Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Racine 70.3 Race Recap 2012

One week and one day have passed since I did this race, but somehow it feels like it was forever ago.  Then I look down at my wrist and remind myself it was recently because I am still wearing my wristband.  What can I say, that wristband costs me a lot of money!

I can say with about 95% certainty that this is going to be one long post.  And also fairly sure I could write much more, but I will try to rein it in a bit.

First off, on Saturday, Laura and I did the whole expo, packet pick-up, buy stuff, rack bikes, swim in the lake and pasta carbo-loading dinner.  I bet I could write a whole post on that but that is all you're getting.

Saturday night I tossed in turned a lot and could hear Laura doing the same.  It's always hard for me to sleep the night before the race.

Sunday looked like this:


4:45 am - wake up
Get dressed in still damp clothes, pack up remaining stuff and fill up water bottles

5:15 am - leaving hotel
Dunkin' Donuts pit stop for medium coffee w/ skim milk

5:35 am - parking for $5 less than a mile from transition = especially thankful for this after covering 70.3 miles
walk to transition, set up transition zone, lubed with plenty of BodyGlide, some sunscreen on arms

6 am - breakfast at a picnic table--two pieces of bread, a Justin's peanut butter packet, and a banana.  
downed the rest of my coffee

6:15 am - port-o-potties

6:30 am - walk the mile from transition to race start,

6:45 am - Laura freaks out because her race numbers are coming off so we try to find someone to write them back on

7:00 am - watch the Pros take off after the cannon start scared the crap out of me

7:05 am - put on wetsuit, get in water, swim around a  bit, pee

7:15 am - get out of the water and take a few moments to myself to relax, collect my thoughts and mentally prepare for what I was about to do.

7:25 am - gather at swim start, chat with others, hug Laura

Feelings - everything - nervous, excited, anxious, but overall, ready for what is to come

7:38 am - move down into water, position myself on outside of pack to avoid mass chaos


7:41 am - horn blasts and my wave is off

Running into water, dolphin-diving and finally swimming


The first turn buoy came quickly and then I was heading parallel to the shore.  At first, I was having a hard time settling my breathing and was taking in air every time I lifted my right arm.  But I kept reminding myself to breathe out under water and eventually relaxed a bit.  I was able to draft off various feet throughout the swim and didn't sight too much.

My goal was to keep an even pace and focus on keeping my form smooth and steady. I won't ever be the fastest swimmer, but I want to waste as little energy as possible.  

I started to get bored about 25 minutes into the swim and wondering when I would be done.  I still hadn't reached the second turn buoy to head back into shore, but after about 5 more minutes I realized the next buoy was the turn buoy.  I put my head back down and paddled away.  The shore is very shallow and I swam as long as I could and didn't stand until my hands were touching the bottom.

I stood up to get my bearings and started walked towards the beach.  Light-headedness can sometimes get me when I stand up too fast, so I took my time adjusting before starting the long run into the beach and then winding through the chute before coming into transition.  


I started pulling off my cap and goggles and then reached back to pull down my wetsuit to my waist.   Somewhere around this point, I looked at my watch realized I never started it. Oops!  I started it at this point and made a mental note of the clock time as I crossed the swim finish.  Deciding not to worry about it too much ended up being very helpful for me later on in the race.

It was quite the trip from the lake to my bike in transition, but I did get to run through 2 kiddie pools to wash the sand off my feet.  The volunteer wetsuit stripper I used was awesome and whipped my wetsuit off me in about 5 seconds flat.  

Once I finally arrived at my bike, I took time to dry off the bottom half of my legs to avoid getting my socks totally soaked.  Usually I try to go as fast as I can in transition, but I realized when you are doing a 6+ hour race, the transition matters less.  On went my socks, then bike shoes, then bike gloves, then race belt, then sunglasses and finally bike helmet.  Then I trotted out of transition with my bike.



Bike start goes straight up a hill which I was warned about and a bit worried.  Some people looked to be struggling a bit, but I thought ahead and racked my bike in a low gear and powered right up the hill.  Apparently riding the "Iowa Alps" had come in handy for me.  

