Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Survived

I survived the 2011 Southern California Ragnar race. Our team of 12 successfully ran 202 miles from Huntington Beach to Coronado Island in San Diego.

We flew out all together Thursday afternoon and got settled in in our hotel in Newport Beach. The six of us from our ward left behind our adoring husbands and 24 kids. It was strange to be without all the kiddos so we celebrated our short-lived independence by jumping on the beds a little:

We also had to get our vans ready-each team has 12 people (except for those "ultra" teams that do it with just 6-crazy!), so you divide into two groups of 6 and each group has an 15-seater van that they basically live in for the duration of the race. The ladies in my van were all from my ward and all great gals. Here's the side of our van:

Our team name was "Sea Level is for Sissies", borrowed from the Bolder Boulder (a local 10K) a few years back. The sea level dwellers didn't really care for our name (I can't imagine why) and the few who passed us (did I mention how awesome we were?) made a point of asking us, "So how's sea level feeling now?" Oh well. It was really hot which obviously outweighed any oxygen benefits we may have had.

The night before the race began all 12 of us ate like pigs at the Spaghetti Factory (love that mizithra cheese and the spumoni). Guapo's sister, who lives in the "OC", was kind enough to join us and to listen to all of our pre-race fears and dreams. She's expecting her first baby in 6 weeks or so-the first girl in 10 grand kids!

We got settled in for the night and tried not to think about all the running we would do during the next 24 hours.

In the morning we filled up on breakfast at the hotel and headed out to register. We were the second van, so the other 6 started the race around 7 that morning. Here we are before my first leg (I was runner #7, so I was the first runner of our van)

Because the other van started in Huntington and ran inland, by the time we stared running we were nowhere near the ocean, or more importantly, the nice ocean breeze, and it was HOT. Like 90 degrees hot-not quite what we had trained in. My first run was 7.3 miles and I started getting goose bumps when I hit mile 3-not good. But, I finished it in decent time and re-hydrated while I rested and cheered on the other 5 in our van (so happy that I got to go first and have it over with).

I felt great after the first leg and we started making plans for next year's race. A veteran of Ragnar races on our team told us to wait and see how we felt after the second leg...

We all soon realized how important these little babies were:

It seemed that we all knew who had gone, who needed to go right now, who would need to go soon, and who couldn't go (a very sad state to be in). I hate porta potties (Pedro calls them "torta potties") but I learned to appreciate them (kind of) during the 30 hours of the race.

Our van finished our first leg and handed off to the second van near Lake Elsinore. We had about 5 hours to kill, so we went out to dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. Did you know in California they are required to put how many calories things have on the menus? Wow-that's a drag-probably smart, but dang, you could easily put away 2,000 calories with an appetizer, drink, and main dish-without even thinking about a desert.

After dinner we wanted to go see a chick flick, but there was nothing good at the theaters so we went to Trader Joe's instead and loaded up on a bunch of their fun treats. The Sea Level Sissies (ie the locals) didn't particularly care for our outfits mocking their lack of elevation. Oh well.

Then we headed to our next exchange to wait for the arrival of the van 1 runner who would hand off to me. We all got out our sleeping bags and tried to sleep but I just couldn't-the second run of my leg was horrible-a huge hill, 8.2 miles (that we found out later was actually just over 9 miles), and at night in the dark-spooky.

Not that you care, but so that I remember it, here's the profile of my second leg-icky!

So, thinking about that huge hill-I couldn't really sleep. I did visit the porta potties a couple of times and listened as other runners came in and were talking about how creepy it was to run in the dark with very few people around- so very helpful.

Finally, it was time for me to run. Here I am with some of my peeps (I'm the one with the headlight)

That leg was a beast. The hill was so long and so steep and so dark. And near the top, when I felt like dying, there was a guy standing off the road in the shadows-no car in sight, no flashlight or anything-just standing there. That really freaked me out. I mean, how easy would it be for some sick-o to look up the course maps and know just where to be-by the later legs it's so spread out-a lot of the time there was no one else around me that I could see.

So, I made it up that beast of a hill-I did walk a teeny-tiny bit while I rearranged my clothing (my long sleeve shirt got way too hot)-but it wasn't much. The downhill was FAST. I had been so concentrated on that first hill when I was studying the course map I didn't even notice the second 1.5 mile hill-much smaller, but very painful completing the first one.

I felt like crap (if I could use a stronger word I would) after the second leg and wondered why I had ever thought this would be fun...

I was in and out of the van for a while trying to decide if I was going to throw up or not. My stomach finally calmed down and I curled up in my sleeping bag in the van and slept through a couple of the other runner's legs-bad teammate.

