You Know You’re a Ragnarian If…

Mer and Cam here! Mer is a recent first time Ragnarian, while Cam is our seasoned pro with more than 10 Ragnars under her belt with her first back in 2012.

While Ragnar PA presented its own unique course and yes, set of challenges, we are both of the opinion that Ragnar is one crazy good time (emphasis on the crazy).  Besides the awkward post-race walk and the huge medal, there are a few telltale signs you’re now a Ragnarian.

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

When you used to see white vans, you thought there were strangers that were going to lure you with candy and going to kidnap you.

Now you think that there are strange people that you may have just met who will give you candy… and drop you off in the middle of nowhere to run.

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You spend the days leading up to Ragnar buying random props and costumes off the internet and practicing your stealthy ninja ways… and fighting off your children from playing with your props. They are NOT toys, people, they are props!

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

If anyone says anything resembling a song lyric, there will automatically be a sing-along.

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

When setting up a ninja star assembly line four hours before you’re supposed to get up to run 200ish miles becomes a priority.  Furthermore, when only sleeping four hours before running 200ish miles is the “good” plan.

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The early ninja gets the kill!

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It seemed like a good idea at the time…

You know you’re a Ragnarian…

When you start sharing toilet paper with your new friends. Also, when you’re moved to tears by the sight of indoor plumbing.

You know you’re a Ragnarian…

When you all of a sudden need not one, but two new Ragnar sweatshirts… in June.

You know you’re a Ragnarian…

When you develop the ability to sleep anywhere because even concrete has to be more comfortable the van.

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You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You never see another hill again in your life, you would be a-okay with that.

At least you get an extra medal for running straight up a mountain! Poc-o-nooo he didn’t!

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

Even though you hate them, you can still appreciate those hills because at least it gets you views like these:

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You can’t help but question your sanity but then you see this sign and it makes it all better.

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

Even after all this, you start planning your next Ragnar because as soon as you’re apart, you miss your relay team.

And even when you’re still together but know you’re going to be apart.

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It’s so hard to say goodbye!

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You know that you can do anything because, after all, you’ve done a RAGNAR.

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Have you done a Ragnar Relay? If you have, what would you add to this list? If you haven’t, does this make you want to do one or have we scared you away? 😉

Keep Calm and Love Our Earth

What are you doing to help our Mother Earth? That’s the question that we’ve been asking ourselves lately and been getting a lot of good ideas from one another. Here’s a compilation of what we are doing to make an impact.

As I’m sitting here typing this, the East Coast is preparing for a late-season snowstorm. A snowstorm in a winter that has been relatively void of snow. Or even cold weather for that matter. Now, weather and climate are not the same thing, as we know, but stronger, more unseasonable storms are certainly an indicator of a changing climate. It’s also hard to imagine that human activity, particularly since the Industrial revolution, hasn’t had an adverse effect on the planet. Between searching for and harvest natural resources, to filling landfills and urban sprawl, humanity has certainly made an impact on the environment that we share with a world’s worth of flora and fauna.
I have a minor in Environmental Studies, and during my time in school, I spent a lot of time studying the interplay between humanity and our planet. During one class, we were asked to keep a daily journal of the small ways in which we were changing our habits to be better stewards of the planet (I went to a Franciscan Catholic university). Some of the habits I developed then, I still practice now. Particularly, taking public transit when available – living near DC, this is pretty easy to accomplish, fortunately. While my commute is no longer on the metro system, any time we venture in to the city, we take the train. And while in the city, we walk everywhere.
An academic at heart, I also make a concerted effort to stay informed about environmental issues. Having grown up in Alaska, I’m very in tune to the important balance that exists to maintain resource sustainability over time. Whether I’m reading about current environmental projects, or engaging in environmental advocacy, I’m always doing my best to better understand the impact I have on the world around me, and how we, as a society, as a people, can practice stewardship over dominance and ensure that we have a healthy planet for generations to come.

Saving the planet is my day job. I spend a good portion of each work day looking for ways to operate our business in a more sustainable and socially responsible way. Today, I organized a latex paint recycling event for 1800 employees. Tomorrow, I’ll be booking speakers to educate my people on how to protect our local watershed. Later this week, I’m meeting with folks to see how we can reduce the amount of carbon emissions our businesses generates. You might say that I’ve leveled up when it comes to being green, and my job has taught me a few things along the way.

Afternoon at the Boulder Flatirons. This is why I’m a Sustainability Coordinator.

