Over and Over

Two months ago I said I wanted to write more. And here we are. Hashtag goal fail. Hashtag silent blog.

Oops.

I had this whole post somewhat written about running and failure and training and not having motivation, but you’ve heard that story before. Actually, over the last year, I’ve told that story far too many times.

You know what’s motivating?

I get to to this again.

ragner

In just a few short months I’ll be heading back up to Madison and embarking on another round of Ragnar Chicago.

It’s kind of difficult to put into words the full range of emotions I have about Ragnar. Rereading what I wrote about the last round, I can still remember how nauseating the heat was, how the dehydration hit like a mack truck two days after the race, how I limped more than walked normally in the week following. However, I also remember the sense of accomplishment and of teamwork. I remember how twelve people came together, most of us knowing only one or two others in the team (which is exactly how this year will be….I know two of the guys on the team, and that’s it), and spent the time laughing and having fun like we’d known each other for ages.

I love Ragnar. I would do one every year if I could. I am SO excited to have this to look forward to.

But first comes Disney. First comes the Glass Slipper Challenge, and the already-had conversation about taking our time goal down a notch as training over the winter, for a myriad of reasons, has gone, well, let’s just say it hasn’t gone so well.

More races are coming. More miles and blisters and sweat drops (or sheets) and tan lines. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

 

Unrelated, good luck getting this song out of your head:

The Distance

Well, we did it. Team One Hand Party Stand ran 198.3 miles in 30 hours, 44 minutes, and 25 seconds.

Wow. Let’s break it down.

Thursday I left St Louis right around 1pm, thinking that I would be able to get into Chicago before the major rush hour traffic hit. This would have been logical and all had I taken into account the potential construction traffic on the way up. I did not, thus I was stuck in construction traffic and then rush hour traffic. Gross. However, I got there right around when everyone else did, so it was ok. We loaded the suburbans and headed out to good ole Madison, WI, stopping at a Red Robin for dinner. Because monstrous burgers, unlimited fries, and a couple beers is the perfect pre-race meal, right? Right.

Getting to the hotel and getting things situated took a while, so unfortunately we didn’t get to bed until nearly midnight. That was less than ideal.

At this point, it’s easier going by times.

Friday

6am: Not my ideal wake-up time, but unavoidable as all the other girls were up and moving about, plus the nerves and adrenaline were starting to kick in. Got ready, got the suburbans loaded, ate breakfast, tried to not freak out. The usual.

930am: When we should have been at the starting line. Unfortunately, we went to the first exchange instead. Oops.

Team One Hand Party Stand

10am: When our team should have been starting. Instead, the second vehicle (runners 7-12, aka the Dude Van, named as such due to the fact that there were two girls out of eight people) watched as the 10am wave left without runner 1.

1030am: Ragnar BEGIN!!

Runner one is in the orange tank top.

11am: The Dude Van found a Jamba Juice and roamed around downtown Madison for a while, then headed to major exchange six, where we noticed that our suburban was leaking what looked like power steering fluid. Not so good, but ignore it and it goes away, right?

1130am-4pm: Laziness. Our van had a picnic. We wandered around. We laid in the grass. We waited. We waited for what felt like FOREVER. All of us were overly anxious, just ready to get out and DO something. Waiting for a race like that to start made each of us incredibly fidgety.

Lunch!

4pm: Dude Van starts!! Finally. But still there was more waiting for me as I was runner 9.

545pm: My first leg starts.

Our baton was definitely a slap bracelet.

Let’s chat about my first leg. On the Ragnar website, it told me that the first leg I’d run was a Very Hard 8.2 miles. Looking at the elevation chart, I figured that the reason it was labeled Very Hard was because of the distance. Um. No. The first nearly four miles were through ROLLING Wisconsin farmland. Lots of long, steep hills. It was 85 degrees out with no cloud cover. Brutal. That was a HARD run. I mean REALLY hard. It took quite a bit out of me, to be honest, and I train on hills! The last half or so was on a trail, which was shaded and actually quite lovely, so my second half I really pushed it, and my mile splits dropped significantly. The odd thing is that on this trail, it allowed the teams to spread out, so for quite a while I was running by myself. Not a person in sight. No mile markers except for one telling me when I was one mile from the end of my run. Slightly disconcerting, yet pretty awesome at the same time.

7pm: Finished my first leg.

Dead

730pm: Notice that the suburban’s engine is overheating. Realize leak is not just power steering fluid. Try to keep panic at bay. Found coolant, refilled the engine with it, and crossed our fingers.

940pm: Dude van finishes the first stint. Our team begins the second third of the race.

11pm: Tried to sleep. Succeeded for not even 45 minutes.

