Big Changes

So I moved to Sonoma County! The last season on the mountain was amazing and as much as I am sad to leave it, I am excited for this new season. More about my new job in a future post for now here is my huge news and what you will be seeing on the blog a lot in the near future.

Rent in Sonoma county is insane. With the fires last year housing is limited and many landlords increased rent to take advantage. So I bought a used motor home and moved into it in a RV park.

While I have spent a lot of time in my parents trailers and motor home camping this is my first time having to do it all (by myself). Thankfully my parents able to drive it up and teach me how to work things like the sewer hoses, power, generator etc. I’m sure there will be some crazy adventures with this thing.

This motor home is old and while it runs well, a lot needs updating. I keep making lists of priorities and then something else comes up that needs fixed so it’s going to be a huge project. Here are some before pictures so eventually I can post some afters.

Excuse the messy pictures, I have been slowly moving in and working on organizing my stuff. More about that in a future post when I figure out where to put things.

My first shower lead to the shower head completely breaking off and buying a new shower head. Thankfully I found one with great pressure so that has been a nice upgrade already. I do need to re-caulk the shower probably a project for next week.

Here is the new shower head I bought in case you are in need of one as well. I like that it is not white so it doesn’t look ridiculous with the color of the shower.

Many more posts coming soon about this new home!

Let’s Talk about SEX

For so many parents sex can be a scary or intimidating subject to talk to their kids. What you’re not alone? That’s right! It doesn’t have to be as intimidating or scary as you make it. Just because you start talking about it doesn’t mean your child is going to go have it either. While most schools have some form of sex education, is this really where you want your child learning about it? What exactly are they teaching? Where do they turn if they have questions? And are they really listening or just giggling the whole time because someone said the word sex or penis?

(This post contains affiliate links to make easier for you to find these books and purchase them)

Think back to when you first learned about sex? Was it at school? A parent? Your friends? A movie? Maybe your first sexual experience was the first time you learned?

Was this learning experience healthy? Did you learn the truth? Were you left with a lot of questions?

If you look around today the world is full of sex. We see it in movies, television shows, advertisements, music, and pretty much everywhere we look. The average age for first sexual experience is getting younger and younger. Kids are having sex before they even learn what it is.

Most kids and teens are learning about sex in unhealthy ways. They learn many myths and ideas about it before they ever learn that it can be a good, healthy thing. When I polled my student’s about their first time learning about sex most said from friends or boyfriend. They asked me so many questions that honestly shocked me. How could these teens, who have had sex, really believe all these things about it?

Many parents are afraid or nervous to talk to their children about sex. Some parents believe that if they talk to their child about sex it will be opening the door for them to have sex or saying it is okay to have sex. None of this is true. Sex should not be a hushed topic that we do not speak about it. It should be approached as a normal healthy part of life. Kids should be learning from their parents healthy perspectives on it.

It is really important to teach your children about sex. It doesn’t need to be a weird, awkward conversation. It can be a normal, everyday conversation with your child. The earlier you start the conversations the easier it will be for your child to approach you with questions and when they start feeling things.

Think about it. Would you rather your child come to you when they hear something different? OR ask their friend?

Here are some resources to help you talk to your child about sex. Every book you will need to censor with your own beliefs and values. I do not suggest handing the book to your child and telling them to read it or hope they do. It is best to use the books as a starting point with them and have conversations with them.

Let’s Talk about S-E-X by Gitchel and Foster.

This book is great for helping to answer questions that come up. Let’s face it we don’t know all the answers and some people are afraid to start the talk because they won’t have the answers. This book can help give you a cheat sheet for some answers. I wouldn’t use it as the basis for teaching your child about sex, but keep it on hand for those questions that you have no idea how to answer.

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris

This book is a great beginner, overall book. It will help you have some ideas of where to start and what to talk about. It is important not to just hand it to your child but use it as a tool in discussing these things with your children. As with every resource make sure to read it first and censor it with your own personal beliefs.

