not forget to add the Girl Scout cookies. I feel that is a must-have item if you are going to be running and living in a van with 5 other people for a couple days. The other day I realized I am the only person in Van 1 who has actually met all the other members in person before. I'm such a social butterfly!

Gpa and I in Vegas the night before my wedding.
With Vegas coming in just a couple of days I am trying to take care of important things... i.e. what rewards do I want to get from the myVegas game on facebook. So far I have us lined up for a trip to the Minus 5 ice bar at the Monte Carlo. I'm pretty excited about that since not only will I be there with Man Friend, but also my mom, step-dad AND my 87 year old grandpa! This is Grandpa's THIRD trip to Vegas in less than a year's time. We actually went to Las Vegas together back when I was in college and still had braces and wasn't old enough to drink. He and I took my Grandma and pushed her in a wheel chair up and down the Strip. It was pretty fun. I was flattered with a person at the MGM Grand thought I worked there and asked where the Baccarat tables were! I blame my incredibly awesome pant suit that I bought for my professional attire when I went on my first Disney internship. Anyway... Man Friend will be celebrating his birthday in Vegas, so I'm thinking we should find something fun and different to do for him. As it is we get to start out his day by having breakfast at Margaritaville! Fins up!!

I think that's it. My feet smell. I should probably go wash them. And maybe I will use this Sharpie to label my Ragnar clothes bags... because of course I gave way too much thought into what I was wearing for each leg.

Why are you still reading? I'm done! I'M ON VACATION!!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

All Sorts of Procrastination

All the men from my wedding!
Since I last posted I was in my first car accident as a driver. I was rear-ended on the way to work. The sad thing is I pretty much saw it happening. First the driver behind me almost hit me because his face was buried in his phone. Luckily he looked up and stopped just in time. Well then the next thing I know, his face is back in his phone and his big truck is coming right into the back end of my car. I was NOT pleased. Fortunately I wasn't hurt, just got a little stiff and sore as the day went on. But now my car is fixed and looking as pretty as ever - cleaned inside AND out! Yay!

My new family has moved out, returning to their various home hours away. *We even had the company of our Best Man all the way from Alaska! It's been eerily quiet in our house. It used to be two stories with 4 cats and a dog, and various amounts of people (never less than 6) living here. At one time we did have 15 people and all the pets in here at one time. Now it is just Man Friend, myself, our two cats and my dog. Davey Jones has been hanging out more often as well, which makes me happy. Davey, as you may recall, is the cat that was here when we moved in. 

We had a fun family day at the coast last weekend. We had a two vehicle caravan to Bandon, Oregon. It was so nice there! No rain, but a TON of wind. Crazy wind. Windiest I've ever been in other than the three hurricanes I had to go outside in when I lived in Florida. Getting out of our house and just being silly with everyone was needed I think. Saved us from a case of cabin fever, a la The Shining!

Teaching my sister-in-law about housewife life!
In running news, I bought myself two new pairs of shoes a couple of weeks ago. I am loving the New Balance shoes I picked out solely because they are bright turquoise and hot pink. They are just so light and I swear they put a bounce in my step. I've been regularly running, just not the longer distances I used to. I decided I am training for Ragnar 2 mile runs at a time! And so speaking of Ragnar, I've officially started laying out all of my race clothes and gear. For those of you that haven't done a relay before, they seem to be pretty strict on what you MUST have and things you CANNOT have (sorry, Captain Morgan, you have to
stay home). I've never lived in a van for two days before, so I am trying to make sure I don't forget anything important ... like deodorant! We are hitting Las Vegas on our way to San Diego, so that's extra stuff I have to figure out how to pack. So stressful... and I love it!

And lastly, anybody else heading to Walt Disney World this November for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon? That race (both the half and 5K) sold out crazy fast, and I am happy to say Man Friend and I got in before it was capped. Phew! I've already booked a hotel room and watched my vacation planning DVD a couple times. So what if I go every year? I NEED to plan, dang it! 

Now I must stop procrastinating. Now that it is just the two of us in the house we are attempting to unpack and decorate. I'm getting rather sick of cardboard boxes so I should just get busy and move in!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

When Life Gives You Lemons....

.....make margaritas! But in this case I have made a lot of lemonade, literally and figuratively. 

Lemon: Had a great run only to return to my car and see that I grabbed the wrong key and am locked out. 

Lemonade: I am enjoying the sound of the river and using the quiet time to begin to write this post. 

Lemon: I've been having a lot of Meniere's attacks lately causing me a lot of difficulty walking and sitting upright on my own. 

Lemonade:  I gave in and bought myself a folding cane as a tester before buying one that is more colorful and more Me. Now I feel like I can actually get places alone and not worry about looking drunk and possibly falling over!

Lemon: Taking 2013 off from legit running and training for big races has caused me to almost feel like I'm starting over. 

