Chick Chat: First Race Ever

We didn’t choose the running life, the running life chose us!

Actually, that’s not true. I think that anyone can tell you that it’s a decision, and sometimes a struggle to get out there day after day, year after year and run.

It’s a love/hate relationship. There are times when it’s awesome and there’s other times when it sucks and we dread every minute of it. But being that it’s Valentine’s Day, we are going to focus on love and share our very first race experiences with you.


When I started training with C25K (Couch to 5K) in the summer of 2013 I’d signed up for a The Color Run with some friends. There were three of us that would be running our first race together so we kept up with each other on Facebook and through texts to see how our progress was going. Before we got to the race in which we would get colored cornstarch thrown all over us, we found a different race.

The local fire department supports a charity each year and does a Pink Heals 5K, so we figured we’d go for it. We’d all done the training and we were ready. Right?

Well, yeah. Right.

This bridge! I’ve been back to it at least four times with different races. Still gets me.

The race was in October so the weather was, well, I live in Florida so it was warm and muggy. I was feeling pretty confident, especially being surrounded by all of my friends. There was no pressure, really. It was the first time for a lot of us and we thought of it as a “practice run” (get it?) for our upcoming race. The course was simple: down the street, over the bridge, and back. Only…I didn’t train for bridges! I remember feeling so defeated because I ended up walking some of the bridge and hating that it was happening.

When all was said and done, though, I felt such a great sense of accomplishment. I was also sore and having my first experience of being rungry. It’s a thing, okay? Looking back, I am so glad I had those friends to train and run with. Having support for a sport that is about mind over matter, truly matter.

My training buddies! I could not (and still don’t) do it without them!

I have a really hard time coming up with my first race. I honestly can’t remember what the very first running race I ever did was… I would have been very little, probably running alongside my mom, in some local 5k in Anchorage. That was just my childhood – running with mom, doing triathlons, cross country skiing, playing basketball.

Having said all of that, as a kid I also didn’t like running. Like, at all. It made me tired, there wasn’t a whole lot of “fun” in it, I wasn’t scoring points… yeah. It was lame. My mom dragged me out there and I complained the whole time (until I could horse-to-the-barn back to the car when we were almost done).

I ran as training for basketball in college – still hated it. I ran after basketball (still in college) to kind of stay in shape – it just made me feel really OUT of shape.

I graduated college, realized that I missed being fit and strong and decided that running was an easy way to find those things again. So I started on the treadmill in my friends’ basement, ran at the gym, cleaned up my diet, ran outside, and finally decided to sign up for a race.

In 2012, I’d just moved back in with my parents and was making the most of the comfortable Alaskan running weather and knew that the Run for Women – a five-miler – was right around the corner. I hadn’t run a race in a long time and really felt as though I could run this one and feel good about it.

And I DID feel good about it! I had signed up alone, but about a half mile into the race found a friend of my mom’s and ran with her for a bit. After a while, we split up, but I felt comfortable and confident and by the time I crossed the finish line I’d not only enjoyed myself, but I done so much better than I thought I would. After I got home that morning, I told my mom I wanted to run a half marathon… and that was that.


It was 2013 and the Color Run was all the rage, so when some friends asked me if I wanted to join their team, Team Scrambled Legs, for the Denver Color Run, I was IN! I trained using Couch to 5k, too, and my team mates were much faster than me. I remember finding them before the start was the most stressful part of the race.

Not only was it the best team name ever, but it was a great intro to road racing. I was slow as usual, but it didn’t matter. I think my time was around 42 minutes. I was hoping to be closer to 35 minutes but meh. I had fun, got dirty, and gave a little girl my gumball necklace. It was a crowded race, and aside from the BOLDER Boulder and Run Disney events, I tend to stay away from big race crowds.

Running through Denver City Park is always enjoyable, the  park is gorgeous and the weather that day was warm. My husband, saint that he is, got up with me and made the 45 minute drive to the race start. That day, he became my personal race photographer.

I think I might be the only person in that photo who still runs. When I ran that race, I never dreamed I’d run a half marathon. Five years later I’m planning to finish my 10th half this year, and embark on lots of trail adventures. Looking back, it’s great to see how far I, and my running goals, have come!

