ultra running

Sunday Funday Runday

“Today I will run for the pure, absolute joy.”
-Lopen Lomong

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This morning I got up to some pretty chilly weather. In fact, when I checked my Authentic Weather Ap, it looked something like this:

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Now I know it’s December, and there are plenty of FREEZING days in store between now and January; buuuuttttt I live in New England. The weather here is unpredictable. Sure today it’s in the 30’s, but tomorrow it might be in the 60’s.  I’m not taking any chances, which means taking advantage of the really cold weather when I can. None of that unseasonably warm stuff for me. I have a sub-freezing ultra to train for!

Besides, I just got a sweet deal on a Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier jacket, so I obviously needed to test it out. In addition to being wind and water resistant, it was supposed to also be thermal. Given the light weight paper thin fabric, I had some doubts. As it turns it, it really was warm. No false advertising there. Good on you, Pearl Izumi and your freakishly warm paper-thin jacket.

Aaaaannnnyway I picked the Larkin State Bridle Trail because it’s a nice long, flat out and back that is about as close as I’m going to get to the Winter Beast of Burden terrain… minus the multiple feet of snow. In fact, despite the freezing temps and recent snow fall, there actually wasn’t any snow this morning. We’ve had some heavy rain over the past two days that likely washed away any that was left from our most recent storm.

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Trails make me happy.

As usual, the scenery was breathtaking. I spent the entire run out soaking in the views without stopping (and soaking in general thanks to some flooding…). Then I gave myself the liberty of snapping a few photos on the way back. Unfortunately, I couldn’t run the entire trail because at just over eight miles in, it was completely underwater. Having already run through some ankle deep freezing water prior to that point, I really wasn’t excited about the prospect of wading waist deep. I know, I’m a wimp.

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Um, yeah. No

My goal going into the run was to try to get in an easy ten. However after about four miles (when my legs finally warmed up), I was feeling surprisingly good. That’s when I decided it might be fun to take on the entire out and back and get in a 20 miler (yes, I just used fun and 20 miler in the same sentence). After all, I’m never one to waste a good runner’s high!

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 Doesn’t get better than this, right?

Not being able to run the full route meant I would have to do some extra miles at the end. I took this at a fantastic opportunity to do some mileage at my favorite place on earth… which conveniently happened to be just across the street (Yea! Lucky me!). I think I would have enjoyed the scenery there more if I were not hitting the 18-20 mile wall; however, it was still pretty awesome.

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With the plan to go extra long, I thought today run would be perfect for my Emma’s Little Wonder Virtual Fun Run. Emma’s Virtual Fun Run is a fundraiser started by an awesome young lady runner as her Bat Mitzvah project. According to the website for her run “Little Wonder is a non-profit organization that enriches the lives of patients going through cancer treatment and gives them and their families a night out by providing them tickets to local concerts, family entertainment, live theater, and sporting events free of charge. The funds we raise will help spread the word about Little Wonder and increase awareness for patients, hospitals, and vendors.

Like a said, she’s a pretty awesome young lady to set up a fundraiser for such a worthy cause, but then we all know that runners a generous, giving breed. As someone who has been touched by cancer both in my personal life and as a healthcare provider, I was honored to take part in supporting her project.

Furthermore, I would like to encourage all of you to participate as well. You have until December 31st to register. What better way to motivate yourself to get out and run now that the weather has turned cold (at least in my neck of the woods)? Emma recommends a 5K walk or run, but is encouraging everyone to put forth their best effort and do what they can. She is even recognizing winners in the following categories:

Best 5K time Boys under 12
Best 5K time Girls under 12
Best 5K time Boys 12-18
Best 5K time Girls 12-18
Best 5K time Boys 18-35
Best 5K time Girls 18-35
Best 5K time Men 35+
Best 5K time a Women 35+
Longest Run (for those venturing beyond 5K)
Coolest Place to Run
Best running picture (must be a selfie)
Oldest Runner
Youngest Runner
Best excuse to donate and not actually run/walk

So there you have it folks! The gauntlet has been issued! It’s only $18 to register and the money goes toward a great cause. Plus, you have to opportunity to win one of these great titles (because if you aren’t motivated by charity, you might be tempted by the chance for glory). For those of you considering going for the longest distance, you’ll have to top my 20 miler from today… which was epic by the way (except for miles 18-20 which sucked miserably).

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If you do decide to sign up, be sure to tag your running related selfies and photos with the hashtag #littlewonderfunrun; and while you’re at it consider giving Emma a shout out for what a terrific thing she’s doing.

Happy Running!

Yup, I did it

“To escape fear, you have to go through it, not around.”
― Richie Norton

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Hey y’all!

