Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Yet Another Ragnar Post: Completing My Holy Grail Race

It really does seem like all I talk about anymore is Ragnar.. but Ragnar = running and I've been talking about running for YEARS so it's really not all that out of the ordinary.  But really this post is a different kind of accomplishment post, but it does pertain to Ragnar, so here we are again.

Last weekend, I completed my HOLY GRAIL of ALL RACES I've ever wanted to run: The Bourbon Chase (BC).  BC was the initial Ragnar race that I discovered all those years ago and knew that I didn't know the people to actually run the race.  But since 2016, it's been a bookmark/favorite on my computer so I could visit the page and wistfully stare into space thinking of how awesome it would be to do THAT race.  Years.  Half a decade + 1 year.  That's 9 Mercury Retrogrades.  That's 1/3 of the way to being an "adult" (if "adult" is 18).  A looong time, that's what I'm saying.

I posted about it, but in 2021, I completed Ragnar Sunset NoVA with Teh Clique (originally supposed to be Oct 2020 (pre Clique existence), but Covid).  Exactly one year later, I completed Bourbon Chase.  Not only did I participate in the race, but I also completed the "Ragnar Leg" which is the most difficult leg of the entire race.  That part was not originally planned, but due to an injury, someone wanted to switch and I agreed.

There's a satisfaction of coming full circle.  From first time doing something to achieving an actual life goal within a year and on the same date.  Sunset NoVA was the first step to achieving that goal and I didn't know it at the time.  I knew that I'd be able to say I ran a Ragnar, even if it wasn't the race I truly wanted to do, which is still an accomplishment.  But now I'm 8 Ragnar races into a crazy journey that has taught me many lessons (some of which have been more painful than others) and brought some fantastic people into my life and helped Teh Bestie and I continue our runcation traditions (although now we runcation with more people involving a lot less showering).

I'd be remiss to not acknowledge the people who made it possible.
-Teh German for encouraging me to do the crazy things and making sure the dogs were cared for. I tried to make sure that, the weekends I was away, the weather was great for motorcycle riding.  I felt this was a fair trade off, even if beyond my control.
-Teh Bestie who listened to me talk about this race for literal years and stepped into the Ragnar life with me without (too much) hesitation.  To date, there's no race that I've not, eventually, been able to talk her into. But I just want to put it out there that the 25k trail race we are doing later this month was ALL HER IDEA. ENTIRELY.
-My running tribe.  Without yall, I'd be doing these races with ALL strangers or not at all.  I'm glad you're along for this ride.  #AlwaysAnAdventure
-Rangar "Strangers".  Without these strangers, some of whom are definitely no longer strangers, but actual friends now, my teams would have been incomplete.  I thank you for dealing with me at my best and worst (sleepy, smelly, exhausted) states.
-To all the others who've endured me talking about these crazy races I'm doing and listening to me whine about how torn up my body is, sometimes I just gotta get it out.  I appreciate your sacrifices. 

Oct 2, 2021 then Oct 2, 2022.

Friday, September 23, 2022

2022 Ragnar Sprint Reach the Beach

Since I've created a post about all the other varieties of Ragnars that I've run, it was destined that I also write this post (also, someone was asking me questions about it and I was like, why don't I just have a link to send? oh yeah, I didn't write a post.. yet). 

Reach the Beach (RTB) is my 4th Ragnar race this year (Trail Richmond, Road New England, Trail Appalachians) and it's my first road sprint.  Our first Ragnar was Sunset NoVA, which is like a single day trail relay, no camping involved.  Sprint RTB was like that, except on the same road course as the full Road RTB.

Our team was myself, Bestie, a rando from my Trail Florida team, rando's friend, Teh MD Native, and the captain from our Road New England team (who has actually done several races with me/us now).  It was a very spectacular team, not just because we all got to sleep the night before the race and didn't have to deal with each other at our worst (the biggest downside of a full road relay).


On Thursday, Teh Bestie and I decorated Addie (her vehicle, which we were using as our race "van") so we didn't have to do it after we arrived or the morning of the race.  This was a solid life choice because 1- efficiency, 2- being able to recognize other Ragnar bound vehicles was a fun game.


