race into the new year with winter beach run + tropical smoothie cafe

This is a sponsored post. I have been compensated for my promotion of Winter Beach Run and Tropical Smoothie Cafe. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, January 28 marks the 42nd running of the 1st Place Sports  Winter Beach Run, a 5 mile and 10 mile race held along Jacksonville Beach.

A time-honored tradition in the local running community, this year’s event promises to be better than ever, boasting beautiful ocean views,

a gender-specific tech shirt

and a pretty fabulous finishers’ medal.

Runners will start at the Jacksonville SeaWalk Pavilion at low tide (2:00 PM), and head north for 2.5 miles before the turnaround. The five milers will cross the finish line on the return, while the 10 milers will push through another 2.5 miles to the south and back for their finish. Whatever distance you choose, the Winter Beach Run is a great way to hold to those New Year’s fitness resolutions and kick off your year of running. (Click here to register online, or visit any one of 1st Place Sports’ six retail locations to register in-store).

It’s going to be a chilly one, with a high of about 59 degrees, so bundle up and be ready to rise to the challenge!

Once you’ve collected your bling, don’t forget to celebrate! You should still have time to catch Shine On Hours at Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

Refuel with a SuperGreen Caesar Wrap 0r Salad for just $4.99 or try one of Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s new Powerpacked Smoothies for only $1.99 with the purchase of any entree (breakfast and kids’ items excluded).

Sample from Immune Blast (packed with Vitamin C, orange, apple, banana and orange juice), Health Nut (blueberries, mango, banana and choice of protein), Detox Island Green (spinach, kale, mango, pineapple, banana and fresh ginger), or Chia Blueberry Max (a blend of roasted banana, chia seeds, blueberries, peanut butter, almonds, date, coconut, cinnamon, whole grain oats and whey protein).

Shine On Hours are available at your local Tropical Smoothie Cafe through February 19. Whether you are toasting to your first Winter Beach Run, celebrating a new PR, or enjoying healthy meals and snacks to supplement your new year’s fitness regimen, you’ll find something satisfying and delicious.

Will you be running the 5 mile or 10 mile distance at Winter Beach Run this year?

What Powerpacked Smoothie are you most excited to try?

race report: best damn race jacksonville 10k {1.14.2017}

I am an ambassador for Best Damn Race. I receive some race rewards in exchange for my promotion of the race series. All options are my own.

Last Saturday was my first official race of 2017. I confess, it was time, and the 10K at Best Damn Race Jacksonville seemed like a great way to kick off the year.

I wasn’t able to make it to the race expo on Friday, so I left a little earlier Saturday morning to make sure I had enough time to get my packet. It rained for most of the drive, and I was pretty aggravated by that. Rain is no weather condition for race day.

Despite the construction at EverBank Field, parking was no issue, and I was able to walk right over to Memorial Park (with a pit stop at the rest room, of course).

Packet pickup went smoothly and I headed over to the BDR tent to meet up with some of my fellow ambassadors.

The morning remained pretty foggy and misty, while we waited for our 7:00 AM start time. My plan was to run with Steph, so she came over to meet up, and then went to get on the bathroom line. The rest of us got to chatting and catching up, and before I knew it, I had a text from Steph saying we needed to get to the start line.

And wouldn’t you know, we had about eight minutes to go!

I have a lot of pre-race anxieties, and timeliness is high on that list. I often barely sleep the night before a race because I am terrified that I won’t hear my alarm and will miss the start. I’m not really sure how I let things get away from me like that. As we hustled over to the starting corrals, I realized I had to go to the bathroom again. There was a line. And it was 6:55. I hemmed. I hawed. The line seemed to clear, and I decided I just had to go for it.

I made it to the start line with less than a minute to spare. Victory was mine. It also means that I don’t have a great photo of the start line, because there just wasn’t time.

In the rush, two things happened: I hadn’t been able to reconnect with Steph and I had left my sunglasses in my bag at the booth. Both were pretty upsetting – even when it’s not sunny, my eyes are really sensitive to the glare (I ALWAYS have my sunglasses) and I wasn’t really mentally prepared to run 6.2 miles on my own.

The show must go on though, so I plugged in my music and merged into the moving runners. My good luck from the bathroom carried over – the day never brightened thanks to the thick fog AND within the first quarter mile, I found Steph on the course, and we linked up! All good things!

The 10K course is fairly straightforward – the challenge comes with a big incline up the Acosta Bridge, some little rolling ups and downs on Riverside Avenue, and then the pedestrian bridge back over the river. Nothing significant, but a nice bit of variety for a flat city.

10k

It was a nice run. Steph was also just getting back into things, and so I wanted to keep us consistent. We met that goal, and had a lot of fun doing it. When you get to talking, it makes the miles fly by.

Water and Nuun were plentiful, with four aid stations on the course, and there was ones station offering Gu. I didn’t need to take advantage of any of that this year, but it was nice to have available, just in case.

We didn’t have a PR day, but we were both comfortable with that. It wasn’t in the cards this time, but we will get it back! On the plus,

We collected our bling, and collected our spoils: the medal, beer, and pizza, fruit and diet coke from the food tent. Yum.

Best Damn Race offers a full complement of beverages and snacks. I am good with a cold beer after a run, but offerings included Best Damn Root Beer and Best Damn Cherry Cola, a variety of mixed drinks, water, Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite. I love that they had pizza, bananas, orange slices, brownies, chips and granola bars, too. A little something for everyone.

Another huge perk?

Free. Race. Photos.

There is this one. Which, of course, is kind of funny because I remember being a lot less angry at the finish line.

