May 7 was the Avenue of the Giants half marathon. Originally a few friends and I signed up for a half marathon in Sacrament for the end of April. We were excited to have a race close and that a … Continue reading
I have been having some health problems for the last 6 months. Well mid-March is when I first started to notice something was off. It started as extreme fatigue and feeling unrested even after 8-10 hours of sleep. Since then it has progressed my many more symptoms including pain in my joints.
I think its adrenal fatigue or thyroid issues, my mom keeps saying its mono or lupus. While I try to get in with another doctor (headache and a half), I decided that I needed to give Whole30 a real try. Most adrenal and thyroid problems start with your diet, so I need to start there to fix it.
I try to eat pretty healthy anyway, but over the last few years I have reverted more and more back to a high starch diet. This was a problem a few years ago and I know Whole30 will start me off right. So what is Whole30?
Essentially it is a change of eating habits for 30 days. During this month long change here is what is not allowed
- No dairy* – this includes cow, goat, sheep and all of the products made from them – cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream.
- No grains – wheat, rye, oats, corn, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, etc. This includes the bran, germ, and starch.
- No legumes – no beans of any kind! Black, pinto, white, Lima, fava, chickpeas, lentils, or peanuts. This includes all forms of soy, so no miso, soy sauce, tofu, edamame, and tempeh. Check your labels for soybean oil and soy lecithin, they are no-nos.
- No sugar – none, nada, not even the artificial kind! No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, stevia, etc.
- No alcohol – none, nada, not even in cooking!
*Exceptions to the rules:
- Clarified butter and Ghee are allowed. The milk proteins need to be removed or they could affect your results.
- Fruit juices are allowed as a sweetener, just don’t overdo it.
- Green beans, snow peas, and sugar snap peas are allowed. They are technically legumes, but are more of a pod than a bean.
- Vinegar – white, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, champagne, and rice vinegar are allowed. Always check your labels, flavored and varieties that contain sugar or malt are not allowed.
Not too bad right?! Wow this is going to be hard. Honestly the hardest parts for me are going to be Alcohol, and Dairy. 30 days without a beer, at least I don’t have the added stress of finishing school.
So I planned to start this journey on August 1, but I went on vacation August 8th so decided to wait until I go back. So I started August 23. The first week I didn’t notice any changes. I didn’t even really crave things unless it was right in front of me like banana bread or sugar snacks. The second week I actually started to notice a little less fatigue in my normal day. I still have 4 more days left but so far so good. The hardest thing is finding things that are whole30 compliant to have on a long run like electrolytes and foods.
I am now starting to think about what my eating will look like when I finish and what I want first! I think probably a beer. Of course with any cutting out type diet you have to go through a reintroduction phase. So that should be “fun.”
Have you tried Whole30 before? How did you feel about it?
As I just finished my first triathlon, I thought I would share some things that I learned from my first triathlon. I know some of you are thinking about doing one in the future so learn from my mistakes.
OK as I stated in my race recap, I did not train for this race. Obviously that was a mistake. I would have done so much better and been more confident had I trained. Training is important to any race. While I was able to complete the race, I was not confident and did worry I would struggle. Race on the base actually has a training group/ plan that people can join. Of course since I don’t live in the area this was not possible for me. Take it from me, find a good training plan, stick to it, and train!
2. Reapply sunscreen
Sunscreen is important. I did apply sunscreen early when I put my clothes on, but did not reapply the sunscreen. That was a huge mistake. I ended up lobstered. It was around 5 hours from the time I put sunscreen on to race start. Plus I took layers off and such. So put sunscreen on again before the race. Do not be like my dad though. He had a clogged sunscreen can and ended up spraying it straight into his eye looking for the clog. That was not a great thing to do right before a race. While I am on this if you are like me and always have chapped lips make sure to bring ChapStick.I suffered without it.