The Sprint race started on Saturday, so on Friday morning, Teh Bestie, Teh MD Native, and I started the drive up I-95 to get to Seabrook, New Hampshire.  We picked up FL Rando in Boston on our way through and then met NE Captain at our AirBnB.  Rando's Friend drove in on Saturday morning and met us at the Airbnb before we departed for the startline at 0400.

After arriving to the Airbnb, we set our stuff down, introductions were made, and we headed to the beach.  

When the wave hits your ankles when you're trying to take a selfie.

NE Captain!

After getting salt water on our toes, we took some selfies and chatted and ultimately decided to head into town to make a snack run and grab dinner.  We ended up at the same place as Ragnar staff/SWAT were at, which made us all cheer (since several of us were wearing Ragnar hoodies, we were easy to spot).  

The most important snack and the BEST fruit snacks.


Saturday am we woke up to... chilly temps.  We hadn't experienced temps below 55°F in MD yet, so 39°F was a bit of a shock.  

Teh Bestie was Runner 1 and after a slight headlamp malfunction, she was on her way!

Made it!

Then we sent off Runner 2: NE Captain!

Selfies and vans at Exchange 2 waiting on NE Captain to come back so it would be my turn!

Here vee goooo!

The delightful smell of cow patty in the morning.

After a driver commented on my Ted Lasso headband, I actually stopped to ask a lady to take a photo of me since she was at a stopped van cheering people on.  This outfit was on point.

The barn box.

RTB signage is different than all other Ragnar races.

This lady was standing at the end of her driveway with her mom cheering on the runners. I actually doubled back to ask if she wanted to take a selfie so I could show Teh Bestie the unicorn I found on my leg.  She agreed!  If you BELIEVE, you will find a UNICORN!!!

And then after a miserable uphill, my 8.4 mile leg was finished and it was time for FL Rando to show us just how fast he's gonna run his marathon in a few weeks!

FL Rando.

Portapotty selfies are going to become a thing.
Even if I have to do it myself.
It will be a thing.

Rando's Friend was runner 5, Teh MD Native was runner 6.. and then we started again.  For my 2nd leg, I ran through a town which I didn't lurve because traffic and stupid people on a Saturday.  Thankfully, it wasn't a super huge town, so I managed.

Found the library, as I do.

Also found some dead people in the middle of the city.

Stopped to smell the roses.

Finish line Lindt is where it's at.  Trust me.

And then a few legs later, we were meeting Teh MD Native at the finish line!

But first we had to get a team pic on the beach!

Our official team name was Get in Toots, We're Going Running since our actual team name would have been Ragnar Censored: Get in Bitches, We're Going Running!  In the spirit of our Mean Girls theme, we also wore pink shirts at the finish line, since we wear pink on Wednesday.. and Saturdays.

Finished my race!
1st leg: What goes up must come down!
2nd leg: Dead people during the leg, dead legs for my leg.

After we checked out the merch tent and took photos until our hearts were content, we headed to dinner a few towns over at an Italian place that fit us into their fully reserved restaurant, despite us lookin' like we'd been running since 0530.  After dinner, we headed back to the Airbnb and the guys departed and the ladies head back out in search of ice cream.  I knew if we stopped and took showers I wouldn't be able to peel myself of whatever surface I'd landed on to go back out to get ice cream.

After ice cream, we came back to the Airbnb and showered and sat in my compression legs and went to bed early.


I woke up with a terrible barometer head headache at 0645 and decided that since I was awake, I'd make my coffee and walk to the beach.  Despite my attempts to be quiet, everyone roused and we all journeyed to the beach together.  Even Teh Bestie limped down to the beach and joined us after some persistence.  She may or may not have fallen out of a portapotty just before her 2nd leg causing more damage to already damaged bits from a trail fall the week prior to the race.

Don't feed the fucking critters people.
These aggressive ass seagulls wouldn't leave us alone.
One kept squawking and I wanted to throw a rock at it since it was disturbing my peace.

Look at me and my coffee on this beach shortly after sunrise.

After beach time, we all headed back to the house to get packed up.  We stopped at Linda's Breakfast and Lunch Place for breakfast and then we all headed our separate ways.  

