September 20, 2019

Weekend Recap / Race Report: Ragnar Colorado

Weekend of September 13-15

This weekend was a bit of a whirlwind. On Thursday night, I headed straight from the airport to my friend Sarah’s house way down south (do not pass home, do not collect any clean clothes) – we were headed out first thing Friday morning to run a Ragnar Relay from Castle Rock to Fort Collins (about 200 miles)!

I knew a few of the girls on my team – my friend Sarah and her friend Aimee (who I’ve met a few times and who has the most beautiful GSPs to run with!) were in my van, and then my friend Amanda (our captain) and Instagram friend Katrina were in the other van. Katrina and I knew who each other were from taking classes at Fitwall several years ago, where we often ended up on adjacent walls and also doing similar modifications to make the workouts harder. But since then, we started following each other on Instagram, and I discovered that Katrina travels about as much as I do. I was really excited when Amanda told us she had been recruited for our team (it was a last minute change to replace another runner with an injury)! Although I was bummed Katrina and Amanda weren’t going to be in my van, I knew we’d catch up at the finish.

This Ragnar was very different than the others I’ve done. It was a road Ragnar, which usually means you are pretty much in your van for 36 hours straight, including to sleep. (You can guess how little sleeping usually happens when you’re trying to do it upright on the side of a road in a four hour window before you have to get back to running… see my last road Ragnar report here.) But this course seemed tailor made for us. Our van started the race at the park in Castle Rock where I had run the Xterra trail half a few weeks ago, then handed off to the other van in Parker, about 15 minutes from Sarah’s house – so we were able to eat, shower, and relax there before resuming the race in Morrison. From there, we ran through Golden and up to Arvada, handing off around midnight only ten minutes from my house – so we got to go crash in real live beds for five hours before dashing out to resume running in Longmont. This was the cushiest Ragnar schedule ever!

My right calf has been really bugging me lately (some form of shin splints?), so I didn’t know how I would do with the actual running. I’ve been using my SAFR to try to loosen it up, and I also tried swapping out my sneakers for a brand new pair, but I was worried that 15 miles in about 24 hours might be a bit much. Fingers crossed it would all be okay till the end!

Our team kicked off the race at 9:30am – which seemed to be a fairly late start time, as there were only two other teams starting with us. After Taylor and Aimee ran the first two legs, my first leg was from just outside of Castle Rock through Castlewood Canyon – and I lucked out that it was mostly on a dirt road, so kind of trail-like. Looking at the elevation ahead of time on the map, I was expecting it to be a steep downhill for a while, but it turned out to be a much subtler grade than I expected. Still, I kept a solid pace – 7:36 overall average, with 8:16 for the last mile of uphill to the finish.

My calf was the tiniest bit sore during this leg, but not really nagging, and when I was done, I definitely hit it hard with Sarah’s Hypervolt in the van. (I left my SAFR at home since I had too much to pack for the week.)

After our first legs were all done, we headed to Sarah’s house as planned – picking up a few pizzas and salad ingredients along the way. We had about five hours at Sarah’s house, and I used the time to get a little work done, eat / chat with the other girls, and take a quick shower. (I also tried to follow Sarah’s lead in going for a nap, but that didn’t happen – I’m not much of a napper!) Thanks to Sarah’s washer/dryer, we were also able to do a load of laundry, which reduced the stink in the van and also meant that we could wear our custom-made team shirts for multiple legs. Sweet 🙂

Love the bright color of these tanks… they say “Who Run the World?” (our team name) on the front, and then have all our names on the back.

Around 6pm, we headed from Sarah’s house up to Morrison, meeting the rest of the team in a motor speedway parking lot for our exchange with Amanda. By the time she arrived, it was well past sunset; our next legs would be in the dark.

We’ve got all our safety gear on!

My second leg was through the city of Golden – which I thought was a pretty neat leg to have. It started in a parking lot by the highway, then took me up over a hill with views of the School of Mines “M” before descending down to the riverfront right in downtown Golden. I was a little thrown off by a crowd of teenagers clustered around one of the Ragnar wayfinding signs who thought it was funny to intentionally direct me the wrong way (rude!), but was undeterred as I continued in the correct direction.

However, four miles in, I saw several runners ahead of me taking a sharp left around a hairpin turn to head uphill – and even though I didn’t see the sign to turn, I figured they must know what they were doing. I passed one, then another, then another, and finally caught up to a guy taking another right turn onto a side street. This one definitely wasn’t marked, so I asked him, “Hey, you sure we’re going the right way?” “Oh,” he replied, “I’m not racing anymore; I’m just on my way home.” OMG! I was so annoyed. Thanks to the hairpin turn, he had definitely seen us all following him up the hill; I was really frustrated he hadn’t thought tell someone ten minutes ago that he wasn’t on the race course and was doing his own thing. Instead, I headed back down the hill, calling out to the other runners making their way up that they were going the wrong way and needed to turn around. We ran about an extra half mile here (with a steep uphill, no less); however, my consolation prize was that this hill is a Strava segment and I took 10th place overall (of all time) on it 🙂

The last mile of that second leg proceeded without incident – it still wasn’t very well-marked to guide the way, but I got out the Ragnar app on my phone to direct me, and then felt more confident. And while I texted my team to let them know I had gotten lost and would be later than expected, after finishing, they pointed out that I actually finished right when I predicted – even with an extra half mile added in! I surprised myself by being much faster than expected on this leg (8:12/mile average, where I had predicted 8:45); now I just hoped it would hold for my final leg the next morning.

