Ragnar Chicago–Part II–Recap

I gave you a taste of the Chicago Ragnar Relays last week HERE.   It was a great experience and one where I can say that both myself and my teammates walked away with a new understandings of ourselves, our level of determination, and a certain respect for what each person was willing to sacrifice in order to finish this event.  I absolutely admire and adore each of these women because they chose NOT to give up but rather to stay and run each and every mile of the event from Madison, WI to Chicago, IL.  We started as 6 Ultra Badass Babes.

Start

We finished as 5.

Ragnar CHI_finish_official

Runner/Babe #5 started her 12+ mile leg in the middle of FRI afternoon.  Ran well.  Ran happy.  We supported her.  We offered & she accepted cold water.  We offered encouragement and forced her to drink and dose herself with water to protect her from the 83 degree heat and full sun.  But it wasn’t enough.  Babe #5 finished her run with a smile but soon thereafter succumbed to the horrible symptoms of heat stroke and dehydration.  Babe #5 was admitted to the hospital where she could recover in a safe environment.   We were sad to see her go.  We were sad to “leave” her behind but we had a runner out on the trail in “somewhere” Wisconsin and it was impossible to be everywhere at once with one van and only 5 babes left to run the remaining 137 miles.  Goodbye Babe #5.

Christy

I’ll admit, it was a little bit of a party in the beginning.  A celebration of sorts that we were actually running Ragnar after all the talking, planning, and training.  However, things turned serious after Babe #5 left.   No more marking “killz” on the van window.  No more checking off runs.  No more counting down to the finish.  Much like a marathon, we took it one mile at a time.  We were also hyper aware that if we lost one more person that it was over.  Like really over.  I’m not sure any of us really believed that we would be able to finish with the remaining 5 but we were all experienced runners.  We were all moms.  We knew that if we breathed a word of doubt that it would take life and wreak havoc.  The mind is a powerful thing and keeping it in check is sometimes the hardest part.

So we ran.  Mile to mile.  Exchange to Exchange.  Ragnar sign to Ragnar sign. 

one mile to go   right

And we kept passing off that damn bracelet.  (Stock photo, I neglected to get a pic of our bracelet AGAIN).

ragnar-bracelet

Our original plan was for each babe to run 2 Ragnar legs at one time, so that each person only ran 3 times.   Yes, only 3 runs but double the mileage.  This was our first mistake.   While it looked good on paper, it was just too many miles during the heat of the day.   So the babes who were running late morning and into the late afternoon really bared the brunt of the heat wave and it was not a good thing.  Each of those babes came off their runs in poor shape.  Hot.  Miserable.  Bitchy.  Dehydrated despite all attempts to keep them fueled and hydrated.  Each one suffered mild signs of dehydration & heat stroke & we had a bunch of really MUSHY tummies.   Because of their experience, most of them were able to force themselves to eat, drink and get themselves back on track quickly.  Not a fun game but we played it.  Over.  And over again.  And we just kept running.

Needless to say, our brains eventually activated once they cooled off and we threw our predestinated scripts run mileage charts aside.   Each babe got out of the van when it was her turn and ran what she could.  We didn’t care if she ran 3 miles or 10 miles.  We just focused on moving toward that finish line.  We didn’t want any one babe to run more than she could handle because as was previously stated, if we lost one more babe, we would have been done.  So we just kept moving  Kept supporting each other.  Kept checking on one another.  Kept running, walking, crawling toward the finish. 

The nighttime hours were hard.  They are hard in any relay race.  However, we had a van full of middle aged moms and well, we don’t stay up at night.  We go to bed with the kids.  So once 9pm rolled around it got hard.  11pm was bad.  1am sucked ass.  I got out of the van to run at 2 or 2:30am to run 7 miles and it was basically a WTF moment.  WTF was I thinking.  WTF made me think we could do this with 5 babes.  WTF was going to make my body RUN in the pitch black night thru the middle of Wisconsin.  WTF was going to make my blistered plantar fasciitis feet move it for 7 miles.   I was tired.  Discouraged.  Hurting.