Final Assessment

NE Captain claimed that Reach the Beach was her favorite race and to be honest, I really couldn't figure out why.  I didn't overly love either of my legs.  I ran through hilly wetlands that smelled like cow and then a town/along a highway.  The town had sidewalks, but the wetlands, while moderately scenic, was all street running and moderately terrifying since there was also traffic and no shoulder.  She clarified that full Road RTB was her favorite, so maybe I'll have to give it another shot?  Most of the exchanges were awesome and the local community showed up to offer food and snacks (for sale and for free).  

As for the Sprint piece, I really enjoyed the total distance of this race.  I wasn't absolutely exhausted running in the middle of the night having a breakdown, which was very nice.  Unfortunately for my team, I was captaining this team and Bourbon Chase (2 weeks after RTB) so they received some moderately confusing info on occasion.  They were all good sports about it though.  I'd love to do more Ragnar sprint races, but I know they are rare.  Full road relays are really exhausting and I don't hate them, but there have been struggles for sure.  Not sure if I'd do Sprint RTB again, but I'd definitely try out the full RTB if conned effectively.

Up next is my ULTIMATE Ragnar: Ragnar Road Bourbon Chase.  THE Ragnar race that introduced me to Ragnar races.  So far, it's going pretty rough and we've had several team member situations that I've had to manage, but I'm sure it will all be fine and we'll do some running and get some medals.  Come what may.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Las Vegas and Grand Canyon 2022

In a definite "what had happened was..." situation, Teh German and I made a trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.  So what had happened wasssss...  In 2020, I purchased a Rock N Roll (RnR) Tourpass, which is 3 half marathon entries.  And then well.. 2020 happened.  So all my races were deferred until ???  So as time has marched on, races have come back.. except for the RnR Chicago race, which I had planned to do with Matilda.  So I deferred that race to Nashville, which got deferred to Seattle, which got cancelled (even though I still went to Seattle with Teh Sisters), so finally I was like, NOLA or Vegas?  And I had planned on NOLA and at the last minute changed my mind to Vegas.  The difference was NOLA was my birthday weekend and Vegas was on Teh German's birthday weekend.  Which meant that a runcation would turn into a vacation + birthday surprise... which meant a LOT more money spent, but YOLO bitches. 

So, yeah, that's what happened.  Here's the story in pictures...


On Friday morning at really early o'clock we headed to BWI for our flight to Vegas.  We've expanded our dog circle (yay!) so we had someone coming to our house to watch our dogs + Bestie's dogs, which really soothed my brain.  We arrived after lunchtime, Teh Bestie and Teh Chief Smartass picked us up at the airport (having flown in the night prior), and after a stop at In and Out for lunch, we headed to the Lake Mead/Hoover Dam.
Teh Bestie and Teh Chief Smartass are national park stamp collectors.. so most places we visited had a dual purpose of also collecting stamps as we were sightseeing.

Lake Mead selfie

Lake Mead

A fun thing about the Hoover Dam is that you cross the time zone line so it's 2 different times at the Hoover Dam!  Nevada side is an hour behind the Arizona side.

silly selfies required when we find silly hats

The time line sign.

The water line, you can see how high the water used to be and how low it is now.

dam selfie

From the bridge!

Dis my sexy face.

After the Hoover Dam, we headed back to Vegas.  We had some time so we headed to the race expo to pick up our packets so we wouldn't have to do it on Saturday.  The race expo was the best one I've experienced since pre-Covid, so that was a delight, although someone else complained that they wanted less hair and lash extensions and more runner products and they weren't wrong about that.  

After getting our stuffs, we hit up the food court at the casino where packet pickup was.  The biggest lesson we quickly learned in Vegas is that EVERYTHING is overpriced/expensive.  The food was meh, but we fought off the impending hanger and headed back to the hotel so we could crash.


Saturday was Teh German's birthday so I got ahead of myself and forgot to give him his card and instead just showed him the confirmation email for his birthday present.... a Porche GT3 RS driving experience.  He was kind of confused at first and after he verified that, yes, he would be getting to drive 7+ laps in his dream car, he got VERY excited.  Mostly, I'm just excited I was able to keep it a secret.  Then I gave him his card. /facepalm

Saturday's agenda included an ATV desert tour and then the RnR 5k and then "old" Vegas.  First stop was breakfast.