I did something completely crazy this weekend. Yes, I signed up for the Full Distance at Cedar Point next September (140.6 miles of AWESOMENESS!!!!) No, that it not the crazy thing a did… although, okay that was sort of looney too. The actual insanity involved taking my mountain bike out on the trails for my SECOND. TIME. EVER.  ANNNNNDDD I went all by myself. (I told you: insane!)

The first time I took my mountain bike out was after the hubs bought it for me. We did a short ride, including a few trails. I was absolutely terrified for my life the entire time. I may have cried… a lot. It was ugly. All I could do was picture being horribly maimed as I careened out of control. (In reality, I was probably doing less than 5 mph.) After the experience of feeling utterly defeated and disappointed in myself, I only took it out on the roads… That is until I invested in the road bike. It’s been sitting in the garage ever since.

The thing is, I am still a HUGE chicken when it comes to cycling. I HATE riding alone, so I don’t go enough. My handling still stinks and I have zero (as in zilch, zippo) confidence on the bike. However, eventually after actually careening almost 40 mph while contending with irritable and negligent motorists, hitting the trails didn’t seem so dangerous. In fact, I decided I actually might be better off taking my chances with the trees. After all, at least they are stationery.

Plus, I found a 50 miler I want to do in January, and I figured combining a ride with a run would be a great way to kill two bird with one stone. I would ride my mountain for an hour on the trails and then run for an hour after. Not only would I have a chance to work on my handling skills and getting comfortable on the bike, but I also would start my run on fatigued legs foregoing the need for a high mileage run. Win-Win!

So I bundled myself up for the cozy sub freezing temps and headed to my favorite trails. I decided to warm up on some paved paths and then in a field. It took a little getting used to, but within a few minutes I was managing the gears without much thinking. Surprisingly, I was completely taken back by how much fun I was having. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, and I had most of the park to myself. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on!

Because I was feeling brave (something that almost never happens to me on a bike) I decided to try out the cyclocross cross that had been set up for a competition the following day. Other than a little difficulty with some tight turns and abrupt climbs, I felt fairly comfortable; so I set my sights on something more challenging. In the spirit of living dangerously, I started with some of the flatter trails and then decided to really test myself on my favorite running routes. I was completely shocked by how comfortable I felt even on the more technical terrain. I was by no means moving quickly, but I also was doing a pretty respectable job at keep my bike upright and navigating turns. I couldn’t believe what a difference all the time on my road bike had made in handling IMG_6141ability. I was even able to ride the steep downhills without any fear or hesitation!

Perhaps the most remarkable part was just how much FUN it was. I truly loved every second of it. I never would have imagined feeling so comfortable or at home on a bike. Furthermore, not in a million years would I have guessed that I would be more at ease on a mountain bike than a road bike… but then the trails have always been my sanctuary.

The whole experience was completely exhilarating. It was as if I suddenly became aware of a little reserve of toughness that had previously been untapped and a whole world of possibility was opened up by one short ride.

It was a terrific reminder for me of just how far I’ve come with the bike and in general. It’s been so long since I’ve had any big gains in my training that sometimes I forget I’m still making progress. Then all of a sudden there’s an “AHA!” moment, and I have a whole new perspective.

The whole experience was an important reminder about why it’s so important to keep doing the things that frighten me. It’s breaking through that fear that brings the greatest reward. The greatest joy in life isn’t doing what other people think you can’t, it’s doing things you think you can’t and never could. 

This weekend I surprised myself, and it made me feel better than I have in a long time. I felt growth, and it made me hungry for more. That is why I am committing myself to not be inhibited by fear, and instead chase it down. Who’s with me?

Why You Should Try an Ultra

“Running has taken me in, and continues to comfort,

heal and challenge me in all kinds of magical ways.

I am not a ‘good runner’ because I am me.

I am a good ‘me’ because I am a runner.”

– Kristin Armstrong

Some trail humor... not my photo, so I can't take credit. (unsure of source)

Some trail humor… not my photo, so I can’t take credit. (unsure of source)

Today I started my second day out from the Chatfield Hollow 50K with some yoga… or at least I attempted to. I realized very quickly that flexibility and balance postures are a pretty much a joke for me post ultra (shocker, right?) Plus, my dogs kept interrupting to “help”. The good news is that, despite my recovery time getting cut short due to the fur balls, I still felt some immediate relief in my post race soreness and stiffness.

dogyoga“But you’re on the floor… What do you mean you don’t want to play?”

