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Gate River Run 2015

23 May

Every Gate River Run is a unique experience. Even after now having run eight of them, they’re all so different in my mind. Different weather, different people, different fitness levels and sometimes even a slightly different course.

We started a new tradition this year. Last year several of us from CrossFit 904 that were running the Gate met up at the Jaguar statue for a pre-race picture. Elena was the noob to the race, so she was held up.

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This year, Ed was the noob, so the crew held him. All I remember is lots of laughing and saying “feet first! feet first!” several times as we all did a horrible job communicating how to set Ed down instead of dropping him on his head.

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After the pic, things kicked into fast forward. We lined up in our corral. Race started. We took off.

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Quite possibly the best timing of any photo I’ve ever taken. (Thanks to Elena for pointing this out as we were running by) Keep looking until you see the joke..

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Saw Courtney again at the water stop she volunteers at every year!

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River Road was gorgeous again this year. My favorite part of the course.

This is when the race took a wicked turn. I struggled this race. I hadn’t been running consistently (I hadn’t been running). The year before I at least had been going to CrossFit consistently so I did fairly well. This year I was barely making CrossFit more than two times a week. Then I made a horrible rookie mistake.

Around mile 5 or so, I tripped on a reflector in the road. Started to roll my ankle. Felt and heard a loud crunch. I sat in the middle of the road for a second as everyone ran by and did a mental assessment. Was something broken? What was that crunching noise? My foot hurt. I knew that. It felt like it did when I had fractured it years back. Great.

This was the eighth year in a row that I had run this race. The first year I ran the Gate, I walked the entire race. It took over three hours, but I knew it was possible. So I trudged on. I finished the race with a horrible walk/run pace.

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Can’t forget the “Mile 7 Banana”!

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I worked hard for this one. Next year I vow to work hard before the race (in my training) so the race itself isn’t such a horrific struggle!

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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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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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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Which Way 5k

20 Jun

Wednesday I took part in the 1st Pace Sports Which Way 5k. I’m not usually really excited about 5k races (I’M SLOOOW) let alone during the summer (HOOOOOT!) especially on a week day, buuuut this race intrigued me.

  • It was free race
  • It wasn’t until 6:30 pm
  • It was a maze. Yup, a maze.

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So everyone met up at 1st Place Sports in San Marco Wednesday night and wandered around the store until we were ready to get started. I was glad to run into my friend Vanessa in the store.

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Asics was on site offering people the opportunity to ‘test drive’ a pair of shoes for the race.

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Finally it was time to get started so everyone walked a few blocks over to the starting line to get started. Doug went over the instructions for the race.

We would run down the street until we saw signs. One would say to turn right, while the other would direct the opposite direction. We were to make a decision and run that way until we came to another decision intersection or a sign that said dead end. If the sign said dead end, we would have to turn around and run back to the intersection and go the other way.

If we make the correct choice at every turn, we would run a 5k. If we make a wrong turn, we could run up to 4 miles.

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AND WE WERE OFF!

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Vanessa and I had decided to start the race together, which was fun. We decided we would each take turns deciding which way to go at each turn.

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Almost immediately we were forced with a decision. I said we should go straight. Just a few steps in we saw someone (a fast someone) from the group running back towards us. Uhh that means we were definitely headed in the wrong direction. We immediately turned around, ran back and hung a right.

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The entire course took us through gorgeous neighborhoods of the San Marco area. I spent a lot of the race drooling over the various houses.

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It was hot and miserable and brutal. The houses were a nice distraction. We passed mile one and we pressed on.

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I think I could handle this house. I could make it work…

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Wait. Where was mile 2?

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Before I knew it, we were finishing and I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN HAPPIER. Thank god we were done. My legs were shot from runs and CrossFit earlier in the week. It was blistering hot. It was miserable. I checked my Garmin, and we’d only actually ran 2 miles? Hmm..

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Well, I am happy to say this is the ONLY race I’ve ever beat Adam… and Everett and Ron!?! No way!

OK so apparently instead of taking a turn that adding distance, at some point we took one that actually shaved distance off. A whole MILE off. I didn’t care, it was really hot and miserable. I’m just glad we were out there getting some miles in, and we were done.

It was a fun race that helped make another training run more fun than usual!