But also this.

Smiles. In sync. Feet off the ground.

Perfection.

I spent the rest of the morning with the ambassadors, who were either helping out at the race or running different distances.

And then we called it a day.

I love this race and can’t wait for March, when I can do it all over in Orlando. This time, I will be taking on the 10K + 5K Challenge with Meghan.

Not only will we score a 5K and 10K version of this

10k-2

But we will also score this!

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I cannot wait! Don’t forget, if you want to join us for Best Damn Race Orlando, you can still save $5 on your registration for any distance with code RUNPUGS!

What makes a race “the best” for you?

What’s your favorite post-race refreshment?

weekly wrap: 1.8.2017 – 1.14.2017

Happy Monday!  It’s time for the Weekly Wrap with HoHo Runs and MissSippi Piddlin!

WeeklyWrap

If you do a weekly recap post, this is a great way to check in with other active bloggers for extra support, sharing and accountability!

Sunday – 4.2 miles, running; barre trial class, 60 minutes; plank 

This was quite a day. The cold snap left us with freezing temperatures, and even though I was on a pretty tight time schedule, I couldn’t drag myself out of bed for my long run.

In the end, I wound up doing 4.2 miles instead of 6 or 7. I was disappointed in myself, but I was cold and even a little lonely and unmotivated without my running buddy. As someone who prided herself on her solo running, I’ve certainly lost my edge.

I took a quick warming-up shower, and then back into workout clothes for a trial Barre class. K had asked if anyone was able to join her for a complimentary class at a new studio to see if she liked it, and I was certainly game.

It was very interesting. Don’t get me wrong – it was a tough workout, but not something I’m sure I would want to do regularly. The concept of the class is based on very small, pulsing movements with minimal weights and some resistance (I think I am more into tire flipping and heavier weights). There are points where you use the barre for stability or added tension. The class is broken up into a warmup, some floor work with the ball and tube, “seat” work and then abs. My favorite part was the abs.

Also – I just don’t like wearing socks. I would have been much happier barefoot, but that’s not an option.

Monday – rest; plank (1:24.03)

The weather was showing signs of starting to turn .

Tuesday – 5.5 miles, running; plank (1:19.59)

Kait and I had a nice morning run. I want to see if I can get to six miles for each weekday training run. I’m right there, and as long as I have someone with me, I feel like it’s much more manageable.

I spent most of the day at work – first at my regular shift, and then at a huge staff meeting. It was incredibly productive, even though I ended up not getting home until 10:30. That is way past my bedtime!

Wednesday – rest; plank (1:29.34)

Thursday – 4.3 miles, running; 1.3 miles, walking; plank (1:31.28)

I was on my own for the morning’s run, and got a bit of a later start. I had plans to meet a neighbor for coffee, and ended up just running to our destination. It actually worked out quite well. I had to pick up a few things at the grocery store, and took a brisk walk home.

For the afternoon, I had an editorial meeting to attend, which ended up being pretty great – I’ve got a lot of fun assignments coming up and I’m excited to get cracking.

Friday – rest; plank (1:25.90)

I thought about hitting yoga, but decided rest days are great, too. Plus, I was having an early lunch with another friend, and didn’t want to be rushed.

Mr PugRunner went out for a guys’ day with Papa Bear, so when I got little man from the bus stop, we decided to have a chill night – we had scrambled eggs for dinner followed by some popcorn with a movie he had been wanting to see. We were both in bed at a reasonable hour – which was great because I had to be up early for race day in the morning!

Saturday – Best Damn Race Jacksonville 10K – 6.2 miles; plank

I was on the road at 5:15, and a little disgruntled because it rained almost the entire way to Jacksonville. I think we all know how I feel about rain. However, it cleared and gave way to   thick fog – the same as Best Damn Race Jacksonville last year!

I met up with my fellow Ambassadors at the BDR booth, and waited for my running buddy S to show up.

The complete recap is coming up, but it was a blast! No PRs this day, but I do love a good 10K, and this is one of my favorites.

I hung out until the end of the race and then headed home, where Mr PugRunner was smoking ribs on the Big Green Egg for the whole family, parents included.

 

I think it’s safe to say this was a quiet week. I was a little lacking on my cross-training, but the freezing temperatures made it really hard to feel motivated. It’s ok to have a little downtime.

In the meantime, don’t forget that we are giving away this beautiful soy candle from Nourish – click here to enter.

How was your week in training?

What kind of weather leads to lack of motivation for you?

nourish savannah review + giveaway

This is a sponsored post. I am an ambassador for Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon & 5K. Due to that relationship, I receive a complimentary race registration, as well as other sponsor amenities in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

One of the charms of the city of Savannah is the focus on local. From innovative, locally-sourced ingredients in restaurants to the adorable shops lining River Street, it’s refreshing to see the scarcity of national chains and franchises. In our interactions with the residents, we’ve always experienced a pride in providing original and creative products to locals and visitors alike.

Nourish is one such example. Soap-making started as a kitchen-based hobby for co-founder Shoshanna Walker’s mother. Over the years, that hobby grew into a small, home-based business, and finally expanded into a retail store. Today, Nourish boasts five retail stores in the southeast, selling the same quality, made-with-love soaps and bath products they did from the beginning.

As someone with sensitive skin, it’s nice to be able to have a variety of products from which to use, made of gentle natural ingredients, and with very light, non-chemical scents.

This White Tea Ginger Moisturizing Wash quickly became a favorite. It is refreshing without too strong of a floral note, and turns into thick suds on a body pouf or cloth. After showering, my skin felt incredibly smooth and soft, moisturized by the combination of coconut and olive oils. Especially nice is that feeling of all that hydration being locked in, like I barely even needed to follow up with my regular lotion.