The rest of my day I spent doing some work on the boat with the hubs, catching up with my mom, and, of course, looking up information on other ultras… like 50 and 100 milers… Now I know what you are thinking “Jeez woman you just ran an ultra!”, but I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. If I came across that finish line on Sunday completely victorious, that might have been it for me for the season (I know, I know! Who am I kidding). However, instead I got my first ultra running DNF; and there is no way I’m going to end my season with an unfinished race!

It’s not so much that I have something to prove. I am completely happy with my performance, DNF or not. What is different about this race is it opened the door to possibility. That course was HORRENDOUS, and yet I basically begged them to let me do a forth lap. I would have done a fifth too and finished had they let me! That is what made me realize that I totally have a 50 miler in me. What’s more, I’d like to do it sooner rather than later.

I may not have come away from Chatfield with a finish, but I did get something better. It ignited a little fire within to push even harder. I went into that race feeling fried, burnt out, and unmotivated. Yet, I came out 40K later completely invigorated. It was as if I had gone back to my roots and renewed my sense of passion for trail running… for ultra running.

The thing that appeals to me so much about ultra running beyond just my love for the trails and community is that it is so much more about character than pure athleticism. Not to say that a certain level of athletic skill isn’t required, but it’s not what’s going to get you to the finish. The drive and push to keep going when your body fails (because it will fail) and the unending pain sets in comes from the heart. Ultras are run on resiliency, determination, and faith more than physical prowess.

I am better at ultra running than any other sport two reasons 1) I love trail running, and 2) I can enduring suffering. The longer the race, the more heavily mental fortitude is favored over speed and talent… (and the faster I look since I tend to run the same pace no matter the distance). Basically, I can hang in there and keep moving regardless of how much it hurts, I am doubting myself, or want to stop. That is my running super power. Sadly, it doesn’t serve me well in short runs. Yet, set me out for a full day on the trails and I will just keep on truckin’.

If you want to have fun and get fit take up a class. However, If you want to learn the absolute depths of your strength and soul, take up ultra running. It’s more than a sport. It’s a mindset and culture that will change your life and build you into a better person. I can fully understand why some people say trail running is their religion. There is no other place in my life where I feel more clarity or at peace than spending 7 or 8 hours running in the woods. Nothing else even comes close.

If you have ever thought about ultra running you should seriously consider trying it. So many people think it’s too hard or far, but the truth is that if you have ever run far enough to have to push through a “wall”, then you can work up to a half marathon, marathon, or ultra. The only difference from one to the next is how many “walls” you have to run through. As long as you hydrate and get enough electrolytes and calories you will continue to get “another wind”. That is the trick to long distance running. You just need to realize that feeling terrible is going to come in waves, and if you hang in there it will get better. Most people just don’t ever push themselves past the first “wall” to realize there’s a second or third.  However, now you know (if you didn’t already), which means you are already well on your way to long distance running success.

On a more serious note, while ultra running may not be for you (yet…) at least consider that there is some distance that could push you outside your comfort zone. Rather than pick a race you know you can finish, choose the one you’re unsure of. The reward is so much greater when it isn’t guaranteed. Plus, it will help open the door to the next challenge.

Truly, there is no greater feeling than accomplishing something you never thought you’d be capable of. Don’t you owe it to yourself to try?

I’m just here for the scenery…

”Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance …

you can push yourself to extremes

and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations

or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.

But when you are through, exhilarated and exhausted, 

at least for a moment everything seems right with the world…”

-Unknown

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“I’m just here for the scenery” was the half joke I made at the start of the Chatfield Hollow State Park 50K yesterday morning. The truth is I WAS there for the scenery, but I was also there for a very important reason- raising money to support CT-ALIVE (The CT Alliance For Victims of Violence and Their Families). This was my forth year fundraising for victims of domestic violence, and I certainly wasn’t going to sell them short with anything less than an ultra distance. I picked Chatfield Hollow because one year wasn’t a long enough to wipe Bimbler’s Bluff from my memory. Plus, I thought it would be fun to race in a new venue.

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Nature walk to the start. That’s my kind of race!

I was surprised when I looked at the registration list and found only 15 runners had signed up for the 50K with most runners opting for the shorter distances. Of those 15, only three were women… Clearly the rest of the ultra community (and majority of the runners present) knew something I didn’t.  Rather than get nervous over this revelation, I figured the low numbers were due to the close proximity with Bimbler’s. Besides, I was too busy enjoying the gorgeous scenery to worry about the brutality that awaited me!

Plus, I figured that if I could survive Bimbler’s, I could handle anything they threw at me. I just couldn’t imagine it being any worse. What a silly notion!

