Ragnar Trail Atlanta Recap #Ragnartrailatl

2 Nov

I think it was about two years ago, I was sitting at my desk at an old job when I got the email announcing Ragnar Relay’s newest adventure, Ragnar Trails! I had already completed a my first regular Ragnar Relay and at the time was signed up for my second (which I’ve since completed)

I immediately said “I want to do this!” and then realized the closest one was about 8 hours away in the Appalachian mountains. womp womp! Not sure that would work, at least not anytime soon.

Fast forward two years and I found myself with a sudden freedom… an open calendar… AND a much closer Ragnar Trail event. They now had one in Atlanta. Only problem was, I couldn’t convince any of my running buddies to sign up. It wasn’t that anyone was afraid it’s just that their schedules were just already full. So I waited.. and eventually wrote on the Facebook event wall that I was looking for a team. Doing that, I managed to find a team fairly quickly. I also surprisingly convinced a friend of a friend of a friend, Genn, who was also from the North Florida area, to sign up!

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Basically I signed up with a team full of strangers for a race I’ve never done in another state. There’s nothing that could go wrong here… (actually nothing DID go wrong. phew!)

I sent in my registration fee to the team captain, Desiree, which was $135. Our group was actually made up of 3 or 4 ultra teams and one ‘slacker’ team. The slacker team was made up of lower distance runners (me!) as well as some of those that were unfortunately injured and couldn’t commit to a full ultra distance race.

After all the expenses that go into a regular road Ragnar, I found it hard to believe that registration was really my ONLY predicted hard cost. There were no requirements of vans to rent, no hotels, etc. It was so incredibly simple, it seemed TOO easy.

As for extra gear (aside from shoes and other typical running stuff), I just needed a good headlamp. No vest, no red blinking lights. I already had a good headlamp from the regular Ragnar events, so I was set. In addition, I had my two Knuckle Lights. If sasquatch was out there, I was going to find ‘em.

The only other cost to anticipate was the cost of gas from Jacksonville to Atlanta and back. Genn and I decided to just split this. Every time I had to fill up, she gave me some cash. It was pretty simple.

Overall, the drive from Jacksonville to the race took 4 hours. Our team was issued a starting time of Friday at 2 pm, so Genn and I decided to drive up on Thursday after work. We left Jacksonville around 6ish, and checked into the hotel around 11 or so. Yes, I know I said there were no hotels, BUT we decided to fork over the extra cash for a hotel the night before the race to get in a good nights rest before the race began. This was a really good idea.

For those of you that might be considering this race, there is a hotel RIGHT across the street from the race. When I say right across the street, I mean, one of the courses runs right past it and another one runs around it. I HIGHLY recommend if your team is planning on staying more than one night to all chip in $10 per teammate to get a room together. You don’t need to actually stay there, but having a place to relax, shower, change and shit in peace would be fantastic at times. Plus if there was in climate weather, you would have a break from that as well. It is close enough that you COULD stay in the hotel instead of camping and compete in the race without much of an issue.

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The next morning we woke up early to get setup at camp.  A few of our teammates had arrived Thursday afternoon to stake out our camp site area. Ragnar did not assign our campsite but rather let everyone setup where ever they wanted. We were encouraged to be minimalist with our space requirements to ensure all teams had adequate space, but from what I could tell, this wasn’t an issue at all.

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When we first pulled up, there was a parking lot for us to pull our car over to the side and unload all our stuff. We then left our stuff sitting there, drove our car to the parking lot about a mile away and took the shuttle back. Genn and her son hung out by our stuff while I dealt with the car which worked well. I honestly don’t think anyone would have touched our things if Genn hadn’t been there anyways.

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Our site was fairly easy to locate. Our team had previously setup a Facebook page for everyone to easily communicate through prior to the event. When they setup camp on Thursday, they posted a picture of some of the tents to help us try and locate them which really helped.

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First thing I noticed was were were pretty close to the portalet area. Thank god. There’s nothing worse than waking up in your tent in the middle of the night and having to painfully pee with no clue of where the bathrooms area (hello Ginnie springs!). I had no plans on drinking during my stay, so I didn’t anticipate this really being an issue, but you never know! I have heard from other teams though, that it’s possible to setup camp TOO close to the portalet’s and all you hear all night long is the doors slamming shut over and over. Eeesh. That WOULD be pretty bad.