3. Eat before the race
Nutrition as always is important for race day. Eating before the race is important to fuel your body for the race. Make sure it is something you have ran on before and that your body will handle it. My mom was so sweet and made me a bagel to eat in the car. Unfortunately the bagel had cream cheese on. I don’t like cream cheese so I didn’t eat the bagel and was hungry before the race. I ended up eating an entire bag of honey stingers before the start of the race. So plan out what you are going to eat and eat it.
Hydration is important to any race. I can not stress enough for any race to make sure you have water and can drink it during the race. I made sure to drink prior to the race. I am not the best at drinking water while I am on the bike. This was a challenge so make sure you practice grabbing your bottle, drinking, and putting it back. Stay hydrated.
5. Have a great cheering squad
Finally have a good cheering squad. Not only did I have friends racing the same race with me, but I had others cheering me on during the race and helping me through. My mom raced in the earlier wave and was there in transitions and by the pool cheering for me. That was awesome. My dad did the bike and swim with me. I can safely say if he was not there for the bike, I would have been miserable. I get so bored riding by myself and it probably would have ruined my experience. I am so thankful for him! This race would not have been nearly as enjoyable without his presence. My friend Julie was volunteering for the race and seeing her on the race course was awesome. Every person there to cheer for me was awesome and so encouraging. Get a cheering squad together for your race, I promise it will make all the difference!
I am a triathlete! Wow never thought I would say that.
This weekend I completed my first triathlon, Race on the Base. My family has participated in Race on the Base for years. My parents usually do the triathlon while I do the 5k or the tri relay. This time I decided I needed to do the triathlon for myself. I have always wanted to do one so this was the perfect goal to add to my 30 for 30 list.
If you know anything about the weather we have been having in Northern California, you realize it’s not ideal training weather. All the snow and rain has prevented me from a lot of running as well as biking. I hadn’t swam since July (when our pool was open) and I probably haven’t biked in that long. So I was no where near trained for this.
My goal was to finish and enjoy it. Which is exactly what I did. The run is my best event, as I run more often. It was a 5k run so I knew I would be golden. I took off. About a mile in I realized my pace was closer to a normal 10k race pace which meant I was pushing to hard. I slowed down, but still not enough. Once I finished the run I transitioned and met my dad for the bike. Thankfully he had volunteered to do the bike and swim with me.
The bike was great. We just chilled and talked and enjoyed the ride. We really had a good time. This course is on the Los alamitos joint forces base and the run and bike are on the runway tarmac. That made the wind really difficult. The second lap on the bike the wind really started to pick up and it wasn’t as fun. I was so happy to see the finish, but dreading the swim portion coming up.
I transitioned from the bike and grabbed my goggles. Thankfully I remembered to take off my sunglasses, but I forgot to take off my skirt. As we ran to the pool, I remembered about my skirt and was thankful dad had to stop to take his shoes off anyway. We stopped and I took of my skirt. The swim wasn’t as bad as I expected. 50 meters is way longer than my tiny pool at home. We had to do 200 meters in a 50 meter pool. The first lap was OK. The second lap was more exhausting by the 4th time I was so ready to be done, but it didn’t seem as long.
I was so happy to get out of that pool and finish. I would definitely train better overall next time. The pool was brutal, but overall I had a great time. It was so fun doing it with my family and having family and friends cheering the whole time.
So there is one more off my 30for30 list!
When I get the official race photos I will upload those too!
Sleep is overrated. This is something you learn in Ragnar Relays. You can actually get by and run on a lot less sleep than you think. You can also run on adrenaline for a long time when needed. It is very difficult to get more than an hour of consistent sleep during a Ragnar Relay and it is best to do a little planning and preparation for sleeping prior to the race. There are usually designated sleep spots at major exchanges. These can be the best option for most people. Others pay for hotel rooms and sleep in actual beds. I have gone the hotel route and while it was comfortable, it didn’t seem worth it for 3 hours when you could have more time if you didn’t waste time driving to and from the hotel.