Although I don’t take a lot of baths, I love these Bath Fizzies.

The ginger lime is so relaxing and tropical and I love the oils they release into the water with their gentle fizz. The coconut oil and shea butter leave my skin feeling hydrated and smooth, which is especially nice in the winter months, when I need the extra moisture.  Breathing in the fragrant steam while taking a soak leads to a serene experience, and it’s a great way to get me to slow down and enjoy a glass of wine and a good book.

The 100% Natural Lip Balm is an absolute staple. Made with beeswax and shea butter, and with an SPF of 15, it’s perfect for those chapped lips. I always struggle with biting my lips, so this lip balm is a great way to keep them smooth and healthy.

I can’t wait to pay a visit to the Broughton Street location in April to pick up some slices of glycerin soap – I love giving them as gifts (and keeping a few to use at home).

Do you want a little piece of Nourish in your own home? We are giving away this lovely Hibiscus Soy Candle! The fragrance is a combination of the hibiscus flower, with bergamot and lavender.

All you have to do is enter via rafflecopter by leaving a comment on this post and we’ll choose a winner in on January 23, 2017!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon & 5K is coming up on April 8, 2017. In its third year, it promises to be even better than ever, with lovely new bling, a great expo and a yoga session in the square on Sunday. Save $10 off your registration with code PUGS, and enjoy a great racecation with your favorite ladies!

friday five 2.0: dream racecations

This post contains affiliate links.

TGIF!

We are ending the week with the Friday Five 2.0, hosted by Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy.

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Be sure to link up with your own posts, and visit our hosts and other bloggers in the group!

Today we are taking a break from the dreary days of winter and thinking about some dream racecations. I have a few already booked on my calendar, and a few more I’d love to add to my schedule.

Five-2

1. Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon & 5K – April 8, 2017

Savannah in April is a sight to behold. Running 13.1 miles through the historic squares, blooming magnolias and gorgeous neighborhoods is an absolute treat – having so much beauty around almost takes your mind off the miles.

And there is nothing quite like the feeling of sprinting past the iconic Forsyth Park Fountain to cross the finish line

and claim your bling.

It’s an experience you’re not going to find anywhere else.

Choose from the 5K or Half Marathon, and stay through the weekend to enjoy Yoga on the Square on Sunday after the event. Register here, before the price increase on January 18, and remember that code PUGS saves you $10 on either distance.

2. Best Damn Race Safety Harbor – February 4, 2017

When the rest of the country is deep in the throes of dreary winter, there’s an excellent chance that the sun will be shining and warm at Best Damn Race in Safety Harbor.

courtesy of cityofsafetyharbor.com

This race WILL sell out, so don’t wait to register. You’ll get to be a part of the 5th anniversary year of the original BDR, and you’ll score this incredible party manatee bling!

Use code RUNPUGS when you register to save $5 on any distance of Best Damn Race!

3. Asheville Half Marathon & 10K – June 3, 2017

Touted as one of the most picturesque cities in the country, the Asheville Half Marathon & 10K is on my race bucket list. Even though the idea of all those hills is terrifying to a Florida runner, the scenery promises to be absolutely breathtaking, with views of the mountains, the quaint town and the French Broad River.

City IV

 

4. Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon – July 16, 2017

I don’t know what else to say here. Wine. Running. Some of the most beautiful countryside around.

Beautiful medals, music, good food and so much more. While this race is sold out for 2017, I’m keeping my eye on it for a future trip.

5. Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon Weekend – November 11 – 12, 2017

With four different distances from which to choose (full marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K, plus a Remix Challenge), Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas allows runners to race the Strip at night.

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Wow.

Night races are a bit of a challenge for me, but I can’t imagine the kind of energy and excitement that would come with being part of 13.1 (or 26.2) miles with all the neon and music and people. I’m hopeful to be able to make it out west for this one!

 

What racecation are you dreaming of?

Have you ever run any of the races I listed?

 

I am an ambassador for several of the listed races. In exchange for promotion, I receive complimentary registrations, as well as other sponsor amenities. All opinions are my own.

tuesdays on the run: knuckle lights review

I was gifted a set of Knuckle Lights: Rechargeable for personal use and for the purpose  of an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Happy Tuesday!  I’ll be joining up with My No-Guilt LifeMarcia’s Healthy Slice and MCM Mama Runs for “Tuesdays on The Run”!

Tuesdays on the Run

I’m deviating from the official topics this week to talk a little about a new piece of gear I had the opportunity to try: Knuckle Lights: Rechargeable.

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As you all know, I do a lot of my running in the dark. I am usually pretty comfortable with the pre-dawn hours, given street lights and moonlight and whatnot, but extra caution is never a bad idea.

I also know that going into Ragnar, and running on a trail in the middle of the night, I was going to be in need of some serious illumination. I had a headlamp, but I was happy to also have something extra.

Enter Knuckle Lights: Rechargeable.

Retailing for $59.99, the Rechargeables come as a pair with a charging dock, USB cord and wall adapter.

websiteproductpic3

courtesy of knucklelights.com

It was very easy to plug them in and let them power up (indicated by a red-to-green light on the base of each side of the charger.

Another neat feature is that the units magnetically attach to each other, which makes it a lot easier to keep track of them when not in the charging stand. It’s very convenient and a nice touch.

These particular Knuckle Lights units slip easily over the knuckles with an adjustable, soft rubber band.

