I Can Finally Call Myself a Trail Runner #RagnarTrailRVA Recap

Monday: 7m interval (12 x 200s average pace 5:30)
Tuesday: Crossfit, 8.5m easy 7:47/pace
Wednesday: 6m easy 8:47/pace

If you don’t know what a Ragnar is, take a look at my blog or head over to their website and check it out. Basically it’s a 24ish hour relay running race. The one and only Ragnar Relay i completed was a point to point course starting in Cumberland, MD and finishing in DC last September. The Ragnar Trail events are different because you camp in one location and teammates go out one at a time and cover the same trail loops.

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Our Trail Ragnar was at Pocahontas State Park in Richmond, VA. The first of my three legs started at 10:00pm Friday night. For someone who isn’t an avid trail runner, who never runs at night, I was both nervous and excited. I had to survive the first leg to make it through the weekend. Don’t fall and break a bone or get bruised up or roll an ankle. With that in the back of my mind we set up our campsite and got a chance to look around at the merch tents, food trucks, samples of GU and sunscreen. It was so much fun (if you’re a runner!)


Team #85 Pace and Love (4 of these folks did Ragnar DC with me last Sept) Jeremy, Austin, Tommy, Reggie, Steve, me and Stacey

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The trail Ragnar series is cool because you can relax, rest and use a bathroom at the campsite. During the point-to-point course there’s a lot of waiting around, port-o-potties, smelly vans and no sleep happening. The camping added a very fun and relaxing element to the race.


photo cred: Stacey Hooker, one of our teammates

Do you guys see the signs for S’mores and coffee? We definitely ate smores, but I brought my own cold brew coffee. Take that as a professional tip the next time you camp: if the weather is 90+ humidity, bring cold brew in the cooler.

Time flew, and our first runner took off around 3:30pm Friday. I had so much down time and was antsy, but with walking around, a power nap and eating dinner, the sun went down and I headed to the finish line to wait at the exchange tent.


Finish chute & exchange tent in daylight (photo: Stacey H.)

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camp at night

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Reggie & Austin

When it was finally time to start, I kept repeating to myself to take my time, don’t do anything stupid on the first leg and to run with quick feet. I forgot how running at night heightens the senses. I felt lit up for those 5ish miles. There was so much to pay attention to on trails, let alone in the dark with only a headlamp giving way to several feet in front of you. Rocks, roots, ups, downs, wooden bridges, twisting and turning paths, trying not to miss the appropriate colored trail signage, it all was happening at once and it was entirely exhilarating. I felt alive, I felt renewed, I felt like the only thing that mattered was the run I was in, the next place my foot was landing and the breath I was taking.

You can’t put a price on that. That kind of running is everything.


tiki torches lit up the chute (photo: Stacey H.)

After my leg I stretched out in the REI area, they had foam rollers and rolling sticks for runners to use. Then i went back to camp to rehydrate, eat, sleep and get ready to do it all over again.

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“Runner” capris – 73 Threads! 


Our captain: Stacey @runtobefree10


Stacey & I are on Team Nuun, so you know we #stayhydrated right.

Saturday kinda flew by. I ran my 2nd leg around 6am and my 3rd at 2pm. I was happy with my trail running. I kept a 9:30/pace on all legs despite difficulty level, which made me happy the effort was there for the consecutive runs.

I had a funny moment happen on the 2nd leg when I was passing another female runner and saying “on your left” I caught a glimpse of her face and this happened:

Me: I know you but I don’t know your name, what’s your instagram handle?
Her: Gratitude and Grit! (@gratitude_grit)
Me: Yes! I follow you, i knew you looked familiar, i’m @Shesgoingforspeed !
G&G: Oh yeah!! I follow you too! Have a great run!
*Still don’t know real names haha

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Did i mention this was a hot hot hot race? Even though I ran at night, it was so hot and humid i poured buckets of sweat. Like I said, Nuun came in handy. The 3rd leg was about surviving the heat, I walked uphill as I needed but finished strong to handoff to our last runner, Steve. Once I was done, I rejoined our people and waited for him to finish so we could get medals.