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When you arrive, they have an area for you to drop your gear. So you drop it off in the grass on the right, then go park your car in a lot about a mile away. Then there’s a shuttle to bring you back or you can just walk. It works fairly well to get you in and unpacked quickly.

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Once we dragged all our stuff to our campsite, we began setting up our tents. It was a this point everything got crazy windy and putting up a tent became a bit of a challenge. To keep my tent from flying away, I threw all my stuff (cot, bags, cooler, drybox) inside my tent and finished setting it up.

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We were predicting some pretty nasty weather overnight, so I had stopped at Home Depot on our way out of Jacksonville to pick up this sexy blue tarp. I went for the size bigger than I thought I needed which turned out to be a fantastic idea. This tarp ended up being the exact size of my tent so I could actually stake it down with the tent to prevent it from blowing away.

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I really liked how this tent used orange tape to mark their strings. Helped keep everyone from tripping over it the entire time.

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Ragnar Trail strongly preaches sustainability so they discourage plastic disposable water bottles. As a result, they provide a water station (aka hose sticking out of the ground). I was a little hesitant that this water was going to be nasty, but surprisingly it tasted fine. Plus, Nuun was onsite with free unlimited samples. I just filled my bottle up halfway with water and halfway with Nuun and was set! Bottoms up!

The Runner Village

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After getting everything setup, it was time to check out the runner village. First stop, the starting/finish line. The course was setup in a big loop, so the start and finish line were the same thing.

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To make things more exciting, they were also filming to make a highlight video for the race. Ooooh!

Here’s the video they ended up using. You can see me right in the beginning in the blue shirt. (I was the first runner so I got to start the race! Yes, I filled the start. It was pretty cool!)

Here’s the video I shot through the starting corral.

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Lots of people liked to crowd around this area to meet up with their teammates and check in on the action. It was also where they were giving a safety briefing every hour or so. I think I ended up hearing the safety briefing in full about 7 times throughout the day. (It was over a loudspeaker which we could easily hear from our camp as well)

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Our team started at 2pm (I was the first runner), so we all gathered around at 1pm to hear our personal safety briefing. I snapped this quick pic with two of my teammates, Seren and Elizabeth.

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Here’s how Ragnar Trail works. A regular team has 8 runners. Each runner is assigned a running position. You always run in that order. Each person runs three legs. Each leg is a different loop of the course, either green, yellow or red so each runner gets to run each loop of the course. (In regular Ragnar, no one runs the same legs). I was runner #1, so the order I was running in was green leg first, then red leg and then yellow leg.

Ultra teams would just combine legs, so the first runner runs runner #1 and runner #2’s legs back to back. They just run into the exchange tent and keep on running right through.

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Next to the starting line, is the runner exchange area which looks like this on the inside. Here you get your bib number from the previous runner and a slap bracelet identifying which leg you are running.

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Yeah, haven’t we ALL said this during a race at some point? Loved this shirt.

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They also had a fire pit which becomes town hall for all announcements throughout the day. At night they lit the bonfire and passed out s’mores to everyone.

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They even had bikes setup you could hop on after a run to help flush the lactic acid out of your legs. I LOOOOVED that they had these and definitely took advantage of them.

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There were several merchandise tents setup including Salomon who let anyone that wanted to borrow a pair of shoes to run in. They had a variety of shoes and sizes available. You just signed up and could take a pair out for a test run for your next leg.

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I don’t like running in any shoes other than mine. I didn’t want to end up with crazy blisters or hurt feet, so I passed on this one.

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Another VERY popular tent was the Oberto Beef Jerky tent. Every time I walked by they handed me more bags of beef jerky. Even better they were holding an Instagram contest which I ended up winning giving me a free 3 months supply of beef jerky!

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Being a “green” race, they also ran everything off of solar power.

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Including a cell phone charging station! This was a huge lifesaver. The race was in some sort of cell phone battery suck zone. I burned through my entire mophie block and a second smaller charger in a day. True, I’m on my phone a lot, but that was ridiculous. The line ended up being 3-4 hours long towards the end of the first day. They eventually had to close up shop because the sun went down and they were running out of solar power for the booth.