They are easy to position anywhere on the fingers, depending on what feels most comfortable. I prefer mine right below the ridge of my knuckles, but I can slide them further down my fingers if I choose.

Once I close my fists to run, there hasn’t been any detectable movement or sliding. I can also adjust them to accommodate thicker gloves or long sleeves with thumbholes.

The Knuckle Lights offer three modes: high, low and blinking. Switching between modes requires a simple touch of the button located on the top of each unit. Combined, the Knuckle Lights provide 280 lumens of flooding light (140 lumens for each unit). They are bright and steady, and if you accidentally shine that beam into your (or a friend’s) eyes, you will be seeing stars for a few minutes. Not that I know from experience.

Pro Tip: do not shine directly in anyone’s eyes.

As far as actual illumination?

These are some strong lights!

I can clearly see the stop and street name sign on the corner a quarter mile from my house.  They provide a really nice pool of light ahead of me – I can either direct the light to the road at my feet or shine it forward to check out anything that might be coming towards me in the dark.

They cut through the dark on the trails at Ragnar like nothing. And they are just as effective on my regular, pre-sunrise runs in my neighborhood.

Not only that, but I know that I am highly visible to the cars on the main roads and in my community.

The charge is supposed to last for four hours on high and eight hours on low. I charged them once before Ragnar, where they were used without weakening for about three hours worth of runnings (once I was done with my night leg, I was happy to share). I’ve just been dropping them in the charger when I am finished with them, and can’t report any diminishing of their power.

As a running light, the Knuckle Lights: Rechargeables get two thumbs up from me.

What do you look for in running lights?

Do you carry enough illumination when running in the dark?

weekly wrap: 1.1 – 1.7.2016

Happy Monday!  It’s time for the Weekly Wrap with HoHo Runs and MissSippi Piddlin!

WeeklyWrap

If you do a weekly recap post, this is a great way to check in with other active bloggers for extra support, sharing and accountability!

So this is the first official wrap of 2017! I am excited that I can get a full 52 weeks in with this particular link up. It’s so great to be a part of this group and follow the journeys and accomplishments of so many wonderful bloggers.

Sunday – rest, plank (1:03.89)

January 1 is Mr PugRunner’s birthday, and we were excited to celebrate. After he opened his presents, we went off to brunch at Top Golf.

It was a wonderful morning and afternoon, even though I am so bad at golf, it’s laughable.

Later on, we enjoyed dinner at Bonefish Grill to toast to another great year. New Year’s birthdays are tough, but this one was especially great.

Oh, and I have joined up with a different Plank A Day Challenge, started by my fellow BDR Ambassador, Nanci. Social media accountability is real, folks, so I’m motivated to really keep up!

Another oh! Cold hard cash is a good motivator, too! My dear friend, Marianne, suggested putting $5 in a jar for every workout of 30+ plus minutes. Double workouts count only if they aren’t part of a usual thing (like running followed by yoga counts for $10, but a swimming/cycling/running brick during tri training would only count for $5). At the end of the year, empty the jar and splurge on something fun. Mr PugRunner got into it, too, and so we have THE JAR underway.

Monday – 5.5 miles, cycling; plank (1:10.70)

The next few days promised to be hectic in all the best ways. Little man was going to start back to school on Thursday. My college roommate and her family were spending the night on Tuesday. And in between all that was work and trying to undeck the halls.

Work was insane. I was hoping to get in a 10-15 mile bike ride after I got home, but I ended up having to stay late and then got stuck in awful traffic from a bad accident. By the time I walked in my door, it was starting to get dark, and the local roads were congested with overflow from the accident, so  I told Mr PugRunner that I was calling it.

He took a little pity on me and asked if I wanted to ride the few miles to the grocery store to pick up a few things. I felt better with company and at least it got me out of the house and moving. It was really thoughtful of him to offer it up and I appreciated it.

Tuesday – rest; plank (1:17.43)

We were so excited for our friends to arrive. Mr PugRunner had made pulled pork on the Egg, and when they arrived, we settled right into catching up. Their kids and little man played the evening away, and we set up our camping tent in the loft in which for them  to sleep.

I also got this little surprise in the mail: my Heavy Medal from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series!

I was really hoping to go for three this year, but… well, insert something about life and best-laid plans. It’s ok. I’ve got plenty of time to earn more! There are some great Rock ‘n’ Roll races coming up, so be sure not to miss out!

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Wednesday – 2.6 miles, running; plank (1:21.65)

We were up early to get our friends breakfast and send them off on the rest of their vacation. I only had a short period of time before I had to leave for work, so I made the most of it and busted out 2.6 miles.

Every little bit counts.

Thursday – 5.5 miles, running; 75 minutes, yoga; plank (1:22.59)

Time to get back to work. Kait and I did our morning run

and then, after little man went back to school for the second half of his year, I got my butt back into yoga. Magic!

Friday – 60 minutes, body circuit; plank (1:21.38)

I was so glad to be able to go to body circuit! I had to skip the abs portion because I had an editorial meeting for one of my publications, but it was still a really nice workout with friends.

After my meeting, I went into pretty full relaxation mode. Sometimes, you just have to do it. A severe cold front and major storms were moving in and I had no interest in any of those things.

Saturday – 60 minutes, rock wall climbing; plank (1:23.42)

I had planned on a run. Really. But Kait begged off, and when I woke up to fit in the miles, there was torrential rain and lightning. I wish I could say I was sorry, but I wasn’t.

It didn’t matter – we had a pretty fun day planned at The Edge Rock Gym. It’s been a long time since I have been on a rock climbing wall, and little man always likes to try the walls at carnivals and festivals, so we figured what the heck?

