Bucket-list Hood to Coast Relay 2015

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Ironically, I started my blog three + years ago with the hopes of one day being selected for a sponsored  Hood to Coast Team.  Living on the East Coast, I felt my chances of rallying a team and running the epic Mother of all Relays was merely a pipe dream.  Little did I know that my blog would assisted me in being selected for the AnotherMotherRunner.com 2014 SanFran to Napa Ragnar Relay Team.  This epic adventure ultimately lead me, via #BRF Melissa,  to my 2015 Hood to Coast Team!  Many thanks to Melissa for extending me an invitation to join her team.  There was not a moment of hesitation upon the invite.  It was am immediate YES, HELL YES! BUCKET-LIST Baby!  I was ecstatic!

Arrival to Portland! Pittock Mansion. Hazy skies from the wild fires

Arrival to Portland! Pittock Mansion. Hazy skies from the wild fires

No trip to Portland would be complete without a visit with fellow BAMR, Sarah Bowen Shea!  After all, she and Dimity are the only reason Melissa and I know each other.

Sarah, Jennifer, Melissa!

Sarah, Jennifer, Melissa! Rooftop Eastlund Hotel…ok this pic is in the bathroom:)

Weeks leading up to the relay there were significant concerns the wild fires might have a negative impact on the race.  Fortunately, they winds shifted  days before the start and the fires were not going to be an issue.  The next issue was rain, which Oregon desperately needed.  Rain or no Rain, nothing was going to dampen my spirits.

Van #2 We like our "Middle Leg" Hard (horrible name:) but GREAT Team!

Van #2 We like our “Middle Leg” Hard (horrible name:) but GREAT Team!

Ready to go! Warm but not rain! We headed off to the first major exchange Sandy, OR.

Mt. Hood in the distance. I was giddy with excitement each time caught a glimpse.

Mt. Hood in the distance. I was giddy with excitement each time I caught a glimpse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roadside Cheering  and cowbell for Manda

Roadside Cheering and cowbell for Manda

Leg 9, 5.38 Moderate, was me! While it was a warm 81 degrees it was nothing like NC 81 degrees.  It felt great and I laid down the best pace I had run in months!

Boaring, OR...Ready for my first leg with teammates Amy and Melissa.

Boaring, OR…Ready for my first leg with teammates Amy and Melissa. Small world as Amy  use to live in Raleigh and was the cross country coach at my daughters high school and her husband and I worked for the same company.

Leg 9- Springwater Trail

Leg 9- Springwater Trail

Each run got us closer to Portland.  Oddly enough exactly where we started earlier in the day.  Amy ran leg 12 into the next major exchange on the waterfront downtown Portland.  What a treat to see the city at night.

Hawthorne Bridge, Portland, OR

Hawthorne Bridge, Willamette River, Portland, OR.

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Keep Portland WEIRD!  Runners certainly did their share.  This was too good not to capture. He was rock’in those booty VEGAN shorts! I sure hope he was fast.

Benson Bubblers! Historic bronze bubblers in downtown Portland!

Benson Bubblers! Historic bronze bubblers in downtown Portland!  Note relay fashion- Injinji toe socks and Chacos…nice! Anything goes!

Van 1 was off again and we ( Van #2) had our first break. Oddly enough, we were back where we started in Portland.  The perk of running with native Portlanders is we were able to rest at team mates Jenny and Melissa’s houses.  Conveniently, they are neighbors!  It really could not have gotten any easier.  Melissa’s husband ( Sean) had a fabulous meal and beverages ready for us!

The late night spread!

The late night spread! Homemade Spaghetti Sauce he cooked all day!

YUMMY!

YUMMY!

 

Sean...West Coast Hubs!

Sean…West Coast Hubs!

This was posh relay running! Real food, hot shower, and a bed for a few hours.  I almost felt like I was cheating.  It was fabulous!  Certainly a “treat” I did not experience on my previous two relays.  I embraced it! 12:45am we were off to St. Helens, OR to meet up with Van 1 for our next big exhange.

RAIN, RAIN, RAIN!

RAIN, RAIN, RAIN!

The weather took a drastic turn. Rain, high winds, and hail.

Paul's awesome idea for exchanges was an umbrella with lights!

Paul’s awesome idea for exchanges was an umbrella with lights!

Ready for night leg!

Ready for night leg!

3:30am, I was off on my 2nd leg 21, 5.06 Moderate.  The sky absolutely opened up.  It rained so hard I had a hard time seeing in front of me.  The thunder and lightning absolutely freaked me out.  All I could think about was that I had on Melissa’s bib with her emergency contact.  I was going to be dead from a lightning strike and they were going to call her hubs ( Sean) instead of mine.  I prayed and ran as fast as I possibly could in the pitch black.  Despite being slightly rattled, the run was great and I enjoyed it.  I lived to tell! I was completely drenched head to toe when I was done.

Last major exchange Astoria, OR at dawm

Last major exchange Astoria, OR at dawn

Chilly and breezy, the rain ceased and the skys started to clear.  We headed to our next exchange so we could get some sleep.

SUN!

SUN!

Downed trees, limbs, leaves. The roads showed the aftermath of the wind and rain.

Downed trees, limbs, leaves. The roads showed the aftermath of the wind and rain.

The van lots were a muddy mess so we moved to plan b and slept in the van.  While not ideal we all caught some z’s.  We got another round of wind and rain.  I was so scared a tree was going to fall on our van as we slept.  It was insane!  It was so windy the “Honey Buckets” aka Porta Potties on the east coast BLEW OVER!

Blown over Honey Buckets! Melissa anchored down the one on the far right. She felt it rocking! Lucky girl!

Blown over Honey Buckets! Melissa anchored down the one on the far right. She felt it rocking! Lucky girl!

We all caught some zzz's. I slept in the drivers seat!

We all caught some zzz’s. I slept in the drivers seat!

Blue skies!

Blue skies!