One tip if you find yourself in a similar situation, set your phone on airplane mode when you’re not using it. This definitely helps to conserve the phones battery.

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Steve the event announcer kept everyone informed and entertained throughout the day! I loved the music he played so I much he shared his Spotify playlists with me.

As the first runner, my order of legs was Green, Red and Yellow. I ran the Green around 2pm Friday. Then the red around 10pm Friday evening and the Yellow the following morning around 7 am. Our team kept fairly consistent time with each of the legs of my run exactly 8 hours a part. Just long enough for me to fully tighten back up before I had to head back out again!

Here are some pictures along the way that I took. Green was first so I have tons. Red was at night so there weren’t many opportunities for photos. My phone was dead by the next morning for Yellow, so I grabbed some pictures from Ragnar and my teammates for that.

 

Green Loop

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The finish line!

In between the green and red leg, I went to the tent to get the free vegetarian pasta dinner. (I HIGHLY recommend passing on this if you ever do the race. It was kinda gross and cold by the time I got it)

When I was walking back to our camping area… this happened.

Then this happened:

Yup. Double rainbow all the way across the sky!

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firepit - ragnar trail

Red Loop

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Here’s a pic from someone that ran the red leg during the day. We ran several portions on this slate rock. Tough leg!

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Once I finally finished the red leg (which took me forever), I took advantage of the bikes to flush my legs out and the free sd’’mores! They were also showing a movie, which I missed because my leg was right in the middle of it. I’ve tried to find the movie online somewhere since, but haven’t been able to.

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Yellow Loop

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One of the ultra teams in our group. Eduardo, Robert, Robbie & someone I don’t know. Robert and Robbie are actually from Jacksonville and in PRS with me. This was cool because I’ve seen both of them several times since the race now.

Eduardo and I became friends since this race and even ended up joining a team for Ragnar Trails WVG a few months later!

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Susan G. Komen 5k

25 Oct

This race was sorta a big deal to me because it was one of my first official 5ks way back when (back in 2008 actually!).

I signed up for this one last minute through a free entry from work and ran it with a friend that was running his first 5k ever. That’s always fun!

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It was a gorgeous day for the race. Slightly warm, but still cool. I set out to run this race for fun and just see how I finished up since it had been several months since I last ran a 5k. I had already started training for a half, so I knew I should be fine with the distance. I had completed a few weeks of training runs already, I just was completely unsure what pace I would finish up at.

I completely shocked myself by finishing in 31:06. My last 5k was completed in 33 minutes and the one prior was 35 minutes, so it was great to see so much progress! (Which I 100% attribute to Crossfit & better nutrition!)

I was slightly bummed I hadn’t tried to get a faster time though. I was only one minute six seconds away from getting seeded for the Gate River Run! Now I needed to find another 5k to sign up for!

Superhero Competition

25 Oct

This was my very first CrossFit competition. It was hosted at our box, CrossFit 904, which was great for my first plunge into all this stuff.

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This was a team competition, and each team was encouraged to dress as a superhero. My team, Aimee, Ed, Danny & I picked the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The competition consisted of three WODS (or workouts) that we would do spread out between approximately 9 am – 3 pm (I don’t recall the actual times. That’s approximate.) knowing this, I also knew I needed to prepare ahead of time and bring food to eat throughout the day. I stopped into Publix that morning and brought an avocado, 1/4 pound boars head turkey breast, apples, grape tomatoes and some cheese. (Mmm cheese)

Overall it was a great fun day. I PR’d on the second wod with the squat clean. I was super sore before the last wod and was dreading it, but finished strong. I’m looking forward to the next competition I can participate in, and eager to work on some of my weaker movements (pull-ups!) so I have more opportunities to participate in even more!

 

WOD #1
“Fantastic Four”
Teams of 4
400M Run
80 Wallballs (16, 12)
60 KBS (53, 35)
40 Burpees
20 Pullups
40 Burpees
60 KBS
80 Wallballs (16, 12)
400M Run
*Teams may split the work any way they want.

WOD # 2
“Poison Ivy”
5 Mins at each movement to find a 1RM
Jerk- From the rack
Thruster- From the rack
Squat Snatch- From the ground
Squat Clean- From the ground
*Each team member will only complete ONE movement. The other members can help their team member put on weights and rack the bar if it falls. The clean and snatch must be a squat but the bar can be caught high and ridden below parallel.

