Monday, September 30, 2013

#highNUUN: Ragnar Colorado

Oh my goodness, I can't believe it has taken me 3 weeks to write this say the last several weeks have been busy {but so incredibly amazing}, would be an understatement! So, without further adieu, her is my recap of Ragnar Colorado.  Actually, I have one thing first, before I go into my recap...continue to dream big and pursue your passions and dreams. Looking back it is amazing to me that I not only ran an ULTRA relay, which was a goal of mine immediately following my first relay, but that I ran both Colorado and Wasatch Back within a couple months of each other {the two relays I dreamed of running}, for a company that has been a huge inspiration and support in my running, on a team that is made up of truly amazing individuals who all bring something unique and so valuable to the table.  To say I am feeling blessed beyond measure would be an understatement.  Back to the recap...

Thursday night we all met up in Denver, and it was seriously SO great to see everyone and be together as a team again! Hugs were exchanged and the laughing, sharing of stories, and relay excitement was in in full force! 

Before the relay started, we knew we needed to give Ned a "twitter 101" as he was confusing hashtags with twitter handles, and referring to himself in third person in several of his tweets!  Bry was kind enough to walk him through the basics of tweeting so he was ready to roll!

Because Bry was getting married 2 weeks {YES, 2 weeks!!} following Ragnar Colorado, it only made sense to throw her a little Bachelorette Party On The Run.  And a running theme bachelorette party wouldn't be complete without personalized cowbells...

Following dinner, it was time to decorate the van. Only one problem, it was dark out! No problem for us...headlight lit van decorating! 

The artist at work!

The final product...and a huge thanks to TC Chevy for being a van sponsor!! 

This was my first run as part of the Oiselle we couldn't pass up an opportunity for a 'bird' picture! Seriously so thankful to call both of these girls teammate and friend! 

Thanks to Endorphin Warrior, we were each able to choose a word or saying that had meaning to us, and would inspire us throughout the relay! Looking down and seeing LIMITLESS helped push me through the difficult times!  

Rocking our personalized, #HighNUUN Kate Farm shirts! Such an amazing company! 

And now for the running...

Leg 1: 5.1 miles, 9:06 avg

It wouldn't be a relay if I didn't take a cheesy relay hand-off photo...I take the exchanges very seriously! 

I really didn't know what to expect with the altitude, but I anticipated that it would make running a tad more difficult.  Well, that was an kicked my butt! I took off on my first leg {and yes, I took usual, I went out way too fast}, and no sooner than mile 2 I knew it was going to be a long run, and perhaps long relay! My legs seriously felt like lead weights.  I kept focusing on relaxing, deep breathing, and just having FUN! I was cheering on and encouraging the runners going the other way on the trail while taking in the beautiful scenery and the fact that I was running in Colorado!!!! All 5 miles were tough, but I was happy with my pace, and beyond happy to be running! 

There was one lower legs! It hasn't happened in a long time, but occasionally I have an issue where my feet fall asleep {and I mean they go completely numb}, and the pain and numbness works its way up my calves.  Well, that happened! And it HURT! The only thing I have ever been able to contribute it to is tight calves, so I rolled the heck out of my calves, in hope that it would be better for my next run...

Leg 2: 7.1 miles, 9:01 avg

This leg was interesting, and stressed Ned out! Vieve and I were able to decide where we wanted to make the exchange along a 3 mile stretch of road, but we were instructed to remain at the previous exchange {where Vieve took off} and leave 10 minutes before we expected to meet the runner and make the exchange! Well we waited an hour and a half or so, and then made our way to the location where we would be making the exchange. At this point it was pouring down rain...ugh! We exited off of the freeway, thinking we had 10 minutes or so until we would meet up with Vieve, but just as we are asking another van and their runner what mile they are at {it was quite confusing as we were driving in the opposite direction the runners were going} Meghan says, there's Vieve! I threw on my vest, clipped on a light, jumped out of the van and off I went! I was a little discombobulated, but I pulled it together and settled in to my run, and the rain stopped...thank goodness! And it didn't take long for my feet to fall asleep! The first part of the run was along a bike path that bordered a golf course, which was beautiful, but I was a little nervous due to all the talk of bears! About 3 miles into the run, the bike path ended and we ran through a gorgeous neighborhood in Vail.  At this point, due to the weird exchange, I really didn't know how far I was going to be running, therefore I didn't know how much I had left to run. The pain in my feet/calves was getting worse, but I knew I didn't have far to go! After about 2 miles, I ended up in the Vail Village and ran through all of the shops and restaurants....kind of fun, with people outside cheering, etc. I was so happy to see the "One Mile To Go" sign and enjoyed the downhill to the exchange!