What I didn’t take into consideration was the stricter time cut offs. The total allotted time for the course was only 8 hours (an hour less than Traprock and 2 less than Bimbler’s). Like Bimbler’s, the course was extremely rocky with a good amount of technical single track trails. There were parts that literally involved scaling up and down rocks which definitely slowed me down. I am not the biggest fan of running on rocky terrain because I am clumsy to begin with; so overall the unstable footing was a detriment to my pace. That’s not to say that I didn’t still enjoy myself because I totally did!

The course was composed of five 10K loops. (Spoiler Alert: I got DQ’d after not meeting the time qualifier on my third lap; however the officials took pity and allowed me to still run a forth!) The thing that was really challenging about this specific ultra is the entire loop was up and down. Every other ultra I have run, all the really horrible climbs are either in the first third of the course OR at the beginning of the loop (For example, at Traprock of the 10 mile loop, only the first three miles were horrific and the rest were more manageable).  This race had hills throughout the loop, including rock faces that had to be scaled at the end (well played race organizers, well played). In a word, it was BRUTAL… and this is coming from a girl who did Bimbler’s as her first 50K and finished a Half Ironman less than two months after gallbladder surgery.

10418904_716524945104810_4785371998643999263_nAll that being said, throughout the race I really felt good. I was going slow, but I wasn’t hurting or miserable. I felt better on my third lap than I did on my first or second, and that was in spite of having to repeat a mile and a half section that I accidentally missed on my second time through (in my defense, the course was marked going in two different directions and I choose the one with the flags to my left because that is what we were instructed to do… I definitely had a little internal struggle about making up the part I missed knowing I was already flirting dangerously with the cut off. However, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. I didn’t want to get credit for finishing unless it was for the entire course).

At that point, I was a little tired of all the climbing and descending and the pounding on the rocks, but not to the degree I expected given the difficulty level.  It definitely helped that there were some great views and really fun sections which were enough to keep my mind off any aches or pains. Not to mention, I was too busy trying to simultaneously watch my footing and for trail markers to pay attention to much else! On a side note, I have to be honest that the scenery alone makes this run worthwhile… rocky terrain, continuous climbs, and all.

If the Chatfield Hollow SP 50K is a race you are considering doing, my advice would be to expect very rocky terrain and make sure you are prepared for it. Also, all the race distances start together, so expect the first few miles to be crowded and slow unless you get to the head of the pack. Another consideration is to plan on bringing your own water/nutrition. They have an aid station at the start/finish with some food, but the other two aid stations are just water stops without volunteers. There’s not going to be anyone handing out your snacks or water, so that’s something to keep in mind (Think “self serve”).

On that same note, while there are some people at the start/finish area, there are not a lot of volunteers on the course. Be10675731_716524988438139_6863402278390244130_n prepared to spend some quality time by yourself because you won’t find a lot of company or support out there (like at some other races with larger numbers). Personally, I like to think that the secret of ultra running to be really comfortable with yourself. Otherwise, it’s an awful lot of time to spend with someone you don’t like. Any demons or insecurities you have are going to be brought on on this course, so make sure you either deal with them ahead of time or have a strategy come race day.

Lastly, don’t get caught up with the time cut offs. I spent a good part of my first loop worrying about not being fast enough before I realized there was nothing I could do about it. I was doing my best, and it was either going to be go enough or it wasn’t. It turned out that it wasn’t; but, surprisingly, the world didn’t end. No one pointed a finger at me and told me I wasn’t good enough. In reality, getting pulled and not finishing did not even remotely detract from the experience.

I took on a course that was WAY out of my comfort zone, and I didn’t quit… even after I was technically disqualified. I am immensely grateful to the race organizers for allowing me to run that last loop and get in as many miles as I could. In addition to being a great opportunity for me to cry it out and work out my frustration (which lasted about 30 seconds until I reached the first climb up a set of stairs… what is it with ultras and stairs anyway?) it was also a terrific chance for me to savor the scenery and run for the pure joy of running.

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Okay, so in reality they said it was for finishing the 20K

(I might have to write in a little x2…since I techincally did the it twice.)

In truth, when I did get pulled after my forth loop I felt great beyond just not being sore and feeling like I could take on another lap. Every problem I had stressed about during my hell week of tapering had completely dissipated. Sure, there may have been a little fraction of disappointment; but, for the most part, I was just happy and grateful and having had the opportunity to spend a whole day doing something I love.

At the end of the day, I’m not in this sport for the finish lines or medals (although I do appreciate the bling too… shiny things, what can I say?). I do it because I LOVE the trails and constantly challenging myself. This course was INDEED a challenge, and a glorious one at that.

As far as I’m concerned, any day spent on the trails in good company is a fantastic one in my book.

Would I do it all over? 100% YES! I have absolutely no regrets.