WOD #3
“Flash Gordon”
15-12-9
Deadlifts- RX (185,125) and Scaled (135,95)
Box Jumps- Both (24,20) but step ups will be allowed for Scaled or Injuries
15-12-9
Double Unders- Both have the option of 3:1 single unders
Front Squats- RX (115,75) and Scaled (75,55)

CrossFit Open 14.1

13 Mar

I’ve been doing CrossFit for ten months now. Wow. I had no clue it had actually added up to ten whole months. It just sounds so much longer than it feels. There are still days I go into the box (we call our gym “the box) to find I’m doing an entirely new movement I’ve never learned before.

(I have a lot of friends and readers that are not knowledgeable of CrossFit details, so I’ll be explaining a lot of terminology as well as my overall thoughts on the workout. If I post something that isn’t clear, feel free to comment below or email me and ask! I’m trying to make sure I explain everything, but I might skip something. If you already know what all this stuff means, good.)

There are also a few movements I refuse to do… specifically jump rope and box jumps. Now, I have a reason. In the Fall, I had to take an antibiotic which has the unfortunate side affect of causing Achilles Tendonitis. I had been really careful with WODS (workout of the day) when I was taking the medication. A few weeks after I’d completed the full round of antibiotics, we had a day that incorporated jump ropes. By the end of that day, my Achilles had flared up. I 100% attribute this to the antibiotic and NOT the jump rope or CrossFit. Regardless, that had been the last day I’d picked up the jump rope… until 14.1.

For the CrossFit Open, everyone world wide can participate for just $20. For $20, you’re guaranteed the opportunity to submit your score for five workouts. Every Thursday at 8 pm EST, the Crossfit Games announces the next workout. Each competitor then has until Monday at 8 pm to submit their final score essentially giving them five days.

In case you were wondering, The CrossFit games have formally been competing since 2011, which started with the first round of Open games respectively called 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, and 11.5. This year, being 2014, the workouts are called 14.1, 14.2 and so on.

I’ve never really been big into watching sports, but for whatever reason, I actually enjoy watching CrossFit. I know, I’m a little sick. I have enjoyed playing soccer, running, and volleyball, but never really that jazzed about watching others participate. I’m not sure what I find exciting about watching people lift weights, but it does it for me. The CrossFit Games website and YouTube channel have quickly jumped up to being one of my most visited websites. I’m starting to learn the names of the top competitors both men and female. Following them on Instagram, Twitter and even Facebook.

The day before 14.1 was announced, our coach posted to the blog asking everyone what they thought the workout would be. I chimed in posting my thoughts along with everyone else and quickly forgot about it.

When 14.1 was announced, I was actually out to dinner with a friend. I had no idea the announcement show was such a big deal. It’s not broadcast live on television. The only way to watch it is to tune into http://games.crossfit.com/ for the live broadcast. Each week they match up two different top competitors to go head-to-head one-on-one live just seconds after the workout is announced. Prior to the announcement, only a few people actually know what the workout will be. (The competitors do not know)

Shortly after 8 pm, my phone started blowing up. Several CrossFitting friends were texting me their thoughts including my friend Elena who was wondering how the heck I had predicted the workout! What? I burst out laughing! The day before I had posted that the workout would be a repeat of 11.1, and I was right! In all my internet stalking, I had heard repeatedly that the workout would be/should be/could be a repeat of what was essentially the first workout to see how competitors now would match up with the competitors back then. On a whim, I posted it.

So what in the world did that mean?

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The workout for 14.1 (and 11.1) would be:

15 Double Unders
15 Snatch 55#

Double Unders are when you do the jump rope but the rope goes around twice before your feet hit the grouud.

uh. Remember when I said I hadn’t done jump rope since September. Yeah. that.

As for the snatch, which was the weighted part of the workout, I actually wasn’t worried about at all. The reason for that was because I would be lucky if I even got one Double Under. I had only ever gotten ONE double under in my life. Basically, I was going to spend ten minutes attempting to get one, single double under so I could get my name on the leaderboard.