If you want to make a big impact and you’re concerned about changes to environmental policy, I strongly urge you to attend your local city council and county planning meetings. Most environmental policy is created at the local level; the EPA only dictates minimum requirements for regulations. Go and tell them you don’t want fracking in your community, or that you expect existing protections to remain in place. Get vocal locally!

Vote for your values with your dollars. If you make it clear that you only support sustainable companies, it teaches other not-so-sustainable companies that they’d better get on board if they want to stay competitive in the marketplace. Easy things like buying locally sourced food, getting your next pair of shoes from Toms, or your new pair of eyeglasses from Warby Parker. You have lots of power here, use it!

And lastly, one of my favorite easy things to do is pick up litter I see when I’m running. It’s easy to help keep the road and trails clean and maintained.

Recently while running a particularly race I couldn’t help but notice how many cups I slogged through at each water stop. There were some runners that had handheld personal water bottles or hydration packs but overall, many took cups and cups of water (me included). Fast forward a few weeks and while signing up for another race, the Shenandoah Half Marathon, I noticed that they have a cup free policy.

Looks cool but creates a lot of waste.

I’m looking to make changes within my home where I can. My kids bring their lunches to school most days and the amount of plastic sandwich bags we were using for snacks (one for the classroom, another for lunch) was ridiculous. It felt wasteful and unnecessary. Instead I picked up a set of Tupperware and I’m sending their snacks in those instead. It was just a small little change but we are reducing the amount of plastic we’re using, which feels great.

On the same train of thought I’ve been focusing on remembering to bring my reusable bags into the grocery store. I know in some states they don’t even have a plastic bag option or there is a charge if you need one. That’s not the case in New Jersey but just because the convenience is there doesn’t mean that I need to take advantage of it. If I buy something at a drug store, rather than getting a bag, I opt to just throw it in my purse. It might be small but imagine if we all do things like that – it can really add up!

We’d love to hear what little (or big!) things you are doing to help our environment! Have any ideas to share with us and Scoot a Doot readers? Please comment below. 

2016 Was Tough… But So Are We

We’ve all had some beef (understatement) with the year known as 2016, but some really great things happened as well. So for this post, rather than focusing on the sad, we are doing our best to count our collective blessings and looking forward to what 2017 has in store (and maybe give 2016 a few parting shots, because how can we not?).

This year. Man. I thought it was bad when Alan Rickman died, and then again when Gene Wilder left, and even again when the election happened, but this week? Woof. I feel as though 2016 has just taken my heart and stomped it into tiny little pieces. Carrie Fisher was my first spirit animal and the only princess I ever cared about wanting to be.

But, I digress. This post is supposed to be happy. And in the shit year that shall forever be remember as 2016, the one truly great thing that I can cling to was… getting engaged. And not just for the obvious reasons. Yes, it means that I get to marry the guy that makes my heart the happiest. But, it also resulted in such an outpouring of love and support from our friends and families. Knowing that we have so many people in our corner and on our side as we take the next steps in our lives is so comforting. In all of the (low-grade) stress that wedding planning can bring, at the end of the day, it’s wonderful to be reminded that so many people want to share our special day with us and to wish us well. The whole experience is a constant stream of reminders to be grateful for all of the incredible humans I have in my life.

So, 2016, as shit as you were, thanks a bunch for reminding me that even in the midst of loss and sadness, life goes on and it’s actually pretty great. Suck it, 2016. We’re better than you.

This year has been like an epic space battle in my head: The Optimistic Rebel versus The Tyrannical Cynic. I’ve been floating somewhere between join the rebellion and hide like the old hermit, just trying to emotionally survive until we can find a way to bring balance to the force that connects us all, that bind the galaxy together. Yes, I know my nerd is showing. I don’t even care.

All nerdy musings aside, so many voices were silenced this year; voices of progress and empathy and laughter and hope. We all feel the void. I’m so pissed about a lot of things that are happening in our world right now, and I feel helpless. But like the dandelion that sprouts from a crack in the sidewalk, there is a gift that this shit year has given to those who will receive it.

Thank you, 2016 for some perspective. As a liberal progressive living in California and working in public education, I’ve always recognized that there was more work to be done. I just didn’t realize how much more. 2016 was a year of privilege burdened by the inevitable aftershock of disbelief. Now it’s time to fight. Also, it’s time to unplug and spend more quality time getting to know my kids and my partner again. We go through these daily motions of waking, working, eating, sleeping, and in between, our faces glow from a screen. If 2016 taught me anything, it’s that social media are the donuts of the internet. It’s so good when I take my first bite, but afterward I just to throw up. Lastly, it’s more important than ever for me to do my part to protect our planet. It’s literally the one thing we have that we can’t live without.