If you are in Vegas, definitely check out The Egg Place.
This was their take on an egg mcmuffin.

We ended up with a trainee/new guy as our tour guide.  I'm not sure if that's why our desert ride was so slow or if that's the regular speed, but for those of us who enjoy 2-wheels, this tour was not enough adrenaline rush for the price we paid.  For Teh Bestie, she was satisfied because she is a chicken.

After the ATV trek, we hit up the MGM Grand food court for a "snack" for lunch since Teh Bestie and I had a 5k in the evening.  After a hot dog, we headed back to the hotel where I showered and laid down for a quick (much needed (time change is hard, yo)) nap.

We had realized while eating our snack that the start line for the 5k was NOT the same for the half marathon start line.  We did not know this prior, which is bizarre since we are usually on top of ALL the deets.  So we tackled this problem and made a new plan, which included the dudes dropping us off at the start line (vs walking since it would have taken us almost 2 hours to get there) and then they would occupy their time somehow while we did our 5k and then we'd meet up afterwards to enjoy Fremont Street and find something for dinner.

Start line shenanigans.

We passed the Pawnstars pawn shop along the 5k route which was cool.

We HAD to get a selfie with the Maryland street sign!
(it's a weird selfie since the lighting was difficult)

other interesting things along the course: This weird truck sculpture.

Very slow for those who wait
very fast for those who are scared
very long for those who lament
very short for those who celebrate

The ruby slipper



For the 5k, we walked the entire thing.  This was VERY difficult for me because people were passing me and I wanted to go fast but I also wanted to see things and, most importantly, I was nursing a hamstring malfunction so I could run the half marathon the following day.  Bestie was fine with a walk and it meant that we stayed together and got to really see the cool sights along the way.

Fremont Street.

Ok, the ceiling screen was SUPER cool.

"The Rules"

These queens brought me joy.

We decided on a place for dinner and the wait was over an hour and I was exhausted and so we finally succumbed to the bars along the strip.

I asked for "something blue, no tequila." 
I got a Blue Hawaiian.  I wasn't sad.


While we waited for our table, we meandered around and I found a chocolate shop which helped make me a nicer person (and they gave Teh German a white chocolate oreo for free since it was his bday after I had asked him through the window, "Do you want something? They have white chocolate?") and I also made a trip into Walgreens carrying my alcoholic beverage into the store with me and not a single person batted an eye, to include the security guard who greeted me when I walked in.  #Vegas.  When I received the text that our table was ready, I booked it to the restaurant and walked straight in and sat at the table where Teh Bestie and Teh Chief Smartass were already sitting.  They both looked at me confused and I asked what and they said, "How did you get to bring your drink in?"  Yall, I walked right the fuck in like the Boss Bitch I am and no one said a damn thing to me.  Teh German, I guess, had been stopped or seen a sign or something, and was standing outside chugging his beer.  Do I recommend being sketchy like me?  Absolutely. At your own risk.

Dinner was at Nacho Daddy and it did NOT disappoint.  12/10 WOULD recommend.  Even with a long wait.  Preferably not after a race where your legs are tired and there is no where to sit and wait, but ya know, life.


I don't remember what we got, but it was all delicious (ours was something with carnitas).

Apple dessert nachos == PERFECTION.

After shoveling all the noms into our faces, we were le tired.  We had to, unfortunately, walk back to the car (ugh so many steps!) and then drive back to the hotel.  We managed, then it was bedtime.


Knowing that our half was on Sunday afternoon, as well as Teh German's birthday surprise, we planned an easy day for Sunday.  First stop was breakfast at Blueberry Hill, 12/10 would recommend, then we headed on to Red Rock Canyon to look at the rocks and collect NPS stamps.

If you don't see Jabba the Hut then obviously you've never been scarred by the Star Wars franchise like me.

Little critters

We said it was pepperoni.

We called this one a sausage pizza, on principle.

Joshua Tree blossoms with some rocks.

We ended up getting back into Vegas earlier than anticipated and everyone was still full from lunch, so we went back to our room for some downtime.  Since Teh Bestie and I had planned to walk, Teh Chief Smartass and Teh German headed to the track for expensive car time.