“All I want for CrossFit Christmas is one Double Under… “

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So with that said, I had about 24 hours to go. Several of my CrossFit friends headed to the box after work that Friday to practice their double unders. I was terrified I was going to burn out in frustration (and calves) so I waited until Saturday morning.

Our coach had a special workout setup for everyone that was participating in the Open so we could all do the workout together (though this wasn’t required). It definitely added a bit of excitement to everything.

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We had several people there that morning, so our coach broke everyone into several heats. This allowed several of us to help judge each round. Each competitor is paired up with another person so they have a judge. The judge not only counts to keep track of the number of reps, but ensures they’re doing each exercise with proper form. If you don’t do something right, say don’t go below parallel on a squat, you’ll get a bit “No Rep!” and it won’t count towards your score for that round.

I got to score my friend, Elena, and she did great. She and I are quite competitive in a very healthy, friendly way. She’s definitely the push I need some days to try just a little bit more.

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I was actually the last of the four groups to go. Sometimes I wonder if our coach does stuff like this on purpose, or if it’s entirely random. I’m pretty competitive and watching everyone else go before me made me eager to try the workout.

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It was incredible seeing so many people work so hard! Yeah, for a snatch, you ARE technically supposed to have two hands on the bar. Unfortunately, Steve cut his left hand earlier in the week, so he had no other option! I’m sure I would have wimped out of the workout, but Steve kicked ass! This definitely shows there are no valid excuses for skipping out on a workout.

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Finally it was my turn. You may notice I’m wearing my Garmin (aka running watch). That’s because I figured if I was only going to get one Double Under, I would have enough energy to run after the workout.

Before long, the timer started and the final heat was under way. I did a single under. Then another three singles. Then tried a double under. WOAH. Stopped the rope. (more like slapped the rope painfully against my shins…)

What was that? I did a double under? Just. like. that. [snap] What is going on? Let me try that again.

jump. jump. jump. JUMP.

stop. [wack.] (that’s the rope whipping my legs AGAIN. ouch.)

OMG.

jump. jump.jump. JUMP JUMP.

stop. [wack]

what! two back to back?

jump. jump. jump. JUMP JUMP jump. jump. JUMP JUMP.

stop. [wack]

Well, this just continued until I actually got all 15 double unders for the first round. Then it came time to pick up the bar for snatch.

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yeah. that’s me bewildered because I really did not think I would be seeing the bar today!

I moved pretty quickly through the 15 snatch. The weight on the bar wasn’t that bad. (After several double unders, that starts to become a different story!)

Next thing I knew I was back on the double unders.

How did this happen?

Back again…

jump. jump.jump. JUMP JUMP.

stop. [wack]

jump. jump.jump. JUMP JUMP.

stop. [wack]

and so on until I noticed I actually got pretty close to Elena’s score…

so then I started asking my judge

“What did Elena get again? What did she get?”

Yeah. I’m that annoying person that didn’t even think I would get a single double under, but in the end made sure I got just. one. more. than she did.

Does that really matter I got more than she did in the long run? Heck no. I had the advantage of going second, for sure. If she had redone the workout on Monday (which I told her time and time again to do), she would have killed my score. I know that. She knows that. We ALL know that. lol

For the scoring on this workout, we were just to count the total number of reps we got. The first round, I completed all 30 double unders and 15 snatch. The second round, I completed 16 DUs. As a result my total score reported was 61.

Why didn’t I redo the workout on Monday to try and better my score? Since I never do jump rope, I was SO SORE. For days. My calves were complete knots. I was honestly limping until the following Wednesday.

What really matters here is that I not only conquered my fear of the jump rope, I gave it my best shot and did pretty darn well. In fact, I’ll be buying my own jump rope now so I can improve. I would like to be able to start doing DUs in actual wods now.

I also got my own personal page on the CrossFit Games website which will be there forever (or until they change their policy)

I also got on the leader board, which was incredibly exciting.

…and I wasn’t last. (Though last beats at least means you tried and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!)

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Ah 14.1. We won’t forget you. At least not until these welts go away.

Onto 14.2. I wonder what challenges that will bring!

Matanzas 5k

12 Feb

The Matanzas 5k in St Augustine was my first “official” race of the season. I can’t believe they were celebrating their 34th year!