The main road out of town was BUMPY and uncomfortable.  I focused on spinning my legs fairly easily and bringing my heart and breathing rate back down.  

Some guy wearing flip flops passed me on a really nice triathlon bike here.  Forgotten bike shoes?  That could not have made for a very comfortable 56 miles.

After about 20 minutes, I forced myself to start taking in water to keep hydrated.  I wasn't thirsty but knew it would help me.  Even though, I had frozen both my water bottles overnight, they were already lukewarm at this point.  I also started forcing down some gummi bears for fuel.  I am really not a fan of Gu but chewable gummies I tolerate much better.

I took a cold water bottle at both the first and second aid station.  For some reason, it seemed that the wind was coming at us from 3 directions and only at our backs for one way.  It can be defeating to ride into the wind and look at your speed so I mostly avoided watching my speed.  

Around 40 miles, tiredness and boredom started getting the best of me.  The ring and pinky finger on my left hand were going numb which is normal for me for long rides, but bothersome nonetheless.   Changing hand positions wasn't doing anything for me so I just told myself I was getting close to the end.  The bike is the sport where I always get passed the most and this race was no exception.  Lots of cyclists kept flying by me with their fancy triathlon bikes and disc wheels.  But hills really are my strong suit and I almost always passed several people going up just by shifting to an easier gear and spinning right up them.  

I kept playing leap frog with the same guy for about 10 miles.  He would pass me and then I would pass him and back and forth we would go.  He was chatty and we would joke each time we passed. 

Many people that passed would say encouraging things and it was so nice to hear.  The whole ride I focused on keeping my effort moderately hard and having constant pressure on the pedals.  At the third aid station, I grabbed another water bottle and tried to grab a Perform drink but missed the handoff and dropped it.   Darn!  I wanted that salty Perform because it felt as if my left inner thigh was starting to cramp up or threatening to.  I made it my goal to finish off the rest of the gummi bears before the end of the ride.  Again I didn't really feel like eating them but knew I would need the fuel for the run.  

Coming back into town on the bumpy roads made me keenly aware of how tired my butt was of being in the saddle.  I swear there were pavement breaks every ten feet and all I heard was ka-thunk ka-thunk ka-thunk.  

Bike finish was down the same hill that was out of transition which is kind of a bad placement since it is so easy to come barreling down that hill towards the dismount line.  I started breaking early and unclipped my right leg to shake it out.  I came to a stop on the far right side of bike finish before getting off my bike.  I didn't want to have a repeat of Chicago where my leg gave out and I fell over.


I jogged into transition once again and my legs started cursing me.  Off came the bike helmet and shoes and socks and gloves.  Swapping out my sweaty bike socks for dry double-layer run socks was the best decision.  My feet are very blister-prone and I wanted to do what I could to minimize the blisters.  It may have taken a few more minutes but it was well worth the comfort.  I made a quick pit stop at the porta-potties since I had to go since the halfway point of the bike and also got some sunscreen rubbed on my shoulders and back of my arms.  Also the sunscreen volunteer rubbed some sunscreen on my neck and I realized my wetsuit had chaffed there because IT BURNED!


Then the slow shuffle/jog/walk of a run began.  If you have ever tried running immediately after getting off a bike, you know that your legs do not feel like your own.  They are heavy and don't move when you tell them too.  I told myself to run the first 2 miles and they would feel better.  The first aid station showed up really quick out of transition and I took some water and ate an orange slice (tasted freaking amazing).

Then came this huge hill and I changed my run 2 miles plan and gave myself permission to walk up the hills.  Of course a stupid race photographer was positioned about three-quarters of the way up the hill.  Which resulted in some very nice pictures of me walking.  Once I was at the top, I forced myself to start running shuffling again.  I walked through all the aid stations and took water at each and defizzed coke or Perform at every other.  The coke really helped my stomach and the Perform provided much needed salt.  