Lemonade:  Since I feel like I'm starting over I have extra motivation to work hard and get to set new goals for myself all over again! Plus I got myself 2 new pairs of running shoes just to boost my motivation!

Lemon:  My darling mother in law spent the last couple weeks of her life in our home before setting off to whatever her post life journey will be. Leukemia sucks, big time!

Lemonade:  Yes, I CAN find a's under the saddest conditions, but I got to spend time with her and the rest of my new family. There were downs but we also had ups. You can't help but bond when you are all together through all of these things. I feel like I scored. All of my new family members are awesome! I'm a lucky girl. It's crazy how much life can change in less than a year, and even more crazy how much you can see it change just over the course of a week or days. Go hug your family now while you can, 'cause you just never know!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

RUNning A New HOME

I have recovered from R0nda Appreciation Day. I know you were all concerned. ;) Here is how I celebrated myself! I enjoyed a blueberry muffin and sailed through work. I came home to a near empty house. The parents-in-law were off tending to leukemia things and for a short time it was just Man Friend and I. I did housewife duties like cleaning the kitchen and putting away dishes. When you have 7 or more people at dinner every night you go through a lot of dishes!! Then I sent myself on a run. The weather was gorgeous and the run was great....until I hit the pond. It is normally a path for people but it is currently a pond. I tried to run around it and ended up in water up to the middle of my calf!  I further spoiled myself by going to Lowe's and buying myself a new vacuum cleaner, which I immediately used. When I came home the house was filled with the aroma of freshly baked peanut butter cookies. Delicious! I got to spend a lovely evening with a lot of my new family. They are pretty awesome, I got lucky!

Today I did another run, this time avoiding the "pond". I actually ran at my fastest pace in quite a while. I call this last minute slacker training for Ragnar. And see? I even dressed to show I am attempting to prep for it! 

Speaking of Ragnar, I think I am almost all set with my outfits. I just need to create my screen prints for my shirts and I'm set. and I had quality time to accessorize together!

In other news, I LOVE my new house!! I could stay here all day and not get twitchy or want to leave.  Since we have so much company we have paused on unpacking and decorating for a while, but we still feel settled and comfy. It's so lovely! With this house also came Davey Jones. That's what I've named the cat that spends a lot of time here.  Out by our pool we have "Davey Jones' Locker" for him to go if he wants a nice bed and food. But he still has his food, treats, water and bed up on our deck, too. I spoil him. He even got to spend a day at the cat spa getting his hair freshened up!

I will end with my latest addition to our home.  My grandpa was given this steamer trunk ages ago. I've seen it my entire life and always loved it. Well, it is now mine! It sits in my bedroom but may find its home in the living room to help tie in the nautical theme of our kitchen area and swimming pool.  Isn't it cool?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy RAD! Let's Get Busy Appreciating ME!

I should know the year off the top of my head … but I don’t – I just looked, it was 2007…. Once upon a time I created a holiday. R0nda Appreciation Day. It was my own protest against Valentine’s Day since I had just (exceedingly happily) gotten divorced. I figured Valentine’s Day is a fake holiday that people get behind, so why not have my own holiday? So one week after Valentine’s Day I celebrate R.A.D.!

Two years ago on this date I hurried to work. My mom had told this obnoxious guy at work that R0nda Appreciation Day was coming up and he said he would leave me a little gift at my desk. She passed that along to me and so when R.A.D. came along I was filled with curiosity. What would this guy that I hated for so many years have to leave for me for MY holiday?!?! Ugh, it was the annoying slip showing how much money was taken from our paychecks to cover our union dues. Damn union rep! He knew how much I hated those things, so I did have to laugh when I saw that is what he had left me. Perhaps that obnoxious guy was smarter than suspected …. Because just over a year later I married him!

See what can happen if you create your own holiday?!?! I’m always shocked when people actually gift me things. I did not make it so I’d get presents, although I did try to solicit a new iPod the first year – to no avail. In the past I have received things like a gigantic plastic diamond ring, a puzzle book, a princess photo frame and even an Apollo astronaut complete with Lunar Rover! This year I might gift myself a vacuum cleaner now that I have two stories of carpets to clean in my wonderful new home. Also, I have the pleasure of company. My in-laws are staying with us for a while, and with that brings many other family guests. With all of us actually having homes hours apart, it’s nice to have us all together in one place. I think that’s a great R.A.D. present! Heck, we even have two visiting boys named Shadow and Speed. Without a doubt they are the largest cats I have ever seen in my life. You might think you know of a bigger one – but I assure you Shadow will convince you otherwise. He’s nearly 7 times larger than my old dog was. No joke, I just did the math!

So anyway, happy R0nda Appreciation Day everybody! Get busy appreciating me, dammit!

*Ignore the 0 instead of an o - I do it on purpose to avoid google alerts.