Next option is sleeping at the designated major exchanges. Ragnar has a strict rule about not sleeping in the parking lots unless in the van. This is for safety so you do not get run over by other tired drivers. I have seen people almost run over. They usually provide an area that is grass, field, or inside where they prefer people to sleep. I have tried multiple ways to sleep and still haven’t found the perfect option. I have tried hammock (sometimes hard to find a place to hang), blow up mattress or pool floaty (takes time to blow up), inflatable hammock (good but once again have to inflate), sleeping bag on a tarp (not as comfy but totally doable), and in the van (can get crowded). Each way has pros and cons and it’s really up to you for your own comfort.
During the sleeping portion, it is really important to set a couple alarms and to be in contact with the other van so you know when you need to be ready to run next. Last thing you want to do is search all over a field for your other runners in the dark.
Nutrition and Hydration
Nutrition is an important part of any race training and race day. With a 24-32 hour race, nutrition becomes even more important to plan for. During a Ragnar relay you are going to have to plan out food and snacks. It is important to know your body ahead of time and how long before your run you should eat food. I personally like to eat a few hours before a run to give my body time to digest the food. I also like to eat pretty soon after I run. Taking this into account I look at approximately when I am scheduled to run and then decide what time I need to eat. Then I make sure I have something for after I finish to eat. We usually plan to eat a “real meal” while the other van is running their legs. This gives us time to use a real bathroom and sit for a while.
We try to bring snacks in the van to give us something to eat while we are driving and running. Our go to snacks are usually peanut butter pretzels, fruit, nuts, fruit snacks, and red vines. You should know what your body can function on and plan for those snacks. Some teams do a Costco run before the race and stock up for the whole team while other teams rely on individual members to provide their own snacks.
It is also important to know if you will need nutrition during your legs and how much you will need. This is an individual preference. It is important to run that distance prior to the race so you know what you will need. Personally anything over 4 miles I eat during my run. So any Ragnar leg that is longer than 4 miles I bring some form of nutrition (I prefer fruit snacks or gu chomps).
Hydration is another very important factor in a Ragnar Relay. We usually buy a few huge jugs of water for each van that way each person can fill their individual water bottle. We also grab a few pounds of ice to keep everything cold. It is important to remember to drink water throughout the whole race. Like nutrition you should know if you will need water on your leg. When it is hot, it is a good idea to bring water even on shorter legs. As your body is running on little sleep and odd eating schedule, hydrating is very important especially in the heat. I have a hydration pack for longer runs and a hand held for shorter runs. I suggest bringing some form of electrolyte replacement as well. If it is hot than I will bring in during my runs as well. Otherwise I drink it after each leg to help my body recover. (I prefer nuun as my electrolyte). Remember you will be running on tired legs later so do everything you can to recover from each run.
Safety during any race is very important. Before starting your Ragnar Relay you have to watch their safety video. It is super cheesy but good information. Ragnar requires runners to wear a reflective vest, front facing light, and rear blinking light during all night time hours usually 630pm-630amish. It is important to look at your night legs and see if it will be in a rural area. In these area it is important to have bright headlamp so you can see where you are running.
It is important to be seen as many times you will be running on the side of the road or in sketchy areas. Brighter colors, extra lights, and reflective gear are always helpful at night. Make sure to keep your eyes open for anything that could be dangerous. If you feel weird running through a park in the dark, bring some pepper spray or have someone run with you. Better to be safe than have a problem!
During the day make sure you are always looking where you are going and look out for cars. Do not cross the road when the light is red, it’s not worth it. I have seen so many people almost get hit when running across the street during Ragnars.
Training for a Ragnar Relay can be like most other races you train for. Usually you know what your courses will be far enough ahead of time to plan training. Make sure to train for your longest leg and for elevation. I personally try to do a few days of running twice in the day (one in the morning and one at night). This gets my body used to running on tired legs and running at different times of the day. Remember to train at different times of the day as you will be running at odd hours. As I work night shifts once a month I try to run on no sleep at least a few times during my training.