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As much as I did this event because I LOVE trail running, this race wasn’t about me. It was about raising awareness and money for victims of domestic violence so that other women have the chance to THRIVE after abuse that I did. CT-ALIVE was there for me when I needed help, so I am happy to endure any kind of torture a race course can throw at me if it means raising funds for them to help someone else. In fact, I’ll even do it with a smile on my face.

Thank you Trails 2 Trails for a wonderful race experience and definitely living up to your “We Don’t Do Easy” advertising… although, for record, I think running 50K is hard enough without you trying to make it more challenging with 8 hour time cutoffs and such. 😉

Enough

“All I can tell you really is if you get to the point

where someone is telling you that you are not great or not good enough,

just follow your heart and don’t let anybody crush your dream.”

-Patti LaBelle

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There are a lot of things in this life that I am not good at… that I struggle with in fact. At the top of that list is feeling like anything I do is ever good enough. Despite being a complete devotee to self love and acceptance, I have to admit that I am by far my own worst critic. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this admission. The thing is, it’s not because I’m unhappy with who I am. It’s that I’m not happy with where I’m at.

I have accomplished EVERY major goal I set my mind to in the past year. I overcame numerous obstacles including not knowing how to bike or swim, surgery, and injury (and FEAR!) to not only become a triathlete, but complete my first Half Ironman (in less than 7 hours!). I finished not one, but TWO 50K ultras with a third in the works, AND ran in my first sponsored race thanks to Bondi Band at the Ragnar Adirondacks.

Beyond the athletic sphere I have made strides in my personal life as well. I successfully negotiated for a better (and more importantly healthier!) position at work with better pay and a better schedule… which means seeing the hubs more… YEA!!!! I also have spent another year actively involved with CT-ALIVE in various projects to raise funds for victims of domestic violence, including my next run for the Running For The Color Purple Campaign this weekend.

I have taken on every challenge full steam ahead without ever taking my eye off the goal. Yet, despite everything I have achieved, I have yet to ever feel satisfied or fulfilled. Sure, it’s exciting when the task at hand is accomplished, but almost immediately my thoughts turn to the next challenge. There is no resting or stopping to savor the moment. I simply don’t know how to slow down.

The fact is, no matter what I do or goal I reach, I always feel like I have more untapped potential that I am just wasting. So many people go through life fearing failing above all else. I, on the other hand, fear not trying. I would rather chase a dream I only have a fraction of a chance of completing than go after one I know I can obtain. I want to live every moment to the fullest and know I used every ounce of my potential. I don’t want to waste a single second! When I leave this earth, I want to be sure I made the absolute best use of my time here. That is why I constantly feel pressure to do more to make an impact.

I know there is something greater I should be doing with my life; and, at times, I struggle with trying to figure out exactly what that is. I am well aware that I am not the brightest, most charismatic, or talented person out there, but I do have the desire, drive, and resolute determination to make a difference. I want to inspire people to chase their dreams. I want to change the way they view what is possible. I want to educate the public, demystify domestic violence, and give a voice to those victims and survivors who can’t speak for themselves. I want to do all these things on a larger scale than I am now. I want to affect lives!

That is why I see myself as an author and public speaker. I am already taking steps to get there. I have no idea how long it will take, but I intend to stick with it until I am successful. All the women I admire (Diana Nyad, Meredith Atwood, Brook Kreder…) all have something in common- They are inspiring others, particularly other women, by chasing their dobetterdreams. They all took on goals that other people questioned their ability to obtain, and they found a way to make them happen in spite of any obstacles. These are my role models. They have achieved the type of impact I want to make. (Okay, so realisticly, I am never going to achieve Diana Nyad levels of inspiring, but I would settle for my own TED talk… just putting it out there, Universe)

It may all sound a little looney; but I am a firm believer that the people who possess the power to change the world are those who believe they can.

I believe. I just need to figure out what my path is to get there.

In the meantime, I have been trying to remind myself that while it is great (and completely healthy) to constantly strive for more in life, it is also necessary to accept yourself as enough. It may sound contradictory, but it falls in line with Maya Angelou’s quote “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

I may not feel like I have reached my full potential in life yet, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t continually strived to become the best version of myself. Everyday I am doing the best I can with what I have to work with. That in itself is something to be proud of. I will continue to push outside my comfort zone and challenge myself until I grow into a person capable of changing the world. However until then, rather than focusing on the destination, I intend to make a better effort at appreciating the journey and trusting that the universe will guide me.

Double The Miles, Double The Fun: Ragnar Adirondack Recap

“Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes
no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances
on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the
approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted
from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense.
The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that
is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that
the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running
such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of
their being — a call that asks who they are …”
– David Blaikie

(I know it’s a long one, but it’s so good!)