I’m a Girl, and I’m a boy series by Shelly Metten

Shelley Metten has this series of books for girls and boy of different developmental stages. It’s a great way to help your child learn at the level they are at. This is especially important so that you don’t bombard them with too much information too soon. She is well researched and understands different developmental stages and what is important for each stage.

 

Hooked by Freda McKissic Bush, and Joe S. McIlhaney Jr.

This book is one of the best for helping us understand what they brains reaction to sex is. It is completely based off of scientific research and brain scans. I had to read it for my Master’s classes and it really helped my understand more about what my students reactions are. It is not one you would read to your kids but it is helpful in understanding the why and preventing things before they happen.

Sex 180 by Chip Ingram and Tim Walker.

This is a great book especially for Christian Teens. It is a look at home the world views sex and what is actually healthy. It is eye opening and challenges teens to live a different life than everyone around them or the media says.

Focus on the family has a lot of Christian resources for families to use. Here is a link to their main resources about sex. http://media.focusonthefamily.com/topicinfo/sex_education_resources.pdf

 

It is important to remember that no matter how or when you teach your children about sex, they will remember it. They will remember you being weird and not knowing what to say, or you being confident (even if it was fake). Statistically the way we first learn about something is the filter we will use about the topic every time we hear about it. I hope you can be the filter for your children!

Do you have any more resources that you love about sex? Have you had “the talk” with your children? Got any more questions or other topics I should write about? I would love to hear from you.

 

Ragnar 101- Captaining a race

Being the captain of a Ragnar Team can be a fun and/or stressful endeavor. Captaining a trail Ragnar is much easier than a road race.

Requirements for both road and trail:

Organizing the team. Obviously you have to recruit a team for the race. For road races this means 11 people, for a trail it is 7 people. (Not including yourself). Once you have the team members you must register the team. This is done through the Ragnar website and requires payment. Some Captains require runners to pay upfront so they can cover the fees while other captains allow the runners to pay them back after they have purchased the team. Once you have paid for the team you can add runners through the Ragnar website to your team through email. While registering the team you have to have a team name. I’m not going to go into how to make a name (there are other sites for that), my recommendation is to think about something fun for decorations and team shirts, that also encompasses your teams spirit!

The easiest way we have found to keep a team organized is through making a Facebook group. Obviously this depends on if people are on Facebook and use it easily. This allows the team communicate with each other and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Team shirts, decorations, or other fun things are another great thing for captains to organize. Most teams for Ragnar Relays have team shirts or things that set them apart from others. One year we did silicon bracelets to pass out to other teams. Some teams for road races do magnets for the vans and trails do decorations for their camp sites. I use Customink for shirt creation.

Another thing needed for all Ragnar Races are volunteers! For Road races teams must provide or pay for 3 volunteers. For Trails teams need 1 volunteer. The captain needs to make sure volunteers are assigned or paid for.

Trail Captains:

Trail relays mean a lot more organization of who brings what. Unless you are paying for glamping, you need to bring all your own camping supplies for a trail race. This includes tent, sleeping bags, ice chest, chairs, etc. (I will do a future post on preparing and packing for a Ragnar Trail). Since space is limited it is easier if only certain people bring certain things. This needs to be organized ahead of time.

Road Captains:

Road relays means a lot more organization and reservation ahead of time. A Captain needs to decide if the team will be staying at hotels, and what cars will be used. Most teams rent vans for the race. A captain will need to do this well ahead of time and make sure the van is reserved and paid for.

The captain will also need to organize who is paying for gas and such and how tea members will be paying for these things in the end.

 

All captains should make sure the team is organized and training before the race. If the team is all local it could be fun to get together for a few group training runs, or team meetings. It is always fun to meet in person.

 

As a captain I put together spread sheets of everyone’s information. Ragnar provides some spread sheets or you can make your own. Make sure to include runner order, money (who paid, who owes etc), contact information, who is bringing what, and dates and times of important information.