My very first race was a 5k. But not just any ol’ 5k. It was the Down and Dirty Obstacle Race in Philadelphia.

The year was 2011 and while I’d been working out for a few years before that with Stroller Strides, 2011 is the year I started running. I’d begun training on my treadmill during the spring and by the summer event, I thought that I’d be absolutely FINE.

I was absolutely wrong.

Why am I smiling? I don’t know.

The hilly, rough terrain running was honestly the least of my problems. You guys, the obstacles… the first one was a low wall which I not-so-gracefully threw myself over and landed on my knees.

However, I had Cam with me for this race so while I might have been ill-prepared for the obstacles, I had a really good time! Well, not a good time, but we entertained each other and made sure we both survived.

My husband was a spectator, so he snagged a few pictures of obstacles that I was actually able to conquer and not hurt myself on.

Up and over!

This felt a lot more steep than it looks here.

It was a tough, tough race but I had the determination to finish and then sign up for another race, the Rothman 8k, about 4 months later.

After the Down and Dirty, on my old tumblr, I wrote:

Something I learned this weekend is that it’s always important to challenge yourself because you hold yourself to a higher level of achievement each time. Things get easier every time you do them and that’s when you have to kick it up to the next step.

Also? I’m pretty freaking bad ass.

We love you! Tell us about YOUR first race ever? Was it love at first run or did it take some time to settle into the relationship?

Chick Chat: Warm Fuzzies

Recently we were discussing things that make us happy. Of course there are the classics, the tried and true favorites that we return to continually. And then there are the newer things that we’ve recently stumbled upon that we can’t stop thinking about and make us forget about the craziness of the world for a short while.

We wanted to share our lists with you and would love to hear what you’re loving right now, too!

I honestly don’t know how I would cope right now without cute animal photos and videos on the internet. Here are my current faves:

I’m big on escapism when I have time for it. My husband and I like to watch old sitcoms on Netflix and Hulu. Comfort TV, we call it. I Love LucyWings, and Married With Children all get airtime, and when my husband isn’t home I binge watch the BBC 1995 Pride & Prejudice miniseries

I’m a fan of video games but since my TV and PS3 are in storage, I had to take a break from Skyrim. Now I’m playing Texas Hold’em poker and Forge of Empires on my phone.

I haven’t had much time for reading lately, but audiobooks have been my jam when I’m driving or in the background at work. Although, Hillbilly Elegy and How the Right Went Wrong aren’t exactly stress-free listening, both were worth my time and aggravation; I recommend them.

Books

One of my goals for 2017 was to read more. I said I wanted to read 30 books… but I’ve gotten through six. Granted, four of those have been Game of Thrones books, and those suckers are long. But still. I just finished Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron and it was really eye-opening. Bergeron is the coach for two elite Crossfit athletes and throughout the book he discusses competitive mindset. Highly recommend. (I’ll be doing a full review of this next week!)

Podcasts

I think I’m subscribed to three or four podcasts that I listen to regularly. Here are my top two:

Girls Gone WODJoy and Claire make you feel like you’re one of their best friends. I started listening to this podcast last year, though at the time I wasn’t doing Crossfit. It didn’t matter though, because their subject matter and conversation goes so far beyond the sport of fitness. They talk about fun things, like Mean Girls, and hard things, like body image, and are always working to educate themselves and their listeners along the way. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Pursuing Health with Julie FoucherThis is another Crossfit-related podcast that goes beyond Crossfit. Julie Foucher is a multi-year Crossfit Games athlete, and two-time podium finisher. She is also a recent medical school graduate and a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic. This podcast captures Julie’s passion in taking what she’s learned from Crossfit and in the field of medicine, and using it to empower others to live healthier lives. Her perspective as an athlete and a healthcare profession is unique and really welcome. Two thumbs up.

TV Shows

I’m just gonna give you a list of stuff you need to watch. Stat.

  • Game of Thrones. Duh. You have at least a year, if not a year and a half to get caught up before the last season starts. There’s no better time to visit Westeros!
  • Big Little Lies. DUDE. I hadn’t read the book before I sat down to watch this mini-series, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was amazing performances from Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley. Holy wow. So. Good.
  • Parks and Recreation. Whenever I’m down or need a good laugh, I sit down with Leslie Knope and the good people of Pawnee (First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity). The first season is a little slow, but hang in there and you’ll thank me later.
  • West Wing. I’ll be honest, I watch this primarily because it’s one of the best shows in television history, and it helps me ignore the shitstorm currently in the White House. Bartlet 2020, anyone?

