Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ragnar Northwest Passage | Race Recap COntinued | To-Do for Next Year

... or whenever I decide to throw myself into the throes of the madness that Ragnar is.After I detailed my experience in recap 1, I got to thinking about how different of an experience this could be every time I participate. The team, the  different legs, the events - it all makes a difference and can quash any prior expectations I originally had going into the whole thing.

That being said, there are definitely a few bullet points I want to remember for my next Ragnar. While they may or may not end up happening (like should I decide to just forget drinking water or pack all. the. snacks. wait, that will never happen), at least I will feel a little less anxious and more prepared about running at 4am.

1. Packing! Pack all my running outfits in separate Ziplock gallon-sized bags, with the leg map printed out with them. This worked out great, and I was incredibly thankful for an easy pull-out-the-outfit-without-looking move, as well as having a place to put my sweaty, stanky clothes that I had just ran in. While there was nothing that I didn't bring that made my time any less great, there were a couple items I wish I had brought:
  • Warm clothes for the night runs - leggings, sweats, or a sweatshirt. I brought a zip-up, but  ended up having to borrow my friend's thick leggings as well, since it was pretty chilly. 
  • A bag for all the swag! Mine ended up being shoved under the seat in front of me in an extremely disorganized fashion. Minor detail, yes, but I wanted my free Cliff shot blocks to be well-contained so I know exactly where to hunt them down the exact second I need them! #Ragnarspoiledbrat
Other than that, I think I did a pretty good job of appropriately packing. Baby wipes were a definite lifesaver.

2. Expect ZERO sleep. I had thought I would at least get a few hours, but that definitely did not happen. I got a solid one, which turned out to be fine since my adrenaline and the aforementioned shot blocks were running in my veins, making me an un-sleepable mess anyway.

3. Embrace the finish line. At this point, our whole time was sorta just "over it." I think had we all been closer friends, we would have been more into the fun finish line vibe of "let's get the pizza and beer and hang out and recap for hours," but maybe not. It's a long 2 days, so maybe this one just isn't bound to happen. We did manage to grab out medals (duh), more swag, and a legit Ragnar team picture.

4. Get everyone's contact information. More specifically, their phone numbers so that everyone can stay connected with whomever. This was something we should have done, and learned a lesson when one teammate was supposed to text another when I was finished running leg 12 to let them know to meet us, but accidentally fell asleep instead. Total first world problems, true, but it was a whole TWENTY MINUTES OFF OUR TIME! J/k, it was fine. Just another thing to take care of for next time.

5. Stay hydrated and nutritioned. This sounds like a dummy, but after having our captain visit the hospital for dehydration it's worth tucking away as a future reminder. While it may not even be hot out, your still running and putting your body through different habits that you probably aren't too accustomed to. The best thing to do is make sure it gets the water it requires (and lots of it) and good nutrients that won't make you feel like poo. I honestly felt like I was eating the whole dang time, but not once did I feel sick. The body runs on fuel, fuel that is what is going to help you woman-handle those three legs like a champ.

Speaking of's important to wear a wrestling singlet while running Ragnar. #buyasmallertankyouidiot

I hope this little series was of some assistance to you future Ragnarians! I truly had a great time, and the Northwest Passage route was drop-dead gorgeous. Feel free to drop me a line with any questions!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ragnar Northwest Passage | Race Recap

Well, I made it! We made it. Team 12-pack/Team Ragnarasauras (yeah, somehow we ended up with two different names. We went with it). It was a fun, wild, eventful weekend that made me appreciate the regular occurrence of sleep I get in my life, and in a bed to boot!

Thanks to it being 94 degrees, conditions we are certainty not accustomed to, our fearless captain ended up in the hospital with dehydration after her first run. I ended up taking her second run, which was 8.9 "very hard" miles at 4am, a mere two runs after I had ran my 5 miles at 2am. It was seriously one of the most physically rewarding things I've ever done, mainly because I really didn't think I could do it.

Instead of giving you a breakdown of times, conversations, bat and rat run-ins and cray-cray 4am fog, I am going to spit out a couple posts: things I learned on this wild adventure and things I will be putting into play next year.

Lessons Learned:

1. Adrenaline pushes. It's no secret that you run faster on race day, when you're completely immersed in the whole experience, but I didn't think it would be like that on my third (of four) legs at 4:30am going uphill in fog. My legs felt like rubber bands at that point, and I was wide awake and ready to run past any sucker that happened to be in front of me. Except there wasn't anyone, and that would have been a bad idea because man, my body was secretly exhausted at that point.Adrenaline was also the stinker that got me a 19:45 5k my first leg. Oops...not a good idea. There were black spots.

2. Team participation is key. Especially after the first legs, when the whole shebang gets real. You need support through and through - a driver, a navigator, a waterer, someone who won't fall asleep when the other team needs to be informed that they are on deck to meet us at the next exchange for their legs. Ragnar is great, because it turns an independent sport into a team activity, and having those 11 ladies backing you is crucial to making this a positive experience.