It was probably 90 degrees by this point and I was struggling to keep my core temperature down.  To help, I took lots of ice and shoved some down the front and back of shirt, dumped cups of water on my head, and ran through all the sprinkles and hoses I could.  The water felt so cold sometimes it was literally taking my breath away. 

As I passed mile 2, I told myself I could keep going.  My shuffle was slow but it was faster than walking.  I saw Laura for the first time at about mile 2.5 with about a half mile to go before the first turnaround. I hollered at her to keep it up!  At the first turn around, my legs finally started to feel like they were loosening up a bit and I felt like I transitioned to more of a run than just a shuffle.  

I made my way back and the first loop was done and over before I knew it.  It was pretty disappointing to go back out on the second loop because you go so close to the finish line at the turnaround.  I saw the Farmer for the first time at the turnaround and he was cheering very loudly for me.  I waved and tried to smile but that is about all I had energy for at that point.  

See that evil second loop turnaround?
I also saw the race clock at this point and tired to calculate what my time was.  My brain was a little foggy by this point (surprise, surprise) but I somehow figured that 6:30 was not out of reach.  I should take a minute to mention my goals going into this race
  1. Finish race with a smile.
  2. Finish race under 7 hours.
  3. Pie in the sky, super-ultimate goal: Finish under 6:30.
I wasn't going to be disappointed if I didn't get goal 2 or 3, but I knew if the stars aligned and everything went perfect I could have that goal.

Anyways I thought I had about 65 minutes to finish the remaining 6 miles.  If I kept up my pace I thought this was achievable.  I made it my goal to keep up the running and walking through the aid stations strategy.  This time I ran about halfway up the big hill and walked the rest, but making sure to run past the race photographer.

I ate orange slices and dumped water on myself.  My once dry socks were soaked as were my shoes.  Around mile 9, I started to get very fatigued and wanted to walk more.  At this point I decided to implement the Galloway method with walk/run intervals.  The plan run 4.5 minutes then walk 30 seconds trying to match up with the aid stations.  I know it is so hard to start running again after walking when you are tired, but a countdown really helps me.  At the end of the 30 seconds I would just start pumping my arms again and my legs would slowly start to follow.  

I saw Laura again right before the turnaround near mile 10.  I could tell she was struggling and she was walking.  I told myself I could catch up with her and we could run together.  I was exhausted but kept to my run/walks.  Once I made it back to Laura, I told her what I was doing and got her to run with me.  She told me her stomach was full but she was tanked.  I encouraged her to keep going and that I still thought we could get 6:30.  I got her to sing a little bit and even did the Iowa Fight Song, which she sang very loudly and I have no idea how.  The tiredness was beating me and I was having a hard time even speaking but she was belting this.  During about our third run segment she stopped walk but I kept going.  At the final aid station before the finish, I grabbed another orange slice, coke, and water and pushed through.  At this point I figured I had less than 1.5 miles left and about 15 minutes to get there under 6:30 (which was way wrong but forced me to keep running).  I ran in my slow jog and promised myself I was almost there. After I went through the small back part of the Racine Zoo and up the little hill, I grabbed a water from a small stand.  Four guys about my age were there cheering on the runners.  They told me I was so close and just had to go down the hill and I would be there. I threw my water cup in the garbage and must have had a crazy deranged look on my face because they were going nuts cheering.  


I told myself walking wasn't happening again and mustered what I could to pick up my pace.  My tanks were empty.  But I pushed.  I ran and started to hear the finish line announcer.  And then I could see the finish line.  It still seemed far but I was dumping everything I could into the run.  Once I got to the finisher's shoot I moved my legs with all I had left.  I saw the Farmer cheering on the left and gave some high fives before I crossed the finish line with a fist pump and a smile.  

I though I had made it in under 6:30, but didn't really know.  Almost immediately I could feel my chest tighten and I was worried I would hyperventilate but was able to talk myself out of it.  I got my medal and my hat and a bottle of ice cold water.  Walking was difficult but I made it out of the finish area and back towards to finish line to wait for Laura, she crossed about 3 minutes later even though I couldn't do anything but clap.  The Farmer found me at the exit of the finish line area and I was so glad to see him.  I was thrilled that he decided to come.  