We had gotten word that the finish line had to be moved off the beach in Seaside due to gail force winds.  We were just happy the we were able to still run given the crazy hurricane like weather.

Van mates! Manda was running!

Van mates! Manda was running!

We were off on our final legs and our journey to Seaside.  The sun came out and temps rose into the low 60’s.  Perfect running temps! WINDY!

 

Ready for leg 33!

Cold weather clothes shed…..Ready for leg 33!

My last leg 33, 7.72 hard, was beautiful.  I enjoyed every minute of it and just took in the beautiful Oregon country side. image

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My wonderful team mates, who for the first time were able to support me during my leg.  I could hear them way  before I saw them!  They were so great!

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Loved the bicycle fence.

Loved the bicycle fence.

So excited when the Dead Jocks in a Box, featured in the Hood to Coast Documentary, passed me.

So excited when the Dead Jocks in a Box, featured in the Hood to Coast Documentary, passed me.

 

 

I was obsessed with the birch trees. Melissa, collected me some birch twigs while I ran! hehe

I was obsessed with the birch trees. Melissa, collected me some birch twigs while I ran! hehe Post run, cool temps were back!

Exchange 35-36, we found food and set Amy off on the final leg into Seaside, OR.

YUMMY!

YUMMY! Burger and Craft Beer!

Chilly and so happy to be almost done!

Chilly and so happy to be almost done!

Melissa's Vuvuzela performance made the H2C news coverage!

Melissa’s Vuvuzela performance made the H2C news coverage! Beer, Cowbell, and vuvuzela…this girl has talent!

 

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4:00pm ish Seaside here we come!  The finish line was moved to the boardwalk. The beach finish line area looked like a war zone.  The wind was still whipping.

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waiting for AMY!

DONE!

DONE!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Van 2 Celebration!

Van 2 Celebration! Phones in hand!

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Hood 2 Coast Relay DONE! Bucket list checkoff! You don’t do it for the medal!

Sunday am storm aftermath.

Sunday am storm aftermath. I can honestly say I experienced all weather that Oregon has to offer!

H2C did not disappoint.  I had an absolute blast!  Fabulous experience!  Thanks Melissa for making this happen!  I cannot wait for round 2!

Despite the finish line being closed on Saturday we got our official picture on Sunday am!

Despite the finish line being closed on Saturday we got our official picture on Sunday am!

 

 

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Ragnar Napa Valley: Recaps from my fellow BadASS Mother Runners

imageThree plus months have passed and I have yet to recap my Ragnar Napa experience. Perhaps, the delay is due to the fact I did not want to acknowledge the experience, with five months of great anticipation, had come and gone.  What I have come to know, in the months proceeding our 205 mile journey from San Francisco to Calistoga, CA,  is that our Ragnar experience was just a kickstart to a wonderful relationship with 11 fellow mother runners.

Despite being separated by many miles and numerous state lines, we continue to engage in daily dialog with each other via our private Facebook group, emails,text, skype, and even an occasional conference call.  Technology is great!

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It was a tremendous honor to be selected as a participant on this team! I will forever cherish the memories or our CA weekend and look forward to creating more memories.  In less that 5 months, almost 1 year to the day we found out we were selected for the team,   8 of us will be gathering in Pittsburgh, PA for the Pittsburgh Marathon weekend. While we will certainly miss SBS, Dimiity, Kelly, and Lisa.  They will not be forgotten and will certainly be there in spirit.

I thought the best way to recap the weekend was through sharing the official AnotherMotherRunner.com Ragnar Napa Valley recaps.  While this was a team effort, each of us had our very own unique personal experience. We covered the gamut with racing highs and racing woe’s. Enjoy the race recaps from my fellow team mates.

AMR Blog Post– Ragnar Napa Valley: The Mother Runner Recap

AMR Pod Cast#129:Napa Valley Ragnar Relay

My pictorial recap!

Van #1-Erin, Dimity, Jen, Kelly, Kim, Lisa.  Kicked up off bright and early Friday morning!

Van #1-Erin, Dimity, Jen, Kelly, Kim, Lisa. Kicked up off bright and early Friday morning! We stayed at the lovely Marina Motel, San Francisco.  The gardens were beautiful and the staff was so accommodating to our needs and our over sized vans!

Van #2- Sarah, Me, Mel, Laura, Jodi, Smitha.  We got to sleep in and start running early afternoon ( In the HEAT!)

Van #2- Sarah, Me, Mel, Laura, Jodi, Smitha. We got to sleep in and start running early afternoon ( In the HEAT!)

The "Mother of all things Relay" We were so fortunate to have Mel, whom has numerous relays under her belt, in our van.  Seriously, thinking she brought everything we could possibly need!

The “Mother of all things Relay” We were so fortunate to have Mel, whom has numerous relays under her belt, in our van. Seriously, think she brought everything we could possibly need except a portable air conditioner.

Crossing the Golden Gate  Bridge on the way to our first exchange

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the way to our first exchange.

Van #2- READY!

Van #2- READY!

Team shot minus Mel.  Perhaps one picture too many! But hey life was good and we were happy!

Team shot minus Mel with one of our numerous sponsors NUUN. Perhaps one picture too many! But hey life was good and we were happy!

After heading in the wrong direction from the exchange, as a result of my poor navigation skills, we finally got back on track to met Mel at exchange #8.  To make matters worse due to road construction  Ragnar decided to make the transition area “floating”.  Basically meaning you would meet your runner along a unmarked half mile area.  CONFUSING FOR ALL! We waited, and waited with no signs of Mel.  Whom decided because it was only three miles not to take her phone, garmin, or water.  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, due to the unmarked transition and no team in sight Mel kept running.  Cannot say I blame her I would have done the same thing.  After much waiting and contemplating, we decided we would set Laura off on her leg (we did not want her to miss her miles) and we would head to the next transition and hope Mel was there.