Gate River Run 2013

3 Apr

With all the issues I’ve had lately (Surgery in December, hip pain at Ragnar, back pain at Wolfson 55 etc), I really had no clue what to expect performance-wise for the Gate River Run. I showed up with that race with just one goal in mind: Beat last years time. I won’t hold you in suspense… I didn’t beat it. In fact, I missed last year’s time by a whole six minutes finishing with my second slowest Gate River Run time to date. (The walked the first Gate River Run I ever did which took 3 hours!) Regardless, I felt so much better after the race, so I will accept this as a success and improvement, even if the time doesn’t show it.

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We lucked out with a gorgeous morning.  I had no time goals for this race, so I just jumped the fence and started wherever I could. Yes, apparently I missed some signage that instructed where to actually enter the corral?

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Roxie was my partner in crime for the fence-jumping.

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I was a little jealous of those in the seeded corrals. (There was a time when I actually qualified for a seeded corral! I will do it again!) Look at that looooong row of portalets!

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Ryan Gosling showed up to wish me good luck as we started. We started out by the stadium on Gator Bowl Blvd. and headed towards downtown.

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Zigged and zagged a few streets until we were by Burro Bar headed towards the Main Street Bridge.

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You can see the Green Monster in the distance. That’ll be coming up between miles 7 & 8.

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Don’t look down!

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I love kids holding race signs. How awesome is it that both their mom and dad are running the race?

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BEAKER! I was neck and neck with him previously in a Gate River Run, so it was cool to see someone running in that getup again!

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In San Marco, I made my first Streaker kill. (Kill = passing someone)

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My favorite part of the race is when we run on River Road. The water is so close to the road! The water & sky look different every year.

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Further into San Marco, I had my first mimosa sighting of the morning. There were also people handing out a wide variety of snacks like oranges, frozen grapes, vodka soaked gummy bears, and jello shots. I do not have a stomach of steel, so I always pass these up.

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I just don’t know how they do it. Maybe there’s just cotton balls in there or a balloon filling the pack up?

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Funny, I was JUST thinking how I could go for a good grilled sausage and “BAM!” that sign appeared…

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I ran into a few friends cheering along the way! Thanks Ryan, Jennifer, Erin, and crew for coming out another year to cheer us fools on!

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Caron was cheering this year too!

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Finally, I made it to the Mile 7 Banana!

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Who needs Disney Princesses? We have Bananas and Monkeys!

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Headed along Atlantic Blvd. towards the Green Monster & mile 7/8.

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Surprised to see my friend, Joe, cheering everyone on!

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Finally found Chris from WJXT at the foot of the Green Monster!

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Started the ascent..

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One nice part of the Green Monster is the view of downtown. Another view which seems fairly different every year.

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You would think the descent would be really easy, but honestly, it’s a bit tiring. You can’t just let go and tumble down the bridge or you’ll end up out of control. (I saw someone bite it and break their arm her previously) You need to actually hold back a bit.

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The end is near!! At this time last year, I literally thought I was going to yak. Not too bad this year!

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I made it! I completed my sixth gate river run and headed straight to the post-race party. Health Source Magazine had spoiled me with a few passes to the VIP party for Adam and I. This was definitely worth it. While I never found my way to the beer, I did enjoy a few frozen treats and a flavored beverage. It had bubbles, so I was happy.

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What made it all worth it though was the CHAIRS!! I could finally sit down.

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And just like that, my SIXTH Gate River Run IN A ROW is completed!!

I tweeted something similar to what I’m about to say immediately after the race as I wandered aimlessly from the finish line to the post race celebration at the fairgrounds, but I gotta say it here.

Huge, huge hat tip to 1st Place Sports for this year’s race. They clearly put a lot of effort into trying to improve race operations this year and streamline the starting line and finish line and it definitely paned out.

This year, they introduced a staggered start for everyone. I thought this really helped prevent the initial mad dash and over crowding that’s usually experienced for the first two miles. It was still crowded, but I wasn’t bumping elbows with the runner next to me or having someone step on the heel of my shoe (both of which have happened in previous years).