When Laura came out we went and sat in the lake to cool our core temps back down and it was glorious.  My clothes, shoes, socks and everything was already wet from the many sprinkles and glasses of water dumped on me so I didn't mind.  After a few minutes we headed back towards the post race area and stood in the shade a bit while Laura went ot get her flipflops and change out of her trisuit.  The Farmer and I talked and Laura layed on the ground.  Eventually we both decided we felt okay enough to eat and went over to the food tent.  I ate a turkey sandwich, a cup of chips, a small bagel and peanut butter, 3/4 of an orange before decided my stomach was full.  The chips tasted absolutely magical because I crave salt so much after sweating like that.  

Resting and sitting in the shade was great and we relaxed for about 30 minutes before heading back to transition to pick up our gear.  Thankfully the Farmer was there to help carry our stuff back to the car.  I changed out of my soggy tri-kit there before heading out. The Farmer helped to load the bikes in the car and made sure we had everything before saying goodbye.  

Of course, Laura and I can't go to Wisconsin without loading up on New Glarus so we stopped at a grocery store.  I got 3 six-packs and Laura bought at least 5.  My reward for finishing the race was a giant 1.5 L bottle of Diet Mountain Dew.  I hadn't had any for about 2 months and it tasted even better than I remembered.  I was supposed to get gas but forgot till my car dinged at me and hour later.  Brain, no lo worko.  

We stopped again at the Mars Cheese Castle so Laura could get fresh cheese curds and I accidentally dropped $26 on cheese and beef sticks.  They are delicious though, I must say.

Once we made it back to my place, I pretty much made a permanent dent in my couch for the rest of the night, only leaving to pick-up Jimmy John's (I NEEDED a giant salty pickle) and a cookie dough sundae at Culver's.  Dee-licious.

1.2 mile Swim: 36:14         Pace:  1:52/100m      Division Rank: 10
56 mile Bike: 3:11:35         Pace: 17.54 mph       Division Rank: 10
13.1 mile Run 2:25:38        Pace: 11:07/mile       Division Rank: 11

T1: 5:36
T2: 3:58

Overall: 6:23:01
Division Rank: 11th out of 22 athletes starting the race
Overall Rank: 1084 of 2227  (full results here)

I couldn't be more happy with this race.  I am incredibly proud of myself, not for having a good race, but for putting in the time in the 18 weeks before this race.  It wasn't easy, it was hard, maybe the hardest thing I've done, but it was also incredibly worth it.

This race also had amazing volunteers.  From great aid stations, dumping water on runners, and directing cyclists to encouragement, cheering, and smiles, they made a GREAT race.  Thank you!

And this post wouldn't be complete without saying thanks to everyone who encouraged me, trained with me, listened to me complain, rode the bike next to me while I ran, and cheered for me on my journey to this race.


Sunday, July 15, 2012


I completed my first half Ironman.  It was hard but I am so happy.

I'm exhausted but I'll be back with soon with a full race report.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thoughts from a triathlete in training #2

Hope you liked the first one of these posts because I have more for you.

1. Hmm it's Sunday and the last time I showered in my own shower was Wednesday.  I sure hope my water bill is cheaper this month.

2.  Oh look, baby geese! So cute.  Uh oh, the daddy goose is starting to hiss at me, I'll just move to the opposite side of the sidewalk. Oh sh*t! HE IS STARTING TO FLY AFTER ME! RUN FASTER! GO, GO, GO!  Okay, most geese are relatively okay with humans, but not these ones.

3.  I've flipped off more people on my bike than I ever have in my car.  Seriously you could leave me more than a foot of space when you are passing.

4.  Why do I have an unnatural urge to kick every car that parks on the sidewalk.  Can't you pull all the way into the driveway or park on the street?

5.  "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, nanana harder. Blahblahblah lonely, something else"  Wish I knew the words.

6.  Sure I will go get a pedicure with you, but I feel super bad for the person who has to look/touch/come any where near my feet.