Leg 3: 4.9 miles, 9:08 avg

I really don't remember much about this leg, other than my feet and calves felt so much better than they did the previous two legs...and I was so thankful for that! This leg was on Hwy 6, and it was a beautiful, clear, star lit run. 

Leg 4 {where I ran for my life}: 3.8 miles, 8:21 avg

We wear our NUUN Trucker hats and sunglasses at night...

I always love the nighttime legs of relays, but I can honestly say this one kind of {ok, MAJORLY} FREAKED ME OUT! Being that it was a smaller relay, it wasn't uncommon to go a while without seeing other runners. Well, as we were waiting for Vieve to come in, there would be groups of runners, and then a stretch of no runners..I kept hoping and praying that Vieve would come in with a group of runners. NOPE! She came in with one other runner she had met up with, but as soon as she handed me the slap bracelet I took off into the dark abyss alone, not sure if I would ever return...NO LIE!!! The run was on a path that followed I-70, but it was 20 feet or so below the highway, alongside a canyon, with no cell phone reception, and there was NO ONE in sight.  I was SO SCARED!! I kept hearing noises...rustling in the bushes {BEAR!? Crazy man!?}. My own footsteps...I swore at one point someone was following me! I finally saw a red flashing light in the distance, and focused on catching it.  As if I wasn't scared enough, a train came rip roaring through the canyon!! After the initial spike in my heart rate, I took a moment to look up and take everything in...the canyon lit up by the lights of the train; the clear, star filled sky! Truly breathtakingly beautiful. OK, enough of that, I am freakin scared! I caught and passed the one red flashing light, and occasionally I could see more up ahead. My headlight seemed so dim during this run, and I seriously could barely see where I was going.  At this point I had reached mile 3, but no "One Mile To Go" sign...cue more freaking out! Did I make a wrong turn!? Is this really a 5 mile run {I wasn't sure how much longer I could run at this pace...I had already ran 17 miles!}!? I started catching and passing several runners, and was approaching what appeared to be a rest area {which is where several of the exchanges took place on this stretch of the relay}, HALLELUJAH!!! I wasn't about to slow down at this point, as I just wanted to be done! I came around the corner and couldn't have been happier to see Bry! 

Leg 5: 4.5 miles, 8:57 avg

This run was pretty amazing...starting just as the sun was rising. Beautiful.  The run was 3 miles downhill, followed by 1.5 miles flat.  I felt great on the downhill portion and took in the scenery while enjoying music and feeling so blessed to be there; and loved having my team stop and cheer for me about 2 miles in {due to most legs being on bike paths, there was minimal cheering on of runners during the relay}.  As soon as the road leveled out I felt the previous 20 miles in my legs! But I pushed through, and as always, was so grateful to see my team and came into the exchange with a big smile! {have I told you how much I absolutely LOVE relays!?} 

Leg 6: 3.3 miles easy

It was amazing to see Vieve make her way down the bike path to me, with a huge smile on her face; I gave  her the biggest hug as she had just finished her 2nd ULTRA relay! There are no words to describe the sense of accomplishment.

I took off on my final leg and my only goal was to enjoy the last three miles! It was warm, I was exhausted, but I was determined to end on a positive note. Yes, I had to walk some.  For the first mile, I was running towards runners making their way to the exchange and I cheered on/encouraged each one of them.  I love the support and encouragement given and received during a relay! Due to the next exchange being pretty tight, only the runner was allowed to be down I came into the exchange I saw Bry and gave her the biggest hug as she was off on what would be an extremely challenging leg.  I did my best to encourage her, as I knew she was nervous about it. 

