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.

Lassen Peak Hike

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Since I moved here in April, I have wanted to hike Lassen Peak. Right now the peak hike is only open certain weekends because they are doing construction on the path. My friend Sam and I decided we were going to hike the peak the weekend in October that it was open.

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Suddenly the weekend was upon us and we were finally able to hike the peak! We arrived around 10am so we would have time to hike the whole thing slowly and hangout after. The hike to the peak is only about 2.5 miles long and it goes from 8,000 ft elevation to 10,500 ft elevation. So in 2.5 miles you hike 2,500 ft up. We didn’t realize how steep that would be until we were hiking.

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This hike was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be. The elevation made it really hard on our lungs and the steepness made it really hard on our legs. I love hiking with Sam because we can both complain and be real when we are exhausted and wanting to die.

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Finally we made it to the peak. It was beautiful up there! We could see so far and there was snow at the top. We really enjoyed the hike and the reward of our packed lunches at the top.

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After our beautiful hike, we did a small walk to lake. At the lake we hung our hammocks and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

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It was such a perfect day! I can’t wait for the next day we can get out and enjoy the Lord’s beauty!

 

 

 

Lassen Hiking and Lava Caves

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I love where I live. Lassen Volcanic National Park is a pretty quick drive from home and I am able to go there pretty often. I love hiking and enjoying nature. Lassen is the perfect place to enjoy a day off work.

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In August my friends Sam, Meredith, and I decided to go hike in Lassen. We decided to hike to Bumpass Hell. Bumpass Hell is the volcanic area where you can see hot pool and stuff.

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A Few weeks ago, my friend Mindy and I went to Lassen and the Subway cave. The Subway Cave is located near Lassen. It is a cave/tunnel that was formed by Lava flow. I had read about it and was excited to go explore.

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We put our headlamps on and our jackets (it is 46 degrees in the cave) and headed for the cave. It was really cool! The Subway Cave is a cave/tunnel that was formed by Lava flow. I had read about it and was excited to go explore.

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After the cave Mindy and I decided to stop at Lassen National Park to eat our lunches. We decided to hike Kings Creek Trail to the falls. Every hike in Lassen is beautiful! The whole hike is along this creek and ends at this beautiful waterfall. We enjoyed every piece of the hike. There is this little bridge across the water and we sat for our lunches there. After talking and eating we decided to head back. During lunch we took off our shoes. With our shoes off we decided to hike the trip back shoeless. Since I love being barefoot I enjoyed this experience and can’t wait to hike again barefoot.

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Can’t wait till our next barefoot hike!

Ragnar Relay Napa Valley (Part 2)

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Our next runs were going to be night legs. Night legs are always really fun. The first leg for our van, Lauren’s leg, was so cool. The start was decorated with this long path full of lights. It really got all of us pumped for our runs! After Lauren took off I started getting all of my stuff ready. Night runs are crazy because it is so dark. Ragnar is awesome because they require everyone to wear a forward light, a reflective vest, and a rear blinking light on all night runs.

Leg 2

My run started at a park in Santa Rosa. I was ready to get my run started so I could conquer the hill and know I only had one leg left to run! As Lauren ran in and slapped to me I started running up the hill. This hill was killer. I ran a lot of it but did walk a lot of it as well. After the fist hundred feet or so, it was really dark. There were no street lights and all I had was my headlight. The fog was also really thick and my light just reflected off the fog. I couldn’t see more than 3 feet in front of me. There were also a lot of tree roots coming through the sidewalk. This was by far the most dangerous run I have ever done. As I came into the next exchange I was so proud of myself. I killed the hill and I finished super strong.

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I was so excited I jumped up to slap the bracelet on Valerie. As I came down from my jump there were a lot of wet leaves on the ground and I slipped and fell straight on my butt. It was so embarrassing as there were about 50 people standing around and saw the whole thing. Thankfully I didn’t hurt myself but it was really funny.

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After all of legs were finished we planned to go get food. On the way we ran into a lot of traffic. We found out that the other van, between a couple of runners decided to take a detour and go get ice. They were so far away from their exchange with their runner coming in soon. We decided to go to the exchange to pick up their runner and Lauren (our runner) would run their next leg so they could get to the next exchange without worry. Lesson learned don’t stop anywhere between your runners. Just go straight to the next exchange. When we arrived at the exchange they still weren’t there and I started to prepare in case I needed to run their next leg too. Thankfully they showed up just before Lauren came in and they were able to finish the rest of their legs.