7.  I crash my bike so often I could be a professional bike crasher.  That's a real thing, right?

8.  Okay I am getting really nervous.  I'll just go buy more stuff for my bike.  That seems to calm some of my nerves.  Oh yeah, retail therapy.

9.  I think this hair should come back in style.

It's a good look, right?

10.  I must channel Dori from Finding Nemo.  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ragnar Chicago Race Recap Part II

Where were we? 

Oh yeah, I got a mere 2.5 hours of sleep and I was groggy.  Not enough sleep does not a happy Alyssa make.  

Thankfully, the beautiful sunrise over the lake made it a bit better.

I really, really wanted some coffee, preferably iced but, of course, there wasn't any around or any way to get that.  So I just did without.  

Once runner 12 arrived and slapped the bracelet on runner 1, our van was off for our last legs!

After a quick pit stop at a local gas station to refuel our water and ice supply (it was going to be another scorcher and we wanted to be prepared!), we headed to the next exchange.  I was starting to prepare for my run, both mentally and physically, at this point and it was making me nervous because the temperature kept going up, up, up.  

I was also worried because my stomach was kind of bothering me and I couldn't go to the bathroom (uh, TMI?).  This is pretty much my number one fear for running and racing because being out somewhere while running and not being close to a bathroom is bad news bears.  My extremely particular side insists that I always eat the same thing pre-race or pre-long run in the a.m. -banana, peanut butter, toast with a side of coffee.  This always gets my digestive system a movin' and makes for a pretty good run.  Since I couldn't have my coffee, things weren't working out like I planned.  Thankfully, once I got to the exchange before my run things worked themselves out.  

It was HOT when I started running.  Gross.  I was sweating before I even started and after running 12.5 miles in the previous 24 hours my legs felt pretty heavy.  I started off slow because I knew it would be a long 7.8 miles-my longest leg yet.  My run was on a trail again this time.  Trail running is nice because it tends to have more shade but it really stinks because it also means no van support.  With only one water stop around mile 5, I knew it could be challenging hydration-wise.  I cannot stand carrying a water bottle in my hand while I run so I tried to drink plenty of water before my run.  

The running zen from the night before was nowhere to be found and I found myself struggling to keep up the pace.  I was uncomfortable.  A nice guy ended up catching up to me and I chatted with him for a bit about the heat and tired legs before he started pulling ahead of me.  I made it my goal to keep him in my sights.  Every once in a while a really fast runner would cruise past me.  At this point, I was really jealous of their speed because it meant they would be done so much faster.  

The water stop was absolutely amazing.  I stopped there and walked while drinking two cups of water and dumping another on my head.  Knowing I still had 3 miles left was a little disheartening but I told myself to just keep moving.  

Once I exited the trail and headed into town towards the exchange zone, I attempted to pick up the pace but I was pretty tanked.  I did conjure up a bit of energy to run faster once I saw the exchange.  I downed a bottle of water in about 3 minutes after that and I was incredibly glad to be done.  The best thing about this leg was I ran from Wisconsin to Illinois.

I'm not even sure what my overall time was for this leg but I believe my pace was just under 10 min/miles, like 9:55 or something.  Hey, it was a long time ago and I don't own a Garmin watch.

Once our van handed off to van 2 we set off to get some food and ended up at On the Border.  One Corona, 3 fish tacos, and lots of guacamole later we were stuffed and satisfied and headed towards the finish line to wait for our team to finish.  

Since it would be awhile before our team got there we sat under an umbrella and sipped on Summer Shandies.  At this point my feet started to swell.  By the time van 2 arrived they were disgustingly large.  I will spare you a picture because I didn't take one as I wanted to forget it ever happened.  I believe this was a result of spending so much time on my feet and probably had a bit to do with salt balance and water consumption.  I don't know enough about that to go into any detail but I think it may be connected to why I get so many blisters and a lot of chaffing when I run as well.  

Once runner 12 arrived near the finish we all joined together to cross the finish line.  Then I jumped in the lake.  Best.decision.ever.  The water was cold and refreshing and I was already covered in salty post sweat.  