What I was MOST impressed and thankful for was the finish line. True, I felt a bazillion times better at the finish this year than I had the previous two years, but their improvements also helped significantly. The past two years, once you crossed the finish line, you were forced through fences that funneled you to a narrow row where you would get your water, race towel, and finishers medal. This created a crazy bottleneck. Last year I was totally wiped, and was honestly even afraid I was going to faint. Being crowded into a bottleneck just to get out was almost terrifying (at least if I HAD passed out, I probably would have just fallen on someone next to me instead of the ground).

Regardless, THIS year, after I crossed the finish line, there was tons of open space. I was able to walk freely at a hobble of my liking and grab a water and towel from volunteers before I exited the corralled area and grabbed my finishers medal. It’s a good thing they use the bike racks to corral the area off, because it keeps the spectators out of that space.

So a “Great job!” to 1st Place Sports and team for the excellent coordination of this year’s race. I can’t wait to see what next year’s race brings!

One To Grow On “Wolfson 55”

31 Mar

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A little over a year ago, I headed into Timed Exercise early on a Monday morning (ambitious back then, wasn’t I?) to hear non-stop chatter about a relay race. It sounded like a lot of fun and everyone was so excited about it, I really wanted a chance to prove myself in something like that. Unfortunately, I realized they were all chatting about the race because it had just happened the previous Saturday. Bummer.

So, I mentally put this race on my calendar. Next chance I had in front of a computer, I Googled until I figured out what race it was. One To Grow On (aka Wolfson 55) is a 55 mile race. You can run the entire thing as a solo ultra runner or form a relay of 5 – 11 teammates. The course is a 5 mile loop through downtown Jacksonville going over the Main Street and Acosta bridges. For the ultra, you would run that 5 mile loop 11 times. For the relay, you can run it as many times as you want, as long as your team has a minimum of 5 team members, and the team completes 11 loops total.

So, knowing I had a year, I managed to put a team together. Many of the runners were from the Ragnar team I had just run on, so that definitely helped out a lot!

Here was our official roster & running order:

  1. Adam (bf)
  2. Roxie (Ragnar)
  3. Judy (Friend from Timed Exercise, Subaru Half & Jax Bank Half)
  4. Amanda (Ragnar)
  5. Brooke (Ragnar)
  6. Stacey (Me!)
  7. Leif (Ragnar)
  8. Ryan (coworker of Roxie’s)
  9. Monica (Ragnar)
  10. Stacey (my second lap!)
  11. Roxie  (second lap!)

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The race started at the crack of dawn (also known as 6 am) so Adam and I found ourselves downtown around 5:30 am to stake out our space for the day with our 10 x 10 tent.

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Ahh doesn’t that just look like a luxurious space to spend the next 10 hours or so?

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While we were setting up the tent and gathering, we would occasionally see an ultra runner pass by. At this time I’m estimating they were rounding out their very first 5 mile loop. The Ultra runners start at 5 am. I’m assuming this is so the race director can be assured to go over all the rules and speak with each ultra runner individually since it’s such a huge undertaking, and there is a lot to know. Could you imagine running 55 miles and 22 bridges? Yikes!

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It was easy to tell an ultra runner from a regular runner because they wore bright yellow vests. Such a great idea since they most likely need more cheering and assistance for what they are accomplishing.

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Finally it was time. All the relay runners gathered near the starting line to listen to the brief instructions from the race director.

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Tell it to us, Doug! Lots of rules. (not) We were done in about 2 minutes.

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Adam took off as our first runner in the relay. Shortly afterwards, the sky lightened up into a beautiful sunrise. I can’t think of a better way to watch the sun rise than during a run!  (Ok maybe on a boat… with mimosas…)

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After we got things started, other teammates started trickling in. Amanda surprised everyone with a box of donuts. (Which I avoided as I’m still in shock from the Krispy Kreme Challenge I ran in June.)

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Nom nom nom…

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Judy was the first to pick up the box and dive in. She has a slight addition problem.

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They didn’t nickname her “Sprinkles” for nothing. I call that “stomach of steel”!

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Brooke found our tent without a problem.

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Our setup was fairly simple, though some teams went all out with game-day-style tailgates (minus the beer, of course!)

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Mid race, we started hearing this super loud noise. Looking up, we realized it was a helicopter buzzing around the top of the local CSX building downtown. It was there for about 5 minutes before we realized it was picking some large object up off the roof to set down in the parking lot next door. Very distracting.

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Huge props to the race for their portolet setup! They even had a Purell station!!