So yeah, 2016, you need to GTFO. And fair warning 2017, you’d better watch yourself. I’m in the mood to kick a little ass.

2016 was a great year for me personally, which is weird to say. I kind of feel guilty that I had so much good happen to me in 2016. I went to Disney for the first time, turned 40, bought my dream car, got the best present in the world from my husband; a trip to Space Camp, and ran three half marathons. Some parts of 2016 were fabulous, and I wish I could do them a second time. Although, I do get to love my car and my husband every day. I’m blessed for sure.

I was also heartbroken by the loss of so many of my childhood idols and important voices we lost too young. I honestly can’t start thinking about it or I’ll cry. (The force is one with you, Carrie.) It just hurts way too much. I’m choosing to believe this is what’s happening:

And it’s a little known fact to my fellow Chicks that I’ve always been something of a political junkie. There wasn’t really a need to get riled up during the Obama years because, well, as a progressive liberal from one of the bluest counties in one of the states least affected by the Great Recession, I was in my bubble. And things looked fine in my bubble.  Buuuut, I’m also a fan of (or maybe ‘student of’ would be a better term) George Orwell. So for me, 2016 was full of head shaking and fist shaking and local activism. Like Cam, I will be channeling my inner Ellen Ripley and Princess Leia to fight for all that is good in this world under the name 1976_Patriotess. BRING IT, 2017.

You can likely guess what I loved most about 2016… Yep. Baby Joe.

My maternity leave ends in a few days and I’ve cherished my time bonding with my son, born 16 weeks ago. I can hardly believe how fast this time has flown and at times am beyond exhausted. But one gummy grin from my guy and all the challenges melt away.

I’ve been wanting to write about his birth (an unexpected c-section after 19 hours of labor), early days of motherhood, the challenges of breast-feeding and other life changes for this first time mom, but it just never happened.

I look forward to an incredible 2017, which will begin with a whirlwind 2 weeks solo parenting, pumping in the office and beginning of daycare. Any back to work advice you can offer me as I leave Joe in the hands of our beloved caregiver, would be greatly appreciated!

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2017!

From a personal standpoint, 2016 has been an incredible year for me. I’ve remained injury free, hit personal bests in many of my race distances (5 mile, 10k, 10 mile, and half marathon – WHOA), traveled with my husband, and more. But what really stands out to me as the highlight of my year is that we were finally able to purchase a home that we’ve worked extremely hard for the past 13 years.

It’s always a bit daunting to make such a big life change and my family and I are very much creatures of habit. While moving to the next town over might not seem like a big deal to some, it was huge for us. I’m happy that my children have settled into their new school district and that I’ve been able to make connections with new friends (and some old ones that live here, too!). Additionally, since we’re not far from our old stomping ground, we haven’t left anyone behind!

The 2017 calendar is already filling up with social engagements like parties, weddings, races, and more and I’m looking forward to being with friends and family. I hope it is gentle and kind with all of us, because we could really use a healing year. You’ve gotta have faith. 

What has brought you joy in 2016? What are you looking forward to in 2017? 

2016 Top Posts

On Monday we shared the gifts we gave each other for the holidays. Today we’re sharing the gifts you’ve given us over the past year by highlighting what really spoke to you as readers! (Besides giveaway posts because let’s be real, you guys REALLY like those!)

Let’s get this party started!

Mer hit the dusty trail for the Run the Vineyards 5 miler and subsequently, it lands as the 5th most read post on our list!

Vic shared her struggles with overextending while pregnant and it struck a chord with many of our readers.

Kyle took on the ridiculousness of the BMI scale and refused to be defined by it.

Vic’s life had many changes in 2016. Many difficult and many blessings. We can all agree that 2016 has been a helluva year.

Jenn shared her running skirt with pocket waistband tutorial and many readers planned to break out their sewing machines to make their own! It comes in at number one on our most read list for posts of 2016. We want to see your finish products!

Thank you for spending yet another year with Scoot a Doot. As we approach our 4th year of blogging, we are grateful for both the people who have stuck with us since the beginning and those whom we’ve met more recently!

Secret Ho Ho Hos – 2016 Edition

It’s that time again! A time for giving and caring and sharing!

This was our 4th Secret Santa exchange and as always, it was so much fun to see what we got one another. Our parameters were staying within a $20 limit and picking something that we think the recipient will love. We used a website to match us so we would be extra surprised (and some of us didn’t include a gift message so we’re still figuring it out!)

If you need to grab a last minute gift, maybe one of these will inspire you.