As we were waiting SBS found a penny! She was so excited! She also instructed Laura on her first "pop a squat"

As we were waiting SBS found a penny! She was so excited! She also instructed Laura on her first “pop a squat”

RE-UNITED! We found our Mel.  Hot, frazzeled, and worn out we found our girl at the next exchange! Such Relief! We did contact Ragnar Race Command  to seek assistance of a lost runner and they were ZERO help!

RE-UNITED! We found our Mel!  Hot, frazzled, and worn out we found our girl at the next exchange! Such a Relief! We did contact Ragnar Race Command to seek assistance of a lost runner and they were ZERO help!

Smitha and I waiting for Laura after her first run!

Smitha and I waiting for Laura after her first run! It was HOT!

Finally off on my first 9 miles leg.  So HOT!  the spectators with the water sprayers were the BEST! The second time I saw one of the groups I had the m snap this photo!

Finally off on my first 9 miles leg. So HOT! the spectators with the water sprayers were the BEST! The second time I saw one of the groups I had the m snap this photo!

Before he handed me back my phone he snuck in a quick selfie! So great! They made my day!

Before he handed me back my phone he snuck in a quick selfie! So great! They made my day!

Re-united with Van 1 at exchange!

Re-united with Van 1 at exchange!

Aaron at the community center saved me by having batteries for my headlamp!  ( Next time I will keep batteries out of lamp for travel, and bring extra)

Aaron at the community center saved me by having batteries for my headlamp! ( Next time I will keep batteries out of lamp for travel, and bring extra)

Laura and I attempting sleep in the field of the community center.  I am pretty sure SBS was snoring! That woman can sleep anywhere!

Laura and I attempting sleep in the field of the community center. I am pretty sure SBS was snoring! That woman can sleep anywhere! Perhaps it was her Saucony body suit!

Ready for our second legs in the very very early morning!

Ready for our second legs in the very very early morning!

 

Great 9 mile run.  Super treat was watching the sun come up and finishing in the vineyards!  Or is it a "Wine Yard" as Smitha called it lol!

Great 9 mile run. Super treat was watching the sun come up and finishing in the vineyards! Or is it a “Wine Yard” as Smitha called it lol!

Laura eventually got some sleep!

Laura eventually got some sleep!

After 30 hours of awake time, I took "Personality rest time" My eyes were open but my mouth was shut!  Powering up for our last legs of the relay!

After 30 hours of awake time, I took “Personality rest time” My eyes were open but my mouth was shut! Powering up for our last legs of the relay!

"Smitha would you like some?" "No Thanks what is that Fat M&M's?".....I proceeded to almost pee myself in laughter.  My sweet little Indian Princess had never seen a Peanut M&M!  Life altering moment!  We had hours of laughter at her expense! Forever referred to as FAT M&M's!

“Smitha would you like some?” “No Thanks what is that Fat M&M’s?”…..I proceeded to almost pee myself in laughter. My sweet little Indian Princess had never seen a Peanut M&M! Life altering moment! We had hours of laughter at her expense! Forever referred to as FAT M&M’s!

Wasting time at possible the worst exchange ever.  A dusty field, no shade, and a bunch of honey buckets ( Port-0- Potties)  We passed time by bartering Fat M&M's for whatever we could get!

Wasting time at  the worst exchange ever.   A dusty field, no shade, and a bunch of honey buckets ( Port-0- Potties) We passed time by bartering Fat M&M’s  out for whatever we could get!

The day was getting hotter by the hour! Quick group shot before sending Jodi off on what turned our to be a horrific leg!

The day was getting hotter by the hour! Quick group shot before sending Jodi off on what turned out to be a horrific leg!

Me and the vines.  It was so hot the camera was even sweating!

Me and the vines. It was so hot the camera was even sweating!

Killing time in Calistoga! What a cute little town  We did not stick out a bit in our tutus

Killing time in Yountville! What a cute little town We did not stick out a bit in our tutus

After Jodi's horrific hot run and reports of Ragnar rationing water at the aid stations  The Mother of all Relays (Mel) declared WAR!  She stormed the local grocery for water, ice , and ziplock baggies.  If Ragnar was not going to take care of the runners we were!  The runners were all so appreciative! ( We did call Ragnar race command and they did respond saying they would get more water on the course)

After Jodi’s horrific hot run and reports of Ragnar rationing water at the aid stations The Mother of all Relays (Mel) declared WAR! She stormed the local grocery for water, ice , and ziplock baggies. If Ragnar was not going to take care of the runners we were! The runners were all so appreciative! ( We did call Ragnar race command and they did respond saying they would get more water on the course.  Just poor planning as they forecast had not changed)

 

Finally, we set our sights on Jodi! We were so relieved to see her!

Finally, we set our sights on Jodi! We were so relieved to see her!

 

SBS looking BadASS after her 11 miler! We were all so  Proud of her!

SBS looking BadASS after her 11 miler! We were all so Proud of her!

After SBS Beasted her 11 miles in the Sauna, due to temps and time Ragnar gave us the option to skip to the next exchange.  We took the option!  Smitha and I ran the final leg together!  Warrior paint and all ( not whiskers) were were ready!

After SBS Beasted her 11 miles in the Sauna, due to temps and time Ragnar gave us the option to skip to the next exchange. We took the option! Smitha and I ran the final leg together! Warrior paint and all ( not whiskers) were were ready!

Probably the most entertaining 5.3 miles of my life. Singing, dance running and entertaining the cars stuck in traffic!  We finally made it! Smitha , sandbagging, most of the run finally "Let it Go" and we sprinted to the finish!

Probably the most entertaining 5.3 miles of my life. Singing, dance running and entertaining the cars stuck in traffic! We finally made it! Smitha , sandbagging, most of the run finally “Let it Go” and we sprinted to the finish!

DONE! 205 miles!

DONE! 205 miles!