1130pm: Left exchange 12 to go pick up our volunteer who’d been at a water station. Get there to find two things. One, the vehicle was overheating again. That leak was not messing around. Two, learned that one of the runners from another team was lost. Somewhere on the 7 mile long, VERY DARK 12th leg (don’t worry, they were eventually found).

Saturday

1215am: Filled the engine with water, booked it to exchange 18.

1am: Came to the realization that we had to figure out a plan because stopping to give runners water and at every exchange was not going to work for this suburban as it was leaking too fast. Van one arrived, and it was decided that the original Dude Van was then going to be the major exchange van while the other was to get the active runners between exchanges. This required unpacking both suburbans and repacking them with the opposite group’s stuff.

2am: Runner six finishes, runner seven goes. Our team is half way done with the race. Van one heads to major exchange 24, and the Dude Van gets going again.

330am: My second leg (5.3 miles) starts. This was by far the best leg of my individual race. It was cool out, my path was through a wildlife preserve type thing in Racine, WI, the moon was super bright, it was a great distance, and I just cruised. I passed a few people and was able to nearly sprint into the exchange. The shot of adrenaline that run gave me was unreal, and I was JACKED after that. Couldn’t have fallen asleep if I’d wanted to.

5am: During leg 23. Sunrise over Lake Michigan.

515am: Get a text from our runner. She needs Bio-Freeze, which is similar to Icy Hot. This is not good. First a broken suburban, then a broken runner? As she pulled around the corner right next to where I took this picture, another teammate got Bio-Freeze on her IT band. IT band stuff SUCKS to say the least. She needed someone to help push her mentally, so I ran with her for about a mile, then traded off with one of our other guys for a mile or so. They get to where we’re parked, and she tells us she’s out, she can’t go anymore. Here’s the fun part. With a mixed team, 18 of the 36 legs HAVE to be completed by women. If a woman comes out of the race, a woman goes in for her. Since I was the only other female in the Dude Van, I took over the last mile and a half of her leg. The plan from then was for me to finish my final leg as well as hers later that day, which would add another 4.4 miles to my total.

6am: Handed off to runner 12. Officially have had less than 45 minutes of sleep in 24 hours while still running sixteen miles.

640am: Get to exchange 24 and switch the cargo between the suburbans again. Send runner one off to start the last third of our race. Find our first real meal in nearly 24 hours.

9am: Tried to sleep again. Got maybe half an hour. Stood up and realized that I had a sore left knee and a REALLYANGRY right hip. At this point the temperature was already at 80 degrees and was climbing steadily.

11am: One of our teammate’s parents brought us a mini-van so we moved whatever we could do the van and sent the suburban on its way home.

12pm: Dude Van finally takes off for our last stint. We brought one of the other girls with us, as my body had made it very clear that it would not be willing to take on an extra 4.4 miles.

2pm: My final leg starts. I don’t think it requires saying, but I’m going to anyway. I did not want to run at this point. It was above 90 degrees, I hurt all over, I was exhausted from having barely slept in two days, and I couldn’t even imagine putting my shoes back on and willingly running another 4.8 miles. But I did it. It was the most difficult 4.8 miles I have ever run in my life. Ever. Finished it anyway, and totaled out my mileage at just over 20.

515pm: Team One Hand Party Stand crosses the finish line at Montrose Beach in Chicago, IL.

This race was BY FAR the most physically and mentally trying race of my entire life, yet also the most unique and incredible experience. It took everything I could possibly give and then asked for more. I didn’t get to bed til after 1030 Saturday night and had to promptly drive back to St Louis early the next morning. I limped for two solid days afterwards and ate Advil like it was candy. Sunday I was smacked really hard with the dehydration, and I still feel physically worn out. My legs are achy, and I have refused to walk into a gym until next week.

I would do it all again. Without question.

Dude Van-er, One Hand Party Stander, Ragnarian for life.

Crazy Train

So yesterday’s mini-freak out turned into a full blown meltdown. Like leaving work early to fight off a panic attack, sobbing into GCB’s shoulder, unable to eat anything almost all day meltdown.

It was not fun.

The biggest and most heart-felt kudos to GCB in general for just how well he handled it by just letting me vent, letting me cry, hugging me, and telling me it was going to be ok. There wasn’t even a trace of that “holy shit, she’s crazy” in his eyes, just a steadiness that really helped calm me down. Good job, boyfriend, on the perfect reaction!

That being said, today was a better day. I suppose making it through a full day of work and actually being productive counts as better, but in general I FEEL better. I’m still a bit psyched out on the race bit, but there is quite literally nothing more I can do about it.

