Monday, April 29, 2013

Ragnar Zion - The Running

Yesterday, I focused on the overall experience of Ragnar Zion.

Now, let's talk about the running. Before I get into the details, let me just say. Trail running is HARD! Probably even harder considering I did zero training on trails on top of the fact that I hadn't run period in about three weeks.

Warning: This is kind of lengthy.

Here's a look at the overall course map.

Click for a larger view

Every runner runs each of the legs. The order you run them in depends on which number runner you are. I was runner #6, so I ran Red, Yellow, then Green.

I was really excited to run them in this order, because then I'd be saving the easiest loop for last when I would be the most tired. Yay! :-)

The Red Loop
This was the longest loop, but relatively flat compared to the other two loops. It took you on service roads and paths that were like narrow, little trenches.

I really had to pee when I went to the exchange for the pass off. Luckily, he wasn't in yet, so I asked the volunteer where the nearest port-a-potty was. I ran there, peed, and ran back with plenty of time. Unfortunately, I was WAY out of breath by the time I got back to the transition tent. I winded myself going to the port-a-potty, how am I going to survive 7+ miles?

I took off around 7:20 p.m. The first mile was a kind of pure, agonizing hell. I was having trouble breathing, and I couldn't find my rhythm. I think I even had to walk now and then. Probably around mile 2.5 I really started to feel good. I felt confident and sure-footed and felt like I was running at a pretty decent pace. Around mile 3, there was a water stop set up. Even though I was running with a Camelbak, I still stopped for a little cold refreshment.

The loop met up at the water stop again around mile 5. By this time, it was starting to get dark, so I strapped on my headlamp.

The view off the side of the trail - just before sunset.

The rest of the loop went all right. I mean it was definitely tough and definitely dark and I was definitely ready to be finished when I got back to the transition tent, but when it was all over, I thought it was a great run. :) I think it took me about 1h 45min for this 7.5 mile loop. That may seem very slow, but remember this was trail running. In fact, I finished about 10 or so minutes before my team expected me. Luckily I didn't have to wait that long to pass off the baton.

The Yellow Loop
This was by far the most challenging loop. Just look at that elevation profile. I basically climbed a mountain. IN THE DARK! I started this loop around 4 or so in the morning. Wellllll before sunrise. I didn't mind doing the hardest loop in the dark. More of an excuse to go slow. :-)

Unfortunately, I upset my right knee a bit during my first leg. It was irritated for most of my rest between legs, so I didn't really have high hopes for this leg. Sore knee + dark + crazy-ass hills = SLOW run. I have no idea how long it took me, but slightly longer than expected.

I think I'm just about the weirdest runner because I hate running downhill. I'd much rather deal with the exhaustion of running/walking uphill. In fact, I really think I might actually be able to get up a hill faster than I can get down one. Running downhill just plain hurts me. Either my knees or shins or both.

Needless to say, this loop was mostly walked. Both downhill and uphill.

But it was the dark. Yeah, I totally blame the dark. :)

After my run, and the sun came up, I hit up one of the massage tents. He thought it was probably some IT band irritation that was causing my knee pain and, in addition to great massage and stretching, he gave me some tips to stretch on my own and prepare for my final leg. He also taped my knee to help provide additional relief.

The Green Loop
Oh, how I was looking forward to this leg. It was going to be the easiest. It was going to be sunny and WARM. Oh yes!

And then the first mile and a half was pure hell. All downhill. My knee was absolutely killing me. Shots of pain with nearly every fricking downhill step. Agony. I had to go so slow.

But every time the trail flattened out or went to a slight uphill, I tried to give it my all. I knew I had a LOT of time to make up after my super slow downhill start.

All-in-all, this loop still took me around 50 min, I think, but I finished super strong. I was running so hard that I didn't even notice my teammates on the side of the trail. I was booking it. Crossing into the transition tent, I really had to fight back the tears. Hardcore. It look awhile for me to catch my breath and make my way back to my team while we waited for our last two runners.

Since our team was running a bit late, they let us run the final three loops simultaneously. We were all very grateful to be finished. Unfortunately, I've got no pictures of us finishing yet. Hopefully one of my teammates will post one soon, and I'll share it then.

