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!


I’m a Ragnarian!

Monday: 10m interval (6 x 1m repeats @ 7:13/p)

Tuesday: Crossfit, 9.5m easy 9:20/pace

Wednesday: Rest


It’s over, but I keep replaying the 30+ hour trip like a favorite movie. I miss it. I miss the people I ran with. I miss the van. I miss running at stupid hours. I miss the pb + j’s. I miss the fun. It was SO MUCH FUN.


VAN 2: Nick, Jennifer, me, Normailed, Steve, Jill

I didn’t know what I was getting into… I only knew the very basics. It’s a relay (duh) with 12 people split into 2 vans where each person runs three times, and it takes around 30 hours to complete. I did not organize our team. It takes a special kind of person to organize a Ragnar and I can’t thank Normailed and Nick enough for all the coordination, communication and driving for our group.

Our team started the race around 6am on a Friday. We were in Van #2 which didn’t start until about 1pm. Which meant our 6 runners got to sleep in a bit and head out to the first exchange mid-morning. I didn’t get coffee until we arrived at the exchange (Thank you Ragnar for the Dunkin Donuts coffee. I needed it soooo bad). I got several cups (these were tiny) and finally I felt more social and ready to run!


However it wasn’t my turn. I was runner 11. There’s a lot of waiting around for your turn to run during a relay. Once our first runner got going we filled the van and headed up the road to cheer him on.


We had a BLAST with the windows down, cowbell ringing, hooting at the runners. Oh our van name was the Hustlin’ Hookers. It got a lot of attention. I mean Steve. Steve got a lot of attention.


When you’re on deck time flies! Making sure you have all your running gear together, bib attached and final trips to the bathroom are key and need to be timed right. The runners head into an exchange chute, slap a bracelet on your arm and you take off.


The exchange: all of us waiting for our runner, Jennifer to come in


My first leg was easy compared to most of my teammates who were scaling mountains. It was a super flat, five mile dirt trail. I packed my running outfits in separate ziplock storage bags which is recommended since it keeps everything organized and also gives you a bag to throw sweaty clothes in once you’re done. file_009

I took off around 5pm and my legs flew. I figured this would be my fastest segment just because I was waiting around anxious to run all day. As soon as I finished, i felt relieved from all the nerves and was finally able to relax and enjoy the experience. Which was basically talking about running, describing your leg of the run and how you felt, cheering on other runners, watching people run, watching runners having fun and interacting with complete strangers who also obsess over running.


At one point we were driving by runners I blurted out, “I love running so much I would marry it.” I felt dumb for like 2 seconds then everyone agreed. Being completely immersed in running for solid hours at a time was so much fun we all would marry running. Til death do us part. Or at least until we get tired enough to try and get some sleep. Sleep was tough. I think we all slept 2 hours–at the most.


Food wasn’t as scarce as I thought it would be. I always pack my own, but I panic if i don’t know where or when my next meal is coming from! Luckily our van had a great captain with excel spreadsheets galore so everyone had different things to bring. Our van was stacked with plenty of sandwich makings, protein bars, veggie platters, water, Nuun and Gatorade. There was an exchange at a gas station with a nice deli, another exchange at a school offering a spaghetti dinner (and showers which we took advantage of) and yet another exchange on a farm with bbq and burgers!file_007

We also got a chance to sit down at an ihop and order a meal. Bottomless coffee never tasted so good!


Every runner in our van was most nervous about the night running. Myself included. I just didn’t want to do anything stupid like miss a turn or trip.


Under Ragnar rules you have to run with a headlamp, tail light and a reflective vest. My leg started after Steve’s (check out those thigh highs!) and it started in a whirl–I was waiting in line for the bathroom and he was already finishing so I missed my chance for the bathroom and started running at 4:30am for my longest leg. 9.1m and 700ft of elevation.


Running at night was much more fun than i expected. The runners looked like fireflies dancing along the road’s shoulder and the pitch black was sort of exhilarating in a –don’t fall, don’t die, don’t lose the person in front of you –kind of way.

I ran my last leg of the day with Jill in the Bethesda/Chevy Chase area. It was fun because it was familiar and it was even more fun to run with someone. Plus we kept each other going even though it was clear our legs were getting tired.


The last day went by too fast. Each of us were running our final legs, excited to be done, sad to be finished. I didn’t want the weekend to end. I even thought about running an extra leg with Nick, but at the last minute decided against it because my right arch started cramping. Running 3 times in 20 hours is a lot. My final mileage was 21 for the trip.


Nick was our anchor, and we headed to Navy Yard to have a beer and wait for him to finish so we could all cross the line together.


Already reminiscing over the good times…


I’m excited that I get to cross Ragnar off my never ending race list, but I can’t imagine that being my one and only. I loved the whole race and loved the runner bonds I’ve made with great people. Now, go find yourself a group of strangers in a van to run a Ragnar with. And make sure to pick a van with candy…

Last Week

Monday: 7m easy 9:50/pace

Tuesday: 8m interval (3 x 1m repeats 6:40, 6:37, 6:35), Crossfit

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 11m MGP tempo ( 8m @ 7:50/p), Crossfit

Friday: 6m easy 8:47/p

Saturday: 10m easy 9:00/p, 10 to 1 workout (65# push press + 135# deadlift)

Sunday: 10m easy 9:31/p

Total Miles: 52

Ever run a Ragnar or relay race?