Mike, Austin, Reggie, Stacey, Stacey (yes we had 2) and Jeremy


Team Pace & Love finish photo



The amazing medal multi-tool!


And last but not least, I jumped in a car and headed to St. Mary’s, MD to run a half the next morning. Like I said, this weekend was about endurance survival, not a PR. And to salute that idea I had to wear this shirt all morning:

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If I thought the shady, breezy trails were hot and humid, I didn’t know what was coming on the black asphalt with the sun beating down on me. Another hot run done and lots of weekend miles. Not much to say about the historic St. Mary’s 1/2 other than I’m happy my calves warmed up (at mile 8) and i’m glad my head is in the right place for distance training. One foot in front of the other was the challenge for this 2+ hour run. You read that right. 2:10:53 was how long my beaten up legs took to cross the finish line. But I did it, i’m proud of doing 28.6 miles in 36 hours (especially the trail miles) and ready to start picking more races to …well… race! Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 7.51.54 AM

Did I mention I’m doing the DC Ragnar again this September? hehehehe. I love it!

Last Week

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: legs- front squats 3 x 5 @ 135#, 4m run 9:50/pace
Wednesday: 6m easy 9:45/pace
Thursday: 1 hour Corepower Yoga, 5m run 8:22/pace, Crossfit
Friday: 7m easy 8:50/pace
Saturday: 1 hour upper body (push presses + SA DB Snatches + weighted planks + TRX)
Sunday: Rest

Total Miles: 22 

Do you ever double up races in the same weekend?

Who has a fall half or full marathon on the horizon? Help me pick one!


Fall Racing Schedule!

Tuesday: 7.1m easy 8:38/pace

Wednesday: 8.1m easy 9:10/pace

The days where awful, horrible things happen around the world to innocent people, makes me just want to give up on humanity. It kind of turns my heart to stone and I question the point of trying to be a good person. Turns out, during the bad times is the best time we can try to reach out in our communities, even on the tiniest level. You never know who you can inspire or touch or pay things forward. #Orlando

I can’t tell you enough how happy and excited and surprised I am at the amount of support and donations already coming in for the birthday 50K. So many of you want to run with me and support the National MS Society and i couldn’t be happier. Thank you guys! It’s the little things that make me realize there are way more good people in the world than bad.

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from my run last Saturday morning


It’s freaking summer yo. I’ve upped my mileage for ultra training, but i’m not going to be doing much, if any, speed work until after July 4th. I’ve been base building (upping mileage week to week) since I returned from Colorado almost a month ago. It’s amazing how slowing down pace can help build a solid foundation of miles. In the past if I were to hit a 40+ mile week it was SO difficult, tiring and almost always put me on the verge of an injury. I’m running smart & slowing down to enjoy this phase of training!

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working out in Colorodo

Here’s the fall plan:

  1. Base build until July 4th and use July 4th weekend as a cutback week.
  2. July 5th through mid August throw in 1-2 days of speed work in each week.
  3. Saturday, August 13th run a 50K for MS for my birthday (tentative date! What does everyone think of running on a Saturday?)
  4. Recover the week of my birthday and take another cutback week.
  5. Start marathon training for Philadelphia Marathon (again tentative, but i’m leaning way toward it.)
  6. September 11th – The Parks Half Marathon. It’s the same local one that starts in Rockville, MD that I ran last year. I’ll use this as a speed gauge.
  7. September 16th-17th My first Ragnar Relay! I will cover 18ish miles in a dirty smelly van and love every second of it!
  8. Take another cutback week after the two weekends of racing.
  9. October 15th- Baltimore Running Festival 1/2 marathon (tentative) I’d like to use this as a hard effort for marathon training.
  10. Run a marathon. (Philly is on Nov. 20th)
  11. Sometime in the fall/early winter take a freaking vacation on a beach. Cameron deserves it after dealing with all of the above ^.
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vacation looks good on him ❤

Solid right? Well not 100%, but i’m so ready to tackle some big races this fall. I feel strong and ready. Planning out cutback weeks will be the only way I can mentally get through so many different types of races.

This is what I do on Thursday mornings and think about late at night. I can’t help it. I love running and dreaming up workouts.

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Is your fall race schedule planned out?