But as with everything, it all worked itself out and eventually the sun came up.  The sun always comes up if we can wait long enough, right?  Well, it came up.  And while it was dark we figured out the answer to riddle.  Just run.  No expectations on anyone.  Just run.  No judgment.  Just run.  No mileage requirements.  Just run.  Just run.  Just run.  And look badass while walking running.  Smile

Ragnar CHI_2014

Once the sun came up, it’s a bit of a blur.  We were all exhausted.  We had picked up a bit of a routine.  Once a babe finished running, she would hydrate, fuel, stretch, relax, and eat real food.  Then she would try to rest.  After resting, she would drive or navigate.  One babe was always running.  One babe was always “on deck” with running shoes on and fuel belt filled, ready to jump in at any moment when Runner Babe called it quits.  It worked.  And we kept moving toward the finish.  One mile at a time.  Then I saw it. 

seeing chicago

I saw Chicago, across the beach and beyond the tress.  And I knew we’d make it.  I admit, I started crying.  That was the first realization that we were going to finish.  I knew we’d make it.  Pure relief.  And soon enough we were Ragnar FINISHERS.  A mere 5 of us babes.  I understand that other teams may have done it with fewer but this was a real accomplishment for us.  Finishers.

Ragnar Finisher

We had some help a long the way.  We had three generous BADASS sponsors. 

Bondi Band – Compression Socks 

bondi band socks_badass2Start  bondi band socks_badass 

Family Fan Club – Custom Design Shirts & Van Decals

Ragnar Start Selfie   shirts-decals 

Relax Reflect – BADASS reflective tights & gear.  Buy your badass tights HERE!  Super cool!  Men & Women’s styles.

badass tights  badass tights2 

Huge thanks to everyone who made this Ragnar Chicago experience possible.  From our sponsors, to our volunteers (Colleen, Nancy & Tammy), to our husbands and/or family/friends who helped with the kids, helped to shuttle us around and helped by sending well wishes and prayers, we thank you ALL. 

Ragnar Chicago is in the books.  It’s was an amazing accomplishment by 5 amazing women.  Not one of us could have done it alone.  And I’d like to thank Babe #5 for taking this journey with us and offering her continued support even after she left the relay. 

** Experience Ragnar ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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Ragnar Chicago–Part I–What I Learned

Ragnar Chicago was my second foray into the Ragnar Relay Series.  If you recall, I did the Florida Keys event in January 2013 and it was hot as hell.  FL Keys was a 12 person team.  Chicago was a 6 person team.  Through these two events, I’ve learned a couple things and I’d feel remiss if I didn’t share. 

1.  The most fun you’ll have at Ragnar is probably going to be decorating the van.

van  van2

2.  The most exciting part is probably going to be the start line.

Ragnar Start Selfie    Start 

3.  The team you start with will most likely not be the same as the one that crosses the finish line.

4.  Make sure you have a solid team.  I would suggest the following teammates:

     a)  one runner who could probably run the entire distance herself, if necessary. 

Ragnar CHI_Julie

     b)  a super experienced runner who has done the course before and knows where to find the smores.

Ragnar CHI_Judy

     c) a rock of a person.  Solid as can be, one who won’t get agitated easily and if she does, she’ll manage to fake it stay calm until the panic passes.

Ragnar CHI_Lisa

     d)  a jokester, preferably one with ADD because apparently people with ADD don’t need to sleep.

Ragnar CHI_Kelly

     e) a captain, cuz they need to zap someone’s credit card when the flags get lost.

Ragnar CHI_2014_2

5)  Ragnar is a LONG event.  You will get tired.  It doesn’t matter if you are running 3 legs or 8 legs, exhaustion will set in and so will the bitchiness.

6)  Sleeping in a van is impossible, no matter how tired you may be or how well intentioned your teammates are about making you rest.

7)  Sometimes you will refuse to get out of the van, even if someone needs water, even if there are free smores, even if there are naked men flaunting themselves, even if …..

8)  No matter how many miles you run, no matter how many times you say  you will “never run again”, no matter how tired you get …. all those negative memories fade when you cross the finish and have that free beer in your hand.

Ragnar CHI_finish_official     finisher medal

** Ragnar – Part I – What I learned ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

I Bid Adieu To….Chick 3

We all know that I’m not happy about it but there is absolutely nothing that can be done, so I packed up my “Chick 3” ensemble tonight to pass on to the newbie runner for Ragnar Chicago Team #85 – You Just Got Chicked.

Chick 3

So much emotion went into the preparation and planning for this team that it seems unreal that it’s no longer on my plate.  I feel as if I section has been torn out of my book and the ending left unknown, questioned and lost.  Super sad.  Loads of tears.

I’d like to send out a few Thank You’s..…..