Delayed several hours due to the heat, and Ragnar running out of finisher  medals…it was not the finish any of us had envisioned.  But we were done! We did it together and had a blast!  Unfortunately, we had to cancel our dinner plans and head straight for our hotel 2 hours away.  We would have to wait to toast our finish at another time! ( all the more reason for a reunion)

Glowing from her finish! Mel popped our tops in our fab accommodations! I seriously considered sleeping in the van! Instead we toasted to our wonderful journey with Smitha, Lisa, and Laura!

Glowing from her finish! Mel popped our tops in our fab accommodations! I seriously considered sleeping in the van! Instead we toasted to our wonderful journey with Smitha, Lisa, and Laura!

All good things must come to an end.  Van clean up!

Sad faces…All good things must come to an end. Van clean up!

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Quck stop in San Fran to pick up our luggage at SBS's friend Amy who let us store our luggage in her apartments.  So helpful! We said our good byes to the those headed to the airport!

Quck stop in San Fran to pick up our luggage at SBS’s friend Kate who let us store our luggage in her apartments. So helpful! We said our good byes to the those headed to the airport!

Sharing my Hoka love with Smitha!

Sharing my Hoka love with Smitha!

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Rounded out the trip by spending the afternoon and evening  with my Van 1 peeps!

Rounded out the trip by spending the afternoon and evening with my Van 1 peeps!

Tremendous thanks to Sarah and Dimity, AnotherMotherRunner.com, for pulling together this amazing team of 11 mother runners.  This trip will forever hold a special place in my heart not only for the experience but most of all the friendships it kickstarted! Love to all my BAMRS! Cannot wait to see you in May!

Check out recaps from fellow blogging team mates:

Project Lovely Laura A four part mini series recap! 

The Faux Runner- More Fat M&M’s and Wine Yards!

Two Princesses on the run- The one and only Princess of Ragnar 🙂

Fear The TUTU! Badass Mother Ragnar Relay Swag!

imageExciting day as I received my Badass Mother Runner Ragner Relay Swag!  In less than two months I will journey to San Francisco, CA to meet my 11 fellow Ragner team mates.  We will share the  197 mile journey from San Fran to Napa Valley.  I have never been so excited to share 36+ sleep deprived hours cramped in a van with 5 other mother runners! Yes, this is my idea of fun!

AnotherMotherRunner.com Ragner Swag!

AnotherMotherRunner.com Ragner Swag!

 

Yesterday was Christmas in July, as my much anticipated swag box arrived crammed with goodies!  Fear the Tutu- team shirt, Tough Girl Tutu,  Badass Mother Ragnar runner Headsweats hat, 110% flat out compression sox, Ulimate Direction Handy 20, Trigger Point therapy grid mini, Sofsole arch supports and socks, Soleus sport watch, GU gels & chomps, Nuun, LARA bars, and Dansko foot care. As this is not enough, there are additional items we will receive that would not fit in the box! SCORE!

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Our Team Tee!

We were all so excited! Despite the distance between us, we shared our excitement and the individual status of our swag arrival via our Facebook group and Facebook group message.  Unfortunately, Jodi, our Canadian Princess, will have to wait a little longer as her package will have to clear customs.  🙂

Tough girl tutu

My Tough girl tutu selfie! It is really comfortable #TutuVIRGINnomore 

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Love team mate, Jennifer Hall-Lewis’s, photo with her swag!

It truly is an honor being selected as part of the AnotherMotherRunner.com Ragnar Relay team.  I cannot wait to finally meet my team mates face to face.  We are all uniquely individual! Our running resumes span from the casual 5k/10k runner to Irongirl an ultra runner.  While our backgrounds and running experiences vary greatly, one thing is for certain…WE ARE A TEAM! There is no doubt there will be many fears conquered, accomplishments achieved, memories made,  and hours of  laughter over our 197 mile journey! #NoSleepTillNapa

2014 AnotherMotherRunner.com Ragnar Nappa Relay Team

Sarah and Dimity– our fearless leaders who made this all possible!

Jodi Snowden, 2princessesontherun.wordpress.com, Canada

Smitha Barki, Fauxrunner.com, Georgia

Jennifer Lewis, Frostedinmaine.com, Maine

Laura Roeseler, projectlovelylaura.blogspot.com, Missouri

Kim Dixson, New Jersey

Melissa Gilley, Oregon

Kelly Preddy, Arkansas

Lisa Peterson, Colorado

Erin Ranes, Illinois

Kathleen Ojo, California

 

 

I’am going to NAPA!

I am giddy with excitement to have been chosen as one of 11 members of the 2014 Badass Mother Runner Ragnar Relay team! 

Blog portion of my JMart4Ragnar entry

Huge THANKS to my family and friends who supported my quest and put up with my pre-entry mania! In true JMart fashion when I put my mind to something I don’t give up! I promise to make you all proud and represent all NC #BAMR’s.  No sleep till Napa!

AMR Capital Run Walk Event and Launch of JMart Campain!

AMR Capital Run Walk Event and Launch of JMart Campain! Confession…while I am 5’9 I needed a little help to look Sarah and Dimity in the eye…hence the wedges!

 

Little craziness!

Little craziness!

We took over the window display!

We took over the window display!

Some of my #BRF's running and retired from running!

Some of my #BRF’s running and retired from running!

Happy despite the second  Chin! Supporting Jo!

Happy despite the second Chin! Supporting Jo!

 

My fav tweet!  Post Successful Ultra Redemption 42.64 miles!

My fav tweet! Post Successful Ultra Redemption 42.64 miles!

My custom H2o bottle entry via Aquavation.org benefiting GOTR- NC!

My custom H2o bottle entry via Aquavation.org benefiting GOTR- NC!

Special thanks for Terri, Everlastingphotographync.com for the awesome photos! Congrats to Terri who finished her 1st Half Marathon this weekend! Welcome to the club!

Sarah, Aquavation.org, for making sure my awesome customized water bottle arrived. Keep running girl!

Progessivegrapics.com, for the awesome logo and shirts!

 

JMart 4 Ragnar 2014!