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After the craziness we went to find food and chill before our next set of legs. As soon as we sat down to eat, we got word that the other van was almost finished with their legs and we were going to have to run again soon. We packed up our sandwiches and headed for the next meeting place. Since Lauren had taken one runners leg, one of their runners took Lauren’s run. (I was so jealous because Lauren was finished with her runs and the weather started getting hotter and hotter.) Finally I was ready for my final leg. I waited and waited. It got Hotter and Hotter. I was started to get worried that the heat was going to be a major problem on my run.

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leg 3Leg 3 Map

Finally I was able to start my last 2ish miles! With water in my hand I started running. It was so HOT! I was running by all these vineyards and grape vines and just praying for some shade. It was so hot that when there was a little piece of shade I would just walk through it so I could actually stay a little cooler. Finally I could see the finish line and I picked up my pace. The finish was beautiful with all these grape vines. I was so excited to be done! I had finished my second Ragnar!!

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When our last runner was finally off we headed for the finish line. We were all so excited to be Ragnarians and get to the finish line to meet the rest of our team and get our beers. We all crossed the finish line together and took a million pictures! Those of us who did both SoCal and Napa got our massive Gold Rush medals and took pictures as a team. Sadly Ragnar had not gotten our Napa Valley medals in time and we weren’t able to get our finishers medals. After all the pictures we headed to the party area and got our beers and hung out before our drive back.

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IMG_3164Our Fearless Drivers!

Every Ragnar is so AWESOME! We had such a great time. My runs sucked but I still enjoyed it so much! During every Ragnar I think “why the heck do I do this?” The day after through all my exhaustion I always start dreaming of my next Ragnar. I think the next one will be SoCal again in April! I can’t wait.

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Those of us that finished both SoCal and Napa got an extra medal that was huge!

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Ragnar Napa Valley (part 1)

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After the fun we had at Ragnar SoCal, Team Tough Chik decided we needed to do another Ragnar. At first I was hesitant to sign up. With the job I have now I wasn’t sure I was going to have the time to train and be able to take the time off work to go to San Francisco. For weeks our Mamma Chik kept posting that there were still spots left. After a few weeks I finally decided to commit to running in my second ever Ragnar.

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Signing up was the easy part. I wrote out a training plan, put on my running shoes, and started running laps around campus. Every run was like ripping my lungs out. I found out very quickly that running in altitude SUCKS!!! A few weeks into training I also broke my toe, jumping off a chair. I continued to tape my toe and put my shoes and run. Ragnar is all about overcoming obstacles and persevering through everything, after all.

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I was assigned the legs with the big hills. I don’t know if they purposely did this because they thought “she lives on a mountain, she can run hills.” Or if it was just my luck of the draw. My first leg was 5.5 miles with a massive hill. My second leg was 5.5 miles with a massive hill, and my third leg was thankfully 2.2 miles flat. I knew if I could just get through the first two legs I would be golden.

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As Ragnar approached, I started putting my outfits together and making a list to pack. I went back to my Ragnar SoCal blogs and looked at what I had wished I had brought. I was determined to make this Ragnar better than the last.

Finally Ragnar came and I drove down to San Francisco with Kiwi (my hedgehog) on my lap. I arrived at my Uncle’s house (where I was staying the night before the run) at around 1am. One of my teammates was planning to pick me up at 5:30am to get to the start line. I was so excited when she picked me up and so ready to begin this crazy 2 days.

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We all met at the start line to see off our first runner and cheer her on. It was so fun to be a team and to meet everyone. After the first runner was off our van (Van 2) headed to the Golden gate bridge to take in some of the SF sights and see our runner in. The atmosphere at the bridge was so exciting! One reason I love Ragnar is the people. Everyone is so friendly and CRAZY! It’s always fun taking with the other teams.

IMG_3086Our Van

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ragnar napa

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After pictures and hanging out we headed for some food and to get ready for our first legs. I was the Second runner in our van and knew I needed to be ready to go pretty quickly after Lauren started her leg. Part of me was excited for my leg and part dreading the HILL.

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leg 1Leg one Map

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My first leg was really hard. It was hot and the hill was crazy. It was like climbing a mountain. In total I climbed 569 FT in 2.7 miles. The hill was also completely stopped with construction. I was basically running on the white line of the shoulder with all these cars and construction. We even had to cross the road twice. I almost ran out of water going up. Thankfully right as I was drinking my last bit there was a water stop. After I finished my leg I was so hot and tired and so happy to be done with run 1.

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After all our legs we got food and went to the hotel for some sleep. At the hotel we were able to go in the Jacuzzi and take showers before sleeping for a couple hours. The time went way too fast and before we knew it, we had to get up and head to the next meeting point.

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Valerie and I after our first legs