At this point I started to get worried. Only one runner hadn’t shown up yet, and we were getting close to her leg of the race. Where was MONICA!?! Finally she showed up… physically at least.

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Hmm. Maybe that explains this a bit? Yah, girl had a fun night out the night before. Time to rally & run!

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That’s better!

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When it wasn’t our leg of the race, everyone had fun relaxing. Some slept…

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…while others relaxed.   (and recuperated from the night before…)

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Great Race Signs:

There were some hilarious motivational signs throughout that I thought I would include.

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I don’t get it.

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How motivational.

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The Timing Chip:

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Ahh the good ol’ timing chip. We each wore the same timing chip that velcro’d around our leg.

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This meant after a runner finished, they had to take it off their leg and put it on the next runners leg.

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Easier said than done. Often someone else would offer a hand. It’s hard after finishing 5 miles to bend over and do that!

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Let me tell you, that timing chip was SLIMY as the day wore on and the sun got hotter!

The 5 Mile Loop:

The course was actually a fairly easy 5 mile figure 8-style loop through downtown Jacksonville that took you over two bridges three bridges. Yeah.. I THOUGHT it was two, but they actually snuck in a third (evil) bridge.

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The starting line was along the riverfront in between the Times Union Center and the Jacksonville Landing. This was great because it gave everyone plenty of room to setup, and we weren’t too far from solid food if needed.

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To start, we ran east in front of the Jacksonville Landing, past their stage.

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This took us under the Main Street Bridge and past the Hyatt.

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About a mile out from the start, we just turned around and continued back in the same direction.

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Shortly before the Main Street bridge, we took a right.

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Hmm, something about that bridge doesn’t look quite right… any guesses?

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Right at the foot of the bridge, we got a surprise with a few spectators cheering everyone on!

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Reading from right to left..
Ultra Registration… $100
Running Shoes… $125
Watching YOU run the bridges…PAINLESS!

Isn’t that lovely?

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Started the slow and steady trek up the Main Street bridge..

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Only to find a bit of a traffic jam near the top.

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Hmm. Guess this is what happens when the draw bridge goes up!

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After a very short wait, we were off again.

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To the right we could see our original starting position…

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And to our left… the Green Monster known to cause a lot of stiff quads and cramped calves in the Gate River Run.

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Because of this race also being an ultra, the “water stops” had a bit more gusto than normal. They handed out full bottles of water, bananas, m & m’s, crackers, cookies, pretzels, granola bars, chips, and even peanut butter and jelly sammies! I do NOT have a stomach of steel, so I passed on these treats. (uh.. and I wasn’t running the ultra so I left it all for those guys….)

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Normally running in costume is not a big deal, but this wasn’t exactly a big race. There were several times along the course I could only see one or two other runners. This meant there were a lot of confused looks by pedestrians and onlookers for the two girls ahead of me running in super hero costumes!! It was quite fun to chase after them the whole loop.

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And chase them I did right up the second bridge, The Acosta. The Acosta is typically my nemesis on training runs, but for this race, we ran along the sidewalk on the other side which is actually not quite as steep.

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I was happy to say I made it up and over without a walk break. Crossing over the bridge, to our right, was where we started (just down to the right of the CSX building).

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To our left, was the Florida Times Union Newspaper buildings, and the riverwalk… with the THIRD surprise bridge. DOH!

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About this time, I’d made it to mile 3. Yay! Over halfway done (with this loop.. I was scheduled for two loops total).

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We ran along the sidewalk (You can just see the Florida Times Union building to the left there).

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Once we made it about a quarter of a mile down the road, we took two sharp left turns..

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…which put us back on the riverfront headed back into downtown….

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…and up onto that third surprise bridge. This bridge is okaaaay. It goes up a bit, then flattens out.. then goes up.. then flattens out etc several times which makes it a bit easier.. and a bit annoying…

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Finally at the top… only to head back down. The down ramp is a big curly cue  that funnels you out onto the riverfront in front of the CSX building.

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A quick dash past our tent, and I was pulling off my timing chip and strapping it onto Leif. Who am I kidding? Someone else ripped it off of me, and Leif put it on himself and took off. I was wiped!