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JMart 4 Ragnar 2014! 197 miles in 24+ hours…No problem!  A proven BAMR, guaranteed to provide endless hours of laughter, positive energy, and relentless motivation to all! No sleep till Napa!

Self-Proclaimed, Another Mother Runner, “Super Fan” since 2010

AMRSarah&Dim

Need to stay awake?…proudly deemed the 2nd Most Talkative relay team member!  BRRTeam

Known provider of roadside sleep deprivation entertainment!

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Fearful of twilight relay legs? No FEAR! Whats a few extra miles… Jmart will accompany you!

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AMR CONNECTION Maker!  A chance meeting at Another Mother Runner expo booth resulted in pre- race dinner invite, on course support, an inclusion in  post-race celebration!  What started as a connection quickly transitioned to AMR BOND! Love my AMR St. Paul friends!

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Mid race spills, two right shoes …no problem! Crazy things are bound to happen, you have to embrace your inner BAMR and push through!

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Relentless motivation and support!  My greatest running achievements are not captured on my Garmin or hanging on the wall…its the sheer joy of motivating and pushing a fellow runner (or soon to be runner out of their comfort zone)…achieving things they never thought were possible! Sometimes that is a finish line or simply an unbroken mile.  Every step taken, no matter the distance is an accomplishment!

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 The connection of runners, especially mother runners, is something very special. Its hard to put to words It’s an experience!  

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You won’t go wrong with JMart! Please read comments to this post from JMart 4 Ragnar supporters.  They are not actors, nor paid endorsers (maybe I promised some wine from Napa?), they are the REAL deal BRF’s of JMart!  They know me like no other…they speak the truth.  JMart 4 Ragner 2014! 

🙂  Jennifer a.k.a JMart!

 

 

Finish & Enjoy…Big Sur Marathon Plan

8th State, 13th Marathon, and my #1 all time favorite!

Big Sur International Marathon, April 28, 2013!

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Wow, is all I can say.  Everything about the Big Sur Marathon weekend exceeded my expectations.  Big Sur, is sitting pretty in my number #1 best overall marathon in every category.  I have often pondered keeping a running ranking of my marathon adventures and this just might inspire me to do that.

For anyone who asked about my experience I explained that Big Sur is the only marathon I have ever run that I enjoyed almost every single mile. If it weren’t for the uphill on mile 25, I would say I enjoyed EVERY mile. The pain of mile 25 was brief, just generally not appreciated so late in the race.

2, 765 miles!

2, 765 miles!

So what made the Big Sur miles so much more enjoyable than the previous 316.4? (12 x 26.2 + extra two miles on my ultra attempt) .  I am not exactly sure, but I will attribute it to  having just one single goal – Finish & Enjoy!

MY BIG SUR MARATHON PLAN! 

( taken directly from pre-race communication)

This is a difficult course and you should plan on adding extra minutes to your usual marathon time. Walk if necessary, Enjoy the spectacular music and scenery along the course and don’t worry about your time!

 I took the pre-race communications to heart and put them to action. The last thing I wanted to do was travel 2,765 miles and beat myself up over a missed PR. A mere 13 days after the attacks on Boston, just being able to run, in honor of those who cannot was a gift in itself.  

Despite Big Sur being my all time favorite marathon, I have struggled to feel inspired to put it into words.  (Hence,the delay of the race recap).  So I thought I would let my pictures tell the story

View from terrace

View from terrace

Lodging– Hotel Pacific, located right next to the expo, and block away from marathon transportation was fabulous.  Our room was huge and full of amenities.  It included a sitting area with gas fireplace, small dinning area with fridge, bathroom perfect for sharing with two showers etc  We loved it and felt like we were in a honeymoon suite.

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courtyard view from room

Pre Marathon Relaxation

Pre Marathon Relaxation, while listening to Big Sur “Grand Piano Man” Michael Martinez

Our Bibs! Way to go Laura on Boston 2 Big Sur!

Our Bibs! Way to go Laura on Boston 2 Big Sur!

Race Expo- Monterey Conference Center. Was easy to navigate, staffed with super friendly volunteers, and hosted lots of great vendors.  We typically breeze through the expos(you’ve seen one you have seen them all) but this one we took our time to enjoy! My highlight was officially meeting Runners World, Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso! I was giddy with excitement and was able to contain myself! The previous November, Bart gave me a “fist bump” during the Richmond, VA Marathon when I spotted him on the sidelines.  I am a huge fan!  His book My Life On The Run, is a great running read.

Bart Man!

Me and Bart Man!

Expo continued…the support for Boston was everywhere!

Runners signed banners in support of Boston and were able to contribute to The One Fund

Runners signed banners in support of Boston and were able to contribute to The One Fund

We met Michael Martinez, Big Sur “Grand Piano Man” who famously sits at mile 13.1 and plays his  Grand Piano. We purchased his CD.

Laura and i with David

Laura and I with Michael

No pictures of the expo massages but they were awesome and well worth $1 a minute!

Our weekend wheels! Fiat

Our weekend wheels! Fiat

Saturdays Highway 1 adventures – We drove through Monterrey Cannery Row. Although fabulous, and the best aquarium I have ever seen, we skipped visiting the  Monterrey Bay Aquarium in an effort to stay off our feet. Instead, we drove the 17-mile drive,  lunched in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and then headed down Highway 1 to Big Sur.

The Lone Cypress, one of the sights on the 17 mile drive

Lone Cypress- Americas most photographed Tree

Lone Cypress- Americas most photographed Tree

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Lunch at Hogs Breath Inn!

Total tourist shot after lunch at Hogs Breath Inn. Thanks Uncle Zeke for recommendation...your hat is on its way!

Total tourist shot after lunch at Hogs Breath Inn. Thanks Uncle Zeke for recommendation…your hat is on its way!

