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 🙂

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Running in Circles Croatan24

Admittedly, I told my sister more than once she was CRAZY for running around in circles. Why on earth would anyone in their right mind want to run around in circles, sleep deprived, for 24 hours? Despite her numerous attempts to to convince me it was “So Fun”, I remained a non believer with ZERO interest.

Amy( my sister) with Ashley and I at the CedarIsland40 finish!

Amy( my sister) with Ashley and I at the CedarIsland40 finish!

Funny how things change!  Hours fresh off my ultra redemption run in April. Ashley, Amy and I sat around the breakfast table and discussed our next goal.  I remember vividly Ashley saying “lets do 100k at Croatan24.”  After running 10 hours with Ashley the day before I had become rather trust worthy of her. No offense to my sister(Amy), but Ashley’s validation and enthusiasm about running around in circles solidified for me it was something I must give a try at least once.  Just like that, with my feet and toes trashed from 42.54 miles, I was now setting my sights on 62 miles! Gotta love a stretch goal!

 

With 7 months to prepare, and one successful ultra under my belt I was ready to tackle the 100k.  One thing was for sure, I had to do something different with my feet or I would never achieve my goal.

Feet Prep  Supplies - RunGoo, Fixing Your Feet Book, Injinji toe socks, Arbonne foot creme!

Feet Prep Supplies – RunGoo, Fixing Your Feet Book, Injinji toe socks, Arbonne foot creme!

Bryon Powell author of  Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running ultramarathons referenced John Vonhof’s book Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatment for Athletes. WOW!  Tons of information regarding foot care. Something  I had never given any thought.  Foot care and blister prevention took top priority on my training list.  I religiously, scrubbed callouses, conditioned my feet, taped pre-run with Kinseo Tex Tape, and  lubricated  with RunGoo. Additionally,  I  ditched my Asics Gel Kayanos and moved to Hoka Stinson Lites.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these shoes and am a HOKA convert for life. I have never felt this strongly about a shoe before in my life.  #HokaLove!  5-6 months into my foot-care routine, I was able to run “naked” with no taping just lubrication and my injinji socks.  Major milestone! If you struggle with blisters or other foot aliments I highly recommend John’s book.

November finally arrived and I was ready to tackle the 100k. I was physically and mentally ready.  I was excited and organized!  I was going to be prepared for whatever the 2.33 miles loops had in store for me.

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Ready for 24 hours of running or 100k..whatever comes first!

Ready for 24 hours of running or 100k..whatever comes first!

At 8:00am, with beautiful weather we were off and running in circles! Due to trail maintenance at the typical Crotan24 location, this years race was moved to an alternate location within the national forest.  The trail 2.33 miles in length, was generally hard packed sand, minimal roots, pinestraw, and several large sandpits.  The sandpits added a aggravating challenging.  Croatan veterans were vocally frustrated by the sandy nature of the trail. The fine sand and silt wreaked havoc on participants feet.  Having nothing to compare to, I found the trail slightly challenging but nothing I could not handle.  I was prepared!  The sand and silt was not going to slow me down!

Sharing the trail with Ultramarathon legand and world record holder Valmir Nunes  far right)  He lapped us the entire time:) Honored to share the course with such greatness!

Sharing the trail with Ultramarathon legend and world record holder Valmir Nunes ( far right) He lapped us the entire time:) He had one speed…FAST!  Honored to share the course with such greatness!

We agreed to a 6:2 run walk segment from the very start.  This proved to be a great ratio. The first 13 miles went by really fast.  It was a great day and I was feeling good.  At 14 miles, I took my first “pit stop”  for foot maintenance.  Good call, as despite my Dirty Girl Gaiters the fine silt and sand had found its way through the fine mesh in the toe box of my Hokas.  So thankful, I purchased gaiters the week prior. A new running staple for me.

Mile 14 Foot care preventative maintenance! clean feet, fresh socks, and shoe change

Mile 14 Foot care preventative maintenance! clean feet, fresh socks, and shoe change

Ashley, while watching my foot routine some how found a gnarly cacti! Thankfully, the race crew spent much of the day before clearing cacti off the trail Thanks Jimmy B!.  Eeeeek!

Ashleys Cacti= OUCH!

Ashley’s Cacti= OUCH!

Ashley’s foot care consisted of…nothing!  She and her Luna Sandals continue to amazes me!  I thought for sure the sand would cause her issues. Throughout the day, I would inquire if her feet were ok.  They were always GREAT! I finally stopped asking! Amazing!