After walking a mile to get to the start line, we finally started the race.  My hamstring cooperated for the entire race, which meant I got to run the entire thing.  I took it easy and didn't go as fast as possible and stopped to take photos when I was so moved.  It was a very enjoyable race to be honest.  I saw a lot of things I wouldn't have seen if we had just driven around town.

Loading zone stretching.

Along the 1 mile trek to the start line.

Ironic sign since we kept stopping trying to get to the start line...
in the worst place since this was the Poop (smelling) Chute.

FINALLY reaching the start line!

In a convenient turn of events, Teh German and Teh Chief Smartass had finished at the track just before our race started.  They had dropped the car off at the hotel and were walking to the Pinball Museum when we started the race, so when I saw them ahead of me on the sidewalk, I stopped to walk with them for a short bit to ask if the driving experience was everything Teh German had hoped.  It was.  Definitely a "best wife ever" achievement, if I do say so myself.  I didn't want to dilly-dally, so after a quick chat, I ran along.

Selfie with the Vegas sign

And the other side.

That desert sunset.


Vegas New York

My heart is always a Carolina Hurricanes fan,
but when in Vegas, we cheered for the Vegas Knights (also because our teams weren't playing).
Selfie with the Golden Knights mascot and show girls? ladies? whatever they prefer to be called.

Bullseye! (The Target puppy)

The Eiffel Tower

The 10k/Half split.
No turning back from here.

This awesome volunteer was handing out water while balancing a cup of water on her head!

Vegas Space Needle (Stratosphere)

Also had to get a Charleston Blvd selfie.

The firey praying mantis!

The creepiest thing in Vegas.

Time out for adventure

Finish line selfie!

After I crossed the finish line, I endured the 20482983 mile long finisher chute and finally found the tent to pick up my Remix medal and then tried to find an escape so I could meet Teh German and Teh Chief Smartass in front of the Bellagio while we waited on Teh Bestie to finish.  I watched some fountain action and the guys found me and I actually did some stripping on the strip when I took off my sweaty run pants while standing on the sidewalk in Vegas.  I mean, there were women walking around in thong bikinis and feather hats (the showgirls, who btw will require a tip if you take a photo with them, so do not do that unless you have $20 on hand), so my sweaty bikini underwear were definitely PG in comparison.  Teh German was like, do you want me to stand in front of you to block people?  I was like, Meh, I don't care at this point.  So I changed my britches while we waited and got into some warmer clothes because it's cold in the desert at night, kthx.

Once Teh Bestie appeared, we headed down the strip to the Fly LINQ zipline since we had tickets.  It was moderately underwhelming and I think we would have all prefered the Fremont Street zipline, but I didn't know when I booked the tickets, so this was fine.  #LessonsLearned
Zipliner selfie!

After the zip, we headed out to find dinner.  We ended up at a pizza place and our wait was, graciously, only 20ish minutes.  Time zones + a huge breakfast + no pre-race food + a half marathon = starvation.


After dinner, we trekked back to the hotel.  I'm not sure how I managed to stand upright for a shower, but I did and then I passed out.


Monday was when our adventure headed out of Vegas and into the Grand Canyon.  In the AM, we had a slow start and made a stop at the Hershey store before Teh Bestie and Teh Chief Smartass dropped us off at our rental car place and we headed for more mountainous adventures.

When Teh Sisters and I were in Seattle, and ever since, we've all noticed random orphaned shoes wherever we are.  We cannot figure out how these shoes become orphaned.  So I orphaned a pair of shoes by leaving them in front of the Hershey store.  These were shoes I had planned on donating anyways, so I wore them for our dusty ATV adventure and then parted ways with them on Monday morning.  Neither of Teh Sisters even commented when I shared my orphaned shoes with them because they obviously do not love me, assholes.

Also found the Coyote Ugly bar while at the Hershey store.
HAD to send this one to Teh Sister, who watched Coyote Ugly, the movie, on repeat for MONTHS of my life that I'll never get back.

MGM lion.

The Gang.

Did not pay for this.
But here some butts for you.
Not mine.  Just random butts.

NY NY during the day!