I did this race with my friends from my CrossFit 904 box, and it was so much fun. Everyone met up early that morning at the box to carpool down to St. Augustine for the race. I carpooled with 4 other people which was a blast. The drive down seemed to take no time at all because everyone was joking around.

I’ve never done a race in St. Augustine before. For the course, you basically ran around the downtown area in a big loop. Thankfully cobblestones were not a concern on this route.

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Somewhere it was posted or announced that they had about 4,000 people running the race. I was surprised because it really had the feel of a small race. I didn’t think it was ever that crowded at any point.

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My legs were really tight this morning, so I forced myself to run about 1.5 miles just to warm up. My legs STILL didn’t feel quite right. I think maybe I was dehydrated. I really have no idea. It was pretty frustrating.

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Before I knew it the race started and we were running down Avenida Menendez past Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grill – Yum!

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It was a really pretty course. The weather was almost perfect for the race. The day had started out pretty cold, but by the time the race ended, it was almost too warm.

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I was really glad to be done. While my time from previous halfs had significantly improved, I hadn’t hit my A goal which was to finish under 33 minutes. I ended up finishing in 35:01 (34:59 according to my Garmin) which was better than the 39 minutes I’d been running previously. I know if I keep training consistently, the time will improve, so I tried not to let this bother me too much. I was still a real bummer though.

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We hung out for a bit to watch the kids race. Kids are so funny. Full steam ahead then walk. Original interval pros!

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After the race, everyone headed to my favorite casual restaurant in St. Augustine, Back 40 Urban Café! This was the perfect post race place for us to go. I’d called ahead, so they set aside an entire room for all of us. There were over 20 of us! They say this place is the cities oldest secret… maybe not so much anymore!

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Since Ragnar Relay Florida Keys is coming up, I HAD to enjoy a Key West Wheat. Yum!

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And for lunch, I enjoyed the Island Bowl with both Jerk Chicken AND Avocado. It really was great as always!

Another fun run in the books. It was really great to run a race with everyone from CrossFit 904! We’ll have to pick another race in the future to all do together.

Evergreen Pumpkin Run 2013

3 Dec

I was still recovering from Achilles tendonitis so I actually didn’t register for the Evergreen Pumpkin run… but then my friend Anne offered me her race bib. I just can’t turn down a free race bib so I headed out and pushed through the race. My Achilles still felt squishy so I knew I wasn’t recovered, but here are a few of the sights from the race day.

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It takes place in the Evergreen Cemetery in downtown Jacksonville which is surprisingly a beautiful location. The weather always seems to be a crisp cool fall day, which is perfect.

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Even though I wasn’t feeling 100%, it was a fun day. I ran into my friend, Vanessa, out on the course so we ran the last two miles of the 5k together before she continued on to finish the 10 miler! (I only did the 5k)

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The race is always right around Halloween so several people dress up in costumes for the race. How people run in some of these outfits is beyond me!! I liked the group above because it was a team costume. We have Chick-fil-A, Mcdonalds, and two other fast food restaurants.

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This guy? He won best dressed in my book. He’s an Ironman Triathlon competitor. lol

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4Rivers Sweet Shop

2 Dec

A few months ago, 4 Rivers Smokehouse opened in Jacksonville off Baymeadows near 95. They really have the best barbeque I’ve personally tasted in the area. I don’t know what they do to their turkey, but it’s so juicy, not dry.

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When I’d visited the first time, I was shocked to see they also had a HUGE sweet shop inside their restaurant. From outside, you really had no clue this was hiding inside.

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Woah, right? Where does one even begin?

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I love anything Reese’s, so these look delicious to me!

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They even have their own cronut. I have yet to try a cronut.

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Mmm more Reese’s.

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Bourbon, maple and bacon cupcake anyone?

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In case you can’t read these, it’s Mountain Dew & Dorito on the top. Cheerwine in the middle. and something with Nerds on the bottom.

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Plus they make their own cakes. These cakes are gorgeous. No cutting corners here.

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So for my visit which I dragged my awesome intern, Rodel, along with me, we were invited to try several of their holiday sweets. Oh my. They literally have something for everyone in their case just for the holidays!

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Here’s the tray we were provided when we arrived. Let’s just say our sweet tooth basically whimpered ‘uncle’ when we were done and all we did was take one or two bites out of each!