Laura at Big Sur Bakery...too full to partake

Laura at Big Sur Bakery…too full to partake

ahhh...the view.  Gotta love Big Sur

ahhh…the view. Gotta love Big Sur

Bixby Bridge mile 13.1

Bixby Bridge mile 13.1

amazing coastal  views....

amazing coastal views….

starting line coffee

starting line coffee

Marathon Day- Early start as we loaded the buses to Big Sur at 4:15am.  Luckily, we only had to walk a block from our hotel. Its an early start, but its a major effort on the event organizers to transport runners 26.2 miles down two laned Highway 1.  In addition to the marathon Big Sur offers a Relay, 21, 10.6, 9, and 5k mile option.

1st race I have even participated in that offered water, coffee and food at the start!  Super bonus points for that!

Huddled to stay warm with fellow runners!

Huddled to stay warm with fellow runners!

Starting line

Starting line

Two Thumbs up from Bart Yasso prior to the start!

Pre-start Bart Sighting

Pre-start Bart Sighting

6:45am and we were off and running!  As part of my Finish & Enjoy Marathon Plan, I brought my phone to take pictures along the way.  The official description describes Big Sur Marathon  as a Point to point, moderately difficult, with live entertainment on the course. Featuring rolling hills, Big Sur is the largest rural marathon in the world, winding through redwoods, paralleling ranches, and offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

BigsurElevation

I often stopped to catch a glace of where I had come from.  The view looking back is just as good as the views ahead.  It is 360 degrees of sheer beauty.

Mile 5 9 guess, looking back

Mile 5 (best guess), looking back

Just when I thought we might escape the famous headwinds, the course opened up and so did the wind. It was wicked but manageable.  Even the cows ran for cover….I was not as fortunate

Cows retreating from the winds

Cows retreating from the winds

If the winds were not enough , we soon caught the first glimpses of Hurricane Point (550 foot climb over 2 miles) starting at mile 10. I am proud to say I slayed Hurricane Point by running the entire way.  I was determined not to stop!

1st views of Hurricane Point

1st views of Hurricane Point

Way before you could see the Bixby Bridge, which famously signifies the halfway point on the marathon course, you could hear the the tones  from the Grand Piano.  It was absolutely surreal and uplifting. One of my favorite memories.  As  I approached the Bixby Bridge,  I found myself overcome with emotion and fought back unexpected tears. My best guess is they were tears of shear joy as i was having an awesome run! I attempted a short video that really does it no justice at all

The mile markers, each 7 foot tall, where the BEST, I have ever seen. They ranged from completely stupid, funny, to inspiring.  They had a unique way of telling a story and really personalizing the marathon to the region, local runners,  and area. Take a look for yourself- Big Sur Mile Marker Project.

13.1 Mile Marker

13.1 Mile Marker

attempt at picture with Michael Martinez...this makes me laugh

attempt at picture with Michael Martinez…this makes me laugh

Windy shot taken by a fellow runner.  My skirt looks like I was about to take flight.

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The end was in view, first glimpses of CarmelIMG-20130428-00192

Fresh strawberries at mile 24! Yummy!

Mile 24 treat!

Mile 24 treat!

The description for mile marker 25 says it all, about my only UNenjoyable mile of the entire course.  This “Doomsayer” needs to lighten up! You may be feeling a bit down at this point, but with the finish just over a mile away, the end to your race is just over the next hill. 

Doom uphill Mile!

Doom uphill Mile!

Finally, 26.2! The race Directors and organizers, donned in their BSIM Blue blazers, shook the hands of participants as they cross the finish!  Total class act! This years finish line included  the Boston Marathon Executive Director who personally shook the hands of EVERY Boston 2 Big Sur participant. It was amazing to watch as . Emotions were still very raw and many were moved to tears.

My bonus was a congratulations hug from Bart Yasso! Promise I am a fan and not a stalker!

With Laura, being a Boston 2 Big Sur participant, we enjoyed the awesome finishers tent that overlooked the finish line. I only joined her after I partook in the free 10 minute massage.

We did it!

We did it!

Laura’s Medals

Boston 2 Big Sur Bling

Boston 2 Big Sur Bling

It was amazing! Pleased with my 4:54:47 finish, which included 2 pit stops, and numerous video and  photo ops. It was not my fastest, nor my slowest but was my STRONGEST physical and mental FINISH.  My Finish & Enjoy Marathon Plan carried me through.  My only expectation was to enjoy and take it all in.  I accomplished that an much more!

I do have to credit Raleigh CrossFit, which I included in the last month of my training plan. I feel a new addiction brewing! #RaleighStrong!

Traditional post marathon margarita, overlooking Monterey Bay!

Traditional post marathon margarita, overlooking Monterey Bay!

035One and done in California! Big Sur International  Marathon was an excellent choice! This race should be on every Marathon bucket list!

Mark you calendars registration for 2014 opens July 15th.  It typically sells out in a matter of days so don’t delay. Register, train, and Finish & Enjoy!

Carmel-20130428-00201

“Space Goats” Strike Again….Adventures along the Blue Ridge Relay 2012

Last weekend I participated in my first running relay!  What an adventure living in a van for 37 hours with 5 fellow runners.  The Blue Ridge Relay relay starts in Grayson Highlands State Park,VA (near the base of Mount Rogers- VA hightest peak) and ends 212 miles later in  Asheville, NC! (the mileage varies year to year due to course adjustments)

I joined the 12 persons Designated Drinkers Team, an established relay team who have run the BRR year after year.  Last year, The Legend of the Space Goat was formed. The history of the Space Goat is cloudy at best…the only thing we know for sure is the name morphed out of the description of two of the hardest running legs that are famously deemed “Mountain Goat Hard“.    In 2012 we kept the legend alive with our “alter ego” The Space Goats.  Like Superman, the Space Goats appear out of nowhere perform good deeds, BAAAA, and usually leave without a trace.  Most never knew they encountered The Space Goats….while others only  knew by the “Space Goat Tag” on their van.