I got Kyle, and I chose a hand-thrown mug and lid for her, along with a few of my favorite teas. I struggled with choosing a mug, there were two that I thought she would like. One had a woman turning into a bird in hues of blue and aqua, and the other had lovely music notes and staff. I know her love of music and signing, so I ultimately went with the mug with notes.

Then she messaged me to say that the lid arrived ok, but that the mug had not. 🙁 Sooooo, I’m off to the Celestial Seasonings Factory Gift Shop, and I really hope they have another one with music notes. At least she’ll have some nice peppermint tea to keep her warm while she waits!

Knowing our newest mama chick hasn’t been doing a ton of running lately, but has been playing with her cute kiddo, I wanted to get her a gift that a new mom would appreciate. I reached out to another friend who has also recently had a baby and asked what her favorite mom swag was. As an athlete herself who is trying to get back in the swing of running and working out, her answer was no surprise. She recommended a nursing sports bra – which she touted as not only comfortable, but also easy to use and wear. I knew that while Vic hasn’t been putting the miles in lately, maybe something like this would help that transition when the time comes!

Third time’s the charm! Once again, I was paired with the fabulous Cam. I laughed out loud when I saw my match because I was Cam’s Secret Santa the first two years of the exchange. I hope I nailed it those first two years, but I wanted to do something different without repeating themes or ideas.

Knowing that Cam loves to bake, I got her two themed baking items.

I splurged on ninja cookie cutters since Cam’s Ragnar team is centered around ninjas! These things are adorable!

Cam’s second gift is also to be used in the kitchen, but apparently won’t be delivered until after Christmas. (Thanks for misleading me on that one, Amazon) so I don’t want to say what it is here. I’d rather Cam be surprised when it arrives. Let me just say – it’s out of this world! And I know Cam will enjoy the force it brings to her recipes!

Obviously, the gift I chose for my Secret Santa was motivated by our upcoming Ragnar adventure.  I wanted Meri to have everything she needs for her night run in Pennsylvania this June.  I found her a stylish purple headlamp and matching blinky light to guide her way through Amish country.  This Ragnar has been a long time coming and I can’t wait to share it with her!  Happy Happy Holidays, my sweet friend!

I was paired with Jenn! She and I obviously have some good brain share going on because I sent her a mug as well, knowing that she enjoys drinking her tea. We originally met through our love of books and reading so when I saw this “banned books” mug, I knew that she would appreciate it. Jenn is a non-conformist and she doesn’t follow the rules when it comes to writing. I fully expect to see an update of this mug with a book that she’s authored listed (and we’ll read it anyway because we do what we want).

I also sent her this sweet yoga top that I’ve been eyeing for awhile, just waiting for the perfect time to send to her (this was it!) and a little Whisper sign from My Favorite Sign Company, a small business with whom I work closely. Jenn’s dogs are her world and I knew that she’d be nodding her head with this message.

We hope your holidays are merry and bright. If you’d like to check out our past exchanges, click on the years below.

2013, 2014, 2015

What are your favorite gifts to give? Get? We’d love to hear about what you’re looking forward to this holiday season!

Guest Post: My First Marathon – Space Coast Marathon

About this time last year I got a text from my friend and running buddy that said “I think I’m going run a marathon”. My response was probably something like “Nah” to which she graciously told me I didn’t have to run it, but it was something that she wanted to do. I was fully prepared to cheer her on and be a supportive friend. I’m good at that.

In all honesty, thinking about running a marathon is pretty exciting and scary. I did think a lot about it before it was time for sign ups. Then, in February of this year, my stepfather unexpectedly passed away. He was the type of man who was always supportive of me, no matter what I did: running, school, career-wise…everything. So, I wanted to do a thing that he would be proud of.

We both signed up, had our initial adrenaline rushes and, well…then we forgot about it, to be honest. Being teachers, we do end up with some free time over the summer to plan and train. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way, does it? We would exchange texts telling each other to get into gear but it didn’t always work out. Once school started in August training became a distant thought.

Then it was October.

At first we debated whether we should even go or not. We thought about taking “The Wormhole” out and completing the half marathon instead. A couple of times we ran together after school and tried to stay accountable with our own long runs over the weekend. Eventually we just kind of decided we were going for it, training or not.

A few days before the race I was talking to my co-worker, Ali, who ran Space Coast and she mentioned that the volunteers dressed up as space-inspired groups, so I hopped on Amazon and bought a Star Trek pin, searched the stores for a yellow shirt, and put together a simple-but-nerdy outfit.