I should have gone running yesterday. I didn’t. I COULD have gone running today. I didn’t. Instead I went back to the thing that I tend to turn to when I get super stressed out.

I cleaned. Oh fuck did I clean. Wiping off my window sills and vacuuming and windexing my bathroom mirror and doing every single bit of laundry I had and guaranteeing that the only dirty dish left in my apartment is the glass filled with milk that’s sitting in my fridge for GCB (who really, REALLY loves milk).

This is the same type thing I used to do in college before a huge test that would freak me out. I’d clean the entire apartment, whether I was the one who messed it up or not. My roommates loved that about me. It helps my brain to be calm when I’m in an organized space. So I cleaned. And then I set up little tiny piles of clothes for every single day starting tomorrow until I leave Chicago on Sunday. There are littler piles for the clothes I’ll be wearing for each leg of the Ragnar. Hell, there’s a pile of clothes sitting on top of my dresser for what I am going to wear tomorrow to work, as though I wouldn’t be able to just pull the stuff out of my dresser.

It’s funny. Piles of clean clothes and a running dishwasher and vacuum lines on my carpet have calmed me down more than nearly anything else.

All that’s left to do is….run.

That’s it. Just run.

Super Freak

Do you want to see Ann’s freaked out brain? This is Ann’s freaked out brain. Aka, this is totally how I feel right now:

Four days. Four days.

It’s like the fucking clash of the titans all up in my dome piece. One minute I’m totally fine, the next I’m completely psyching myself out.

This weekend I got slammed face-first with a wall of overall panic. Panic over the race I don’t feel fully prepared for. Panic over the budget I have completely annihilated lately. Panic over work stuff and how I’ve felt entirely on edge dealing with certain people lately. Panic over my monstrous to do list that doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller.

GCB got to witness first-hand the “hey, let’s put on a tough face, but honestly I’m in a glass case of emotion” type freak out on Sunday. It was not pretty.

I am freaked out and stressed and completely and totally overwhelmed right now. There is wave after wave of anxiety crashing over me. It’s making me nauseous and fidgety, and I don’t even know how the hell I’m going to make it through three solid days at work.

It bloody sucks.

These types of pre-race jitters are unlike anything I’ve experienced thus far. I’m always a bit nervous before a big race, but holy shit. This is unreal.

I know it’ll be ok. I know that.

I just want it to be ok right now.

Power of Love

Ok, I’ll be honest. The title has NOTHING to do with anything, except for the fact that the stupid fucking song is in my head. I blame GCB, as this morning he made reference to the fact that I was his lady. OBVIOUSLY I went ahead and started singing at him….that’s right, Celine Dion before 7am…..and NOW the fucking song is STILL STUCK IN MY GODDAMNED HEAD.

Good thing he’s cute.

This picture makes me smile like an idiot

Today is supposed to be Wordless Wednesday. Right now, I am anything but wordless. Not for any bad reason or anything like that. I’m just FULL OF THOUGHTS.

Honestly, I’m always full of thoughts, but some of those are so random, so prime for making you all think I am a lunatic, that I usually keep most of those to myself. Not today.

Random jibberish commencing.

First of all, there’s this:

Awesome, right? My friend Andy has been creating these Faceless Facebook designs, and this is the one he did of me. It’s coming from this picture: 

I absolutely love it. Seriously. He blows me away on a regular basis with his talent.
Not too long ago, my friend Sarah (who works for the Girl Scouts) offered me a chance to get cookies for $1.50 a box. I got ten boxes of Thin Mints. They’re almost gone. Today is the rungriest day I’ve had in a while, and I am working my way through killing the last sleeve of them I have here. My boss thought it was a great idea to tell me that lean proteins would probably be better for me than the sugar. I had to hold myself back from stabbing him in the throat. Maybe it’s that lately my patience at work has been minimal, but for some reason this just bugs me. Like dude? I’m an athlete. I fucking KNOW that protein would be better for me. I also know that if I ate my lunch now, I would be STARVING by the time I got home, and I have a six mile run on my agenda. Being that hungry with that kind of run ahead never ends well. I also know that one sleeve of Thin Mints is not going to kill me. I ALSO know that I’m in better shape than any single person in my group, so I’m pretty sure I’m o-fucking-kay with this decision. Why this is grating on me, I’m not sure, but I’m all bristly about it. Maybe it’s the implication that I don’t fucking know what I’m doing. Because I guarantee you, I fucking know what I’m doing. That statement applies to work too. I’m trying really hard to not rant about work right now. It is difficult not to. Whatever.
Happier topic. This week I got my flight booked to go out to Portland to see my dad’s side of the family. I am pretty pumped. Granted, I don’t have my flight back yet (still waiting for prices to drop), so that could get entertaining. Not only will I get to see a good chunk of my family (immediate AND extended), but I am taking twelve days off work. TWELVE. I am REALLY looking forward to it.
And then there’s this whole Ann’s running a LOOOOOONG way in like a week. Guess who just took five days off from working out? This girl. Guess who’s just SO burnt out that she’s looking forward to the END of Ragnar? This girl. I am really excited about this race, truly, but at this point I cannot physically improve anymore. I cannot get into my own head about failure, because it’s not an option. I cannot do anything but push myself to the limits and beyond, experience the whole race, and then come home for a pedicure that finally WON’T get jacked up and a few days of doing absolutely nothing while staying guilt-free. I realized yesterday talking to GCB that I have been in training mode since last AUGUST. I need a fucking break. But until then?
Impossible is nothing
My motivation is gone today.
The end.