Before I go, I need to share one more tidbit about the running.

Seeing these signs was bittersweet. On one hand, it meant only 1/2 mile to go. On the other, it was a hellacious 1/2 mile of crazy uphill switchbacks. Every loop ended the same. Enduring this. 3 times.

It was called Pure Evil, Hell's Gate, Recurring Nightmare, Deja Vu, Devil's Escalator. None of which really do it justice. Even some of the elites had to walk up this section. At least that's what I tell myself.

Each leg had its own challenges, and there were definitely times when I didn't want to continue and really had to push myself. During the Green Trail I really had to give myself a pep talk. Mostly because I wanted it to be my strongest, and I was so tempted to walk.

I ran all three loops without music or a watch mostly because my phone was dead pretty much the whole time, so I could just relax and really enjoy the running. I'm kind of bummed that so much of my running was in the dark. I think I would have like enjoying the scenery a bit more. Of course, that might have just frustrated me more that I didn't pack a camera.

Now that all is said and done, I'm so happy I got to join Hot on the Trails at Ragnar Zion! I really challenged myself and that just plain feels good!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ragnar Zion - The Experience

Ragnar Zion was an amazing experience. Too much to describe in a single post, so I'm breaking it into a few.

First, The Experience.

It's hard to compare the road relay and the trail relay. They were very different experiences I love both!, but I'll try to give a description of the overall experience.


This was much better than a road relay. Once you arrive and set up camp, you're good to go until your runners are finished and you pack up and go home. This meant it was always easy to find the exchange it was always in the exact same spot! and easy to cheer on your runners as they headed into/out of the transition tent. Unfortunately, it seemed like the excitement of meeting each runner really waned after the first couple runners - especially as the temps dropped into the 40s.

Being in one location meant you weren't packed into a sweaty, smelly van with 5 or 6 other people for two straight days, which also meant more time to stretch after finishing a leg. You also got to hang out with your entire team instead of just your van. Oh, and since every runner eventually runs the same leg, comparing stories of the trails is lots of fun! Plus, it kind of mentally prepared you for your next leg. Well, unless you were runner 1, 2, or 3. They were the trail guinea pigs.

On the downside, without driving from one exchange to the next, time between legs seemed to drag a little for me anyway. Also camping equaled lots, lots more gear and setting up/breaking down camp. Two of my least favorite things. And, of course, everything got very, very dusty. Of course, it was camping, so sharing the Ragnar experience with your family was a bit easier. I kind of regret not really inviting Jeff to join me.


Being in one location also meant lots of fun amenities. Ragnar really took care of us. They provided free dinner. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment that they chose to provide chili. Who wants to eat chili after running? I stuck to the pasta my team made. Ragnar also provided unlimited water, coffee, and cocoa. Well, they were out of cocoa when I tried to get some and the coffee was horrible, but free is free.

Once the sun went down, they lit two huge, awesome bonfires. One was right near the finish line, which was great for staying warm while waiting for your next runner. No bonfire would be complete without the makings for s'mores. Actually, they had smaller fire pits for roasting marshmallows. The other bonfire had a guitarist singing songs some of the time, and someone telling Greek mythology stories while staring at the stars at other times.

You could cool off (or warm-up) after the race by jumping in the pool or hot tub or fighting for a shower.

This is kind of a weird amenity to get excited about, but in addition to the usual smelly rows of port-a-potties, they also brought in a company called Eco Commode.

These were awesome! Less smelly and better for the environment. You should really go check out their website to find out more info. They are based out of St George, but their port-a-potties are available throughout the Western U.S. If you would like to see these port-a-potties at your next race or other event, have the director email them at or fill out this form.

They also had some pretty cool vendors with booths set up. You could charge your phone with Sun Trap Solutions and demo trail shoes from Salomon and fill your water bottle up with Nuun. There was also a Ragnar Gear tent, where you could buy all kind of fun Ragnar paraphernalia.


Seriously, everything was so great! Especially considering this was the first one. Ragnar did a phenomenal job.