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After I finished my leg, I hung out, took a walk to Einstein Bagels for a sandwich, and relaxed. Oddly, my lower back started to ache. Typically my back doesn’t bother me, so this wasn’t good. I continued on and ran my second 5 mile loop a few hours later and was in PAIN!! Major pain. I essentially spent the entire 5 miles stopping every 10 feet or so and bending over to stretch my back (which did absolutely nothing)! Obnoxious, but I felt I had to finish or I’d be forcing someone else to run extra miles. OY! The picture above is me finishing the second leg in MAJOR PAIN trying my best to put a smile on. I wasn’t too successful.

Since the race, I took it easy for a few weeks and enjoyed a break from running. My lower back still bothers me a bit on occasion (almost 2 months later), but definitely not as much. Thankfully I’ve been able to start running again. I’m focusing on strengthening my back and core which should fully alleviate the pain as well as prevent future issues.

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Towards the end of the day, the race directors setup the official Finish line in anticipation for the runners to complete their 11th lap.

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Roxie completed our 11th lap and those of us that had hung around ran the last 100 years or so with her as a team.

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I am bummed we didn’t get an official team photo, but with everyone’s different schedules, this was all that we could coordinate!

We definitely had a blast (aside from the uninvited back pain), and I look forward to putting together another team in 2014!

If you live close to Jacksonville and are interested in joining us in 2014, send me a message!!

Color in Motion 5k

20 Mar

One of my favorite places to run is the Nocatee Greenway Trails. When Color in Motion contacted me to see if I’d like a free race entry, I jumped at the chance knowing it was going to be at Nocatee.

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Adam, Roxie, and I met up at the start and took a group ‘clean’ photo…

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…and a silly clean photo.

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In typical ‘color race’ fashion, people had already begun warming up, throwing the color packets at each other that has been provided in the race packet.

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Eventually everyone lined up… and waited..

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and waited…

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At one point, I heard the guy on the megaphone mention something about everyone starting in waves. Waves? I don’t recall hearing anything about wave starts before. Everyone was told the race would start at 9. I immediately got Adam and Roxie to follow me as we pushed our way to the front of the pack so we would get into the first wave.

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Ahh that’s a little better. More people behind us than in front of us.

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We managed to get significantly closer to the starting line and were released in the first wave. We had started out behind the Publix and ran towards the trails.

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Once we were off, I began to see some really interesting costumes like white wings.

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And a wedding dress?

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This really puts a new spin on “trash the dress”!

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By this point, we made it to the start of the trails near the Nocatee Splash Waterpark.

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I could see the first color section ahead and knew it was a blue one!

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Yup, definitely blue!

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Once everyone was successfully ‘smurfed’, we continued on through the trails.

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As we exited the trails, we saw our next color station, which was red and yellow.

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It almost looked like this station was on fire with the way the red and yellow blended together into a fiery orange.

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The road was reddish for quite a ways after that color station. We found ourselves sharing the road with local traffic, but the great thing is, there really isn’t that much traffic in that area there this early in the day and they had it well coned off.

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Our third color station was upon us..

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Bright green to start, red to finish.

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I would say I was sufficiently colored as I crossed the finish line!

The Color in Motion 5k was a fun and successful race. I surprisingly loved the simple 5k course they setup.  I really hope Nocatee holds more races in the future!

Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon 2012

18 Mar

So the third and final half marathon of the Tri2B Tough Challenge is officially in the books. Every fall, 1st Place Sports holds three half marathons. You can run them individually as you wish, or you can sign up for the Tri 2B Tough Challenge. If you complete the challenge, you get an extra medal and a lot of pride.

The first race in early October is the Marine Corps Half Marathon, the second is the Subaru Distance Classic Half Marathon on Thanksgiving, and the third is the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon in mid December.

Here’s links to my previous race recaps of the series:

Just like all races, we lined up at the starting line before the sun even got out of bed.

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I was unexpected to see how many people were dressed up in fun costumes!

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Even fun shoes that looked like presents.

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One benefit of running this race is that it’s also a full Marathon. They have several pacers in the race to help keep groups of people on track. These pacers just run the race at at their assigned time whether it’s a 4 hour marathon, 5 hour marathon, 5.5 hour marathon. If I know I want to run the race in say, 3 hours, I know to line up for the start of the race with the 6 hour balloon!

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I started out with Judy who I ran the Subaru Half Marathon with and Roxie.