We R Who We R

The other day I was emailing back and forth with my friend Miranda, as we tend to do on a regular basis, and I was surprised to learn that after one of my previous blog posts, she was a bit concerned about me when it comes to this Ragnar….well, to my running in general.

Let’s be real here. Sometimes I’m a little concerned about me and my running. Obviously, or I wouldn’t write about it so much.

Here’s the deal. Every once in a while I get tired. Really tired. Mentally and physically. I put my body through a hell of a lot on a weekly basis, and sometimes that shuts me down. Add that to the recent complete overhaul of my day-to-day routine, and you end up with one exhausted, sometimes bitchy, every once in a while forlorn, yet always (at least somewhere in my mind) determined Ann.

Like I said to Miranda, there is nothing to be worried about. I’ll get through Ragnar, and I’ll get through it well. It’s not an option to NOT push myself to my absolute limits and beyond. You know why?

Because I am a runner.

That’s all there is to it.

I. Am. A. Runner.

That’s how I know that even when I struggle, I’ll be just fine. I’ll get through my races, I’ll bounce back from slumps or rough days or days where Thin Mints and a nap sound INFINITELY better than 15x80m hill sprints (like today). Even on those days where I forget all of this, somewhere in my brain, in my very core, I know I will be fine.

Because this is who I am. This running thing isn’t just a passing hobby or phase. It’s an ingrained aspect of ME and has been for years upon years, even if sometimes there have been significant periods of time where I’ve neglected it. It’s something I will do until I physically can’t anymore, and then I will mourn the loss of one of my longest-standing and closest allies.

This is my stress-relief, my freedom, my passion.

This is how I know I will be ok.

No Giving Up Now

Let’s chat.

Guys, my Ragnar is three weeks from tomorrow. Three. Uno, dos, tres. No substitutions, exchanges, or refunds.

Holy. Fuck.

So I figured that this week I would get my shit together since the last few have been, shall we say, less than stellar when it comes to, you know, WORKING OUT. Actually, I’ve been a slacker and a half. Most of me cares about that. That other part? It keeps asking me to eat more Thin Mints. I’ve been obliging.

This is….not the best mindset to have. Trust me.

I mean, not the Thin Mint part because they’re fucking delicious, but you know, the other part. The slightly not caring about training part.

At any rate, Tuesday I went out for a run. It was going to be a 12-mile run. It was going to be AWESOME because I am awesome and fit and in shape and am a badass and these are the things I was telling myself before I got out there.

And then I got out there.

And then I got about three miles into my run and my whole body, physical and mental entities alike, went “Well, fuuuuuuuuuuck this.”

And then I cried.

And then I got mad. Like, what the fuck, self? I BREEZED through 13 miles just a month ago and now I can’t even get an efficient QUARTER of that? This is bullshit.

It is a shitty realization to KNOW that you are nowhere near where you need to be physically. It’s difficult knowing that (my conscious decision of) getting less sleep has had a negative impact on my ability. It’s even worse when you know you’re further away mentally. Because that’s what it is. It’s a mental thing.

I have been SO focused on other shit lately….quitting the hockey blog, spending weekends away, the boyfriend….that my entire focus of “run run run run run” has fallen by the wayside. This is not what I want.

It is unacceptable. I will not accept it.

So I went out yesterday for another longer run. It was MUCH better. Still not quite where I want to be, but that’s even more motivation for me to get out there and PUSH MYSELF.

I have three weeks to do everything I possibly can to bust my ass into better shape. I have three weeks to sweat through some 90 degree days and double-digit mile runs. I have three weeks to get out and LIFT and be sore and push through those days where I can hardly move. I have three weeks to shake myself into this new (though INCREDIBLY delightful) routine I’ve got now. I have three weeks and then I will run what will, I’m sure, be one of the coolest races of my life.

Three weeks.

Let’s fucking do this shit.