It was insane! And intense! Mr PugRunner wasn’t interested in climbing, so little man and I took our time finding our groove. Once you pay your admission fee, you are pretty much free to spend the day, so we took our time, clipping into the auto-belay on the routes that looked manageable, watching how others made their way up, and generally pushing ourselves to new heights (see what I did there?)

Neither one of us got to the top. This time. But once little man got over his initial fears, we had to basically drag him out of there.

We will absolutely be going back!

After we turned in our shoes and harnesses, we took my parents out to celebrate their anniversary with dinner at a local Italian place.

And then it was home to crank up the heat and get warm for another day of freezing (literally) temperatures. Ugh.

 

All in all, I wasn’t very impressed with myself this week. I had a lot of variety, but didn’t really focus on the things I wanted (running and cycling).

This weekend, I have the Best Damn Race Jacksonville 10K on the calendar. I’m not sure it will be a PR kind of race but you never know. I’ll also be doing the Best Damn Race 10K + 5K Challenge in Orlando in early March. If you haven’t planned to run a Best Damn Race this year, there’s still time to save $5 on your registration for Orlando, Safety Harbor and the brand-new New Orleans events!

bdr-promo-1917

Also, for my mom readers, check me out on St. Augustine Moms Blog. I had a few things to say about my parenting goals in the new year.

How was your week in training?

Ever go rock wall climbing?

race report: ragnar trail alafia river: day 2 {12.8 – 12.10}

Read Part I here!

race-report

 

Saturday – December 10

We left off with me finishing my second leg (in the dark!) and falling sound asleep in low 40 degree temperatures.

I woke up around 3:00 AM, just because others were starting to stir around me. M and A, my tentmates were already up and M was out on her loop while A was prepping for hers. I had to go to the bathroom, but there was no way I wanted to leave the warmth of the tent. Blah. I ate a peanut butter sandwich and huddled in my blankets for just a little bit longer.

Finally, I forced myself up and into clothes. I had missed a few transitions over my four hour nap, and wanted to get back into cheering on my teammates.

Also, we were pretty excited about the warmth of the fire that continued to burn in The Village.

Apparently, Ragnar has also been playing movies against the side of their supply trailer through the night.

I hemmed and hawed over what to wear. The day was going to warm up quickly with less cloud cover, but there was still a serious bite in the air. I opted for capris and long sleeves again, but went without the ear warmer and a headlamp. The Green Loop was noted to be more open than the Red and Yellow, so I wasn’t worried about dark spots in the thick of the woods.

I also chose to return the Wings to Salomon and go in my regular shoes – the Green Loop wasn’t nearly as much of a technical trail, so I wasn’t as worried about traction and support. Additionally, they were noticeably heavier on my feet, and since my legs were so tired anyway, I didn’t want the extra weight dragging on me.

My friend T and I found each other in transition and shared a bit of an emotional moment. She was doing twice as many miles as me, and had just reached the wall. I gave her a big hug and tried to boost her mood a little. I was right there with her in terms of how I was feeling, but we were so close to done.

Finally, it was time to hop into transition and I was off for my last run of Ragnar Trail Alafia River.

Leg 3 – Green Loop, 5.5 miles 7:00 AM

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courtesy of runragnar.com

The Green Loop was supposed to be flat and pretty, following horse trails. It branched off very quickly from the Red and Yellow Loops (maybe 1/2 mile into the run). It rejoined them in the last mile or so, so I knew what the end of the run would be like.

My teammates had also warned us to watch our feet. There were a lot of roots on this trail, making it easy to take a tumble. This was another reason I wanted to be wearing my lighter shoes – I needed to keep picking up my feet.

Personally, I didn’t find the roots to be an issue. Where I struggled was the flatness and softness of the trails. After two laps of climbs and descents, I just didn’t feel like I was making any forward progress at all, and it got in my head pretty quickly. I slogged along, until the middle of the run, when we hit a 1/2 mile long swath of sugar sand.

It might as well have been quicksand. Everyone around me was riding the same struggle bus trying to get through it, and it was quickly in my socks and shoes. Ugh.

Finally, we were through that part and I teamed up with another runner doing intervals. It helped to have someone with whom to chat, and since we get passing each other and falling behind, I suggested we just keep pace together, unless she wanted to be alone. She said she was happy to have someone with her, and so that’s what we did. The trail was still soft, and very curvy, but at least we could keep our minds off it.

Things started to get familiar and we finally saw the “One Mile To Go” sign (Ragnar posts trail markers but not mile markers. You have no idea where you’re really at until you see that sign). Magically, our feet got lighter, and we cruised to the finish line, where I handed off my bib, turned in my slap bracelet and immediately burst into tears.

I don’t even know why.

It took a few minutes and lots of hugs to compose myself, and kind of take in the fact that I just ran 16 miles, while camping, on hills and trails and through the night, on little sleep, little food and without losing my mind.

Holy crap.

But it wasn’t over.

We still had five runners to go, and the day was heating up fast. Two of our teammates had already packed their things and left, due to other obligations, and we decided we would start breaking down the rest of the campsite and get the car loaded so we could be ready to go when our last runner crossed the finish line.

I screwed up my eating on Saturday – for some reason, I mistimed everything, packed my food and then got myself so ravenously hungry I thought I was going to cry. Fortunately, the food trucks were still on hand so I was able to get myself some chicken and rice, which made everything better.

The temperatures warmed up fast. While we all complained about the cold, I was grateful for it in hindsight. There wasn’t much shade, and the remaining four of us (minus whoever was running) laid around in the last remaining tent, trying to rest for the drive ahead, and stay out of the sun.