After my second leg finished, I was worried I’d be too jazzed to sleep. I didn’t envy Sarah, our last runner, who had to transition right from running to bedtime! But with a few runners in between, I was good and tired when we arrived at my house, and after settling everyone in, I slept pretty well for about 4.5 hours. No, not quite enough sleep, but far more than I’ve gotten in most other Ragnars! And I even managed to rinse off quickly in the shower before we jetted out the door in the morning – meaning I felt surprisingly fresh and clean for my sunrise run in Longmont at 6:30am.

This third leg ended up being my favorite one of the race. There was a bit of a snafu with the handoff – I was having some stomach issues and hit the porta potty for a while after we arrived at the exchange, but came out with plenty of time to spare. However, right when Aimee was due in, I realized I didn’t have my Flipbelt to store my phone – so I started heading back to the van to grab it. I hadn’t gone more than ten steps when the Ragnar announcer called our number, which meant Aimee was closing in on the finish. I sprinted to the van, tore apart my bag to find the Flipbelt, and then sprinted back to the exchange without even taking the time to close the van door. Well, good thing – I sprinted up just as Aimee was sprinting in! I didn’t start my watch for a few seconds into my run, and I then had a fun time squirming the fuel belt over my head / shoulders while still running, but I was now on my way with everything I needed 🙂

The first two miles of leg three took me through a park, down some neighborhood sidewalks, and then along a major road – but then I turned off onto a rural road where it was just me, the farms, and the mountains. This was so peaceful and beautiful, and I just loved it!

Photo taken while running (without stopping)… I love the camera on my Pixel 3.

I set a goal for myself of passing at least 12 runners, and ended up passing number 15 in my final half mile. Although I had been worried I’d peter out (especially with my bad calf), this leg ended up being almost exactly the same pace as my first leg (7:37/mile vs 7:36/mile), which I was pretty proud of. Turns out I still have some speed!

When Craig and I broke up, I went through a really dark period for a few weeks; then things got much better, and I got back to normal for about a month. However, the last week or two, I’ve found myself getting stressed out by little things that shouldn’t be all that stressful, and wondering why. At the same time, I’ve noticed that I’m not at all confident in my running abilities, and feeling like I really suck… but when I actually go out and put some metrics to it, I realize I’m just as strong as I was before. (See: my race report last weekend.) It was actually my Ragnar teammate Katrina who pointed out to me via Instagram about a week ago that it might be that my confidence was shaken by the break up, and I’ve been mulling that over ever since.

In general, I feel like my confidence is definitely down a notch lately in many aspects of my life – from friends, to workouts, to my jobs as a consultant and as a town trustee. On Sunday morning after the race, I was listening to the Jillian Michaels podcast and she was talking to someone having a midlife crisis at 40, but her advice sounded like a good idea for anyone: start keeping a time log (which is advice from Laura Vanderkam I’ve wanted to take up anyway), and note the activities that make you happy versus those that don’t. Then, identify the common themes in the activities that make you happy. I think this is an exercise I really need to do for myself, as lately some of the things I think will make me really happy don’t, and vice versa. I definitely don’t want to be that friend who bails on plans after committing to them, so I need to get more clear ahead of time on what I really want to do vs what’s going to feel like an obligation.

On that note, if I’m being honest, while I had fun running Ragnar, I think it probably fell under the category of “something I signed up for ahead of time that ended up feeling like an obligation.” I was grateful to get to meet so many new friends who also love running, and I think a few of the friendships will bloom into real ones that extend beyond the Ragnar experience. But, I also think I just don’t love doing Ragnars. The individual legs aren’t timed, so it doesn’t feel like it matters how fast I go (although our team did end up winning first all-female team, which was pretty cool!); meanwhile, 17 miles broken up into three separate runs isn’t far enough to be a distance challenge either.

I did really love running by this beautiful pond at the end of my third leg… gave me so much joy! But I could get that outside of a Ragnar just by doing regular running in Colorado. (I know, I am so lucky to live in such a magical place!)

I think if I were to sign up for a Ragnar again, I’d like to do it with a team that is being really competitive and treating it as a race, or as part of an ultra team (where each person covers at least six legs rather than just three). We saw a support van that was decorated with the words “Yup, just two!” – meaning there were only two runners splitting the 200 mile relay! Of course that’s slightly easier when you split the legs up rather than doing 100 miles all in one shot, but I wouldn’t kid myself that I could do a two person Ragnar 🙂 However, I do think it could be cool to try doing a Ragnar as a four person race – 50 miles sounds like a good challenge but still achievable.

