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 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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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 Part 4- Last legs and Finish

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IMG_1996When we arrived at the Glider port at the top of Torrey Pines we were met with once again a crazy amount of vans. It was chaos driving in.  Finally we found a place to park and settled in for a little while. I knew I needed to sleep a little so I stretched out in the front seat and closed my eyes. I was finally able to sleep about an hour off and on. After I got up I realized that I might be sick because of dehydration and started drinking a lot of water and Nuun. After a few bottles I was starting to feel a little better. We walked around the glider port and waited for our other van. Finally they said they were on our way. We were so excited for our final legs. We were also pretty jealous of all the people walking around already finished with their final legs. Being van 2 is hard because van 1 is finished and so excited and we were just starting on a few more hours of running.

0182_ML1_02760171_ML1_0251Holding up our third leg

After a lot of pictures and silliness, Helen was finally running in. There we so many people there and we all cheered her in and cheered Amy off on her final leg. Once Amy was running we got in our van and headed for the next exchange. We stopped to get gas along the way. While we were at the gas station, my mom and I ran across the street to a liquor store to pick up some beer for Amy as she finished her leg. She loves beer and kept talking about running for beer so we knew we had to get her some. We stopped at one point in her run to check and see if she needed anything as well. The place we stopped was a blind turn and we directed a lot of people to turn there as the sign was hard to see. We were worried that someone was going to miss the turn. As she finished her leg and handed the bracelet to my mom, she was so excited to be finished with her final leg. We surprised her with her beer and headed to the next exchange.

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At the next exchange my mom handed off to Kathy and I started to get nervous for my last run. My last run was 7.5 miles. Thankfully I was starting to feel better and was looking forward to getting my run over with. I also knew that my run was supposed to beautiful around Mission Bay. Finally we reached my exchanged at Mission Bay and I prepared to take the slap bracelet from Kathy. When she finally came in I took the bracelet and ran off. I only ran a few feet before I got stopped at a  stop light still in the exchange. Finally I was able to run and hit the Mission Bay board walk. It was a beautiful area, even though it was very crowded. I enjoyed watching the people and making myself keep running. Thankfully I wore my garmin this time so I knew my distances.

 

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KathyKathy Ready to go

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At mile 2 my van met me with water and pictures. It was nice to finally be cheered on during a run. At mile 3 I turned a corner and was met with 31 stairs up. I thought I was going to die as I ran those stairs. I kept running and running and running. At one point there was a group of people standing on the side of the road cheering for all of the runner and holding beer yelling “this is what you’re running for.” It was a fun run but I was getting really hot and tired. My legs were starting to feel terrible. I knew if I stopped to walk for a little I wouldn’t be able to start running again. Finally after what seemed forever, I saw the one mile to go sign. After that I was hit with a lot of wind and smoke from camp fires. It made for a really long last mile. Finally I saw the exchange and all I could think of was jumping in the water. As I handed off the bracelet I took my shoes off and put my feet in the water. Such a good choice!

Jessy (3)

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IMG_2015My moment of joy after finishing!!

We had planned to meet Casey at about 3 miles and Tina would take over for her there. Casey’s feet were really blistered and she was hurting. After that 3 mile mark there were some big hills on her leg. As we waited for Casey I changed, foam rolled, and stretched. I was feeling really stiff and sore but was so happy to finally be done with my legs.

As Tina took over we cheered for her and went to the hills to cheer for her there. She gave us the Finger as we drove by. These hills really were killer. Next we met Tina at the exchange to see how she was doing. Tina is so funny. She came into the exchange yelling, “what do I do, where do I go.” We just looked at her and laughed. She decided she was feeling good and kept running. We then started heading to the finish line. After getting a little  bit turned around in downtown San Diego we finally made it to the convention center and the finish line. We were so excited to realize we were finally finished with our legs! We waited and waited and waited for Tina to come. It seemed like her leg was taking forever and we were worried that maybe she got lost.

0229_ML1_0339running up what is now called whore hill

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Tina running into the exchange through our toilet paper finish line

Finally we saw her as my mom and Kathy ran in with her. Once she was in the last hundred feet or so the rest of us met up with them and ran over the finish line together! We were all so excited to be finished and receive our medals. We took pictures and signed the Ragnar wall.

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0245_ML1_0369Our team at the finish!

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Van 1 had bought us all cupcakes so we celebrated together by eating cupcakes. After our cupcakes we headed back to the van and to find some food. We originally had planned to go to this Pizza place but it was too crowded (it was a Saturday night). Instead we decided to keep driving. I was driving and everyone else was sleeping in the back. I decided we should just stop at Chipotle closer to Shannon’s house.