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Hello All!

I’m baaaaaaack, which means I survived my Ragnar Adirondacks Adventure! I’m not sure I can adequately do justice to what an UNBELIEVABLE experience it was, but I will do my best. I had no idea what to expect go into this event as I had never done a Ragnar Relay or run for a sponsor. However, I did at least have a few ultras under my belt, so I knew what to expect from a mileage standpoint.

Since an ENTIRE weekend of racing is A LOT of race to recap, and ultra runners tend to have a LOVE/HATE relationship with their miles, I thought it might be more fun to break this post down into The Things I LOVED/HATED About Ragnar Adirondacks.

FEELING THE LOVE:

  • For starters, I LOVED LOVED LOVED the overwhelming support from our sponsors (Bondi Band, Shower Pill, Clif Bar, Chase This Skirt, Nuun, Energy Bits, Vega, KT Tape). Immediately upon arriving at our room the hubs and I found our beds decked out with goodies (it was like the animal shaped towels on cruise ships, but BETTER). Sandra, the super fabulous Bondi Sales Manager, had left us our Bondi Bands, compression socks, sponsor samples, and our Bondi Shirts which had the Bondi logo in PINK SPARKLES… Bondi clearly knows the way to a girl’s heart… Given that Bondi had already paid for our race, hotel, and supplied us with free nutrition from our other sponsors, I completely did not expect all the extra gear and goodies they gave us. The generosity on the part of the sponsors was truly beyond my wildest expectations.

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  • I completely assure you that I am not trying to brown nose our sponsor when I tell you that I LOVED the Bondi Bands. They were bright, colorful, and had all kinds of fun sayings which meant we could coordinate to both our outfits and our moods. It was super fun to switch out on each leg and wear a different option. Plus, they completely lived up to every claim by Bondi. I have have had some experience with sweat and headbands, and these are by far the best I’ve used. The colors didn’t bleed or run, they absorbed a TON of sweat, and they absolutely did not slip. They also were extremely soft and comfy, which meant no headache. I have now had over 50K of experience with these bands, and I don’t think I’ll ever wear anything else again. Luckily I have a whole stash now, so I can can wear a different one for each workout of the week. Likewise, the compression socks were equally top notch. I already own a pair of generic compression socks and a set of zensah sleeves, and while I feel like a traitor for saying so, I like Bondi’s better. They were more comfortable than my sleeves and had better compression than anything I’ve owned previously. I also completely put them to the test when I got a HUGE blister on my first leg (from running on the grass to spare my joints). I pulled on the compression socks for my night legs and not only didn’t feel the blister, but it actually got better (not 100% better, but dramatically improved)! Needless to say, I was super impressed. It was like blister treatment magic.

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  • I also LOVED meeting the rest of the team and getting to know them. It was really interesting to get to meet runners from all over the country (and Canada!). Together we got into some serious shenanigans and shared plenty of laughs.

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  • The fact that we were an ultra team was another BIG PLUS for me. I LOVE running long; so, for me, the double legs were a bonus. It was kind of amusing to me how many people looked completely stunned when they found out we were doing the ultra and asked why we would want to. I, on the other hand, was equally perplexed as to why they would only do 3 legs when they could be doing 6! Double the miles, double the fun people! For their convenience I compiled a list of my top 5 reasons to run a Ragnar Ultra so they could see just how much they’re missing out.  I mean who needs breaks to rest or eat anyway? That stuff is for sissies!

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  • I also have to mention that I LOVED my night legs, even in spite of the fact that I had the suckiest climb of the entire course. Running at night with a headlamp makes any run seem that much more bada$$. Plus, I enjoyed the peace and quiet- just me and my tunes out on the open road with stars as a backdrop. What could be more perfect? It was an awesome experience… even if it involved climbing almost 700ft in two and half miles… without any flat or downhill.
  • thatsmeAs much as I LOVED the running, I enjoyed Bondi Banding our fellow racers almost equally as much! Our team name was the Bondi Bandits, and our race tag involved sneaking up on unsuspecting teams and leaving Bondi Bands with our team and sponsor info. Sandra, Lisa, and I had SO MUCH FUN tagging the other vehicles and socializing with the other teams. The other runners were all super excited about the bands, which became a great opportunity to get information about Bondi out there. However, by far, the best part was Bondi Banding the other team’s mascots and getting photos with them, including a team with a giant pickle that we banded with “Suck It Up Buttercup” and a bear named Murray who got “Run Like a Princess Today.”