My biggest regret? I didn't take advantage of nearly enough of the amenities. No pool, hot tub, or even shower for me. Gross, I know. I didn't even try the chili or the s'mores. 

I never made it to the Nuun tent or the Ragnar Gear tent.

I did demo some Salomon shoes for my 3rd leg. They were really nice, but I didn't like the service I got from their staff on site, so I probably won't ever buy their shoes. Yeah, I'm totally petty like that. If a company is at an event promoting their product, they better razzle-dazzle me. Or at least show me some interest. 

If I do a Ragnar Trail Relay again, I think I'll definitely convince Jeff to join me and I'll definitely venture out of campsite for more than just hitting the next trail.

Now, I've got to hobble my way to the laundry room. Stay tuned for a report on the actual running and trails.

I was in no way compensated for any mention of Eco Commode. I just tried them this weekend and loved them so much to promote them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What I've been up to...

I know you've all been waiting on the edge of your seats wondering about this mysterious project of mine.

Well, it all started a few months ago, when I last gave my blog a make-over. Katie at From Ice Cream to Marathon She just finished her first marathon. Yay! complimented me on the design and somehow that planted a little seed.

Why not branch out and design other people's blogs, too?

I brought it up to Jeff, and he was on board right away. Unfortunately, like many of our brilliant plans, it just sat there.

Until I saw this on my Twitter feed.

I got super excited and asked Jeff if he was ready to jump in with both feet. He was, so we offered Tyly an amazing deal for letting us cut our teeth designing her blog.

We took a few days at the beginning to decide on a name and figure out some things on our end, but exactly two weeks from our first email exchange, Tyly had her new blog design installed on her Blogger blog.

Click on the picture to check out her blog and see the full design. :)

We're so happy with how the design turned out, but even more important than that, TYLY LOVES IT!!

Jeff and I had so much fun working on this together and are excited for our next project, sooooo if you're in the market for a new look on your Blogger blog, please consider...

custom blog design

We still have a lot of planning to do to get where we want, but now we're both confident that we can design blogs that others will love.

We're super excited about this. Please feel free to tell your friends. :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Week in Review - April 21

In my last post, I mentioned that Jeff and I were working on an exciting project. We finished it yesterday, and once it's fully approved, I'll share it with you. Hopefully today, but for sure early next week.

In the meantime, it's been pretty all-consuming, and so my April goals really got pushed aside. Sadly.

So, I'm just going to write a quick update of the past two weeks, since I didn't get to it last Sunday.

April Week 2

DateCardioArms&Abs50 @ 50Commute
jumping jacks
15 bicep curls
15 tricep extensions
15 hammer curls
15 tricep kickbacks
50 Shoulder Presses
4/930 Standing Obliques
30 Standing Crossovers
50 jumping jacks
4/1050 Russian twists
4/1137 basic crunches
37 scissors
76 crossover crunches
50 tricep pushups
4/1320 crunches every hour from 9am to 11am

April Week 3

DateCardioArms&Abs50 @ 50Commute
4/17banana rolls for 2 min. 3 times
4/2115 Dips every bathroom break from
50 scissors

Ooph! Is it as hard on your eyes to see all those sad faces as it is on mine??

I've got 10 days left of April. I WILL FINISH STRONG!

How do you pick yourself up and get back on track after falling behind on your goals?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

3 Things Thursday

I haven't done a 3 Things post in a LONG time, but I wanted to write a quick post this morning before work.

1. I joined a Ragnar Trails team a week or so ago. Our trail race is 2 weeks from tomorrow. And I'm a little scared. What did I get myself into?? I've not really done any trail running and the course looks crazy and muddy.

Here's a glimpse at the race from last year:

It sounds fun and I am excited, but a bit nervous, too.

2. It's not been a good week for working out and eating properly. I think I only had chips for dinner two nights in a row, and I haven't run at all or biked to work even once. Ugh. I still haven't missed a day of a my two April Challenges, though. Yay for that, I guess. :)

3. Jeff and I are working on an exciting project. I don't want to say too much about it until we finish it and can show off our hard work, but trust me, it's really exciting! At least to us. Once we've finished, it will be public, and you'll all be able to check it out. In the meantime, it's really consuming most of our free time.

