Ragnar Cape Cod: #wheremybeachesat

12 women. 2 vans. 192 miles from Hull, MA to the tip of Cape Cod. 30 hours. This is Ragnar Cape Cod!IMG_8967

Back in the fall, my running buddy M told me about this crazy 2 day relay race and asked if I wanted to help get a team together to do it. So for the past few months we’ve been recruiting, planning, and training hard to get our fabulous team off the ground. Check out that good lookin’ group of badass ladies!

IMG_8964The concept/logistics of a Ragnar are a little bit hard to wrap your head around until you’ve done one, but the idea is that you have a team of 12 runners split up into two vans. Everyone in the first van runs, handing off at designated checkpoints, and then they head to eat/rest while the six runners in the second van each take a turn. The vans leapfrog the runners to make sure the next runner is ready for the hand-off at each exchange. IMG_8955This is repeated until each runner has gone 3 times. When the process is over, there has constantly been someone running for 30-ish hours and the team has covered around 200 miles. Individual legs vary between 2.5 and 10.5 miles, with the total mileage per runner ranges from 12-22 miles. Got it? No worries… neither did I about a week ago!

I have to say, I had some skepticism about this race. I usually don’t love “gimmicky” races like obstacle courses or themed events like the color run, but Ragnar was a blast! A smelly, sleep deprived blast. Here’s how my 17.5 miles went down over the course of the two days.

IMG_8886Leg One: Friday at 5:30 p.m., 4.84 miles across the Bourne Bridge. As runner number 12, I was the last person on our team to tackle their first leg. I was pretty antsy to get started, since I had been cheering on my teammates since the morning, and despite the humidity and fog I happily sped off along the banks of the Cape Cod Canal. Most of my legs had been classified as “hard” since the van couldn’t drive next to me, but I liked doing some of the running solo on bike paths and trails. I took a quick and weird spin through a trailer park and scooted past traffic and up and over the bridge–officially entering the cape! I finished at an 8:15 average pace just as the raindrops began to fall.

First handoff!
First handoff!

After leg one, our team had a few hours of break time, so we did some googling and beelined it to Bobby Bryne’s in Mashpee for dinner. Having eaten peanut butter sandwiches and granola bars all day, we were thrilled to be indoors and eating a full meal. After a pit stop for blister supplies, we drove to a local high school to get a couple of hours of sleep before we started running again. Most of us had barely drifted off when we had to don our reflective gear and head back into the van to begin our rainy, nighttime legs around 11 p.m.

Night runs. Safety first!
Night runs. Safety first!

Leg Two: Saturday at 2:30 a.m., 3.15 miles in Harwich. Being runner 12 came in handy for my night run, since the rain had mostly let up by the time I started. As required, I pulled on my reflective vest, headlamp, and taillight before taking off down a quiet street. It was pretty eerie running in the dark, especially since part of my route was along a pitch-black bike path. I ran with a couple of other ladies for part of the leg and then passed them (in Ragnar parlance we call people you pass “kills,” short for roadkills). I wanted to get the leg over with ASAP! As I was nearing the handoff point, I heard my teammates yelling and pointing at one of the runners I had passed, who was speeding towards me and gaining on me. Somehow my sleep-addled brain clicked into competitive gear and I yelled “OH HELL NO!” and sprinted towards the exchange. You know, it’s not about winning… until sometimes it is 😉 I finished the short leg at an 8:19 average pace.

At this point, we were all really ready to crash, so we headed into the local high school gym, rinsed off in the showers, and then attempted to get some shut-eye. Despite ending up next to one of the loudest snorers I’ve ever heard (how is it that those people don’t wake themselves up???) I shoved in my earplugs and passed out for a couple of hours. At 5 a.m. my teammates gently shook me awake and we waited in a long, smelly Dunkin’ Donuts line before getting ready to begin our final legs.

Cape MapLeg Three: Saturday at 11:00 a.m., 9.5 miles from Truro to Provincetown. The weather Saturday was gorgeous–75+ degrees and clear and sunny. While cheering my teammates on during their last legs, I focused on getting in as much hydration as I could (btw, I highly recommend unflavored Nuun tablets). The run, as expected, was incredibly beautiful (this is literally the very end of the Cape, and most of my run was right along the water) but the sun was unrelenting–I didn’t have any shade the entire time. IMG_8963Despite being sleep-deprived and warm, this run was amazing–SO scenic, and the best part was that my entire team joined in to run through the finish line together. I managed to wrap up this leg up with an 8:46 average pace.