Movie

Singin’ In The Rain – recently my son asked if we could watch together. Naturally, I said YES. Then I tried to reenact this scene by myself. It went as well as you might expect.

I’ll leave the dancing to the professionals. Even still, this movie just makes me very happy.

Tying into movies, let’s talk about my current favorite music!

Music

The soundtrack from the movie: Sing! It is so good. My kids love it. My parents love it. My husband (who is a little cranky at times) loves it. And, of course it goes without saying because it’s made my list, I love it.

So me.

It’s the perfect music to cook dinner to, to drive to, to run to, it’s a brilliant mixture that fits so many different occasions. Good, good stuff.

Podcasts

I’ve been listening to podcasts mostly when I clean/do the laundry. Those two things don’t make me happy but the podcasts makes the chores bearable. I save a lot of my tedious tasks for Friday because that’s when both are published.

BibRave Podcast – The BibRave podcast has been in existence for just over a year now and while it was at first hosted by BibRave founders, Julia and Tim, it has since expanded to include more hosts (Andy and Jessica). It’s not a secret that I’m a BibRave Pro so one might think I have a vested interest in listening. Honestly, I’d listen no matter what.

They host interesting guests and touch on all aspects of running and cross-training, as well as taking care of yourself and body. Even though I’m not at the running 100 mile race level (and probably never will be) the most recent episode from Tim’s Leadville 100 was relatable and unlike other podcasts I’ve listened to.

Team Shenanigans Podcast – This is hosted by a fun bunch of folks from all over the place. Usually spanning an hour, the Team Shenanigans crew talks a lot about runDisney events (which I haven’t actually run since 2015) but also discusses other races and events. The dynamic between this group is great and they remind me of friends that I’d hang out at a bar(becue because I don’t really hang out at bars much these days).

One of my favorite recent episodes from earlier this summer was when Caryn became a Queen of Connecticut by completing a race in every town of CT (that’s 169 towns, btw).

We’d love to hear some of your favorites! Please share in the comments.

Chick Chat: We All Have To Start Somewhere

Where did you begin? That’s the question that many of us have been asked when it comes to running (or weights, or a particular sport, etc.). It takes a great deal of effort and self-motivation to continually work on ourselves and it’s always interesting to hear what lights that fire within.

As the days and years go by, working out can disappear and return once again, depending on the state of your life, family, and mind. We all had very different answers when posed the question: “How did you start working out/running or (if you’re currently not) how do you plan to begin again?”

Scoot a Doot has been around for quite some time now but we realize that not everyone reading our blog knows all of our history. For those of you who have recently joined us, welcome! For those who have been around awhile but might have forgotten, we wanted to share our “starting out” stories with you. And get your story ready because we’d LOVE to hear from you!

Oh running. There was a time when I didn’t really enjoy running at all. I grew up in Alaska with parents who loved camping and hiking. They bred in me not only a love of nature, but also the need to be active. I played basketball, volleyball, ran track, skied, snowboarded, hiked, biked, and swam. Running just to run wasn’t really on my list of favorite things to do – I would mostly just use it as a means of training for basketball or volleyball or skiing. In fact, if you asked my mom, she’d tell you I probably did more whining about running than actual running for most of my life.

I don’t think I became a real runner until after I graduated from college. I played college basketball, but when that was over I became more sedentary than I had ever been in my entire life. It felt weird. I needed to do something to change it, but not having a two-hour practice to go to every night or teammates to hit the gym with made it hard. So I started running. Not too seriously, but I’d get a few miles in every day. Treadmillin’ it. Then, I signed up for a local five-miler that I’d done a number of times growing up. I felt so good with my finish that I went home and told my mom I wanted to run a half marathon. Of course she told me to go for it.

That was 2012. Now I’ve run three marathons, a handful of half marathons, and too many other races to count. My fitness has evolved, too. Instead of just running, I lift weights, I spin, and I’ve recently started CrossFit (for real, after five years of following the sport and not being able to make it happen). Running is still a part of my workout regimen, I’ve just found a better balance with it – and my body appreciates it. My fitness is always a work in progress, but running with always be foundational in that fitness.