We took a few team photos and headed back home.  It had been a long 2 days.  Overall I covered 20.3 miles in just over 24 hours.  And our team pounded out over 200 miles.  We didn't win any awards for our performance but it was a lot of fun and an interesting bonding experience for our company. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ragnar Chicago Race Recap Part 1

It was a little bit difficult for me to prepare for this race I didn't really know what to expect going into it.  I'd never ran that many miles in a relatively short amount of time before and wasn't sure how my body would handle it.  Especially running on little sleep, sitting in a van for long periods of time, and not eating like I normally do.  But I tried not to overly obsess about it and just go with the flow.  I figure even if the race didn't go as planned I would still be able to complete my legs of the relay and have fun!

The adventure started on Thursday after work.  The original plan was for van 1 to leave very early Friday morning (sometime before 5 am) to make it to Madison an hour before our 8 am start time.  Van 2 didn't need to be at their start location till around noon so they had the luxury of sleeping in a bit more before heading up to Wisconsin.  The girls in van 1 decided that getting up when the clock had a 3 or 4 as this first number was just plain crazy especially knowing we would probably only have limited sleep on Friday night and decided to rent a car and head up to Madison Thursday evening.  That ended up being an awesome decision on our part as we were able to eat a nice dinner, relax at our hotel, and get a full night's sleep before heading to the race the next morning.  

Ragnar staff was extremely well organized and my team zipped through the registration process - showing our night-time reflective gear, picking up crossing flags, listening to the safety briefing, and picking up our race shirts.  Zip zip zip.  Then it was to the starting line!

Before the gun went off for the 8 am start time, the announcer called out each team's name.   Our team name was fairly boring (just our company name) but there were a couple cute ones including the Mad Cow team that was dressed up like cows.  

I powered up for my first leg by chowing down on a blueberry bagel with peanut butter and banana.  My typical meal before morning weekend runs is toast, peanut butter, banana and honey so this was very close to what I used to.  

My first leg was 7.7 miles mainly ran on the Glacial Drumlin Bike Trail from Cottage Grove to Deerfield, Wisconsin.  I started around 10 am and it was already warm hot by this point which made me slightly worried about hydration with only one water station along the route and no van support.  But I got a huge break and the route was mostly shaded and mostly flat.  *I pretty much think every run is flat when compared to running in Cascade.*  I tried to keep my pace comfortable for the whole run because I knew I didn't want to tank near the end and I had 2 more runs to power through within the next 30 hours or so.  

I passed 2-3 people and got passed by about the same amount.  The water break between mile 4 and 5 was GREAT! I chugged one cup and dumped another full cup on myself.  And then I started running again.  I felt really in the groove and was pleasantly surprise when I hit the 1 mile to go sign.  The route departed from the trail here and went through the town of Deerfield to Exchange 5.  I picked up the pace for the last mile and it only took me about 7 minutes.  Since I HIGHLY doubt i was running that fast, I think the sign was a little off.  

I zipped into the exchange and then chugged a bottle of water.  So satisfying.  According to my watch, I finished the 7.7 miles in just over 1:09 for an average pace of 9:05/mile.  Me thinks the distance was a bit off because I don't think I was running that fast.  

I was also greeted by the weiner mobile post run.

What up?

I felt really bad for our 6th runner as we had almost 11 miles slated for 1 p.m.  He wasn't so lucky and his was out on the pavement with very, very little shade.  Thankfully the van was able to stop several times to give him water and gatorade to help him cool off.  But he looked like he was struggling.

After we handed the slap bracelet off to van 2, van 1 was on a mission to find some food!

We ended up at some hole-in-the-wall beach bar outside Lake Mills.  We were starving and I ordered some delicious fish tacos.  They weren't the best fish tacos I've ever had but they sure hit the spot.

After listening to some red-neck Wisonconites (read: middle-aged women chain-smoking and wearing not enough clothing) yell profanities and talking much too loudly about things you didn't want to hear about, we decided to get the heck out of dodge.  And we were off to exchange 12 to wait for van 2 to roll back in.