3. Night running is awesome. Um, yeah, la-HOV-ed it. My first night run I felt like I could have kept going forever (which I sort of felt like I was doing 2 hours later). Running in the dark is so much different than the day - there's so much more silence and serenity. The temperature was a million times better than it was during the hot, hot day, making for a very comfortable run.

4. Be flexible! There a thousand and one things that will not go the way you had planned, and it's important to move past it and figure out plan B stat. Sometimes even plan C. Sucky, but Ragnar lives on and will leave your team in the Northwest wilderness if you don't, so figure out a solution and get to it!

Flash? No flash?

Stay tuned for the next segment of Ragnar NW Passage Gone Wild: Next Year Do's, which includes a whole lot on packing and food stuffs.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Weekly Rundown & 2013 Northwest Passage Ragnar Countdown!

How is Ragnar staring me in the face already?! I feel like it was just four days ago that I started packing. Oh was. Don't worry, only a week in advance. Anxious much?

Got those baby wipes! Since I have already decided that I will not be showering (there's just too much involved), I have a feeling these babies (har har) will come in handy multiple times a day. More for my van mates benefit than mine, that's for sure.

Also key - the ziplock bags. I printed out each leg map with the outfit I'll be wearing into each bag to try and keep the whole thing organized and the post-run smell contained.

My mileage last week crept up slightly from the week before, which I'm happy about. My knee is feeling beautiful, and my runs have been pretty much pain-free, aside from the standard niggle here and there.

I've grown to really l-o-v-e running in the mornings when it's all quiet and stuff. Bonus: endorphins flowing all day long. Not a bonus: I'm physically more tired the rest of the day, which means I seem to rely way more on caffeine these days. This makes me feel like a sissy, but I'm alright with that.

Tuesday: 7.11 miles, 9:02 pace
Wednesday: 5.23, 9:9:22
Thursday: 3 miles, 9:27 pace
Friday: 4.36 miles, 8:27 pace
Sunday morning: 6 miles, 819 pace

 Grand total: 25.71

It's strange not following a training plan and having a set workout for the day. I'm so used to thinking I have to run a certain number of miles at this pace, or do a track workout of sorts but it's a nice change to just take it day by day by what my schedule and body can handle. Especially during the summer, when I like a little more free time to hang out like this:

Have a wonderful night!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vegetable Lasagna (vegan | gluten-free)

I'm here today with a recipe that stemmed from a serious problem - too much zucchini. I know, it was a toughy to work through, but I think I found the best solution possible.

My parents have always had a garden. As long as I can remember, my dad has planted and provided the required TLC to grow tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and herbs. The resulting bounty gets used pretty quickly, but sometimes they need a little help putting it all to good use, which is lucky for me.

I have adopted this gardening tendency,  and while I'm not nearly as successful with it as my father is, I have been able to keep my tomatoes, lettuce, onions, rhubarb and beets alive this year. I harvested my first round of beets this week, and I felt so cool. Little did we all know that Dwight Shrute had it figured out a long time ago that beets are totally the way to go. So did Doug Funnie.

Instagram: brittawebb

So last night, I had two fat zuccs and three hefty beets sitting on the counter, and we had a little brainstorming session on what their fate would be. After crossing off a simple saute (too boring for these beauties) and zucchini bread (I needed dinner), I decided that the zucchini's lengthy physique would not only make for fantastic "noodles," but they would pair quite nicely with those beets when nestled together in some Italian flavors.

I instantly remember this cashew "cheese" recipe my sister and I had used for our pizza, and realized then and there that a layered casserole of sorts would have to come into play. And oh MAN, it played hard. I can't wait for leftovers today.

This cashew cheese is so good. It has the same texture as ricotta, which makes it quite perfect for this dish. I found myself dipping leftover zucchini bits in it, so it makes a great dip as well. I also loved being able to use the entire beet, from the greens to the actual flesh. I don't particularly love the taste of beet greens, so this covered that up well so I was able to get all their amazing nutrients.

Lemon Ricotta Cashew Cheese
From Lunchbox Bunch

1 1/2 cups soaked and drained raw cashews (soak in salted water overnight)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cloves of raw garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup water + more as needed
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
dash of pepper
dash of cayenne
1 tsp mixed dried Italian herbs (optional)
a few dashes of ground flax seeds (optional)
small scoop of nutritional yeast (optional)

For the lasagna veggie portion
Based off this recipe

1/2 block firm tofu, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
2 Tb minced garlic
red pepper flakes
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
Italian spices
3 beets, cooked and cut into chunks
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
1 cup garbanzo beans
1/4 cup diced kalamata olives
1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch strips
beet greens, torn into chunks
1/4 cup green onions

1. Make the cashew cheese sauce, and refrigerate.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. In a skillet, cook the onion, tofu and a splash of water over medium heat until the onion softens. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and continue to cook in low heat for 10 minutes to let the flavors mingle.