Ragnar 101-Safety

Safety during any race is very important. Before starting your Ragnar Relay you have to watch their safety video. It is super cheesy but good information. Ragnar requires runners to wear a reflective vest, front facing light, and rear blinking light during all night time hours usually 630pm-630amish. It is important to look at your night legs and see if it will be in a rural area. In these area it is important to have bright headlamp so you can see where you are running.

It is important to be seen as many times you will be running on the side of the road or in sketchy areas. Brighter colors, extra lights, and reflective gear are always helpful at night. Make sure to keep your eyes open for anything that could be dangerous. If you feel weird running through a park in the dark, bring some pepper spray or have someone run with you. Better to be safe than have a problem!

During the day make sure you are always looking where you are going and look out for cars. Do not cross the road when the light is red, it’s not worth it. I have seen so many people almost get hit when running across the street during Ragnars.

Ragnar 101-Sleeping and Eating

Sleeping

Sleep is overrated. This is something you learn in Ragnar Relays. You can actually get by and run on a lot less sleep than you think. You can also run on adrenaline for a long time when needed. It is very difficult to get more than an hour of consistent sleep during a Ragnar Relay and it is best to do a little planning and preparation for sleeping prior to the race. There are usually designated sleep spots at major exchanges. These can be the best option for most people. Others pay for hotel rooms and sleep in actual beds. I have gone the hotel route and while it was comfortable, it didn’t seem worth it for 3 hours when you could have more time if you didn’t waste time driving to and from the hotel.

Next option is sleeping at the designated major exchanges. Ragnar has a strict rule about not sleeping in the parking lots unless in the van. This is for safety so you do not get run over by other tired drivers. I have seen people almost run over. They usually provide an area that is grass, field, or inside where they prefer people to sleep. I have tried multiple ways to sleep and still haven’t found the perfect option. I have tried hammock (sometimes hard to find a place to hang), blow up mattress or pool floaty (takes time to blow up), inflatable hammock (good but once again have to inflate), sleeping bag on a tarp (not as comfy but totally doable), and in the van (can get crowded). Each way has pros and cons and it’s really up to you for your own comfort.

During the sleeping portion, it is really important to set a couple alarms and to be in contact with the other van so you know when you need to be ready to run next. Last thing you want to do is search all over a field for your other runners in the dark.

Nutrition and Hydration

Nutrition is an important part of any race training and race day. With a 24-32 hour race, nutrition becomes even more important to plan for. During a Ragnar relay you are going to have to plan out food and snacks. It is important to know your body ahead of time and how long before your run you should eat food. I personally like to eat a few hours before a run to give my body time to digest the food. I also like to eat pretty soon after I run. Taking this into account I look at approximately when I am scheduled to run and then decide what time I need to eat. Then I make sure I have something for after I finish to eat. We usually plan to eat a “real meal” while the other van is running their legs. This gives us time to use a real bathroom and sit for a while.

We try to bring snacks in the van to give us something to eat while we are driving and running. Our go to snacks are usually peanut butter pretzels, fruit, nuts, fruit snacks, and red vines. You should know what your body can function on and plan for those snacks. Some teams do a Costco run before the race and stock up for the whole team while other teams rely on individual members to provide their own snacks.

It is also important to know if you will need nutrition during your legs and how much you will need. This is an individual preference. It is important to run that distance prior to the race so you know what you will need. Personally anything over 4 miles I eat during my run. So any Ragnar leg that is longer than 4 miles I bring some form of nutrition (I prefer fruit snacks or gu chomps).