Another thing most people forget about in training is stretching. It is important to know your body and know what stretches you need to keep your body moving. I have a specific stretch routine I do between runs so that I can loosen up and not get cramps. I also try to get out of the car at every exchange. Otherwise you go from running 7 miles to sitting for 6 hours. It is not a fun experience when you try to get out of the van after that. I try to walk around as much as possible at exchanges.
My personal training includes:
Look at my leg maps (try to do this 2-3 months before)
Make a training plan for 3-5 miles over my longest assigned distance (Longest assigned distance is 6 miles try to train for 9 miles)
In all of my training I take 1 day a week for hills and/or speed drills
As the race gets closer, add a second shorter run 1 or 2 times a week
I also run when I get off night shift on no sleep atleast a couple times
Stretch and foam roll as much as possible.
Recovery between legs:
Many people run their first leg really fast. They get into race mode and take off with all the excitement! This can be really bad. I have learned the hard way to take it easy especially on the first leg. My first race, I pushed myself so hard I was exhausted and sore the rest of the time. I totally regretted it. Take your first leg at a comfortable pace and don’t push yourself too hard.
After each leg make sure to stretch and foam roll if possible. Personally I finish my leg, get in the car and at the next exchange get out and stretch as much as possible. If I have time to foam roll I will do that as well. Then I change my clothes (I hate sitting in dirty running clothes) and spray myself with magnesium oil. Magnesium oil is my best friend at Ragnar races. Magnesium helps your muscles recover and prevents cramping. I made my own and added essential oils that help my muscles recover even more!
Driving and Cars
A lot of the time during a Ragnar Relay is spent in the car. The teams I have been on have always preferred 12 or 15 passenger vans. These make it possible for each person to have some space as well as room for gear. I have seen people do Races in Mini vans, SUVs, and other random cars. It all depends on what you have access to and what you want to spend money on. Big vans make the space nice, but driving them in small parking lots with a lot of other vans can be challenging. Thankfully I get practice in big vans for my job 😉
Most teams decorate their vans with magnets, stickers, window paint, lights, blow up toys, and anything they can think of! You can always tell a team that has never done a Ragnar before as they have minimal if any decorations, while teams who have done many have their system down. Each of my teams have been a little different. When you have a great team name that uses a theme it makes it easier to decorate your vans and come up with costumes. For example we have done Ragnaliens, this give unlimited ideas for anything Alien. Neon colors, crazy decorations, fun lighting, everything!
Vans can get pretty stinky, messy, and crazy within the 24 hours of racing. Sweaty runners, random food, jumping in and out, and exhaustion can make things a little crazy! The biggest thing is friction between people and bad attitudes. This is the biggest thing we try to avoid on our teams. It really brings the whole team down when one or two people are party poopers and in bad moods. Everyone has their moments, but they need to remember that everyone else is tired, hungry, and cranky as well. Choose your team mates wisely!!
The next thing is smell. Oh man the vans can get REALLY Stinky! Think locker room in a much smaller space. My best suggestion for this is to change as soon after your run as possible and place those smelly clothes into a ziplock bag with a dryer sheet. This seals in the smell so it doesn’t spread through the van. If shoes smell put them in a bag too or use newspaper and dryer sheets in them between runs.
Next is mess. The vans have a tendency to get very cluttered and disorganized. Phrases like “have you seen my headphones,” “does anyone know where____went,” become common place in a messy van. I try to keep all of my things super organized in my bag and in a seat pocket if possible. We also tend to create “nests” in the places we typically sit. Basically a seat or an area where all of your stuff is.
Part 2 of Ragnar 101
I bring two bags one is a duffle for all my normal stuff and the other a small backpack that has all the essentials I need with me (Wallet, sunglasses, wipes, hand sanitizer…)
I pick out my 3 outfits ahead of time and place each outfit in a separate gallon size bag. This keeps things organized and makes sure I have what I need.