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We ate our Chipotle and headed to Shannon’s house to unload and drive home. Finally by time I was home all I wanted was a nice warm shower and to go to bed!

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I loved the entire Ragnar experience! I was really proud of myself for running all of my legs without stopping and felt like I really accomplished something great! I am definitely look for my next Ragnar and may just be training for a half marathon in the near future.

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Mojave Trail

This weekend we took an adventure like no other. My parents had been planning this trip for a long time and we were finally able to take it.

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In the Mojave Desert there is a Road that used to be used as an old “road” that used to be traveled by American Indians to get across the desert. It was also used as a mail route for a few years in the 1800s. Today this road can be traveled by 4-wheel drive vehicles over the course of a few days.

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Thursday night we packed up the Jeep with survival gear, extra fuel, and extra water to prepare for our weekend adventure. Friday morning we left the house to meet our friends Scott and Jeri and their twin 5 year olds Tyler and Josh. We wanted to be on the dirt road for a few hours before sun down to find a place to camp for the night. You can camp almost anywhere along the road and we planned to camp Friday night and Saturday night.

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Friday we drove over a lot of Rocks. As we had never taken the jeep on this kind of off roading before we were excited to play around and see what it could do. After a couple hours on the trail we reached Fort Piute and decided it would be a good place for camp. We set up camp and went exploring a little. Scott, Jeri and the Boys were going to be sleeping in their tent, my parents planned to sleep inside the jeep and I positioned the jeeps 15 feet apart so I could string my hammock between them. I was excited as this was my first night using my new hammock.

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Penny Cans (Toll Road)

After eating a delicious dinner we lit the camp fire and sat around it just hanging out. I love camping and camp fires may be my favorite part. We made brown bears, listened to owls, and stared at the stars. That night I slept in my hammock. Soon after going to bed the wind stared to pick up. If you have ever camped in the desert you know that the wind can be really strong out there. I soon found out that my hammock was great in the wind. My bug net blew around a lot and with a huge gust I would rock a bit but for the most part my hammock just hung still. The only thing I worried about was animals coming to sniff me in the middle of the night. The strong wind also made it a little colder. I had prepared for the cold by layering a wool blanket and yoga mat beneath me. (a big problem with hammocks in cold butt syndrome.) With only my sleeping bag on top of me the wind made my toes cold. Next time I will remember another blanket for the top. One amazing part about sleeping in a hammock is that you have a full view of the stars all night long. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the stars and being able to see them from bed.

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Making Brown Bears

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The Sunrise that morning was amazing! Sunrise is definitely my favorite part of any day. I have been known to get up early just to watch the sunrise. There is something even more magically about watching the sun rise over the desert, especially when you are laying in a hammock so close to it. After everyone was up, my dad started the grill to make breakfast burritos. Camping with my parents we always eat well! After breakfast we packed up camp and headed out for more adventures on the trail.

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Saturday took us over some rough road. I was able to drive a little bit and most of my parts were filled with off camber driving and being tilted at 15-20 degrees. One part driving down this really rough patch I did switch and make my dad drive. I would have been able to drive it but in all honesty I didn’t want to be talked about as the girl that scratched, dented, rolled… the jeep. I figured if someone was going to do it, it needed to be him. He did end up scrapping the running boards pretty bad and there were a few moments where we were worried about making it through. Thankfully Scott was driving in front and we knew if he made it through we could too.

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We passed the old school bus and car, and the mail box. Saturday night we made camp in a new location. At camp we did some shooting, both with guns and archery. Soon after shooting the wind started to pick up as usual in the desert. We ate dinner as the wind continued to pick up strength. As we ate we started to get worried about how strong the wind was getting. Scott and Jeri realized that the tent was not going to hold if the wind was any stronger. We started working on solutions for the night. After contemplating driving home in the dark we decided to move the jeeps in front of the tent and tie the tent to the jeep. With the jeeps positioned to block the tent I was unable to have my hammock up and ended up sleeping in the back seat Scott and Jeri’s jeep.

 

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The Mail Box

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My hammock hung before we had to move the jeeps for the wind

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It was nice having kids to chase my arrows for me 🙂

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Teaching the boys how to shoot the bow!

 

    CIMG2007The kids shooting the BB gun with their dad

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The tent hooked to the Jeep

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The Rock Pile

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Water Crossings

After Surviving 40 MPH winds, the sun finally rose. Sunday was the last day on the trail. We drove to the rock pile to drop off our rocks, drove through some strong wind in the dunes that made it difficult to see, and drove through deep water. Finally we reached the highway and made our way to Peggy Sue’s Diner for lunch. I have always wanted to stop there!