I gave Teh German the option of going to the West Rim/Skywalk or going just to the South Rim, where we had in-park hotel reservations.  He said he wanted to do the Skywalk, so we headed that way.  I had already put it into GPS to see that it was only an hour and a half extra worth of driving to swing by the West Rim and since we were here, we might as well.

As we were driving up the mountains, I could tell that Teh German was NOT impressed with what he was seeing (the plateau tops of the Canyon) and I just let him be not impressed because I knew what was coming and didn't want to ruin it for him.  You could tell he was seriously unimpressed when we paid $70/person to go on the Skywalk.  

Side note: The West Rim/Skywalk is on Hualapai Tribe lands, this is a way to generate revenue so it's the ultimate support local experience.

But when he finally got off the shuttle and stepped up to the edge and could really see the Canyon's depth, he was pretty astonished at just how big the ditch really is.  

After some photos, we headed to the Skywalk.  I ended up purchasing the photos because YOLO (and also USCIS, kthx).

We made one more stop on the West Rim shuttle at did some low key rock climbing and then started our trek to the South Rim, which included a drive through the literal desert where we spent the entire time questioning who the fuck choses to live out there, who owns the free range cattle, and how often someone hit a cow going 80+mph.

We made it to Williams, AZ around 8pm and grabbed dinner at Historic Brewing Company before finishing the remaining hour of the drive up to the Canyon.

Had to stop and get a Route 66 selfie, despite the "feels like 24°F"

We arrived to our hotel around 10 and quickly got settled in and fell asleep.  Time change and driving and travel is hard.


We had a slightly late start because we were exhausted and the only thing on the agenda was "Grand Canyon" and "get back to Vegas".  We had the last 2 breakfast burritos at the hotel cafe, made a quick purchase at the gift shop, and then set out for the Visitor's Center because I wanted to get a park stamp for Teh Bestie's postcard (because I'm an asshole, kthx) before we mailed them off.  We get to the Visitor's Center and learn that it is CLOSED on Tues and Weds. WTF?!?  I almost had a meltdown right then.  It was almost as bad as discovering I fucked up the lenses of my favorite Goodr sunglasses after we got back to the hotel Sunday night (true story).  Thankfully, I was able to use the Googly to learn there were other stamps at other places in the park, so the day was saved.  After getting postcard stamps, we strolled to the Canyon so Teh German could see it from a new angle.  After some selfies, we headed back to the car to drive to the eastern most point of the South Rim, the Watchtower.  

Critters on the side of the road.

The Watchtower

The Colorado River + the Grand Canyon + Teh German

The Colorado River + the Grand Canyon + Teh Megan

We had decided that we'd stop at a few view points on the way to the western end of the South Rim, so that is what we did.

At one stop, I heard someone speaking but couldn't find them.. and then all of a sudden they appeared out of nowhere in front of me, having hiked down a little ways into the Canyon... and so that's what we did too... in the snow.  #AdventureSeekers.

After our "hike" we jumped back in the car and headed to the west side for one more stamp for Teh Bestie's postcard and my last photo request of our feet hanging off the Canyon.

With that, our Ditch tour was complete and we headed back to Vegas.  We made a quick detour for a snack in Williams and selfies with the Route 66 sign.

We got back into Vegas at dinner time and opted for The Front Yard for dinner.  Our server was trying to get me tipsy (I didn't mind) and we shared a massive appetizer for dinner and had drinks and cheered that they changed the tvs from basketball to hockey, even if it was the Knights game.

After dinner, we headed to our hotel and promptly crashed since the alarm was set for a whopping 5 hours later since we had to get up and drop off the rental car and do the airport thing.  


Go home day.  Praise hands.  Even more praise hands?  AN ALMOST EMPTY PLANE.  I've never needed a nap more, so this was truly a blessing I didn't know I needed... and when Teh German, the rule follower, wouldn't get up and go to an empty row, I finally made him get up and let me out so I could go to an empty row so I could nap.  #Worthit.

When we got home, everyone was still alive (duh) and I proceeded to scoop poop, fill dog beds, break the vacuum while cleaning the floors, repaired the vacuum, finished cleaning the floors, and did 2949234 loads of laundry (approximately).  I collapsed into bed and the next day started way too early.

Vacation is hard and exhausting and it was fun and all, but I'm so glad to be home surrounded by my tiny furry army.