  • Thanks to the ladies who have already asked me to be part of their 2013 Ragnar teams.  Much appreciated but my wounds are still fresh and well, I can’t walk very well right now so won’t be planning any long distance relays at this time
  • Thanks to all of you for your well wishes and words of encouragement.
  • Thanks to all of you who were scrambling in an attempt to fill my ultra spot on the relay.
  • Thanks to those of you who offered up ideas on SKINNY drinks. 
  • Thanks to Ragnar for sending me such a nice email, informing me that my captain had dropped me from the team.  I got that.  My foot popped, I knew I’d be dropped.  Good times.  Thanks for the info.
  • Thanks to  Aby for limping around downtown with me this week, going to work with me, helping me onto the train, filing, copying and running back & forth to the freezer for my ice bag.
  • Thanks to hubby for pretending he gave a shit cared about the billion tears I cried over a relay that happens EVERY year.  This isn’t exactly the last one, there will be a “few” more!
  • Thanks to BondiBand, Aspaeris Pivot Shorts, Family Fan Club, ShowerPill and Gu Energy for setting up Team You Just Got Chicked to kick some ass have fun in this race.

I hope you all have an awesome Ragnar, if you are running, or kick some butt on whatever you attempt this weekend!  #MakeItCount

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

4 Days til Ragnar – 4 Things For Which I’m Thankful (Injury Related)

This will be my last Ragnar countdown day since I, of course, will not be running.  We finally have a new “chick” to take my place so that removes a huge weight from my shoulders.  I’m incredibly sad over the entire situation but at least my team is now covered.

Since I’m feeling a bit “blue”, I thought it would be good to think of 4 things for which I am thankful in relation to the injury.

Ruptured PF

This rupture, tear, strain, whatever you want to call it, is not optimal as I look at a full calendar of races, the relay, and my most coveted 70.3 events which I will have to miss; however, here are my 4 things positive:

  1. I can finally stop running in pain.  Each day I went out the door, I ran thru pain.  I have been running in pain for over a year.  The $600 orthotics  helped, but to keep it at a bearable level, we have resorted to anti-inflammatories and cortisone shots.  The cortisone was not intended to be a quick fix (until the one we did on FRI in an attempt to get me thru Ragnar, which totally backfired, didn’t it?) but rather a process of decreasing the inflammation and hoping it would heal in the process.  That didn’t work and the pain always crept back.   So now, I have a REAL reason to stop running without feeling like I am copping out or being a wuss.  
  2. Hello, summer!  I plan to spend lots of hours floating in the pool.   This is my favorite type of float cuz it keeps me cool by sinking me in the water while still holding me up!pool float

    In relation to this, I am also thankful that Mr.. Michael is more chill and fun this year.  He loves his sister so much that it takes some pressure off me and will hopefully allow me some float time unlike the last two summersNow let’s just get that cloudiness out of the pool so the fun can begin!

  3. Since there are not any early morning runs in my future, I can also enjoy a few cocktails.  Any low call adult beverage suggestions?                        cocktails
  4. My family is being nice to me.   They are helping and working together to get done all the crap things that mommy usually does herself.               family working together 

  So back to those low cal beverages?  Any ideas?

** Happy Running or Lounging, whatever is in the cards for you this summer! **  Amanda – TooTallFritz

6 Days til Ragnar – 6 Chicks

So today brings us 6 days out from the start of the 2012 Chicago Ragnar Relays.  And we have 6 chicks that form our ultra team, You Just Got Chicked.

6 Chicks _ red x me

However, one chick…..ME, isn’t going to get to run.  I “may” have mentioned that my Plantar Fasciitis flared up BEYOND comprehension over the last couple weeks.  And we “may” have been trying to get me thru the Ragnar Relays by using the acupuncture, foot manipulation, cortisone shot, ice & motrin but it all blew up this morning.  Quite  literally BLEW UP.  I was running,  a little over a mile from my car, turned around because the pain was so bad that I audibly said, “I can’t do this today”, then about 2 minutes later something popped.  It felt like I got shot in the side of the heel in the arch.  Wow.  I hobbled back to my car and drove bawling straight to the chiro.  I honestly thought I would need surgery but knew she would be honest and tell me what to do and basically not panic like I was at the time.  I honestly thought blood had to be squirting out of my shoe cuz it seemed impossible that something could hurt so badly and not be squirting blood. 

So the “good news” is that nothing is broken.  Although it would heal faster if something had broke.  I don’t need surgery but was told that rehab will be the same as if I had to have surgery.  12 weeks off or I can try to start taping after 2 weeks, keep running which would be stupid and risk further injury.  I was basically told after 2 weeks, if I started up again, I might get another 2 weeks before I was back here or worse.  I think the best case scenario since I don’t get paid to run and TRI, would be to suck it up and take the 12 weeks off.   No Ragnar.  No 70.3 Ironman Muncie.  No Great Illini Challenge 70.3.  No Chicago Marathon. 

