Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ragnar Trail AZ

A few months ago, a friend in the neighborhood approached me, asking if I'd consider joining her team for the upcoming Ragnar Trail AZ race.  Little did she know, this type of  race had been in the back of my mind for quite some time, and while I was intimidated by the idea, I felt it would be a 'bucket list' type of event that I could not pass up.  So I quickly agreed and Ragnar Trails AZ was booked on my calendar.

A little background:  Ragnar is a overnight team relay race, historically on the road, but recently being offered in certain locations as a trail run.  Ragnar Trail AZ is set in the McDowell Mountains, which are literally in our backyard.  The race consisted of 8 teammates, three loops of 3, 4 and 8.4 miles respectively, for a total of 15.4 miles individually, and almost 124 miles as a team.  Teams pitch tents, camping near the start/finish of the loops, and enjoying the Ragnar Village while waiting for your next turn to run.

For me, this was an experience of a lifetime and I'm now hooked on overnight trail running (I guarantee Ryan just rolled his eyes and is praying I won't sign up for another one of these soon…though I've already planted the seed that we should do a co-ed team together, ha!).  While I'm no stranger to long distance running, this was completely different from anything I'd done before.  My major concern was running in the dark, on trails normally frequented by huge rocks/rattlesnakes/javelinas/jumping cholla/mountain lions.  Followed by the fact that I don't sleep well in my own bed, with the perfect temperature, a sound machine, and a fan.  And also that I wasn't sure how to re-fuel and hydrate without over(or under!) doing it and still being able to run my next leg 5-6 hours later.    Lots of concerns for this novice relay racer….

However, IT WAS AMAZING and absolutely beyond any expectations I might have had.  Running in the dark with a full moon, just the sound of footsteps and your own breathing, plus the sight of a headlamp or two off in the distance, was out of this world.  It was both calming and almost meditative, while also being a crazy energy boost and motivator to run hard.  Our team had a start time of 1pm and I was the anchor runner…therefore, my first run was 4 miles around 7pm and then 3 miles around 3:30am.  When I first received my leg assignments, I was relieved to not have my longest run in the middle of the night…but after the event, I can honestly say I'm jealous of those gals who did 8.4 miles before sunrise.  In between my first two runs, I laid down from 9pm-1am, and tried to sleep, but to no avail.  However, experiencing my teammates excitement and love for the nighttime trails was energizing, and I was able to stay awake and alert.  I finished up my second run around 4am, changed clothes, snuggled into my sleeping bag and napped for 45 minutes before being up for the day.  I watched an incredible sunrise, cheered on teammates, had two {amazing!} cups of coffee, and truly enjoyed every moment of this crazy experience, while waiting to wrap up our team's last leg.

I took off around 11:30am for my longest run with temperatures unfortunately soaring into the low 90s.  After not sleeping and not fueling properly, it was a loooooooong hard run.   I went out too fast and too confident in my abilities, and let's just say the last three miles were pretty miserable.  I knew I had overdone it, and knew enough to back off and run/walk as needed.  I can only equate it to the first time I ran Chicago in 90 temps and 90% humidity….miserable.  But the moment I saw my teammates at the finish line {we all wanted to cross together} the pain was forgotten and it was absolutely worth it.

It was a weekend to remember with a great group of friends, old and new.  Truly an experience of a lifetime that I'd do again in a heartbeat   {And that post race beer never tasted better!!!}

Thursday, November 6, 2014


A hodge-podge of Halloween costumes - the Wicked Witch of the West vs a Fireman vs two Loyal Royals.  We trick-or-treated with our neighbor Braeden (and parents Eric & Emily) and had so much fun.  I know I say it all the time, but we truly have the best neighbors, the best cul-de-sac, and the best neighborhood.  We are so very lucky to live here!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fun weekend visitors!

We had a great long weekend with two very special visitors - Grandpa and Grandma O!  We tried to squeeze in all our favorite activities mixed with our regularly scheduled events (soccer games, Starbucks run, ha!).  

First up, a gorgeous morning hike on the trail directly behind our house.  Lily was cracking me up - she took off running with the comment "I can't help it Mom.  The trail is just too pretty!"  

We also headed to our favorite 'cooler weather' restaurant, Greasewood Flats.  It's an old bunk house turned into a country music/biker bar/best hamburgers in town venue.  After exploring the area and enjoying our meal, Lily and William danced the night away…and convinced Grandpa and Ryan to join them!  

No pictures were taken, but Ryan, William, Grandpa and Grandma spent one day driving north to Sedona.  They experienced the amazing red rock country, fall leaves, quaint lunch with Oak Creek Canyon as the backdrop, and of course, great company.  I must admit, I was slightly jealous as I've never been up north in the fall…but also greatly appreciated a full day to myself while Lily was at school!  

Lots of special memories were created in a few short days.  Thank you Grandpa and Grandma for coming to visit!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fall break {part 3}

{Wrapping up a fun week}

A few additional San Diego adventures:  
Auntie M, Casey, and I took the kids to SeaWorld.  Our favorites were the penguins, the dolphin show, and of course the Shamu killer whale show.  While Lily loved the park, I'm not convinced it was worth the time and money.  But we had fun, none the less.  

We rented a large home with a great yard, including a playhouse for Lily and William, grass (!), and an awesome pool/hot tub.  Once the boys arrived, lots of time was spent swimming.     On our last afternoon, they were having so much fun, they barely noticed that Mom, Auntie and Nanny snuck out for some quiet girl time and happy hour!

Such a great week enjoying the California sun, spending time with family, creating lots of laughs and new memories.  Thank you all for joining us on our California adventure!