At about 2:15, just over 29 hours after we started, we headed to transition, and were able to run in with our team captain. In flip flops. Because we are hard core like that.

We were Ragnarians.

We collected our medals. Each team member got one, but when laid out together, they form a message:

PS. This medal is legit. When we picked them up, we were told that in no uncertain terms should we even think about taking them on an airplane. Because no. It’s a can opener/bottle opener/knife/saw/razor/screwdriver/wrench/and God only knows what else.

It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever earned.

And these are four of the coolest women (I wish we had a finisher’s photo with all of us, but there’s always next time).

I can’t describe the feelings I had when we completed this race. When I ran my marathon a few years back, I remember coming across the finish line and feeling absolutely nothing. This time was completely different. I wish I could explain it better, but I was just so proud – I felt (and still feel) like I could take on the world. It was amazing.

I promise I will do a packing and preparation post, but for now, I will leave you with a few thoughts on the race and what we might do the same/differently for next time (because there will be a next time).

  • The race itself was awesome. Shirts and medals were phenomenal. Entertainment was ongoing. Trails were well marked. Runners and staff were generally helpful, positive and uplifting.
  • We packed well. For first timers, and with a weather swing happening while we were en route, I don’t think we could have done better. I personally didn’t have much extra, and while I wish I had felt more organized, I did the best I could under the circumstances (needing to change out outfits on the fly).
  • I would plan to bring better food next time. We had a camp stove, but I didn’t think we would have time to actually cook and eat on it. Two of our team members did make some meals, but we could have done more.
  • I would invest more time in team shirts and the campsite. It would be fun to have some lights and better theming. However, now we know what to expect so it will be easier to up the ante.
  • I would bring a small cooler of adult beverages for next time. It would have been nice to cross the finish line with a beer or something.
  • I wish there was more consistent course photography. I got a few good photos of me going out for the first leg and we had some great group shots, but it would have been nice to have some finish line photos. The available pictures were complimentary, so I can’t complain too much, but those finish line photos are always nice memories.
  • We didn’t take advantage of some of the games and things in The Village. I missed out on the yoga sessions, and while we did the big, Ragnar Mannequin Challenge, it would have been nice to feel out the rest of the community a little more.

And so ended one of the greatest adventures of my life. I am honored to be part of the Ragnar Family.

If you’ve run Ragnar, do you prefer Trail or Road?

What are your thoughts on team relays?

race report: ragnar trail alafia river, pre-race + day 1 {12.8 – 12.10}

Ragnar Relay has been something on my bucket list for a while.

The funny thing? I don’t know why. After all, I have never camped, I hate being cooped up in a moving vehicle, I loathe not being able to shower, and I’m not so much of a people person that I can be cramped in small spaces with a group of  others for extended periods of time.

Quite frankly, Ragnar was not created for people like me.

But, as I have discussed on this blog, the older I get, the more I find myself wanting to push the limits and do hard things. When my friend M mentioned that she was putting together a team for Ragnar Trail Alafia River, my response was a resounding “TAKE MY MONEY!”

76b2a994-d1f7-66ca-a97bb89fa9bb8054

The timing could have been better: two weeks after a half marathon and two days after returning from a romantic 10 year anniversary trip in the Caribbean is no way to go into a grueling relay race. But I am all about a good experience and figured that if I had my ducks in a row and set my mind to it, everything would be just fine.

So here we go.

race-report

Pre-Race – Thursday, December 8.

I had done most of my packing in advance of Antigua. I figured that I could get the bulk of the stuff squared away and I would have Wednesday and Thursday morning to finalize food, outfit choices and any other last-minute things.

By 12:30 on Thursday, I was ready for my ride. (don’t worry, I will post about what to pack, what we should have brought and what could have been left at home).

Our team of eight required three vehicles due to logisitcs (three teammates were on the west coast of the state, and two of the five that live near me needed to leave as soon as their last legs were complete). Ragnar had asked us to minimize cars due to parking limitations, and we did the best we could to oblige.

It took about three and a half hours (with one drive-thru and gas stop) to reach Alafia State Park. Check-in started at 4:00 PM and we were there by 4:30, so right on time. We had not purchased a parking pass in advance, but it didn’t take but a moment to pay our $10, so no worries there.

This was on the radio as we pulled in. Foreshadowing or coincidence?

Our team, Turtle Divas, was meeting up with other friends, who comprised two ultra teams, and we all planned to camp together. Our timing was pretty impeccable, and we were able to get our tents set up on the far end of the official campsite (not at all a far walk to The Village or the portapotties, but far enough away to be more quiet and out of the way).

The plan was to have our camp set up before sunset, which we accomplished. We watched the safety video (“Do not leave the trail for any reason.”) and M checked us in, collecting our bib, belt, t-shirts and assorted swag.

Then we were off to dinner offsite. It promised to be our last “real” meal for a while, and we wanted to carb load and make the most of it. Mission accomplished.

With full bellies, we headed back to camp, and played some Uno before calling it a night.

Our official start time was 9:30 AM, but I had no idea how or if I was going to sleep in the tent I was sharing with M and her sister A.

Friday – December 9

I woke up to rain at about 5:30 AM. Ugh. It was the last thing I wanted to deal with, even more than the unusual cold snap we were facing. I huddled in my sleeping bag until everyone else started stirring, and then got dressed to face the day.

Our first stop was coffee (bring your own reusable cup) and the Salomon tent in The Village.