Anyway! At the end of this Ragnar, we were all still excited by what we had achieved as a team – even the logistics of running a Ragnar aren’t all that easy. And our finish line was right next door to New Belgium Brewing, which meant we could toast some beers in the Colorado sunshine in celebration of our accomplishment 🙂

Sarah also clued me into the fact that if you do multiple Ragnars in a year, you get extra medals (“double whammy”, “triple crown”) – but you have to know to pick them up. I didn’t do so at Ragnar Snowmass, so I got a TON of bling at the end of this race 🙂

I hopped in a shared Uber back down from Fort Collins with two of my teammates, jumping out about halfway to catch my own Uber home from there since they were going all the way south of Denver to Sarah’s house. But my brewery experience wasn’t over for the night just because I was home; after a quick shower and cleanup, I was off to Four Noses Brewery to celebrate my best friend Heather’s birthday. It was a blast, and while the temperatures had been summer-like all day, Four Noses was actually serving pumpkin beers and had some Oktoberfest celebrations going on – super fun!

The next morning, though, all the beer (and the abundance of snacks I couldn’t resist in the van) meant that I woke up ready to run again. Heather, our other friend Kelly, and I had signed up for a free grand opening class at Shred415 in Boulder, but I decided I wanted to hit the trails beforehand for a little something extra. I couldn’t decide between a run and a walk, so split the difference by doing the Fowler Trail up Rattlesnake Gulch – hike / run up, and then run down. It was beautiful!

Starting the trail… I was totally lazy and walked most of this, even though the road is smooth as butter.
I was running late (ha) and didn’t have much time at the top, but I did snap this pic and think “ooh look, way down there is where I’m heading for class afterward!”

My calf was definitely bugging me on the way up, but it eased up on the way down. What on earth is up with it?! I hope it eases up soon.

This is one of my favorite parts of the way down – I feel like I’m peeking through the trees into a magical land!

At Shred415, though, my calf shockingly didn’t hurt at all, even though the workout was pretty intense. I’d like to try a few more classes before I really comment on what I thought of Shred415, but the weights section seemed to be really power/cardio focused rather than pure strength (weights only went up to 15 pounds at each spot, and we did lots of burpees / etc rather than straight up weights). Meanwhile, the treadmill portion seemed to be designed like only the “power” days at Orangetheory – lots of sprints but not much in the way of sustained running. That sounds like a recipe for disaster with my calf, but it actually felt good – and I surprised myself by burning more calories in the class than I normally do in an Orangetheory class! Impressive – I’ll be checking it out more this weekend.

After class, Heather, Kelly, and I headed to a coffee shop to catch up, and it turned into a bit of a mastermind group as we all shared our best productivity tips / tools, since it seems we’ve all been feeling rather overwhelmed by obligations lately. I shared my new Rocketbook notebook with them (you scan the pages with your smartphone and they can port directly to Evernote / OneNote / email / etc; then the pages can be erased and reused), and Heather shared a recommendation for a fabulous housekeeper I’m now working to schedule. I’ve never had a housekeeper before, always doing all my chores myself, but I’m starting to think it would be worth it to outsource some of the chores I always procrastinate on because I don’t like doing them (ugh to cleaning baseboards).

And speaking of chores… Heather, Kelly, and I made a pact that before we saw each other next, we’d each take one step toward outsourcing something, and also do one thing we’ve been putting off. For me, that was stopping by Home Depot on the way home to get pricing / details for installing a storm door on the front of my house. I have a tiny gap between the door and the doorframe that weatherstripping won’t close, and I know I’ve been losing energy for years by not getting it fixed! I had an estimate years ago to fix the crooked doorframe, but was told that it involved literally knocking down / rebuilding the front of my house for thousands of dollars… so this would be a much easier fix. (Plus, there’s also a big security advantage to being able to leave a glass door closed when the doorbell rings and I don’t know who it is.)

The rest of my afternoon was consumed with lots of other chores at home – tons of laundry (including six sets of sheets from my Ragnar team the night before), cleaning, catching up on mail / email, and packing for the week. But before my weekend closed out, I had one final fun event: dinner with my friend Chris and her family! They had me over for dinner at their home two weeks before, and while I suggested they come over to my house, they wanted to celebrate the completion of a two week healthy eating (and no drinking) challenge by going out for Mexican and margaritas. Well, twist my arm! 😉 We headed to Tapatio (which we like to jokingly pronounce “tuh-PADDY-oh”), and it was a lovely way to conclude the weekend before my flight out the next morning.

This weekend, I ruminated a lot around how my preferences are evolving around how I like to spend my time. I don’t expect it will be a quick fix, but I want to try to be more intentional about what I try to fit into my weekends. I used to hate having any downtime at all, since it feels like a waste when I have so precious few hours at home (vs traveling for work). But now, I’m realizing I need a mix of unstructured time to do whatever I want by myself (often hiking, trail running, or reading) and activities with friends. Hoping I can find that mix this upcoming weekend!


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