At this point it hurts to walk and the main focus is getting the swelling out.  I iced more today than ever before in my life.  I used a bucket of ice, I soaked my foot in our green pool, and I used an ice wrap.

foot in pool with kids foot on ice

So I’m going to focus on walking first and then the rest will come with time.  Or not.  Whatever happens, happens.  If I understand it correctly, all of this is related to the plantar fasciitis and the heel spurs but I have a secondary issue which deals with the muscle or ligament which runs beside my tibia (big bone that most call the shin bone).   This ligament attaches to the heel bone thru the arch.  Well, this has been a very painful tender area and we knew it was a problem but today it reared is ugly head and stated its presence for real.  This ligament is strained/torn/pulled/sprained…..whatever you want to call it.  Doesn’t even matter at this point.  It hurts like a bitch badly.

So, the search is on for a lady runner for our Ragnar team.  33 miles is the distance which needs to be covered over the 30+ hour period.  And yes, the race is 6 days away.  Yes, the race starts in Madison, WI.  If you have an interest in running, message me ASAP.  I need to fill my spot.  I can’t walk so running is absolutely not an option.  Please think and help me fill this spot!

** Happy PAIN FREE Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com

No Regrets…

I live with a “No Regrets” mentality.  I don’t waste time looking back at what has been and lament about things I did wrong or even wish that things were different.  I honestly believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that God plays a huge roll in every aspect of our lives even if we don’t understand why or recognize the work He has done.  No regrets, things are as they should be and it is our job to accept.  No regrets.

So each year, I jam as much as possible into my life because I know that at some point this will all come to an end and all that will be left are the stories.  In fact, I frequently see  a shirt that One More Mile makes that sums it up perfectly.

there will come a day_shirt

In fact, if you know me in real life, you have probably heard me say on occasion, “oh, that’s gonna hurt…. but it will make a good story”. 

Last week should have been my biggest training week for the Chicago Ragnar Relays but life “kinda” got in the way.  Even my running watch noticed.

NikeWatch_Are We Running Later

I may have mentioned it before but if you are going to be a slacker, don’t buy the Nike+ GPS Sportwatch, it totally calls you out.  I’ve only had one other time when I saw a message on my watch and that was when I took some time off at Christmas to try to get the Plantar Fasciitis in check.

Between life, and an attempt to heal my left hip from tripping on a crack in the sidewalk and jamming it up and also NEEDING to heal the aching Plantar Fasciitis, last week was a bit light on workouts.  You’d think I’d feel better and refreshed but I don’t.  I do think we are making progress with the hip but the PF is out of control.  The current method of treatment for the PF is a process of scraping the fascia to break up any scar tissue/residue and hopefully eventually curing the PF to the point where I won’t need the orthotics.   It hurts like hell.  It’s not going well and has inflamed the PF back to it’s original state of pain.  It hurts to walk and run.  It hurts to stand.  It hurts.

I did manage 2 runs this weekend.  A beautiful 10.5 miler on Saturday morning.  The trail is alive and beautiful and makes me happy to be out there moving. 

OPT_5-26-12

It took 5 miles before the hip loosened up and I could actually run faster than a 9:30.  The second half of the run was much better and I was back down into the 8:45 range, not great but I was comfortable for most of it until probably the last mile when the hip really started burning and the PF was getting extremely cranky.

Me_5-26-12

But I was happy to be out!  Then Sunday, I went 7 miles and that wasn’t pretty.  The hip didn’t bother me at all but the PF was very angry from the Saturday run so it was a run/walk fest.  Yesterday I rested.  The PF is even worse today.  Hmmm….how to handle the next month?

So, although I have “no regrets”, I certainly am not excited that the official kickoff to Chicago Marathon training started yesterday.  I can manage the pain with TRI training because the intensity of the run is low; however, I know from experience that the pain just increases and spreads with the high mileage that marathon training requires.  And then I have that little thing called the Ragnar Relay which is in 10 days. and oh yeah, I’m on an ultra team.  Hmmmmm……..

No regrets but things could be looking a little better at this point.  🙂

No complaints but anyone have a cortisone shot in their pocket?  I know that doesn’t fix anything but it sure does make things a lot more bearable.  You wouldn’t tell Alexis L that I got a cortisone shot while she was trying to cure my PF, would you?  Shuuuuussh, cuz I’m seriously thinking about it.

How was  your weekend?  Did you print your training program for the Chicago Marathon?   If not, you need to think about doing that.  If you are in half marathon shape, and are not freaking out about the fact that you have to run a marathon in 18 weeks, you will need to start training the first week of July.  If you are not in half marathon shape, then you need to start training…….. yesterday.

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com **