So would I do it again? You’re damn right I would. I loved the challenge, adrenaline, and camaraderie of the event–running can be such a mental struggle when you’re all on your own, and I can’t say enough about the team aspect of the event. In fact, team #wheremybeachesat loved it so much that we’re aiming for another race in the fall–click here to vote for our photo and help us with a free trip to the Adirondacks race! There were definitely a lot of lessons learned, too–keep an eye out for a future post on what I would do differently next time. Off to rest up before the Harpoon 5 miler this weekend!

Looking forward to the next one!
Looking forward to the next one!

Spring classic 5K race recap and other updates

Thank you all again for your support last week. By way of an update, Ari is still feeling a bit under the weather but is back home and on the mend. If you want the full story direct from the source, you can check out his blog post here.

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Ragnar-arians!

A few months back, I signed up for what I’m pretty sure was my first 5K in 4 years. I generally find it hard to justify dropping $40+ on less than 30 minutes of exercise. But there was some peer pressure involved and I decided to sign up a couple of months ago, figuring it would be a good test to see if the speed training I’ve been doing would pay off in a shorter race. I’m going to spoil the end of the story by saying that I hit the fastest splits I’ve ever managed in a race and finished in 21:45 (a PR for sure!), averaging exactly 7-minute miles and coming in 34th out of 2,252 female racers. While I’m really proud of my time, this race didn’t feel great and here’s what I think happened. I’m going to entitle this next section…

Struggle city.
Struggle city.

How NOT to run a 5K!

  1. Definitely plan your race on a busy, stressful weekend: Friday and Saturday nights of this weekend were my family’s annual Passover seders, which are SO much fun but they involve late nights, wine, and heavy food.
  2. Be sure not to drink enough water before the race: Passover food is not only heavy but it’s also really salty, and Sunday morning I was too groggy to be focused on hydrating as much as I should have been. All of a sudden, the race was starting and my mouth was so dry and sticky I don’t think I swallowed once during the 22-ish long minutes I was running.
  3. Be sure to freak out as much as possible before the race starts: On top of everything else, the fact that I was in shape and the conditions were perfect led me to a full-on internal freak out about having to run this thing super duper fast.
  4. Start cold and go out too fast: Despite the fact that I wasn’t feeling awesome and hadn’t warmed up at all, I still got really excited and ran my first mile as if I was feeling 100% (6:38). Positive splits FTW…
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So! It worked out ok in the end. And the race was really fun–it’s actually part of a series of 5Ks on a relatively flat course starting and ending near Central Square. Super extra fun bonuses on this one–lots of friends at the start and finish lines, my brother came out to cheer with his cowbell (thanks, Ari!) and my friend K ran her first race ever! Such a rockstar!!!

I actually ended up going for an easy 5 miler later in the day since I hadn’t gotten my long run in yet, and that felt great. It was my first time doing two runs in a day! Also, I think this is supposed to be something you do when you’re training for a Ragnar…? Three weeks and counting (eek!)

Hyannis Half Marathon 2016 Recap

Happy Monday! I’m resting up after a great race day at this year’s Hyannis Half Marathon. I signed up for the race on a whim after last year’s was canceled due to the apocalyptic snow, and I couldn’t be happier that I did. The conditions were perfect–sunny and in the mid-40s with the only downside being some strong wind off the ocean.

J and I drove down the night before the race and treated ourselves to a hotel room–nothing like a solid night’s sleep before a race in a cozy king-size bed! IMG_8410The race doesn’t start til 10 (hurrah for winter running), so I got to sleep in and chow down on my favorite pre-run bread with peanut butter and banana before we scooted out the door around 9am. We took a quick swing by Marylou’s (seriously the yummiest flavored coffees) and then were at the Cape Code Resort and Conference Center a few minutes later. The parking lots were full but all convenient to the start, and the registration area was also packed but decently easy to navigate. There’s no bag check, just like at the Harwich Half, so luckily J was able to grab my last minute layers as I headed out to the race.IMG_8411

My brother A, who running Boston this year after re-qualifying at last year’s race, decided to come down and use the race as his long training run and offered to pace me. I was hoping to PR so he and I decided we would aim for a 1:40 finish as a reach goal, while I assumed I would drop back and aim for a 1:45. After squeezing our way into the 8:00 minute corral, we were off! The course runs along shared/open roads, but there were plenty of volunteers to keep things running smoothly. Especially considering the half, full, relay, and 10k all share the the same course, this was super impressive!

A took this picture so that I could see what the start looked like. #shortpeopleproblems
A took this picture so that I could see what the start looked like. #shortpeopleproblems

I didn’t take any photos while I was running since we were maximizing time and pace, but there were some gorgeous views of the ocean and pretty rolling hills throughout the local neighborhoods.