How's your week going?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

1st Week in Review - April

Since Feb and March were pretty much flops for me, I actually made some goals for April. Goals without accountability are often lost of deaf ears, so I decided to, at least for April, do a quick review post on Sundays.

So far so good on my two challenges. I haven't missed a single day. Though there was that one day that I almost forgot about the 50 at 50 Challenge.

Yesterday's 50 at 50 exercise was calf raises. They didn't seem so bad until I tried to walk this morning. At least the scenery was pretty.

I successfully ran 3x this week, though not on the days I'd hoped. I did some speed work on Wednesday morning and I wanted to die. I ran my slowest 5K in forever Friday night after work and I wanted to die. I ran 8.8 miles today and my phone wanted to die. Actually my phone did die, Well, it didn't actually die, it just decided to spontaneously restart. and it made me want to cry. Mostly because it meant that the 8 CharityMiles I ran didn't register. *sad face*

And finally, I wanted to ride my bike to work at least 3 times a week. I really tried to make this goal, but I only ended up biking twice. That said, I did bike to the thrift store yesterday, so that kind of counts, right?

The Break-down

Monday, 4/1
  • Cardio - high knees, butt kickers, jumping jacks, burpees, jogging in place, squat jumps
  • Arms & Abs Challenge - 25 crunches, 25 scissors, 50 crossover crunches
  • 50 at 50 Challenge - 50 squats
  • Commute to/from work
Tuesday, 4/2
  • 50 jumping jacks
  • Arms & Abs Challenge - 15 bicep curls, 15 tricep extensions, 15 hammer curls, 15 tricep kickbacks
  • 50 at 50 Challenge - 50 push-ups
Wednesday, 4/3
  • Speedwork (treadmill) - 2.92 miles. Intervals at 6.5 and 8.4 speeds
  • Arms & Abs Challenge - 60 second plank grouping (center, side, center, other side) 2x
  • 50 at 50 Challenge - 50 sec plank
  • Commute to/from work
Thursday, 4/4
  • 25 jumping jacks
  • Arms & Abs Challenge - 10 pushups, 20 front arm raises, 20 lateral arm raises, 20 side bent arms raises
  • 50 at 50 Challenge - 50 high knees (each leg)
Friday, 4/5
  • 5 by the 5th Virtual Race (5K)
  • Arms & Abs Challenge - Banana rolls. Hold each direction 5-10 seconds. Roll for 2 min. Complete 2x.
  • 50 at 50 Challenge - 50 dorsal raises
Saturday, 4/6
  • Biked to/from the thrift store. 9.22 miles.
  • Arms & Abs Challenge - 10 push-ups every hour from 4pm to 9pm
  • 50 at 50 Challenge - 50 calf raises
Sunday, 4/7
  • Ran 8.8 miles
  • Arms & Abs Challenge - REST
  • 50 at 50 Challenge - 50 second tree pose (each leg)

How's your April turning out? What did you do this weekend?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy April!

Happy April! It's a Monday, the start of a new month, and the first day of Q2. It can't be anything but a great day, right?!

As I mentioned in yesterday's March in Review post, my fitness 2013 goals have really been slipping the past two months.


I'm starting two fitness challenges.


The first one is a challenge I attempted last April. I don't think I made it more than a week or two, so I'm hoping to have better stick-with-it-ness this year. :)

The second challenge is one I convinced +Jeff to do with me. I'm excited to have a challenge to work together on. Hopefully we'll be able to encourage and motivate each other to complete this successfully. Together.

In addition to these to challenges, I'd like to run 3x each week. I'd like to do some kind of speed work on Tuesdays, run 3-6 miles on Thursdays, and run 8-12 miles on Saturdays. The long distances on Saturdays are a little ambitious, but hopefully by the end of the month, I'll be where I want to be.

Lastly, I'd like to bike a minimum of 3 days each week to work. Ideally, I'd like to bike every work day, but I'm trying to be realistic. So, here's to biking at least 13x!!

What do you have planned for April?