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Roxie took off (that girl is fast!) at the start of the race and Judy and I stuck together almost the entire race. Around mile 2 or so (I think?), we came across my two favorite runners in Jacksonville, Tom and Becky White! So much fun to see them.

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And of course Santa go into the running spirit too! Running in those boots is not cool though! I imagine he had a lot of blisters in the end. lol

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Around mile 10, I was really hurting and just had to slow down. Judy was on fire, so I told her to go on ahead which she did. Regardless I pressed on. I really wanted to complete the trifecta. I was having a lot of issues running though. I have to admit, I was in a LOT of pain at the end of the race. It was stupid pain. One should not be in that much pain after running. I put on a fake smile and trotted around the track. I even heard them call my name out on the intercom. I heard Adam cheering for me. Once I crossed the finish line, I slunk over to the soccer field in the middle of the track and sat down. Pretty sure some tears were shed. In fact, I KNOW some tears were shed. This was the easy part. The next part was horrible. After sitting and pouting on the grass for about 10 minutes, I had to make my way to my car. Yeah, not pretty. I stopped several times along the way. My back was hurting me. My legs were seizing up. I literally could barely walk to my car, I was in so much pain. THIS has never, ever happened before. Hello, poor training!

I essentially hadn’t run since the Subaru Half, which had finished on a fairly positive note. Unfortunately, I had some minor surgery about a week after Subaru which made it nearly impossible to wear a sports bra. (No, I did not have a breast enhancement, silly!) I had stitches on my side that were right where the sports bra would typically go. Boy, oh boy, did that hurt! So I wasn’t able to do anything. The day of the race I pushed through the annoying pain to finish.

I did slightly injure my leg in the process. It took me until a month later at the Ragnar Relay to realize I was having IT Band Issues. At Ragnar, I rolled the bejeezus out of my hip, which really helped. Magically about a week after Ragnar, everything loosened up, and I was fine. At least now I know what that was all about and how to prevent it in the future.

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After two unsuccessful attempts, I am thrilled to say these bad boys are officially mine. I FINALLY completed the Tri 2 B Tough. Now I can relax and enjoy Fall 2014 running new and different races… Purdue Half Marathon, maybe??

Ragnar: Miami to Key West Part 4

7 Feb

Catch up:

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Meanwhile… we were seeing tweets and receiving texts about Monica who had apparently woken up delirious and motivated. At their van’s exchange where they had some time to rest, she decided to seek out all the vans that had tagged their van (written on the side of their van), and tag them back with a customized Chuck Norris quote.

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Pretty funny, eh? This van was some sort of science van (I honestly can’t remember their team name)

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That is NOT a drawing of the state of Florida on the side of that van…

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After Bob crossed the street to meet us, he was done with his second leg. It was our van’s turn to relax. I believe we had about two hours. This is the point where we began leapfrogging with some runners skipping their assigned leg and running a leg at the same time as another teammate. (This is also the point where I may get things a little wrong because details are fuzzy…)

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Our van headed off in search of IHOP. I would have passed the baton onto Monica, but she chose to skip her leg and run with Brooke later on to save us time. So the next leg of the race was actually Leif’s 7 mile bridge! Andrea had chosen to run with him (are you keeping up with all this??) so it was super awesome to drive by and see both of them running strong and tackling the beast! Honestly, this bridge looked loooooong, kinda boring, and really HOT. Being on the bridge, there was NO shade or tree cover. It seems to me to be one of those runs you enjoy afterwards knowing you accomplished it.

Our van stopped at IHOP, and as usual, they were slammed. There was a wait but wasn’t too painfully long. What WAS painful was how long it took us to get waters, menus, orders, food, check etc. Half our table got their food before the other half. I ended up slamming down a few last french fries after the rest of my team had finished and paid their checks. Hooooorible service. Plus, we were worried we were running late to meet up with Van 1! Since we were leapfrogging, vans had less downtime in between.