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  • One great thing about Bondi Banding the other teams is that it not only gave us a great opportunity to meet a lot of runners (and get them excited about our AWESOME sponsors!!!), but also gave us a chance to check out a lot of the other van themes and decorations. There were so many cool ideas out there (including a team of parents who titled their team “Every Child Left Behind”), but my absolute favorite was the “Twelve Hangry Blerches.” Their van was EPIC!
  • 10621901_10152290579877397_1547844836_nOn a similar note, being that this was my first Ragnar, I really enjoyed and appreciated the fun atmosphere with all the crazy themes and costumes. I have never been involved in a race event that encouraged so much silliness, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. From the costumes, to the van decorating and tagging, it was crazy and chaotic at times, but also extremely entertaining, especially when random people honked, waved, and rang cowbells for you while you ran.

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  • While I have to say that I LOVED meeting all my teammates (because we were an Ultra Team, and that by default made us all pretty awesome), I was especially grateful to have had Lisa (and her husband Jay) for company. She and her hubby are just some super cool, laid back people, and it was an absolute pleasure to hang out with them (including at our grown up sleep over party after the race when were bunked up in the same room). Adam and Jay hit it off immediately being the only source of testosterone in the group; and Lisa and I ended up running our last legs together, so we had plenty of time to bond. Thank you Lisa for keeping me entertained even in the delirium and sharing your story about your pet raccoon named Sara Lee. You are a class act and an amazing runner. I can’t wait to hear about your next ultra!

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  • As great as it was to make new friends, I also completely lucked out and LOVED that I got to do this event with my hubby. I was beyond fortunate that Bondi was willing to sponsor my race entry, but the fact that they invited him too was beyond anything I could have hoped for. I am so lucky to have a husband that not only understands, but shares my passion and love for running… even if it’s not quite to the same degree. It meant so much to me to have him there and share the experience with him. Therefore, I am super grateful to both Bondi and my hubby for making my race experience extra awesome.

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  • Finally, I cannot discuss all the things awesome and wonderful that I LOVED about Ragnar without mentioning our team supporters. The Bondi Bandits were so beyond fortunate to not only have Sandra (who is completely lovely and totally deserves a raise) but also Jay who volunteered to be our driver. Given the amount of mileage we were all running, having a driver was HUGE. Plus, Jay was COMPLETELY AMAZING. In addition to driving the entire 200 mile course without any breaks or rest, he also cheered us on at exchanges and circled back to make sure we had enough food and hydration. Jay was the person who met me at the end of my second night leg and made sure I found my way back to the van. He truly went above and beyond. (Lisa, you have a good egg!) Plus, he had a great sense of humor, which was absolutely necessary when contending with a van full of exhausted, cranky women.

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  • Likewise, Sandra was a total trooper! She was at nearly every exchange and stayed up with us through the night. Despite the fact that she wasn’t running the legs with us, she was 100% in the trenches. She looked out for each and every one of us and had a smile on her face every step of the way. I honestly don’t think we could have had a better Bondi rep, and I give her major kudos for dealing with a van of (at times) hungry, overtired, and irritable runners with absolute grace. Truthfully, there were moments when I wanted to strangle us. I’m not sure how she managed without the benefit of running induced endorphins other than that she is just a super woman. Sandra and Jay, as far as I am concerned you get the team MVP award. We truly could not have done it without you!

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NOT FEELING THE LOVE

  • Hate is such a strong word, but I can definitely say I was not feeling the love for the ENDLESS HILLS… especially my ridiculous night climb. I am, however, super grateful that section came after dark when I couldn’t see it coming! By our last leg, Lisa and I decided we were both over the hills. To make our point, I took this photo and sent it to Ragnar. They were apparently amused because it was the only photo I posted that they liked… sadists.