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We left for Cocoa Beach Saturday morning to make it to the expo and packet pickup. Most of our conversations were jokes about dying and hoping we didn’t injure ourselves because, you know, our training was limited.

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The expo was crazy busy, so we only really stayed long enough to pick up our packets and a couple of little things. (Snacks and headbands, of course.) After a dinner of beer and pizza (yes, really) we tucked ourselves in at 7PM.

By 3:30AM I was wide awake and kind of ready to get the show on the road. We got up, got ready, and with the help of Michelle’s husband and son made it to the start point… after a quick stop for coffee. We spent about forty-five minutes before the race started getting things prepped. I finished my bagel and peanut butter, tried to drink some coffee to wake me up, and took a couple of trips to the bathroom.

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By 6:20AM we were lined up at the starting point, listening for announcements and trying not to freak out. Michelle and I have run a lot of races together. All of our “first” races have been together, so this one was pretty big for us. Three years ago this time we were running our first 5K together. We’ve come a long way.

After the pledge and a short countdown video we were off! Since we hadn’t properly trained Michelle and I decided to focus on 2:1 intervals. There were a few Galloway pace groups in the race but we didn’t want to commit to a group that we might not have been able to keep up with. The intervals started out fairly well and we were both feeling pretty good at the start of the race. It helped that the Space Coast Marathon’s course is absolutely beautiful!

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Beautiful scenery!

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At mile six!

As we came into mile thirteen Michelle’s husband and son met us at the halfway point. They complimented us and said we were looking strong, then gave us snacks. They’re okay in my book! Truthfully, by the halfway point I was starving! I had a salted caramel GU at about mile eight, but was super glad I picked up some Stinger waffles at the expo. They really helped!

We passed “The Wormhole” as we came around mile thirteen and joked about taking, but we knew we were in it for the long haul. The course continued to stay beautiful and we got to see some of the half marathoners coming in on their way to the finish. Okay, there were also some marathoners getting ready to finish also. Michelle and I thoroughly believe in “slow and steady”.

At each mile marker after thirteen I said something like “this is the longest we’ve been” because it was true and it felt great! My body was protesting a little, but my mind was fully in the game. I was counting the miles and calculating the time as we ran on, but I didn’t get discouraged about anything. I was feeling good, not too sore, and was staying hydrated with the help of some great volunteers.

By mile twenty I was kind of starting to feel it, however. We had kept up our intervals and were doing great. Neither one of us had a real issue with taking a few extra minutes of walking every mile or so, just to take a breather. I could tell that we were both feeling it as we rounded to come back after mile twenty. Usually we can keep a conversation going, but it was getting tough!

As we headed toward the homestretch the wind picked up and kept us cool for the last six miles. The volunteers were still out, cheering us on and giving us snacks (M&Ms!) and water. Since the course was through a neighborhood a few of the residents were out in their yards also. Some had posted signs and left them there but a few were actually giving out candy, snacks, and, in one instance, shots and beer. It was tempting, but I don’t think drinking at mile twenty-two would have been in my best interest.

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I did find the greatest sign for my Captain Kirk inspired shirt at about mile twenty-four and we stopped moving long enough to snap a picture of it:

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Run long and prosper.

As we came into our last mile Michelle’s family joined us again and stayed with us until the end. Around us there were other people coming to walk or run in the last little bit with their friends or family. It was all very moving and a great reminder of how awesome the running community is. I know that it would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t had Mer cheering me on and other friends sending me their well-wishes.

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Rounding the last quarter mile was such a great feeling! Knowing that you’d made it nearly 26.2 miles is kind of mind blowing. When I started running three and a half years ago I never envisioned myself running a marathon. As we ran by people and heard them say “Way to go, marathoners!”, it just kind of hits you in the feels.

Crossing the finish line I felt equal parts of relief and exhilaration. I was hungry and tired, but also kind of hyped up because, you know, I just ran a marathon. After we grabbed out bags, changed our shoes, and loaded up with pancakes and eggs, I sat down and replied to a bunch of texts. To my best friends “Are you alive?” and my mother’s “Are you done yet?”. There were all kinds of notifications from friends online and the outpouring of support from everyone was amazing.

It was just as tough as we knew it was going to be, but still so very rewarding. It’s more than a medal and shirt, though those things are nice. It’s the fact that your body can do amazing things. That you can do amazing things! And that there are always people who you can inspire and who can inspire you.

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Now, I don’t know if another marathon is in my future…but I’m not counting it out just yet.

Happy running!

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter with @thisgirlash_ if you like to talk about books, cats, and running (sometimes). I also blog at Ash Does Stuff.