Thanks to A’s expert pacing and patient encouragement, we kicked things off with a few 7:30 miles and were able to keep that pace up pretty much throughout the race, with a few slightly slower miles in the middle when the wind was really strong. It was definitely a challenging pace for me to maintain, but I think the speedwork I’ve done over the past few months really paid off. IMG_8421

Despite having to drag myself mentally through the last few miles, I really feel like I left it all out there and was thrilled to hit a new PR of 1:40:27, which brought me in 36th in my division! It’s nuts to me to think that just a few years back I ran my first half in 2:15. Guess race number 8 (my lucky number) did the trick!

IMG_8430After the race we grabbed some snacks and drinks (there was a nice selection bananas were the only GF edible option) and then returned to the hotel for hot showers before lunch. I’ve never gotten a hotel room for a race before and it felt super duper luxurious–despite the fact that it didn’t have the hot tub I was hoping for. Ah, well. After a quick stop by Palio Pizzeria in Hyannis (highly recommend for gluten eaters and non-gluten eaters) we were back in the car for the easy drive back home.

My favorite spectator :)
My favorite spectator 🙂

Overall, this was a great race experience and the conditions could not have been better–judging from my Facebook feed, there were PRs happening for lots of my running friends. Can’t wait to be back on the Cape soon for my first Ragnar in May!

Now, off to spend some quality time with my foam roller…

Leah

Treat Yourself Tuesday: Tufts 10K for Women Race Recap

I know what you’re thinking–really, your weekly treat was a 10k?? Nope! I’m not that crazy–races are tough, but this one was filled with new-to-me before and after treats I’m psyched to share. Here’s a recap of my treatful race day! (And click here to read Becky’s fabulous blog and learn more about #treatyourselftuesday.)

  • 9:00 a.m. Wake up. A race that doesn’t start before 8:00am? HURRAH!
  • 9:30 a.m. Make pancakes. I tried this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie and they were amazing! Cakey, not too sweet–yum. Excuse the weird color due to the fact that I used frozen blueberries. Do not excuse the banana slices and generous maple syrup drizzle. Yum!image (3)
  • 11:15 a.m. Arrive at my friend R’s apartment to pin on bib numbers and tag team over to the race. In-depth discussion of outfit options. Change into tank top.
  • 11:50 a.m. Wedge my way into the crowd at the 8:00 min/mile corral. Figure I can drop back when I need to.
  • 12:00 p.m. We’re off!! Pass lots of people at the beginning and wonder whether they quite understand what the 8:00 min/mile corral means.
  • 12:15 p.m. Feeling good, feeling speedy! I don’t have any timing devices on but I’m pushing a medium hard pace.
  • 12:20 p.m. Someone is yelling my name. Clearly there must be another Leah. Someone yells my name again. My brother came over from his office and is cheering me on! Well, by cheering, he’s mostly just yelling at me to go faster.
  • 12:20-12:30 p.m. More “encouragement”–he paces me around the halfway mark (in jeans, mind you) and points out girls I should try to pass. Lots of cell phone pictures ensue. Take down a couple of speedy ladies. Peer pressure FTW.

    Oh hey Boston!
    Oh hey Boston!
  • 12:30 p.m. Damn you side cramp! SO close to finishing! Take teeny tiny walk break and attempt to breathe.
  • 12:40 p.m. Pick it back up and haul it on home. High five Joan Benoit Samuelson! Finish in 49:46 with an average pace of 7:51–my fastest average in a race ever, by 8 seconds!!

    Stolen photo alert.
    Stolen photo alert. My favorite part is the girl giving me the stank eye.
  • 1:00 p.m. Load up on free treats which are ALL GLUTEN FREE. I was so happy I had to arrange them into a smiley face when I got home 🙂

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  • 1:30 p.m. Find my speedy friends.
  • 2:00 p.m. Wrap it up with a Sweetgreen salad. I was too hungry to stop for a pic, but their new menu is fabulous. I had the Harvest Bowl with added brussels sprouts… om nom.

Overall, this was a great race! It attracts a nice range of runners, so there’s a spot for everyone. The course is flat and fast, and the event is well organized–nice t-shirts, lots of water stops, good food at the end, etc. If you’re looking for a challenge beyond a 5k, this is a great one to start with. Keep an eye out for next year’s race at here!

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PRs all around for these gals! Fun fact: I am the only person in this photo who is not a future doctor.

Have you ever run a 10k? Or an all-women’s race? Hope you had some great treats this week!

Leah