Hydration is another very important factor in a Ragnar Relay. We usually buy a few huge jugs of water for each van that way each person can fill their individual water bottle. We also grab a few pounds of ice to keep everything cold. It is important to remember to drink water throughout the whole race. Like nutrition you should know if you will need water on your leg. When it is hot, it is a good idea to bring water even on shorter legs. As your body is running on little sleep and odd eating schedule, hydrating is very important especially in the heat. I have a hydration pack for longer runs and a hand held for shorter runs. I suggest bringing some form of electrolyte replacement as well. If it is hot than I will bring in during my runs as well. Otherwise I drink it after each leg to help my body recover. (I prefer nuun as my electrolyte). Remember you will be running on tired legs later so do everything you can to recover from each run.

Ragnar 101-Training

Training

Training for a Ragnar Relay can be like most other races you train for. Usually you know what your courses will be far enough ahead of time to plan training. Make sure to train for your longest leg and for elevation. I personally try to do a few days of running twice in the day (one in the morning and one at night). This gets my body used to running on tired legs and running at different times of the day. Remember to train at different times of the day as you will be running at odd hours. As I work night shifts once a month I try to run on no sleep at least a few times during my training.

Another thing most people forget about in training is stretching. It is important to know your body and know what stretches you need to keep your body moving. I have a specific stretch routine I do between runs so that I can loosen up and not get cramps. I also try to get out of the car at every exchange. Otherwise you go from running 7 miles to sitting for 6 hours. It is not a fun experience when you try to get out of the van after that. I try to walk around as much as possible at exchanges.

My personal training includes:

Looking at my leg maps (try to do this 2-3 months before)

Making a training plan for 3-5 miles over my longest assigned distance (Longest assigned distance is 6 miles try to train for 9 miles)

In all of my training I take 1 day a week for hills and/or speed drills

As the race gets closer, add a second shorter run 1 or 2 times a week on run days (running twice in one day)

I also run when I get off night shift on no sleep atleast a couple times

Stretch and foam roll as much as possible.

Training plan

Recovery between legs:

Many people run their first leg really fast. They get into race mode and take off with all the excitement! This can be really bad. I have learned the hard way to take it easy especially on the first leg. My first race, I pushed myself so hard I was exhausted and sore the rest of the time. I totally regretted it. Take your first leg at a comfortable pace and don’t push yourself too hard.

After each leg make sure to stretch and foam roll if possible. Personally I finish my leg, get in the car and at the next exchange get out and stretch as much as possible. If I have time to foam roll I will do that as well. Then I change my clothes (I hate sitting in dirty running clothes) and spray myself with magnesium oil. Magnesium oil is my best friend at Ragnar races. Magnesium helps your muscles recover and prevents cramping. I made my own and added essential oils that help my muscles recover even more!

Ragnar 101- Van Life

Driving and Cars

A lot of the time during a Ragnar Relay is spent in the car. The teams I have been on have always preferred 12 or 15 passenger vans. These make it possible for each person to have some space as well as room for gear. I have seen people do Races in Mini vans, SUVs, and other random cars. It all depends on what you have access to and what you want to spend money on. Big vans make the space nice, but driving them in small parking lots with a lot of other vans can be challenging. Thankfully I get practice in big vans for my job 😉

Most teams decorate their vans with magnets, stickers, window paint, lights, blow up toys, and anything they can think of! You can always tell a team that has never done a Ragnar before as they have minimal if any decorations, while teams who have done many have their system down. Each of my teams have been a little different. When you have a great team name that uses a theme it makes it easier to decorate your vans and come up with costumes. For example we have done Ragnaliens, this give unlimited ideas for anything Alien. Neon colors, crazy decorations, fun lighting, everything!

Vans can get pretty stinky, messy, and crazy within the 24 hours of racing. Sweaty runners, random food, jumping in and out, and exhaustion can make things a little crazy! The biggest thing is friction between people and bad attitudes. This is the biggest thing we try to avoid on our teams. It really brings the whole team down when one or two people are party poopers and in bad moods. Everyone has their moments, but they need to remember that everyone else is tired, hungry, and cranky as well. Choose your team mates wisely!!