4. In a medium bowl, mix together the beets, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and olives. Add in 1/4 cup of the tomato mixture and stir all together.

5. In a casserole dish, pour all the tomato mixture into the bottom. On top of the tomato mixture, add in half the beet greens. Layer on zucchini slices, then cover with half the cashew cheese - I just sort of dolloped and spread it on each zucchini slices. On top of the zucchini, layer on half the beet/tomato/chickpea mixture, followed by the remaining beet greens, then the last layer of zucchini, then the cheese, and finally the remaining tomato mixture.

6. Cook for 40 minutes and let cool for 10. Garnish with green onions.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage Planning

This past week our Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage team had our first team meeting. It was so fun to meet all the girls that we will be running with. I had only known two of the girls, one of whom is my sister-in-law, so it was great to hang out with the other girls that I'll be spending two straight days with.

We had a Ragnar veteran come to speak to us about all things important, who was a huge help. Get your butt light! Paint your van! Eat your snacks! We had so many questions, some that I definitely hadn't thought of. I can't believe it's now only 2 weeks away - which means I really need to get on the planning/packing bandwagon for this event.

1. Can we shower? YES! Total surprise to me. I guess some schools will be open, along with a couple campgrounds, so bring some change. Here's the thing though - I'm not our household's the world's biggest showerer. I don't want to get into details, but showering isn't a big priority for me most of the time. My husband, on the other hand, takes two a day. I consider it a nice form of balance, and keeping our water bill at bay.

Long explanation short: while I plan on being sticky sweaty and nasty hot, I highly doubt I will be taking advantage of this showering business. It sounds like a lot of work? (Who would have thought a girl that lazy would even sign up for Ragnar in the first place.)

2. Can we eat? YES! Like, real food, not just Cliff bars and bananas? Still a yes! Total relief. This was a worry of mine, since as much as I love snacking, runners need some serious fuel in meal-form. I felt sort of "duh" after this, since obviously we will be driving all over, past placed that sell real meals, soooo yeah. We can actually stop at those! Unless I smell too bad and am refused service (see number 1 above).

3. Can we get our art on? Yes! It's highly encouraged to decorate our two SUV's that we're bringing, so we can flaunt our team name, number of kills (when you pass people), and other such important things. Done and done.

In order to appropriately prep as best as possible, I've perused the internet for thoughts on what to pack and what to expect. Sarah OUaL has been a big help, who outlines all her relays here, and Meghann and Erika give detailed posts on what to pack here and here.

In relay running expertise you can provide?

Monday, July 1, 2013

weekly rundown

I realize that it's 120 degrees in Death Valley, and that's truly a blistering boil. However, as I stated yesterday, this late June/early July heat is truly unreal for us here in the Pacific Northwest. I had to create a rough summary of my day to portray exactly how bloody hot it is here (and while it may sound like I'm complaining, that's really not the case. Bring it on, sun.):

2am: Wake up drenched in 12 gallons of sweat
5:15am: Wake up again, this time to one ridiculously beautiful sunrise.
6:00am: Don't go running because I'm already sweating and tired from not getting any REM's last night.
7:00am: Hair dries in three minutes
8:00am: One grande iced orange coffee (it sounds weird, and it tastes weird. Go figure.)
10:45am: Finish third 16.9oz water bottle-full of water
11:30am: One hour lunch with my mom, straight in the sun's rays. It was lovely.
2:00pm: Four is the magic number my air conditioner needs to be on, which is the highest setting and yet still not powerful enough to keep my armpits dry. 
3:30pm: Jumped in a lake two minutes after arriving at a friend's house.
6:30pm: Watered four wilting lettuce plants that were looking quite sad.
8:00pm: Ran three miles to the husband's softball game with one water bottle in hand that didn't stay frozen for more than 13 minutes.

But I LOVE IT. It makes my entire day feel more relaxed and stress-free. I can't imagine if I lived in Arizona. Actually, I can, and it would include me being unemployed because I would never want to get any work done.

Play in the sun. Play in the sun. Work? Nah, play in the sun!

I did manage to squeeze in 24.71 miles last week when it was pouring down rain 4 days and pretty dang hot the other 3.

Tuesday: 5 miles, 7:58 pace
Thursday: 6 miles, 8:46 pace
Friday: 5.7 miles, 8:36 pace
Sunday morning: 5 miles, 8:51 pace
Sunday evening: 3 miles: 8:22 pace

 Grand total: 24.71

I am now off to convince my husband that it would be in our best interest to sleep outside on the deck tonight. Did you guys ever do that growing up? I'm pretty sure my neighborhood friends and I would spend more nights sleeping outside together than we did inside apart. It was such a novelty! Yes, I think I need to bring that back tonight.

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