Meet the Space Goats of Van 2

Here is my pictorial recap of an awesome running adventure

Sara (van 1) kicked off the relay for us  at 10am Friday at Grayson Highlands State Park  in VA.  Sara also earned accolades for assisting  fellow space goats with various aliments. Melinda’s GI stress and Dave’s two dog bite attack. Thanks Sara for keeping Melinda and Dave in the mix. (update…the wonderful BRR Directors were able to locate the dogs and confirm they were current on their rabies shots.  No Rabies shots for Dave!)

Sara kick’in off the 1st leg for Designated Drinkers!

As Van 1 ran the first 6 legs of our relay we (Van 2) headed to exchange area 6 Bald Mountain Baptist Church, West Jefferson , NC.  On the way TheSpace Goats were called to action when fellow runners of  TEAM 621 Ninga were in need.  The Ninga’s van was stuck in the culvert along a winding mountain dirt road.  While our goat strength was not enough to free the van, luckily they were assisted by a very kind local resident ( ”  people of the woods encounter 1″) who attempted to pull them out.  Unfortunately, they had to go to plan C and call a tow truck. The Space Goats, transported Team 621 Ninga’s next two runners to the  next exchange.  Apparently, this was most helpful since Team 621 Ninga came in 9th out of 141 teams!  Way to go Ninga’s.

SAVED! 2 runners from TEAM 621 Ninga- Columbia, SC being transported Space Goat style. I am sure they will never forget….

11:00am with one save under our belt and time to kill we  took the opportunity to find some food. Our Male van mates ensured we never missed an eating opportunity, THANKS.  We enjoyed some really yummy pizza in Jefferson, NC at Pizza Plus the home of .30 cent Pizza! Not only was the pizza good but we were thoroughly entertained by “People of the woods encounter 2”  Tommy and Chelsea.  They were the nicest, simplest people who were very excited to share the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with a bunch of  running city slickers!  Tommy talked our ears off.  We found a fast friend in Tommy and a “moonshine” hook-up.  While we passed on the moonshine, we were sure glad to have Tommy on our side.

John Loaf”in with Tommy & Chelsea

Pizza Plus, in true Space Goat fashion, offered a much needed electrical outlet, for our very own lactating BAD ASS MOTHER RUNNER  Melissa “MAAA MAAA Goat”.  Deamed Bad Ass for just signing up to live in a van, run while lactating, a sheer 7 months after giving birth to her second child.  Simply Amazing!  Did I mention she forgot her battery pack for her breast-pump and remained completely calm (hence the need for the electrical outlet). Luckily, a fellow space goat from the Ultra Team- Where the Hell is Van 2, continuing the Space Goat saves theme,  just happened to have an extra ac/dc adapter so now she could pump while we rolled down the road.  No pumping and dumping here!  She was able to store the ‘liquid gold” in our cooler.  Had Lance Armstrong been with us I am sure he might have partook (cheap shot…but I hear he ate breast milk ice cream as part of his performance enhancing rituals)  Melissa was my 1st recruit to the Another Mother Run club!

Maaa Maaaa Goat happily models her breast pump!

When we finally arrived at exchange area 6, with hours to kill, we tagged a few vans,

got tagged, “doubled it down”,  and played a mind expanding time killer game we learned from Laura “Most Talkative Goat” called F*#k, Save, Kill. (did I mention we were in a parking lot of a Baptist Church)

In deep thought…Laura introduces us to our “mind expanding” game

Laura claims its a well know bar game, but none of us had heard of it.  It was very entertaining and we certainly entertained the teams around us.

Finally it was time for Van 2 to Run!  Mark Cox, our amazing Team Captain, ran it in

Mark Cox..passing the band to Van 2

and passed along the  BRR arm band to Van 2 runner # 7 Melissa “Maaaa Maaaa Goat”.

The early afternoon brought temperatures in the 80’s along with the famous humidity of NC.  While temps in the 80’s were not ideal we were fortunate it was not as hot as it had been the week prior with temps in the 90’s.  The Space Goats were prepared with lots of cold water, gatoraide, Nuun tablets, Rusty’s stash, and ice cold disposable towels. In true Space Goat fashion we shared our water and  towels with fellow runners struggling along the course.  All were appreciative and we are confident we got one struggling girl, in tears, safely to the next exchange.

“MAAA MAA Goat” rocked her run!

I am pretty sure I looked like MAAA MAAAA goat 7 months after I gave birth (My Space Goat Dream)

Melissa despite the heat had a great run and passed off the BRR band to  runner #8 Laura “Most Talkative Goat”.  Laura in an Olympic frame of mind smoked her run and blamed her faster than planned pace on “getting caught up in the Gold or Silver moment”

Laura our Talking and Caring Space Goat!

Humble “Quiet Killer Goat” kicked major ass on the road!

Next up was runner #9! Melinda “Quiet Killer Goat”  survived 37 hours with her VERY obnoxious and loud van mates, fought off stomach issues, and quietly slayed all of her runs.  One of which was Mountain Goat Hard! She was our secret weapon…quiet yet deadly.  She even claimed a kill (no animals were harmed) on her last leg and adorned a feather as her prize!  Melinda, Bad Ass Mother Runner, and  my second recruit to the Another Mother Runner Club!

“Quiet Killer Goats” prize from her run

Testosterone time, as runner #10 John “Life Saving Goat” finally hit the street.  We are so proud of our fellow Space Goat John who assisted a fellow runner who collapsed from heat related issues a mile from the next exchange.  John  quickly came to his aid, flagged down passerby for help ( who happened to have ice in their car), iced his wrist, neck and elevated his feet.  John stayed with the unresponsive runner until medical assistance arrived.  John you are amazing!  We are so proud of you!  “Space Goats Save Lives”

Eagle Scout and “Life Saving Space Goat”

Patiently waiting at exchange 11, we got word from a fellow runner that John was delayed due to assisting a runner. Next up was  Runner #11 (me) Jenn “2nd Most Talkative Goat”.

6.2 miles, Hard, but Beautiful!