Everything was delicious though some I did enjoy more than others. As you’ll see, these were all their holiday/fall flavors, so everything we tasted had lots of pumpkin and spice involved.

If you need to pick something up for holiday party or just to pep up your office, I highly recommend 4Rivers Sweet Shop. It’s easy to stop in and quickly pick up a variety of treats.

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First up was the Pumpkin Bayou Bar. This has a pumpkin spice pecan short bread crust with a pumpkin cream cheese filling.

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This was thick but had light flavors. I highly recommend getting this to go, heating it in the microwave and enjoying with some vanilla bean ice cream.

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Next up was the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie. This is two pumpkin cakes sandwiched with pumpkin pie spice frosting and drizzled with white chocolate and toasted pecans.

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This was really tasty but the cake was slightly dry. Being a huge Reese’s fan that I am, I can only imagine how delicious that one is!

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The next item had definitely caught my eye from the beginning. It was HUGE. Literally 3-4 inches high and 5-6 inches wide. The Harvest Pumpkin Stack is made with pumpkin sponge cake with whipped mascarpone  filling with pumpkin pie spice topped with whip cream, caramel and toasted nuts.

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This appeared as if it would be solid and thick like a cake. Because it’s made from sponge cake, it was really light and fluffy with very light spice flavors. I really enjoyed this one!

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We also got to try their Pumpkin Cupcake which was available for a limited time for Halloween. This was made with pumpkin cake with cinnamon and nutmeg spices topped with house frosting to look like a pumpkin.

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This tasted like I was eating frosted gingerbread. Really moist and full of spice flavorings. If you’re a huge spice fan, this is definitely for you.

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Oh boy. It’s not the holidays without a slice of pumpkin pie but what about Pumpkin Pie Cheese Cake? This is made with a pecan ginger snap crust with sweet pumpkin cream cheese filling.

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I loved the pumpkin cream cheese filling but didn’t care for the crust. I felt it was too thick and took away from the flavors of the pie,

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This Pumpkin Cream bomb is a Pumpkin cupcake with vanilla bean mouse hidden inside. Then it’s frosted with pumpkin spice frosting with toasted pecans and caramel.

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Oh yeaaaah. I really just love these. I typically think cupcakes are too dry with too much frosting on top and took much cake on the bottom. 4 Rivers ‘bombs’ have a solution for this. The mousse in the middle is delicious and keeps the cupcakes from getting dry.

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Lastly we tried the Caramel Pumpkin Spice Cronut. Rodel was totally excited to get to try one of these. He’s a huge fan of cronuts.

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These are made with a cinnamon brown sugar pumpkin spice and drizzled with caramel.

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So the cronut which is a cross between a croissant and a donut had a nice doughey soft crunch to it. The cinnamon outside was delicious! I can definitely see why people are going crazy for these.

Have you ever tried a cronut before? Do you like them?

CrossFit WOD 8/6 Step up to the bar

7 Aug

Today’s WOD was really tough but surprisingly fun.

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Strength:

Exp.- Deadlift 3 sets of 5 at 75-80% of your 1RM
Nov.- Review movements

WOD:

100 Double Unders
75 Situps
50 Deadlifts (135,95)
25 Front Squats (135,95)

We completed the warm up and went right into strength.

Since I’ve done Deadlifts several times now, I decided to do the Exp. (read: experienced) part of the Strength segment.

For this, we were to do five deadlifts.. take a break.. then do that for a total of 3 rounds. (So 15 deadlifts total) To determine our weight, we took our one rep max (The absolute amount of weight we could do for one rep) and scaled it down to only 75% – 80% of that weight. Last I checked, my deadlift was #135, though it’s actually been a while since I tested my 1RM for these, so I think I could do more now.

Then came time for the WOD. I just did my first double under a week ago, so I instead did single unders. We were instructed to try and do 300 or 3 minutes total, whichever came first. I know I can do 300 in 3 minutes, but for some reason the rope wasn’t agreeing with me. I blame the rope. I think I just got a wonky one.

We also lowered the weight on the deadlifts to #95, which I was able to do great. But I wasn’t able to do that much weight on the Front Squats. (I just did them for the first time a week ago!) I dropped the weight for the deadlifts and front squats to #85.