The next thing is smell. Oh man the vans can get REALLY Stinky! Think locker room in a much smaller space. My best suggestion for this is to change as soon after your run as possible and place those smelly clothes into a ziplock bag with a dryer sheet. This seals in the smell so it doesn’t spread through the van. If shoes smell put them in a bag too or use newspaper and dryer sheets in them between runs.

Next is mess. The vans have a tendency to get very cluttered and disorganized. Phrases like “have you seen my headphones,” “does anyone know where____went,” become common place in a messy van. I try to keep all of my things super organized in my bag and in a seat pocket if possible. We also tend to create “nests” in the places we typically sit. Basically a seat or an area where all of your stuff is.

Ragnar 101-Packing

Part 2 of Ragnar 101

Packing…

I bring two bags one is a duffle for all my normal stuff and the other a small backpack that has all the essentials I need with me (Wallet, sunglasses, wipes, hand sanitizer…)

I pick out my 3 outfits ahead of time and place each outfit in a separate gallon size bag. This keeps things organized and makes sure I have what I need.

Clothes for each leg in a separate bag:

Shirt, shorts, socks, sports bra, skirt, and calf sleeves
Plus shoes (I bring two incase I have problems with one or get blisters)

Clothes for between legs:
Strapless dress for changing
Leggings
Sweatpants
Sandals
Comfy sports bra

Night gear:
Vest
Headlight
Taillight
Extra fun lights
Wonder woman onesie

Sleeping gear:
Hammock, mat, or cot…
Blanket/sleeping bag
Socks
Pillow

Eye mask, ear plugs

Electronics:
Garmin
Chargers: phone, garmins, car charger
Phone
Ipad

Random:
Water bottle
Nuun
Fruit snacks
Food
Fun Decorations

Sunscreen

TP

Chafe cream
Running belt (for bib)

Bathroom and changing…

During Ragnar Relays you learn to become very comfortable and thankful for porta potties. Most exchanges have a row of porta potties and most times they have a line. My best advice, bring your own toilet paper incase they run out, and bring hand sanitizer. Some races we didn’t use a “real” bathroom the entire race.

Wet wipes are my best friend during Ragnars! I use them for cleaning up, wiping my hands, and taking “showers” after my runs. I am also a huge fan of changing out of my sweaty clothes and “washing” off as soon as possible after my run. For changing, I bring a strapless dress and change under it so I do not have to change in a porta potty or flash others in the van. Some people towel change, wait for a bathroom, or get a changing tent. I highly suggest learning to towel change.

After my run, I get in the van, get to the next exchange and start my changing process. I put on my dress, take off my running clothes, wipe down my body, put on my next set of running clothes, and deodorant up. Then I try to stretch as much as possible before hoping back in the van for the next exchange.

Changing can be a difficult job. If you have males and females on you team make sure to warn people if you are changing in the van. It’s always awkward when you look back and someone is naked. Learning to towel change will save your life in a Ragnar or figuring out a way to rig your towel between doors so that you can change behind it.                 Also make sure you know if the windows are completely see through or not.

Pooping… Always carry tp or wet wipes, always try to poop before… friend pooped in a lowes parking lot (hope you don’t mind me sharing that T)

Ragnar 101-Intro

 

I Recently did a Ragnar 101 event on Facebook. It was successful so I want to share some of my information with you! It will be in a few different segments.

What is Ragnar Relay and  how does it work?

There are two types of Ragnar Relays, Road races and Trail races. So far I have only done the road races, so most of my information is about the road version of Ragnar. I will try to include as much trail information as I can throughout. I do plan to do a Ragnar Trail this year!

Ragnar Races are 12 person (Road) or 8 person (Trail) relay races. Each road races covers around 200 miles of running as a team. The team is split into two vehicles with the first 6 runners in one and the second 6 in the other. (more about vehicles in another post). Each car does their 6 legs letting one runner go and driving to the next exchange to switch out runners. Once all runners in their car have done their first set of legs they hand off to the other car and then go get food and rest before their next set. Each runner runs 3 separate legs of the race averaging around 12-15 miles total. Most teams finish in around 24-30 hours.