What is your favorite race distance or type of race? (marathon, obstacle, color run, ragnar etc)


Future Future Goals

Monday: 30 min core

Tuesday: 50 bodyweight dips, 100 alternating rows (40lb cable)

Wednesday: 5m easy 8:40/pace

Thursday: 5 miles, 6 X 400s @ 6:00/pace, recovery @ 10:00/pace

Alright, it’s that time to solidify some real goals. After a few days of a fever (i’m a 5 year old) and lounging in pjs, my only goal was to watch as many movies as possible… I’m now ready to begin this year and start attacking goals!

Sub 20:00 5k

Whenever I hit a sub 7 mile, a puppy is born. Wouldn’t it be great if more puppies were born?? Sorry, caffiene’s hitting me hard right now —I want to run fast and I like to run fast. It’s been a long year of slow easy miles, so i’m ready to tackle a completely different style of training and mileage. Lauren @ The Foodie Runner challenged her readers not only to set goals, but also come up with a plan for how to get there.

Most people who walk in the gym this week will want to lose 20 lbs or whatever, but the second you ask them how they plan to do it, they get stumped. Or say “i’m gonna do cardio and maybe a class or two”<—Not good enough!

Having a plan or someone to help with that plan is sooooo important. It’s like going on a road trip without a map or a gps, ridiculous right? So don’t chance it with your goals this year. Ask me questions! Or head over to Lauren’s page and have her coach you for a specific race.

Sub 1:30 1/2 Marathon

How am I going to meet these time goals? I’m following the Ultimate Runner program for an entire year to see what changes occur in my running life. I’ve learned so much over the last few years from blogs, Lauren, my own trial and error and I’m ready to take everything I learned and put it into a program that makes a lot of sense for me and my schedule.

I plan on focusing solely on the 5k until summer. I’ll still do long runs and i’ll have a race or two during the next 6 months that aren’t the 5k distance, but my efforts will all be geared toward getting faster. I’m going to try running a 5k once per month to give myself ample opportunities to succeed and get used to racing! Im hoping that as my speed and racing skills improve, by fall i’ll feel more confident going into the half marathon training and aim for a huge goal.


after 400s. First time since the marathon doing a real speed workout!

Complete 5 Consecutive Pull Ups

Last year I focused on doing body weight dips, which now, i’m pretty comfortable with, but pull ups are still such a hard exercise! I’m using the pull up assist machine and doing jumping pull ups, where you jump up and grab the bar then focus on the deceleration (or the negative). I’m definitely getting stronger, but i’m still far from being able to complete a set!

timed flex arm hang (not pull ups, but still tough!)

timed flex arm hang (not pull ups, but still tough!)

Travel More

I don’t have specific places I want to visit, I just want to go, explore, run, eat, drink and be merry! There’s too much of this world (and country!) I have yet to see, I’m open for anything this year.

Visit & Review Breweries

It’s no secret I love good beer, especially ones that are hard to get. I figure that when i travel I also want to try out the local brews and since I have a blog, review them. Anyone ever watch Brew Dogs? This show makes me incredibly happy, and bonus! the hosts are hilarious and have a sexy accent. I’m pretty sure this show is why I want to travel and visit breweries.


Stress Less, Be Present & Enjoy the Surprises 

I’ve talked about this before, last year was Stress Fest 14′ and I was the main event. The worst part was that I never asked for any help with the stress, I assumed I had to handle much of everything myself and tried to control too much. Unfortunately for me, stress leads to depression and depression leads to me living a life without being present. I have many new outlets and healthy ways to cope if I feel overly stressed so this should never get as bad as it was last year. I feel prepared now, but it’s all about practice!

That’s kinda it. It’s a small, but precise list. Fast times, traveling, beer and less stress. Sounds like a good year to me, no?_______________________________________________________

For fun, I want to throw these into the mix so you might know what to expect one day on the ol’ blog. These are Future Future Goals–ones that aren’t going to happen until 2016+. And ones that I daydream about often…

I still want that BQ. A Boston Qualifying time isn’t just about running the Boston course, I really want(ed) to run a fast marathon and I felt 3:30 wasn’t a crazy goal. I still think it’s tangible and when I attempt the distance again, I’m going to shoot for under 3:30.

I want to run a Ragnar Relay, re-lay bad (okay that was a re-lay bad pun. dammit i can’t stop!) I feel like there are enough bloggers in the local area here that we can throw together a pretty fun van full of girls that want to sweat and run together for an obscene amount of miles. I’m talking to you Emmeline, Salt, Lisa.


Iron Man. I think Robert Downey Jr. would agree that being an Iron Man is pretty sick. To finish an Iron Man, just once, would make me feel like a superhero. At least, that’s how I play it in my head.. even though It would probably feel more like greeting death, but as equals, like in the Deathly Hallows. That’s what they should call Iron Man– the Deathly Hallows- Swimming, Biking & Running until your legs fall off. When the 3 are joined together you become the master of death, thus an Iron Man or Woman! Now, how can I make an ironman/harry potter tattoo work…



Do you have a Future Future Goal?