A longtime runner, I never expected to take more than a year off the sport to start my family. But for a variety of reasons, that’s just how life unfolded and I stopped running during my first trimester.

I attempted to prepare to resume running during my maternity, walking regularly while pushing my son in his stroller. It worked well for us and I had grand plans to use our jogging stroller the moment he was six months old.

That milestone fell in the middle of a severe windstorm. Then came a two-foot snow storm. I was also insanely sleep-deprived with a husband who travels internationally, leaving me to parent solo while also working full time.

As time allowed, I ran a few miles here and there in the spring, but nothing stuck.

Once I was getting a good 7-8 hours of sleep a night, I finally resumed a somewhat regular running routine last month, about 18 months after I stopped running.

I started out running a half-mile and then walking for a minute or two for about 20 to 30 minutes. I repeated three times each week, bringing my son along in the jogger each Sunday. As the weeks passed I felt stronger, my walk breaks are shorter and my breathing improves. On weekdays, I run 2-3 miles and one weekend day is reserved for a slow, 3-5 mile jog with my son.

I haven’t worn a watch once because my pace doesn’t matter. I am running to run. My goal is for each run to surpass the previous workout.

I only run about 10 miles a week, mainly because that’s what I have time to take on. It may change – it may not. And that’s OK.

12 years ago my interest in exercise was minimal. I mean, it was a nice idea in theory but I wasn’t too interested in actually doing anything. And it showed. My bad habits were catching up to me and after I had my older son, I knew that I needed to do something to feel good about myself.

For the longest time I checked off the box next to “never run unless something is chasing me.” And it took me quite some time to work my way up to actually running. When my eldest son (12) was just over a year, I heard about a stroller workout class called Stroller Strides that was in a local park.

There’s a saying, “You have to crawl before you walk.” I feel like that was my fitness journey. I slowly started with Stroller Strides, pushing my kiddo in his Graco stroller and then eventually upgraded to a B.O.B. Revolution. I got more involved with Stroller Strides, loving being with other local moms and working out. A few years in, I became a certified instructor and began teaching the classes under the franchise owner.

I picked up other fitness classes along the way including Jazzercise (yes, really!) and yoga. Running had always been a challenge and I wasn’t sure I was equipped to handle it so I just continued getting my endorphin high from other forms of exercise. I continued working out through my second pregnancy and was back to Stroller Strides as soon as I was cleared by the doctor.

Running really began for me after my younger son was diagnosed with Autism. Rather than stress eating, I turned to the treadmill. I was inspired by watching Vic run her first full marathon in 2010 and I decided that this was finally going to be my outlet too.

Except every moment of running at the beginning was a struggle for me.

I hated it. HATED. IT. I wore the wrong shoes. I got blisters. I made stupid mistakes. I cried. I signed up for a mud run as my first ever race (read: MISTAKE).

2011 Mud Run

Somewhere along the way, I started hating it less. Dare I even say, I actually liked it? I saw results. I got faster (not fast, but faster). I leaned out more. I signed up for races with friends and met new friends along the way.

2011 Rothman 8k – Philadelphia

I started working out with a trainer to get stronger. I talked other people into running races with me. I never said no to trying something at least once.

And when I doubt myself I repeat “I can and I will” over and over until it becomes “I could and I did”.

For most of my life, I avoided running at all cost. When I was a kid, they told me running could kill me. Thanks to my asthma, I was encouraged NOT to be athletic or to try out for sports. I was always picked last for team games.

For most of my life, I hated running. I hated it because I couldn’t do it, and because it fed my low self-esteem as a kid. After my parents divorced, my dad became a pro body builder and I developed a respect and understanding for the importance of fitness. When I worked in elder care for many years, I learned a very important lesson. You’re only as old as you allow your body and mind to get. My biggest fear is becoming frail so I started taking yoga classes and loved it.

When my friends, the other Chicks, started running, I decided to see if my lungs would play nice and I started running too. Thankfully they do play nice, as long as I don’t try to run fast. Every time I get a new medal, I prove to that wheezing kid inside me that I am stronger. That I can do it. In those moments my motto rings true; I’m little, but fierce.