We headed to the next exchange and traffic was hooorible. I hadn’t mentioned it yet, but Bob had driven about 98% of the time so far. In fact, Bob was so awesome, he spoiled everyone by not only coordinating the rental of van 2, but he covered the cost of the van rental and gas. Holy moly!! THANK YOUUUUUUUUUUU Bob. Seriously appreciated. So at this point, traffic on A1A was bumper to bumper. I offered to Bob that we could pull over and swap (I was in the passenger seat at this point). He said no.. I started to doze off from the heat of the sun thru the windshield.. next thing I heard was him saying.. OK yea.. Chinese Fire Drill? SURE! That snapped me out of it. (Ragnar officials, stop reading at this point but know I was wearing my safety vest!) We came to a bumper to bumper stop. He hopped out, I hopped out, and suddenly I was behind the wheel of a 15 passenger van.

We drove to the exchange for a brief restroom break. It was some sort of school, this was Adam’s final 4 mile leg. Things were kinda nutty and super busy at this leg, so I unfortunately do not have a picture of him heading out either.

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Stopped at one exchange and it was an adult bookstore. I should have gone inside & bought something to take advantage of the air conditioning. What’s the adult bookstore equivalent of a pack of gum, I wonder..

Next up was Roxie who had the pleasure of starting at the Adult Bookstore (I think this was her stop), then Amanda, then Melissa. This part was a blur. I don’t seem to have any photos (which really helps jog the memory).

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Melissa hands off to Bob who took off on his final 3.5 leg of the race

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Finally it was time for my final leg. We were setup in front of a gas station. Bob came in, slapped the slimy baton on my wrist, and I headed out. I started along the highway which quickly turned residential. I kept my sanity here by running a 4/1. So I ran for 4 minutes, then quickly walked for one minute and repeated. I eventually switched to a 2/1 which had pulled me through the Subaru Half Marathon a few months prior. I was so tired at this point, I just couldn’t keep the math in my head for a 4/1. I crossed a road and switched to a 1/1. I was surprised to realize I could actually run faster on the one minute spurts that I’d been previously running. Even more, I actually wanted to run faster. I also really looked forward to each walk break. I hadn’t brought water, so I was desperately looking for the water station which was supposed to be around mile 2.5/3.

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About this time the scenery had changed & I was running on the waterfront. It was beautiful.

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Came across the water table finally. The guy saw me dunp a cup of water over my head. He said he had a mister & volunteered to spray me. When I walked over I realized it was one of those yard insect sprayers. Gross!! I’m praying it had never been used before. I was too polite and had too little energy to protest. He sprayed me with insecticide-water & I pressed on.

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Isn’t that sunset beautiful?? After I took this shot, the route took me away from the waterfront, and back onto streets & sidewalks. I was getting pretty close. I think I was about 2 miles away from the finish line at this point.

A few times I got a little worried that I’d lost the route because there weren’t that many RAGNAR directional signs along the way. (I was just being paranoid).

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Because I was getting nervous, I pulled up the Find Friends app on my phone to make sure I was running towards my teammates who were waiting at the finish line. This app was a HUUUUGE help during the entire race. Several teammates downloaded the app so we could keep track of where they were along their routes. It was a huge help.

I saw a woman standing next to Ragnar street sign that had stopped blinking. When I came up she said “246” into her walkee talkee. This meant I was close, really close! I have no idea where the “one mile left” sign was. I got a burst of energy & rounded the corner.

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Everyone met me on the sidewalk before the finish line & we crossed together at the same time. I’d had them bring my team shirt so I could put it on beforehand. It was great to see everyone in their team shirts as designing & printing the shirts was one of the tasks I had been assigned.

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After we crossed, Stephanie did her magic at a tent & came back with our medals. Talk about heavy! And they’re bottle openers!

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Then we went to a cool looking restaurant on the water & got our free beers. Yuck! I’m sorry, Saltwater. I’m sure it’s typically a nice beer, but for someone that literally just finished running 6 miles, it was horrible. I didn’t want to tarnish my beer drinking reputation, so I TRIED to drink it, but it just wasn’t happening. We all decided to make our way to the hotel. I tossed my beer along the way.

Ahh we did it!!

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Huge thank you to Stephanie for helping organize the team for practically a whole year. Thanks to Bob for coordinating the second van & covering those costs. Thanks to Leif for coordinating the first van. Thanks to Lindsay who coordinated the hotel deal for Thursday night in Miami and coordinated our 3 volunteers. Thanks to them for volunteering!!

Did that not seem like the LONGEST 48 hours, ever?? 

Want to read some more RAGNAR race recaps?

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