We handed off to the other van around 3:00 am and had a little more than 5 hours before we had to start running again (yuck!). We got a hotel near our next exchange-everyone had to decide if they were going to shower and then sleep or sleep and then shower. Since I was near comatose when we arrived at the hotel, I chose the latter option. We slept from 3:30 to 7:30-a whopping 4 hours-but it felt so nice. I even got my own bed.

When I woke up the last thing I wanted to that day was run again. I was exhausted.

Before we started the race, we decided as a team to even things out since my leg was 25.2 miles and the next closest runner from our van had 20.0. So I traded off my last leg which would have been almost 10 miles for a 6 mile leg. I was very grateful that morning that we had traded. I kind of felt like a wuss but I still ran just over 22 miles, and I felt so bad that morning, I just didn't care that much-at least not enough to trade back.

Here I am taking off at the start of my last leg-I looked a lot happier than I was feeling:

The great thing about it was that it was through La Jolla and went right along the beach for 3 of the 6 miles-it was gorgeous. But I was so tired and it was hot out again. It was pretty painful. And whereas my other legs were pretty much straight on the same road or path, this one had lots of turns and not a lot of signage-so I was scared for a lot of the run that I was going the wrong way and was tacking on extra mileage-not what I needed. But, I ended in the right place and was DONE.

What a great feeling.

Everyone else finished their legs up; here is our team at the finish line on the beach in Coronado:

and the six that were in our van:

We ate dinner at In 'n Out, sat in the hot tub and went to bed at 9:30. When the alarm went off at 6:30 it felt like the middle of the night. I was so tired. And sore. I flew home that morning and made it to church that afternoon.

By Monday, amazingly, I was hardly sore.

I've woken up almost every night wondering when my next leg starts and if I'm in the right place.

We're planning our next race and are thinking of inviting our husbands to join us...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring in Colorado

Was I just complaining about no snow?

That's spring in Colorado-I took the pictures this morning and now it's up to 50 and most of it is melted. Crazy.

Anyway, I'm headed to the airport to head off to California for my race. Do I feel ready? No. Am I scared? Yes.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Spring Obsession

No, I don't have Spring Fever.

In fact, quite the opposite.

I have this icky panicky feeling that winter is ending-after 10 years of perpetual summer, I'm not ready for summer to return. And it wasn't exactly what you'd call a satisfying winter here in Colorado, just a handful of snow storms (it is snowing right now as I type-so typical for Colorado-yesterday it was 80 degrees-now it's in the low 30's-tomorrow it will be back up in the 60's). I have this fear that once winter is gone for good-it's won't return.

Anyway, I've realized something about myself-I think I go through the majority of my "obsessive episodes" during the spring.

Let's review: 2006 we were moving from Carmen to Mexico City-moving is always a huge project that lets me obsess to the nth degree for months beforehand.

In 2007 Pedro was born, I went through my Freezer Meal Frenzy and then we had another move-this time to Brazil.

I can't find any major obsessions during the spring of 2008. I did, however start making individual photo "yearbooks" for my three big kids that year-I think that qualifies as slightly obsessive.

In 2009 I went through the Great Photo Frenzy (still painful to think about-what a pain), I was training for a half-marathon, and continued with the photo books.

2010 was the move from Brazil to Colorado-much obsessing took place about our "stuff".

So, the topic of this year's obsessions? First- my big run coming up in less that two weeks. The last two Saturdays my lady friends and I have gone out for double runs- a seven-miler in the morning and a seven-miler in the afternoon. It's not fun but it has definitely increased my confidence that perhaps I can run 25.2 miles in less than a 24 hour period.

Who am I kidding? My heart is throbbing and my palms are sweating just thinking about it. I'm scared, people!

My second, and primary obsession this year is food storage. This is the first place we've lived as "adults" where it is feasible to store a substantial amount of food. So, over the past month I have:

-gotten out my bag sealer and sealed up many a Mylar pouch with flour, sugar, oats, beans, and pasta

-ordered an electric pressure cooker (now I'll be able to cook dried beans in a matter of a half an hour-I know you're jealous)

-ordered whole wheat for long term storage-a scary proposition that will eventually require the purchase of a wheat grinder

-ordered a 55 gallon drum for water along with some 5 gallon boxes

-tried to make homemade yogurt in my crockpot (it was a complete fail-I've got to try again)

-made blueberry muffins using bean puree instead of oil (don't make that face-they were good!)

-taken umpteen trips to Costco trying to get my pantry well stocked

And today (drum roll please...), I made an acceptable loaf of whole wheat bread using powdered milk and a homemade dough enhancer. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. I've tried bread so many times and it always comes out like a big disgusting brick.

Check it out:

Yay! It's soft and chewy and the kids will eat it.

Have a great week.