My first race, the Denver Color Run in 2013, and most Recent, the 2017 Yellowstone Half (and my cute husband)

Lately, I’ve been getting bored with running. I was even considering giving up running and focusing only on yoga. Mostly because I’m really bad at making time for training. But when I look at what’s been going on in my life since February, I feel like there isn’t any way I could have made different choices with my time. Life happens, and this year has been a year of BIG change for me. I’ve had to roll with it.

In the midst of that change, I’ve been spending more time in the mountains where I’m building my house. Coincidentally, it’s inspired my running again. I’ve decided to branch into trail running. I’m not sure if I’ll do a trail race; I may stick to road races, but I’m looking forward to training on the nearby trails. The area is also ideal for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. For the first time ever, I’m looking forward to winter and trying these new sports. My asthma, though much less severe than when I was a kid, is still aggravated by cold weather, but I’m hoping I can overcome that. You never know unless you try!

My new, neighbor, Taylor Mountain. Elevation 9134 ft. Taylor was my maiden name, it’s fate!

That’s how we started (or started again)! We’d love to hear how you began putting one foot in front of the other. Feel free to share in the comments below or, if you’re inspired to write a blog post, please tweet at us so we can read it!

Guest Post: What it really takes to train for a 50K ultra marathon

You may be considering running a 50K because your friends have promised that you’ll get to eat M&Ms at each aid station with abandon. Or because you like the idea of an ultra marathoner sticker or magnet on your car. You may have even run a bunch of half and full marathons, and think it can’t possibly be much more difficult.

It is. Really. But so, so worth it.

I’ve only run one 50K but I am in the middle of training for my second this September. I can tell you it’s incredibly difficult, but also more rewarding than any other type of running I’ve ever done.

Whatever your reason, here’s the skinny on what it really takes to train for an ultra marathon:

  1. An indomitable spirit with a sprinkle of insanity. In a word: grit. There is no way you’re going to get through five runs each week plus cross training plus making sure you get enough sleep if you’re not dead-set on reaching your goal. Our Saturday morning long runs start as early as 5:30 a.m. Who wants to get up at 4:30 on a Saturday? Crazy people, that’s who. And only those of us who are not-quite-normal will get to the start line.

    An especially crazy 18-mile run, made better by great company.

  2. A lot of time. The training plan my friends and I are using calls for four time-based runs, from an hour to an-hour-and-a-half each, plus a long run on Saturday mornings. When you’re slow like us, a long run can take from three to five hours at a time. And — get this — you have to run for at least an hour the day after your longest run of the week. It helps to have a familia who is OK with all of this, or at least one that likes to sleep in a lot.
  3. Patience (a.k.a., a sense of humor). Tell someone you’re running a 50K (or longer) ultra marathon and be prepared for lots of questions about your sanity. Even non-runners understand that some people sign up for — and run — marathons. “Run a bunch of miles to prove to yourself that you can? Got it.” But an ultra pushes you right into freak (or unbalanced) category. “What, a marathon wasn’t long enough for you?” I actually had a 15-minute conversation with a nice man at work. A former runner, he wanted to chat about why I run longer distances instead of concentrating on shorter races, but trying to get faster. Bless his heart. (See #1 above).
  4. Friends who are just as crazy as you are. Bonus points if they’re experienced and can share awesome tips like what to pack for your ultra, including the need for a drop bag. Most importantly, friends who may think you’re crazy, but who nonetheless support your insanity by meeting you for runs at 5:15 a.m. a couple of weekdays before going to work.

    Some of my crazy runner friends.

  5. Gear. Sure, you can train for a half or full marathon wearing a tech shirt and shorts, plus nice running shoes. An ultra requires an extensive list of must-have items, ranging from a water/hydration vest so you don’t die from dehydration during your long runs, fuel (like Gu or SportBeans or, in my case, even cheese sticks) so you don’t die from hunger, and salt/electrolyte tablets so you don’t die from dehydration. I’m not exaggerating about that whole dehydration thing; training for a fall race means long runs in July and August when it’s just plain hot. Another must-have: A nice running watch that not only tracks your mileage and pace, but one that can last whatever time you think it’ll take you to run 31-plus miles.
  6. Access to trails. A lot of ultras are run on trails. To run 31 miles on trails, you need to train on trails. There’s just no way around that. Trail shoes are optional, but well worth the investment. (See #5 above).
  7. Accepting that you will be hungry. All. The. Time. There’s a reason why people training for 26.2 gain the “marathon many.” I tend to eat every two or three hours anyway, but the extra running has be starving an hour after my last meal. It’s easy to put on a few pounds during training.