Ashleys

Ashley’s smart wool toe socks and Luna Sandals

We ran and ate throughout the day.  Heather, the race directors wife, provides a spectacular spread of food throughout the race. The variety of snacks, drinks, and hot food was over the top. Any race that provides a menu is a race for me! Its amazing how food I would not typically eat taste so good when you are running.  I was happily fueled by hamburgers, orange peanut butter crackers, salted potato,  BBQ chips, Fat M&Ms aka. peanut M&M, pizza, grilled cheese, coke, and Mt. Dew.  On a normal day, I would not consider eating most of that.  But on that day it was Yummy! Great job Heather and RacENC!

Road side str

Road side stretch where the runners set up camp!  Also, home to the lap count tent and FOOD tent!

I took my second foot care “pit stop” around mile 30.  I was sticking to my plan to change socks and shoes every 15 miles and apply fresh tape.  Mile 30 and my feet were holding up nicely.  I developed a large blister on the pad of my right foot.  Since it was not weight bearing, I let it be and applied extra tape.  My toenails, cut as short as possible, were tender and I knew I was developing blisters beneath the toenail on my big toes.  I fully expected this.

Foot care round two

Foot care round two

I was thrilled my daughter joined me for the weekend and visited me during the day!

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I ran and Madelyn took in all the sites!

I ran and Madelyn took in all the sites from my chair with a warm blanket!

Still having fun and enjoying myself, day turned to night and we were still running our 6:2 segments. Amy and Jennifer had dropped back, so Ashley and I continued to log the miles together.  The evening brought cooler temperatures but nothing a light jacket could not handle.  I did change into dry clothes and was thankful for that choice.

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The night running was peaceful.  By this time many participants had hit the 50k and 40 mile mark and thrown in the towel.  I am not sure if this was their plan all along but I do think the sandy trail conditions caused many to cut their run short.  We were still clipping away the miles and running in distance PR territory(All miles after 42.54 for me and after 50 for Ashley). There was never any doubt we would not achieve our 100k goal.  It was just a matter of when.  Ashely had a crazy idea we would finish by 10pm giving us time to check out a local pub she had heard about.  I told her she was crazy!  After a little re-calculating (which took some time as our brains were not functioning at full capacity), she realized the suds would have to wait.  Plan B was quickly formed and made sure Amy’s husband stocked the fridge at the house.

I had never run so long at night.  Fortunately, for Amy I gave her my extra batteries for her headlamp.  Unfortunately for me, my headlamp batteries started to drain and my light was getting dimmer by the minute.  It never died completely, the flashlight I packed worked awesome and was really bright.  Next 24 hour race, I will have a bag of batteries and possibly a brighter headlamp.

My Garmin Forerunner 310xt, with a 12 hour battery, impressed the heck out of me by lasting for 15 hours.  When it died, Ashley became our 6:2 alarm for the next two hours.  It was rather funny or at least we thought it was.  She mimicked the beep, beep, beep, beepbeepbeepbeepbeep perfectly.

The final laps seemed longer than usual.  15 hours in, we finally broke our 6:2 segment and walked more. We were so close to being done.  The first glimpse of the light from the lap counting tent was a welcome sight and the signal of another lap complete!

Finally, after 17:47:02 hours and 27 laps we were DONE! Goal ACHIEVED! 62.44 MILE! 

(Congrats to Amy(55+) and Jennifer(50) on their respective PR’s.  Also, for hanging out and waiting for us to finish!)

100K!

100K!

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Fantastic experience and top notch race! Brandon and Heather, RacENC, host an excellent event.   I have no complaints!  Looking forward to 2015! I have my sites on 75 miles! There is no other race where  I would rather make this attempt than Croatan24!

Bring on 75 miles in 2015!

Post 100k feet in great shape! I large blister on pad of foot.  Biggest complaint was blisters beneath toenails.

Post 100k feet in great shape! I large blister on pad of foot. Biggest complaint was blisters beneath toenails.

Despite 17 hours of grime, Ashleys feet were blister free!

Despite 17 hours of grime, Ashley’s feet were blister free! She was clearly very happy about that

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Finally the 5 year running HEX, with my sister Amy was  lifted. After many failed attempts to race together we finally ran Croatan24! We both hit new distance pr’s! Amy- 55+ miles me- 62.44. Amy is the sole reason for my running mania. She challenged me to my first run over 5 years ago. Little did she know the monster she would create! Thanks Amy for believing in me and always pushing me to do more! LOVE U ‪#‎runningsisters‬ ‪#‎sisters‬ ‪#‎BAMR‬‪#‎ultrarunning‬ ‪#‎batshitcrazy‬.