Rumor had it that Salomon was loaning out demo trail shoes for the race, and we all wanted in. I had a couple pair of regular running shoes with me, but I was incredibly nervous about the more difficult trails. Even though I am typically very superstitious about shoes, and would never dare try anything new on any other race day, I felt this had to be done, and Esther fitted me in a pair of Wings Pro 2, which she said would provide the stability I need, and in which I could put my own Superfeet Berry inserts.

I figured I needed all the help I could get.

All squared away, and fortified with hot drinks, we collected our first runner and got her into transition. At 9:30 AM, the Turtle Divas were on their way.

Yes, that’s a dog. Yes, he’s wearing booties. Yes, I loved him.

I was third in the lineup – I wanted to get the red leg out of the way, and still be on the early side of running. That being said, I didn’t start my run until about 11:00 in the morning. It was weird going out that late, but I felt ok, probably because of the cold and overcast weather.

Leg 1 – Red Loop, 5.9 miles, 11:30 AM

redloop-pic

courtesy of runragnar.com

I headed into transition at about 11:15 AM. There was a tracking system with a timing mat located about .25 miles out (although, it was longest .25 miles EVER) so the next runner could get themselves situated in transition. Outgoing runners would grab a red, yellow or green slap bracelet (coordinating with the loop they would be doing) and waited for the bib belt from the outgoing runner.

Our runner came in and I went out.

I really had no idea what to expect. The loop was 5.9 miles of “roller coaster mountain bike trails” so I took my handheld bottle with some gatorade and a couple of Starburst chews, just in case. The temperatures were in the high 40s/low 50s, but it was raw, so I bundled up a bit with fingerless gloves, ear warmer, capris and a long sleeve shirt. At times, I got warm, but when the wind started blowing, I was grateful.

The red loop and yellow loop set off together for the first 1.5 miles (sharing two rather large muddy puddles that were easily leaped), and then we parted ways. What followed was nothing short of insane. I wish I had thought to take photos but my brain just wasn’t processing what was in front of me – the beauty and the beastliness.

The course cut down to a single track, and started with some ups and downs. There were bodies of water, and trees and slat bridges – some banked and some flat, all so easy to fall from or trip on. There was a buzz of rumors: someone slipped and fell into the water; a runner took a misstep and fell of the side of an incline… I’m not sure what was true or what wasn’t. I took my time, carefully placing my feet and watching for roots, rocks and soft spots.

The pitch of the inclines and descents were new to me. My brain said to pick my way down and then go back up, but if you didn’t charge down the hills, you didn’t have enough momentum to get back up the next one. A few times of scrambling up with my hands taught me my lesson and I learned to just go for it. There wasn’t time to be scared or nervous – it was bizarre because I tend to overthink everything, but this time, I just had to follow my legs and worry about the aftermath later.

At what felt like the very top of the course, I stopped for a moment to take it all in. The green, the water, the foliage… it was stunning.

When I crossed back into transition, I think I was in shock of what I had just done.

I assure you – nothing nice was coming out of my mouth at this moment. I had to process for a little while before I could appreciate what had just happened.

I handed off the bib belt to my waiting teammate, wished her luck and made my way back to camp to get something to eat and drink.

And then it was time to wait. We hung out around the heater in our camp chairs. We rolled and stretched. We wandered back and forth to the Village.

We kept up with the runners coming and going, making our way to transition to welcome people in and send them back out. It was kind of weird – we hung out with our team and the two ultra teams we had traveled out with and just talked.

There was a whole schedule of events, but we never could quite get in sync. For whatever reason, the only times that mattered were when our teammates were coming in and out of transition.

Estimates showed that my next run would be at around 9:15 PM. In the dark.

Before sunset, I wanted to grab dinner – the race provided each runner with a ticket for a meal from provided food trucks.

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to eat (anything besides a peanut butter sandwich, I guess), and settled on a beef empanada with pasta salad. It was perfect.

Temperatures were steadily dropping, so I bundled up again in a similar outfit to what I wore earlier, and added my Knuckle Lights Rechargeable* and a headlamp to the ensemble.

Leg 2 – Yellow Loop, 4.5 miles, 9:15 PM

yellow-loop-pic

courtesy of runragnar.com

When I tell you I was terrified to run on the trail in the dark, I mean I was TERRIFIED. Once again, there were rumors: spider eyes glowing in the dark, a pack of wild monkeys (????) and some guy running in a clown mask. None of those are on my list of favorite things, and I had to really talk myself into a state of zen.

I didn’t even take my handheld with me. The yellow loop was only 4.5 miles, and I was scared of some animal sniffing out my Gatorade or Starburst. Like I said, I overthink everything.

The first 1.5 miles of the trail were familiar from the morning. I leaped the puddles again and just kept going until the turnoff with the yellow arrows.

Even though it was seriously pitch dark (the headlamp and Knuckle Lights offered great visibility, thank goodness, but it was still dark), this course was easier. I played leapfrog with a woman who had fallen on the red loop and was a bit freaked out by the shadows and the tricks the circles of light played with the leaves and foliage so I settled into her pace to chat with her – it helped pass the time, and helped both of us keep our minds off things that go bump in the night.

For the most part, when I wasn’t with her, I was alone. I would occasionally pass or be passed by runners alone or in a group, but other than that, it was just me and the dark woods.