I spent the rest of the afternoon lying in the shade and reading some magazines.  And then snacking on the addicting trail mix we had in the van.

Night hours during Ragnar races require some sweet reflective gear so our team geared up before van 2 rolled in.

Before my second leg, I threw on a reflective running vest, a headlamp and a flashing taillight.  Of course I will also armed with my RoadID and my music player.  

I was a little nervous about running during the night because again I would be on a trail away from streetlights.  The temperature was probably still in the 70s at 10 pm so I didn't need that long sleeve shirt I brought along.  Runner 3 slapped on my bracelet and I was off over a bridge, through a gas station, past a stoplight, over the railroad tracks and onto the trail.  

While I was running through the gas station, a guy, intrigued by the stream of headlamp-yielding runners passing through, yelled over at me.

"Hey, what's the marathon for?"

"It's a relay. We are running from Madison to Chicago."

"Huh? How many people?"


He probably thought we were a bunch of crazy people and I can neither confirm nor deny that statement.

As soon as I got on the trail, I really found my running zen.  Running is awesome! I could always see someone in front of me and every once in a while a fast runner would come zooming by.  It reminded me how much I love running at night which I did often in high school and parts of college, but don't anymore for safety reasons.  The weather was awesome and I felt great.  The darkness didn't bother me at all and I was surprised by how much the moon lit up the path.  

About halfway through I smelled a skunk and I really hope another runner didn't get sprayed because I'm not so sure the rest of their team would have allowed them back in the van. 

My 4.8 miles was over in a flash and soon we were back in the van headed to the next exchange.  At exchange 18, we again handed off to van 2 to take the night shift.  Before the van headed off to the Kenosha YMCA to catch some zzz's, I devoured a freaking amazing s'more.  Instead of using a Hershey's bar they smacked down a Reese's peanut butter cup.  And even better, they were free.  I probably could have eaten s'more but we had to get on the road.  

It was a bumpy ride to Kenosha and I was tired and wanted to be sleeping.  By the time we arrived at the YMCA, found our sleeping gear in the van and got in a quick shower it was nearly 3 am.   The girls found a spot on the gym floor and even though the floor was hard and uncomfortable and all I had to lay on was a blanket I fell asleep fairly quickly.  Only to be rudely awakened less than 3 hours later.

To be continued...

Monday, July 9, 2012

What to pack for an overnight relay

I can't believe it's been over 4 weeks since I did the Ragnar relay.  And I still haven't given you an update on it.  Bad blogger right here.  I don't feel bad about it.  My weekdays have been busy and weekends have been crammed full.

I was telling my friend this the other day that I feel I have been trying to squeeze in these things training, cooking, and cleaning,  But I can only fit in two of those things.  Most of the time my apartment has been suffering and is a huge mess.  Also randomly, if I don't get training in, usually nothing else gets done and I'm just a lazy pile.  It's okay, I'm not perfect and never claimed to be.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Ragnar.  If you are on Twitter, you might remember my incessant tweeting with #RagnarChi.  Sorry if I annoyed you, but I'm not really all that sorry.  I still don't understand Twitter all that well so I just do what I want. I'll have to do another post later about the whole experience, but, in short, it was pretty awesome.  I would recommend you put this on your fitness bucket list!

Before we get to all that I am going to share with you my packing list.  And you can see what I used and what I didn't use.  That way you can start planning to run one of these yourself!

Ragnar 2012 Packing List

Cash, keys, ID


  • 2 pairs of running shorts
  • 2 pairs of running capris
  • 2 running tanks
  • 2 tech shirts
  • 5 sports bras
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • Tech jacket and a long-sleeved tech shirt
  • Tshirt for sleeping
  • Comfy shorts for sleeping
  • 5 pairs of underwear (I never skimp on these!)
  • Flip flops (for showering)
  • Birkenstocks
  • Bag for each outfit

Running Gear

  • Running shoes!
  • Arm band for music
  • Zune player
  • Watch/HR monitor (only used my watch)
  • SpiBelt
  • ShotBloks (didn't use at all)
  • RoadID
  • Sunglasses
  • Headbands
  • Hat (much too hot to wear)
  • BodyGlide
  • Ponytail holders
  • Water bottle (didn't use because we had bottled water)