I was setting off for the first official leg on the beautiful, historic Blue Ridge Parkway.  Fortunately for me, temperatures dropped rapidly and cooled off nicely….I was set up for an awesome run!

Holy Hills& Mountains, I did it! with Laura and Melinda upon my finish

Runner #11, Rusty “Beer Goat” , whose favorite carbs come from a can, was fired up and  donned in his run kilt ready for action!  Not only do Space Goats save lives but we ” never sacrifice fashion”

“Beer Goat” always planning his liquid carb loading “I don’t run for another 7-8 hours”

Rusty finished strong  and transitioned us into and extended break where we gassed up the van and grabbed some FOOD.  Next on the agenda was SLEEP!  I am unsure if anyone slept but we did get 2 hours of REST at Newland, NC Post Office exchange.  1:00 am arrived faster than we desired but the Space Goats were ready for our night runs!

Jenn and Melissa!

John and Laura with her famous $6 headlamp. We are unsure if we could really call it a headlamp.

2:00am ish illuminated Space Goats Rusty and Melinda

Our night runs were peaceful and quiet. Continuing the supportive nature of being a Space Goat we voluntarily accompanied our night runners so nobody had to run alone.  “MAA MAA goat” ran 3 accompanying night legs displaying true Space Goat Spirt and badassness (ok it is not a word but you get it).   Our goat calls “BAAAAAAAAA” were most helpful at night to identify our runners approaching exchange zones.  Near dawn John “Life Saving Goat” had a not so pleasant “people of the woods encounter 3”.  This poor resident was not very happy with the noise the relay participants that had kept her up during the night.  John, a gracious southern gentleman, apologized on behalf of the participants of the   Blue Ridge Relay.  Courteous Space Goats!

7:00am ish- Night legs done we headed to the final team exhange zone at a Baptist

FOOD

Church in  Barnardsville, NC.  These church members rolled out the red carpet and welcomed runners with a hot pancake breakfast, real bathrooms, tent for sleeping, or better yet  a padded church pew for sleeping.  These people were simply amazing and hospitable!  THANK YOU!  We fueled up, and got some rest.  Some got sleep, I got 2 hrs of REST. Most Space Goats chose the padded church pew, one lone goat, skipped the food and went straight to the tent for sleep. She  had the tent all to herself.  Clearly, the quietest she had been in 24 hrs.

Laura “Most Talkative Goat” in her private sleeping quarters

Space Goats, Rested, fueled, ready to run it home to Asheville!

Saturday morning brought drizzle, sporadic down pours, and cooler temps.  Awesome running weather.  Van 1, had endured much excitement during the night assisting the Ultra Team- Where the Hell is Van 2? with locked keys in their van, and Dave’s dog attack.  Two dogs attacked and bite Dave.  Fueled with Space Goat awesomeness…..he outran them.  Way to go Dave!  Feeling giddy, our van mates pranked incoming runner and Team Captain, Mark Cox, by lifting the hood of the van faking a breakdown.  If only I had captured, Marks expression as he ran by. 🙂

Van 2 was off, as Melissa ran the hardest leg of all a Mountain Goat hard 6.5 mile climb!  Delirious The Space Goats cheered and entertained all runners on the mountain goat leg.  We were thrilled to have fellow Ultra Team runner Hazel to cheer!  Things got a little crazy as we entertained!  We are sure that we made a difference for all the runners out there.  We certainly had fun doing it. Scenes from Mountain Goat leg….

Beautiful running man!

hmmmm…strip tease?

Sleep deprivation causes odd behavior or was this a modeling post for Athleta Sportswear

The finish of Mountain Goat

Melissa “MAA MAA Goat” slayed her run and passed 4 runners!  Amazing! Way to go to MAA MAAA!  Next we sent Laura “Most Talkative Goat” off on her dream run…9 miles down hill where she maintained a 7:30 pace!  Melinda “Quite Killer Goat” ran strong on the 2nd Mountain Goat leg and finished strong with a super huge smile of accomplishment and a prize!

Thrilled to be DONE!

John was off and endured torrential rain and cold temps.  Luckily it was his shortest run of the relay and he was able to burn it out!

Holy Hill……

I was off for my last leg once again on the Blue Ridge Parkway, only 4.2 miles but the first 2 were all uphill! I endured, with the finsh line on my mind and burned it out and passed the BRR band to Rusty for the 6.6 mile Glory leg!

We quickly made out way to the finish line to greet Rusty!  Rusty brought us in strong in the pouring rain and cold!  Designated Drinkers a.k.a Space Goats  finished  Saturday 5:56pm with the official time of 31hours and 56 minutes! Average pace per mile 9:05, 95th of 141 teams!

Running in the Glory Leg with Rusty! Where are our fellow Designated Drinkers Team mates…..Mellow Mushroom bar?

While we did not capture an official title, we are ALL WINNERS for SURVIVING!

Space Goats (minus Melinda) at the finish. Poor Melinda was seeking sanity was searching for her family!

Our Men and family welcomed us at the Finish!

My 1st Relay experience was over the top! As my 9 year old would say “Epic”.  I had a blast!  My team was awesome and most importantly my van mates made the experience memorable and highly entertaining!  I gained 4 new nutty running  friends! ( I knew Laura and Rusty prior to our adventure)

While the hours were long, the miles hard, the comradery shared among fellow runners was priceless!  Thanks to all for an amazing relay!

The Asheville night life was not spared from the Legend of the Space Goat. Great job MAA MAA!

Now  as Tommy would say……time for some much deserved “loaf’in” BAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

My runs were dedicated to a dear friend Graham Edward Beacham, whom was called home after a tragic car accident Wednesday prior to the relay. An avid outdoors man, I know Graham would  appreciate the beautiful scenery and quiet of the mountains just as I did.  I cannot think of a better way to reflect and pay respects.  I know I made him proud!  Love and miss you dear friend!

Second Wind Toast for Graham and a job well done!

Rest In Peace Dear Friend……