I think I would have loved this course in the day. There were still some swooping hills and slat bridges, but it seemed like it would have been so pretty. In fact, the only thing that I didn’t love was that the clown rumor had teeth. There was an ultra team running in horror movie costumes: Jason, Freddy, Michael and a clown. I’m glad I had a heads up, because when I heard the Halloween theme music cutting through the night, I was prepared for what came up behind me. It was still unnerving, and I didn’t love the fact that even though I actually pulled off the trail and turned my head, “Michael” felt the need to turn around and wave. Nope. I like to think I have a decent sense of humor and am pretty easy going, but I could have done without that in the middle of the woods at night.

A few of my teammates were waiting when I came into transition. It was really nice to have them there and I loved the torches and all the lights.

We stopped for s’mores at the fire before going back to camp. I was hungry but not, and still pretty hyped up and full of nervous energy.

Once we got back to base, the adrenaline had burned off and I was freezing. I probably should have eaten something more substantial, but instead, I got an ETA for my next leg, set my alarm, bundled up in my sleeping bag, blanket and as many top layers as I could find and passed right out.

To be continued….

 

*I was gifted a set of Knuckle Lights Rechargeable for personal use in exchange for my honest review. Fully detailed review coming soon. All opinions are my own.

weekly wrap: 12.25 – 12.31

Happy Monday!  It’s time for the Weekly Wrap with HoHo Runs and MissSippi Piddlin!

WeeklyWrap

If you do a weekly recap post, this is a great way to check in with other active bloggers for extra support, sharing and accountability!

It’s 2017! Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful day and are ready to dig in to the new year. Confession – I didn’t make it to midnight (although I was close), but that’s ok. I was well rested for the first day of the year.

Let’s go back and check out the last week of 2016!

Sunday –  rest

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! I think this picture sums it up pretty well.

We had THE BEST day. Seriously. The best. Usually, I set my alarm super early so I can get up and get our big breakfast in the oven to be ready for when my parents show up (also early), but we changed things up this year. Don’t get me wrong, we were still up early, but all we had to do was crank up the holiday tunes, warm the cinnamon rolls and enjoy each other.

Little man was so grateful for everything. He is at an age where his gifts are a little more grown up and I was almost in tears over how appreciative he was. Parenting is hard, but it felt like we have been doing something right.

We went outside to play with one of his toys, and the kids in the culdesac ended up going to another house to decorate cookies and have hot chocolate. Normally, I wouldn’t have considered it because it just wasn’t part of “the plan”, but this year, I let him go and he had a blast.

My parents came over for a late lunch

and we had such a great rest of day. It was all just perfect.

Even Bentley thought so.

We went to bed with very full hearts.

Monday – 4.5 miles, running

I didn’t really want to go out for a run, but I did want to try out my new Garmin Forerunner 735XT.

Guys, this watch is everything. I don’t know how one little piece of equipment could make such a difference but it does. It was a fabulous run, and I am looking forward to many more.

I did have to go to work, so little man went to his friend’s house for the day. They had a blast entertaining each other, so it was a good day.

Tuesday – 3 miles, cycling

I had the day off and wanted to make the most of it. Little man wanted to use his Tropical Smoothie gift card, so I suggested we get out the bikes and take a ride. It was really foggy, so we made use of the Christmas lights on them to help with visibility.

Afterwards, we paid a visit to the in-progress St. Augustine Aquarium. There is definitely plenty of work to be done, when it is complete, it’s going to be wonderful. I’m excited to try the zipline course.

Next was lunch and then little man went home with his grandparents for the night.

Wednesday – 5 miles, running

Another fabulous run. I was really missing K and our morning chats, but it was nice to be able to run in the daylight, too.

I had a short day of work, and the hours flew by – because it was Game Day!

Our family, Papa Bear and our friend R were making the trip to Orlando to watch the Hurricanes take on the WV Mountaineers in the Russell Athletic Bowl! Kick off was 5:30 and we made it to our parking spot in plenty of time.

The first quarter was rough, as the Canes settled into their groove, but after that, it was smooth sailing to victory!

We stayed after the game for the trophy presentation, and then the players came around the field to high five and take selfies with the remaining fans. Magic.

Thursday –  rest

We didn’t have a restful sleep. Mr PugRunner ended up with food poisoning from some bad jerky and was up most of the night. I was really worried that it was the stomach bug, and spent the morning getting Papa Bear and little man out of the house and scrubbing everything down. Fortunately for the rest of us, it was an isolated thing, and Mr PugRunner was feeling much better after lots of fluid and rest.

For my part, once all the laundry was done, I parked my butt in front of a Game of Thrones marathon. I can’t say it was a bad way to spend the afternoon.

Also? Team Pretty in Pink is ready for the 26.2 with DONNA Marathon Relay! I am really looking forward to it. It’s the 10th anniversary of this race, and our team is made of some truly incredible women.

medal-graphic-1

Friday – 5.3 miles, running

I was hoping to go for six miles, but it was freezing cold (literally) and 5.3 was just enough.

Mr PugRunner was feeling better so we decided to go to the outdoor mall. I had to do some shopping for his birthday on January 1, and he needed the fresh air. All in all, it was a very relaxing afternoon, and I was glad we were able to spend some time together.

He was still pretty tired, so after we got home, we just watched some movies and hung out on the couch.

Saturday – rest

It felt pretty good to not have to set an alarm. We were expected at my parents house around 12:30 for a New Year’s Eve celebration, so we took our time getting ready. We always have a great time there, and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

At home, Mr PugRunner and little man made it all the way to midnight. Molly and I certainly did not, but let the boys have their fun. I wasn’t too disappointed not to see the ball drop. I was ready for 2017 either way.

Don’t forget, we are giving away an Armpocket Flash to celebrate the New Year! You don’t want to miss out on this one!

How was your last week of 2016 in training?

How did you ring in the New Year?

 

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