Teams can have less runners if needed for the team. In 2015 our Napa team only had 8 runners. It ended up being really fun as we were all in one van together and got to be one team for the entire race. In this race we skipped the set of legs that those runners would have done. Some people choose to make up those legs by running extra legs when they do not have enough runners.

 

COST

For a typical Road Ragnar the cost per person without hotels usually ends up around $300. This depends on what car you use or rent, decorations and team shirts ordered, sleeping arrangements, food, gas, etc. This seems like a lot of money, but it can be done cheaper. If you are willing to cut out conveniences and comfort you can make your Ragnar experience pretty cheap.

When you form a team it is best to get all the registration money up front. This makes people have a financial commitment in the race and they are less likely to drop out. Nothing worse that trying to find a replacement last minute because team members aren’t committed.

So if you have decided you are going to do a Ragnar Relay check out their website to decide which race you want to do. I love Socal and Napa! Then find 11 friends (or strangers) to sign up with you and form your team. Then start the planning and training process. My teams have always been from different states and countries. This can make planning difficult. We usually set up a private Facebook group for the race so that we can talk about all things Ragnar and make plans. If not everyone has Facebook, we usually do group emails.

Color War

For Easter I was asked to put together a color run for our students. That sounded fun to me so as usual I jumped full in and took it to the next level. It was a little more than I anticipated, but turned out to be so fun!

First we decided to make the colored powder instead of buying it. This seemed easy enough, but was much harder than anticipated in bulk. Had we been doing it for 5-10 people it would have been great, but close to 50 people it was a little more difficult. I got the recipe for the powder from HERE and changed it a bit to fit our needs. Essentially it was mixing cornstarch and water with food coloring and drying it out. The first batch turned out mostly unusable, but the following batches we made it work.

We ended up mixing the water with the food coloring first which helped with the mixing and actually coloring. Then we slowly mixed in the cornstarch. We found that using more water than recommended made it easier to mix the corn starch in and get a more even color.

We mixed 2:1 cornstarch to water. Of course that made the drying out process a little more difficult as well. Once the powder was mixed we smoothed it out on baking sheets and put it in the oven. We have convection ovens here on campus that cook very different than normal ovens. We found that putting it around 200ish degrees and taking it out and mixing every 5 minutes helped it break up better and not over cook. This is where we messed up on the first batch. The recipe said to mix every 1 minutes. This was way too long for us and it was already rock hard. Once we took it out and let it cool, I processed it in the food processor until it was powder. Once all was finished I separated it into smaller bags.

For this war I hid all the smaller bags of powder (about 30 each color) around the field. Then we separated the group into 4 teams based on each color. Each participant got a colored band in their teams color to help identify teams. The rules were simple throw powder at the other player, and no face shots. To make points the teams needed to get the least amount of their own color on themselves and the most of it on the other teams. Another piece to the points was to collect as many empty bags as they could in their teams bucket. (This was really just to prevent trash from being all over the field.) So once all the teams were ready I blew the whistle and off they went.

It was interesting seeing some students collecting their color powder and waiting to use it while others just threw whatever they found. Some used most of their time to collect bags, while other chased after peers. I even saw one boy pouring out the other teams color powder so that they couldn’t use it on him. It was interesting to see the strategies that they used or didn’t use.

Once it seemed like most of the bags were found and the activity was dying down I gave them a 2 minute warning to make sure they used it all and put all the bags in the buckets. When it was over I blew the whistle and they came in to count their bags and get pictures to judge who won based on color and count.

It seemed like everyone had a great time playing and wanted to do it again. I don’t know about making all the powder again, but it was sure a fun activity to organize. Thankfully it lasted longer than just handing people bags and letting them throw it at each other. The only thing I would really  change is maybe to get everyone a little wet first, that way the color would stick better.