Clothes for each leg in a separate bag:
Shirt, shorts, socks, sports bra, skirt, and calf sleeves
Plus shoes (I bring two incase I have problems with one or get blisters)
Clothes for between legs:
Strapless dress for changing
Comfy sports bra
Extra fun lights
Wonder woman onesie
Hammock, mat, or cot…
Eye mask, ear plugs
Chargers: phone, garmins, car charger
Running belt (for bib)
Bathroom and changing…
During Ragnar Relays you learn to become very comfortable and thankful for porta potties. Most exchanges have a row of porta potties and most times they have a line. My best advice, bring your own toilet paper incase they run out, and bring hand sanitizer. Some races we didn’t use a “real” bathroom the entire race.
Wet wipes are my best friend during Ragnars! I use them for cleaning up, wiping my hands, and taking “showers” after my runs. I am also a huge fan of changing out of my sweaty clothes and “washing” off as soon as possible after my run. For changing, I bring a strapless dress and change under it so I do not have to change in a porta potty or flash others in the van. Some people towel change, wait for a bathroom, or get a changing tent. I highly suggest learning to towel change.
After my run, I get in the van, get to the next exchange and start my changing process. I put on my dress, take off my running clothes, wipe down my body, put on my next set of running clothes, and deodorant up. Then I try to stretch as much as possible before hoping back in the van for the next exchange.
Changing can be a difficult job. If you have males and females on you team make sure to warn people if you are changing in the van. It’s always awkward when you look back and someone is naked. Learning to towel change will save your life in a Ragnar or figuring out a way to rig your towel between doors so that you can change behind it. Also make sure you know if the windows are completely see through or not.
Pooping… Always carry tp or wet wipes, always try to poop before… friend pooped in a lowes parking lot (hope you don’t mind me sharing that J)
I Recently did a Ragnar 101 event on Facebook. It was successful so I want to share some of my information with you! It will be in a few different segments.
What is Ragnar Relay and how does it work?
There are two types of Ragnar Relays, Road races and Trail races. So far I have only done the road races, so most of my information is about the road version of Ragnar. I will try to include as much trail information as I can throughout. I do plan to do a Ragnar Trail this year!
Ragnar Races are 12 person (Road) or 8 person (Trail) relay races. Each road races covers around 200 miles of running as a team. The team is split into two vehicles with the first 6 runners in one and the second 6 in the other. (more about vehicles in another post). Each car does their 6 legs letting one runner go and driving to the next exchange to switch out runners. Once all runners in their car have done their first set of legs they hand off to the other car and then go get food and rest before their next set. Each runner runs 3 separate legs of the race averaging around 12-15 miles total. Most teams finish in around 24-30 hours.
Teams can have less runners if needed for the team. In 2015 our Napa team only had 8 runners. It ended up being really fun as we were all in one van together and got to be one team for the entire race. In this race we skipped the set of legs that those runners would have done. Some people choose to make up those legs by running extra legs when they do not have enough runners.
For a typical Road Ragnar the cost per person without hotels usually ends up around $300. This depends on what car you use or rent, decorations and team shirts ordered, sleeping arrangements, food, gas, etc. This seems like a lot of money, but it can be done cheaper. If you are willing to cut out conveniences and comfort you can make your Ragnar experience pretty cheap.
When you form a team it is best to get all the registration money up front. This makes people have a financial commitment in the race and they are less likely to drop out. Nothing worse that trying to find a replacement last minute because team members aren’t committed.
So if you have decided you are going to do a Ragnar Relay check out their website to decide which race you want to do. I love Socal and Napa! Then find 11 friends (or strangers) to sign up with you and form your team. Then start the planning and training process. My teams have always been from different states and countries. This can make planning difficult. We usually set up a private Facebook group for the race so that we can talk about all things Ragnar and make plans. If not everyone has Facebook, we usually do group emails.
On the way home from Paris we spent a few days in Boston with our friend Brittany. It was so nice to see her and see Boston. Sera had never been before so it was a treat for sure!