I chugged through the WOD. I completed the situps 5 at a time and tried my hardest to not take too long of a break in between. 75 is a lot! I did the deadlifts pretty quickly and think I only took one or two breaks on those. Then on Front Squats, I did about 5 and realized the #85 weight was definitely too heavy. I switched over to a bar of a friend of mine who had been doing #75 and slowly knocked them out. I finished in 17:20.

This workout was tough! I felt like my heartrate was super high the whole time. It was around 180 on my watch.

Felt great when I was finished though!

Can’t wait to see what’s in store for Thursday!

 

 

 

Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

8 Jul

I remember being at a work Christmas party about 2 and a half years ago and I was offered bacon wrapped dates. First off, I thought bacon was bad. (I was wrong) Second, I thought dates looked like cockroaches. Ok, so if you squint a little, they sorta DO look like cockroaches. I’ve never eaten a cockroach and have no immediate plans to, but I’m pretty sure dates taste a bazillion times better.

Fast forward 2 and a half years and I know have a full appreciation of bacon wrapped dates. If you’re interested in giving these a shot (and you really should) they’re extremely easy to make at home.

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First step, take some toothpicks and soak them in water. You need one per date. You don’t HAVE to use toothpicks if you don’t have them handy, but it does keep them from falling apart when you flip them during cooking.

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Line a baking sheet with foil

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Grab your dates. I 100% recommend getting pitted dates. This means the hard seed has been removed for you and makes prep a lot easier. They’re usually near the produce section. Each Publix seems to store them in a different area of the produce section, so I often have to ask where they are or just look around a bit.

NOTE: Just because they’re pitted does not mean the pit is always removed. USE CAUTION when eating because occasionally a pit sneaks through.

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Next, if you wish to stuff the dates with something (like goat cheese) slice each of the dates in half. If you’re not stuffing them, you can leave them whole.

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Once the dates are sliced, just grab a spoon and put some goat cheese in the fold.

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The next step is to wrap them in bacon. You don’t want to wrap too much bacon around them because you want a good bacon : date ratio. As a result, before I start, I cut the package of bacon in half with a pair of scissors. This makes the bacon the perfect length.

Take a slice of bacon, wrap it around a date and stab with a toothpick being careful you don’t stab yourself on accident.

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Put the dates in the oven at 350’. Set your alarm for 5 minutes. When your alarm goes off, grab some tongs and carefully flip each date. Put back into the oven again, and set your alarm for 5 minutes. Repeat until the dates look cooked, slightly crispy and not burnt. The ones above are probably spent a few too many minutes in the oven.

When they’re done, let them cool. If you try one right away, be careful because the center will be HOT! To store, put in a tupperware and put in the fridge.

Grilled Avocados

3 Jul

This 4th of July, grill up something new with the usual burger & hot dogs. Grill up an avocado!

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I used to be afraid of avocados. I knew they were high in fat and thought that was bad.

I was wrong.

Avocados are one of the healthiest foods out there. (and certain fats, the kind in avocados, are good for you… but that’s another day another post)

They’re great as guacamole, but they’re even better GRILLED.

First things first, you gotta know how to cut an avocado.

(It’s a bit difficult to take pictures of this by oneself, so bear with me here. )

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First step is to hold the avocado in your left hand (or non-dominant hand). With a good knife (not a regular or steak knife) insert the knife in the center until you come to the seed. Then rotate around the avocado until you’ve cut a full circle around the avocado and seed essentially making two halves of the avocado.

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Grab the avocado with both hands. One hand on one half, one on the other and gently twist. The seed will stick to one side and unstick from the other.

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You end up with one good half and one half with a seed.

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For the avocado that has the seed remaining in it. Place it in the palm of your non-dominant hand. With your knife, slightly wack the knife into the seed. The twist. The seed should pop right out.

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Then you should [hopefully] end up with two good halves.

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Pour a little bit of olive oil in the center and rub it on the outside with your finger. Place the avocado cut-side-down on the grill for about 10-15 minutes until they start to brown and get a crust.

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When cooked, sprinkle with some lime juice and fill the center with some salsa.

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Then, grab a spoon and dig in! If you brace the avocado with one hand, you can slide a spoon between the skin and the avocado slowly loosening it until it’s ready to pop out. Dig in.

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