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  • The other thing I “HATED” about the Ragnar Adirondacks course was THERE WAS NO PLACE TO EAT! We were literally driving in the middle of nowhere for hours on end, which was great in terms of scenery, but completely awful in terms of getting in a real meal. To make matters worse, the three times my team stopped to eat were all while I was running. That meant 0/3 meals for me. By the third time, it was starting to feel personal. They did finally bring me back to get food after my last leg when my eyes were glazed over and I couldn’t formulate sentences. Half a sandwich later, I was feeling like a whole new person. On a side note, I am sure any nearby locals were highly amused when I was so calorie deficient and dysfunctional that I got tangled in my own shirt and couldn’t figure out how to fix it (I’m talking full on straight jacket style…) Luckily for me, Krave Jerky and Mojo bars are pretty darn delicious and were in plentiful supply… for a while at least. Ultra running is hungry business!
  • As much as I hate to say it- because by far the majority of my Ragnar experience was completely amazing- another thing that I was not super fond of was some unsportsmanlike conduct by a few of the other teams. While I get that the concept of keeping track of “kills” and running for time can be fun, I don’t agree with people using it as a means to put down other runners. Running a Ragnar is supposed to be about fun and camaraderie. I think it’s incredibly unfortunate that some people forget that due to being so caught up in the spirit of competition. It’s not okay to insult and ridicule other runners, and I personally did not appreciate the team of guys who loudly made fun of me for wearing a hydration pack and “a lot of gear” (commenting that it must be “To keep her from running too fast”) at the start of my first night leg. They obviously had no idea that I was running a cumulative 12 miles due to my back to back legs OR that my headphones were not on despite being in my ears. It was a pretty lame move on their part, although I suppose I should thank them. I was so annoyed by their endless commentary that my night legs were actually some of my fastest… despite the monstrous climb.
  • While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I HATED being stuck in tight quarters with a bunch of cranky, hungry, tried women, I certainly wouldn’t call it my idea of a good time. There were times that were absolutely hilarious, but then there were also instances when I just wanted a hot meal, a set of ear plugs… and maybe some leg room.

All that being said, I would 100% do it again in a heartbeat! As I already mentioned, I simply can’t say enough for what an absolutely amazing experience Ragnar Adirondacks was. The entire trip exceeded my expectations in every way possible. I feel so blessed to be given this opportunity by Bondi Band AND to have had the support of all our other sponsors who were all both more than generous and super supportive. Beyond supplying us with a wide assortment race fuel (Clif bars and Bloks, Mojo bars, Krave jerky, Vega supplements, Energy Bits, and Nuun) and Bondi gear, we also were provided bath wipes from Shower Pill to keep us feeling somewhat human between our legs, KT Tape for our weary joints and muscles, and the most adorable race skirts ever from Chase This Skirt.

For me Ragnar Adirondacks had everything I could want in a race: beautiful scenery, high mileage, great staff and volunteers, and a super fun atmosphere. The fact that I was able to run it through the support of sponsors was truly a gift. I am glad to have been connected with some great companies who not only have great products, but actually care about their athletes. I would absolutely recommend each sponsor that supported our team and would like to extend a sincere big thank you to all of them.

For anyone interested in seeing more photos from our adventure, you can use the hashtag #BondiBandits on twitter or instagram.

It’s Ragnar Time (Insert One Million Exclamation Points Here)

“Running has always been a relief and a sanctuary—

something that makes me feel good, both physically and mentally.

For me it’s not so much about the health benefits.

Those are great, but I believe that the best thing about running is the joy it brings to life.”
-Kara Goucher

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My sentiments exactly! 

Normally (not that most people would consider a Ragnar normal…) when people run a Ragnar, they do it with a group of friends. I however as we all know like to walk run that fine line between crazy and EPICALLY AWESOME. That is why I will be running my Ragnar with a group of strangers. That’s right! A whole team of people I’ve never met… aside from the hubs that is. You would think there would be a little part of me that would have some trepidation about this, but the truth is the only thing I am feeling is BEYOND EXCITED!!!! (It’s going to be SO AMESOME!!!!!)

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Originally, I was nervous about the sleep deprivation and prospect of getting sick/run down from being up for 30+ hours, BUT I have been SO PUMPED about running both my first Ragnar and first sponsored race that I have been too excited to sleep anyway. So far, I seem to be functioning fine… aside from this manic, furiously typed post anyway. 😉

This morning my poor hubs found out just how excited when I kind of refused to let him sleep… because I couldn’t sleep… because it’s like Christmas in our house! Christmas in September! I tried REALLY hard to let him sleep, but after I got all the chores done and packed, I just couldn’t contain my enthusiasm anymore. I tried rubbing his back and cuddling him to get him up, and when that didn’t work I just talked to him incessantly about my ENTIRE day yesterday (mostly my job interview YEA!!!!!).  Since that also didn’t work, I resorted to bribery and made him breakfast. Breakfast bribery, I’m not above it.

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I am happy to report that the bribe worked and we now have movement resembling packing. (Woohoo!) I am hoping we will be on the road shortly. In the meantime, I thought I’d take the opportunity to connect with my blog community AND thank all the amazing sponsors who I’ll be referring to as my Ragnar Fairy Godmothers this weekend. Please check them out and show them some love!

Bondi Band

Chase This Skirt

KT Tape

Clif Bar

Nuun

Shower Pill

Vega

Thank you sponsors for making my racing dreams come true this weekend!!!!

For anyone interested in our Ragnar journey, you can follow us on instagram and twitter with a hashtag #BondiBandits.