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This trip was a really fun experience and I’m glad I was able to experience it. I felt so dirty and ready for a shower when we got home. All the dirt, sleeping in weird places, and the peeing in the desert definitely felt like Ragnar training. So while we didn’t get our training runs in we still got some training! Ragnar is next weekend and now I am in total Ragnar mode!

Race Recap- Race on the Base

Last weekend I flew down to Southern California for the Los Alamitos Race on the Base. I was running on a Relay Tri team. Chicks That (my company) also had a booth at the expo. Going into the weekend I had a goal of running the 5k in under 30 minutes. I had trained and felt sure that I would be able to do it.

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I arrived Friday at 12:30 to start setting up with the help of my Aunt Cyndi. We set everything up and then waited for people. I had a great time figuring out decorations before hand and created an Inspiration Wall that people could come by the booth and write their inspiration for others to see. The Inspiration wall was a huge success. Everyone loved getting to “graffiti” the wall and share with others their inspiration for doing what they love and keeping them going. We sold bracelet and custom shirts and had a great time talking with all the people at the event.

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Friday after getting home at around 9:30pm I couldn’t sleep. I was exhausted but it was just one of those nights where you toss and turn and just don’t sleep. Knowing I had to be up at 4am to get back to my booth, I was hoping that eventually I would fall asleep. Finally I fell asleep but only had a few hours before I had to get up. When I got up I was so stiff and was wondering how I was ever going to run a 5k and get my goal time.

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Flat Jessy ready for race day!

The amazing Julie was helping me Saturday with my booth and met me early to get started. When race time came I was so nervous. My feet and legs we sore from standing all day. I hadn’t slept much for the past few days and I was so hot (that California heat is killer). When I got to my booth that morning I realized I had forgot my Garmin and wasn’t going to be able to watch my pace.  Already knowing I wasn’t able to listen to music, I started getting discourage that there was no way I would reach my goal.

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I went over to the prerace meeting and met with my team. I was still determined to get my goal and PR but not sure how I would do it. As I walked with my mom over to the start line I was excited and was trying to warm up as best I could. After the first 100 yards I was so tired and my legs felt like jello. Half way through and I still had no idea how I was really doing and honestly felt like just giving up and walking. The thing that kept me moving was thinking of all the inspiration that people were writing on my wall. I thought of the little girl who wrote, “Be strog like a lion,” and the people that were running for their mom, brother, or grandpa. I thought about the girl who wrote “just keep running.” I knew that I could keep going and just needed to finish. As I rounded the corner to the finish line I knew I was almost done.

4 Before the Race with my other Toughies!

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Inspiration that kept me going!

Thankfully I finished and handed the timing chip to Scott and he rode off for his leg of the relay. I checked my phone and the 5k time said 30:11. I was disappointed that I was 12 seconds off my goal. I still got my PR but I really wanted that sub 30.  Looking back on it I know that I was so tired and my legs were already tired going into the race. I know that I should have been able to do it. With a watch and music I would have crushed those 30 minutes. It gives me motivation to do another 5k and to keep running! I know that I can do it and I am still so proud of that PR!

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Chicks That did great for the weekend! Everyone loved the wall and our products and I am excited to potentially do another expo in the near future! It was fun to just get to talk with everyone and meet other companies! All in all it was a successful weekend and I enjoyed Race on the Base.

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My parents did the full Tri!

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My Grandparents are amazing! They got first in their 5k and were at my booth supporting my all day!

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Family Race! (my uncle, Grandparents, parents and myself) at the Chicks That booth!

More about the rest of my weekend in a later blog! Have you done a Triathlon before? How did you feel?

 

Running in Freezing Temperatures

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So, I recently came to Spokane, WA. I originally came to visit my sister for Thanksgiving, but circumstances have changed and I will be staying here for a while. So while I have been here I have been doing some running. My parents and I did a turkey trot on Thanksgiving morning that was really fun!

 

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I thought it was cold when I first got here almost 2 weeks ago, but it has continue to get colder and colder.  The first run we did was like mid 30s, the turkey trot was 23 degrees, and each run continues to drop.  My run the other day was 18 degrees and the temp hasn’t gone above 16 degrees today.

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All this to say that I am going  to learn very quickly how to dress for and run in cold weather. I only brought Capri running pants with me and a thin jacket. So as it gets colder I am trying to find more tips for cold weather running.  If you have any tips please let me know and I will be posting tips that I find as I learn.