  • Peanut butter
  • Bananas
  • Bagels (note: blueberry bagels does not go with bananas and pb very well)
  • Trail mix
  • Chex mix
  • Cheesy pretzel things
  • Gum


  • Safety pins
  • Tylenol, Ibueprofen
  • Sharpie
  • Camera
  • Phone charger (wall and car)

Things to leave at home

  • Laptop
  • Foam roller

Other running things we needed

  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Blinking tail light or butt light
  • Reflective vests


  • Toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Towel
  • Pillow, blanket
  • Magazines
  • Deodarant
  • Chapstick
  • Small bottles of shampoo, conditioner
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen
I think I did a fairly good job of packing efficiently.  I brought a few extra outfits because I wanted to have a choice for what I could wear for each run.  The long sleeve shirt and jacket ended up being a total waste as it was way too warm for those.  I was sweating buckets then too.  

The extra sports bras ended up being extremely useful as one of my teammates forgot hers!  

I didn't miss the laptop at all and doubt I would have time to use it.  Now that I have a smartphone I can just look up things as needed.

My van had a ton of food and I mostly just stuck to bagels, bananas, peanut butter, trail mix and granola bars.  

More on the race later!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

June Foodie Pen Pals Reveal

Okay so I am super late posting this.  I don't have a real excuse besides my normal ones so I will spare you.

Blogging has been taking a back burner in life right now and that's okay.  I wish I could tell you all the things I want to, but there isn't enough time!  Especially when the Hunger Games series is calling my name.  I am obsessed and can't put them down! I was a little weary of jumping on the Hunger Games bandwagon because last time I joined in on a teen series everyone was raving about, it was the Twilight books.  I have this thing where once I start reading a book or series, I have to finish it, even if I don't like it.  So I slogged through the Twilight books, even though by the end I wanted to jump through the book and strangle Bella.  I seriously despised her character.  I also think it gives a really bad example for teenage girls-instead of empowering them I felt like the series made it seem like a good idea to give up everything for a boy.  And Bella was too whiny teenager for me.

Okay woah, enough about my ranting about Twilight.

So this is the second month I've participated in the Foodie Pen Pals program.  This month I was paired with Anna and sent my box to Janie, a blog reader in Chicago!

I was so excited to receive my pen pals box from Anna and she did a wonderful job filling it with goodies!

She included a cute card and explained a few of the things she sent!

The box was a great mixture of treats and healthy snacks and was full of new-to-me things!

The Two Degrees bar was delicious and I think I will start adding them into my snack bar rotation! The whole grain thin cakes remind me a lot of rice crackers but are made with corn, quinoa, and sesame and are great with a little peanut butter.  Anna also sent me a Edamame berry blend that is great for snacking on!  I haven't had dried edamame in quite a while and forgot how much I enjoy it.

I also received a vanilla sugar & cinnamon spice grinder from The Fresh Market.  Anna said she liked to grind a little on her yogurt and I tried that and it was delicious! The QRolls are delicious and I've been having one when I'm craving something chocolate!

I have yet to try the coconut water, but I think it will come in handy after a workout in the heat, and there have been plenty of hot days here recently!  Anna also wanted to share her love of bacon with me and sent a BLT dip mix. I've yet to make this because I want to share it with people and not eat the whole thing myself!

My favorite thing in the whole box was the salsa which Anna bought at a farmers market.  It is amazing!  It's filled with black beans, corn and chunky tomatoes and has a really nice spicy kick to it.  I wish I could buy it all the time!

This box was packed with goodies and I loved all of it!  Thanks Anna for being a great pen pal!

Here are some more details Foodie Penpals.  
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 
If you’re interested in participating for July, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. 
You must submit your information by July 4th as pairings will be emailed on July 5th!

*If you're from somewhere besides the US, Canada or Europe and want to participate, send me an email and I'll see if we get enough interest this month!
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