The goal race: Run Woodstock 50K in September.

Bonus: I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a tribe of experienced runners, so I asked them to share their best tips on what it really takes to run your first ultra. Here’s what they had to say:

Vicki: “It takes friends to run with and motivate you.”

Melissa: “Don’t skip mid-week runs. That will come back to haunt you mile 28…”

Emily: “Loss of sanity. Other insane friends cheering you on and assuring you you can do it.”

There you have it. If after all that, you still decide to take on your first ultra, I hope you succeed. It’s a fun, crazy, insane, exhausting, time-consuming, expensive endeavor. But I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

What’s on your race schedule this year? Have you ever done an ultra? What are some of your favorite tips?

Gisgie (geese-g) is a Puerto Rican runner blogger who has not died despite running’s best attempts to maim and injure. It’s fun. Really. She’d love to hear from you at lachicaruns.com, @lachicaruns, facebook.com/lachicaruns and instagram.com/lachicaruns.

Guest Post – More Life Less Running

The last few months have been rough, I’m not going to lie. I’ve battled my share of injuries and illness (the flu, major IT Band pain and a sprained shoulder), as well as two family deaths and a couple other issues. All of which derailed my running to the point that since May 27, I’ve had my running shoes on a total of 4 times – and 3 of those came in the last week when I finally felt well enough to run again.

While I’ve missed running, really missed my running buddies, and started to panic about some upcoming races I haven’t been training for, it’s also given me a chance to enjoy other activities and more time with my family – time that normally I’d be spending putting miles in. So instead of running, I’ve been focusing on other outdoor activities that I can do with my husband and stepdaughters (none of them are runners – unless perhaps they’re being chased by something!).

My husband and I have been camping almost every weekend – we own a small motorhome, so each week we draw a circle on the map, see where we can go within 2-3 hours of our house, and head out. From our home near Lansing, Michigan, we can get to locations in Indiana, Ohio and even Canada pretty quickly. We’ve discovered new parks, lakes, historical attractions, hiking trails, and off the beaten path places we wouldn’t have otherwise. We both love hiking and biking, so we try to find places where we can do one or both activities.

The whole family owns kayaks, so we’ve headed out to local lakes to enjoy some family time away from our electronics. If you’ve never kayaked, I highly recommend it – especially on lakes, marshes or streams with limited activity. When it’s quiet you get to see things like turtles, heron, muskrat, river otters, water snakes, birds, frogs and more. It’s amazing what goes on in the water when you can just sit and observe.

While this isn’t a family activity, I happen to work at a university with an outdoor 50m pool that staff have access to in the summer. As a former competitive swimmer, I still find myself more at home in the chlorine than in running shoes, so I’ve been putting in as many laps as I can a few days a week. Swimming bonus – I’ve developed an awesome swimsuit tan on my back as a result! 😉

What being injured these past couple months made me realize was that running had started to consume me – and while I don’t plan to give it up anytime soon (I still have a couple goals to conquer), it forced me to find a balance to do other things, especially things with my family.

Some might not agree with me, but life’s too short to be spending it all working out. Take a couple nights or weekends off, grab your kids, lace up your hiking shoes, rent a kayak and get outdoor and enjoy life’s treasures. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Who is Jessi? Jessi is a runner, triathlete, Jaycee, chocoholic, Disney fanatic, traveler, Broadway addict, boardgame enthusiast, and sock collector whose favorite mantra is Not All Who Wander Are Lost. You can find her supporting her two stepdaughters in their activities, camping with her husband, doting on her cat, and spending her free time with family and friends. Read more about Jessi’s adventures on her blog www.runningthroughlife.wordpress.com

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.

RagnarPA2You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

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.

RagnarPA4

The early ninja gets the kill!

RagnarPA3

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.

Ragnar21

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.

RagnarPAprofessional2RagnarPAprofessional1

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.