As I made my way back to my team and the van, my eyes filled up with tears...tears of joy. Tears of accomplishment. Tears of feeling beyond blessed.  Ned, our biggest support and cheerleader, was waiting for me at the crosswalk with the biggest and proudest smile on this face! Such a remarkable moment. 

And with that, my second ULTRA relay was complete! 

With a few cowgirls at heart on the team, we couldn't pass up a prime photo opportunity at one of the exchanges, which was at the rodeo grounds! 

Waiting for Meghan to run us into the finish! 

CHEERS to another ULTRA relay!

1st Place Women's ULTRA and 3rd Place Overall ULTRA team

There is no doubt that this relay was TOUGH!!! Running an ULTRA relay requires determination, dedication, heart and team work...all of which all of the ladies of #highNUUN embodied from start to finish.  Everyone brought something different to the relay, and it wouldn't have been possible without the strengths and positive qualities of each person. I can't say enough how much each of them mean to me, and I will be forever grateful to call them friends and teammates! My heart is fuller and life more blessed because of them. 

As I said, this relay was TOUGH!!! Up next, "What Made Ragnar Colorado Different"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Handana: A Better Way To Beat The Sweat

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Calling all Sweaty Bettys!!! I don't know about YOU, but I'm a in I sweat a lot when I run! When Handana offered to sponsor and support High NUUN on our ULTRA journey from Copper Mountain to Aspen, I was excited for the opportunity to try the product {one that I had already heard many great things about}. Running 192 miles at 10,000 feet, in 28 hours, we put Handana to the ultimate test...sweat, tears, blood, snot and peanut butter pretzel crumbs.  

Let's be honest, we've all been's hot, our eyes are burning from the deadly combination of sweat and sunscreen, and we reach down to pull up our shirt to wipe the sweat from our eyes. Then a few miles down the road we have a snot-rocket gone bad, and use our shirt to wipe off the snot from our noise. Handana provides a handsfree way to keep sweat, and more, under control.

Bry rocked her Handana during Ragnar Colorado. 

Love at first fit...My Handana is extremely comfortable {made of soft, durable wicking Supplex Lycra fabric that wraps around your hand}, has a great fit {I received a SM} and is quite fashionable, which is important {available in a wide variety of vibrant colors}!  It is seriously so comfortable, that I put it on for my first leg and did not take it off until we headed to the finish line {kind of gross, but a true testament to how comfortable and NON-distrubing/irritating it is...important for those of us who don't like to bother with things in/on our hands while running} I've worn, and washed it a HANDful of times since Ragnar Colorado, and I think it is safe to say its a GAME CHANGER! 

It's one thing to find a running accessory/gadget that you wonder how you lived without, but its another when that accessory/gadget has an inspirational story behind it.  Katie, the creator of Handana, is an SJS survivor,  and her eyes were very sensitive, making it difficult to focus on training for her first marathon while sweat was dripping into and burning her eyes. Hats, headbands and sweatbands helped, but in the Texas heat, sweat still dripped causing extreme pain and providing an excuse to stop her workouts. With the marathon a few months away, she needed a solution. That's when Handana was born.  Make sure to read the rest of Katie's story! Handana became more than a fashionable wristband, it became a symbol of strength and overcoming. 

With each wipe of sweat with My Handana I am reminded to remain strong, courageous, and to persevere to the finish. I hope you find as much comfort and inspiration in your Handana too.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I'm No More ULTRA Than YOU Are

People think I am crazy when I say I am going to or did run a relay as part of an ULTRA team! But I am here to tell you that I am no more ULTRA than you are.  With ULTRA thinking you too can become a ULTRA relayer! All you need is:




If you have ever wanted to run an ULTRArelay, now is the time! Find 5 dedicated, determined, supportive, FUN teammates and DO IT! I promise it will be an unforgettable experience! Find your next Ragnar Relay!

#NUUNHTC: When Life Gives You Lemons...Run Faster!

When life gives you NUUN Lemonade, run faster; and that is just what I did.  There is something magical about running relays, especially Hood-To-Coast.  I absolutely love how relays make running {which is usually an individual sport} a team sport, while still including the individual focus and challenge which so many of us love about running! When you are in the van, it is all about being a team...the camaraderie, doing what is in the best interested of the team, cheering each other on, forming lasting friendships, and supporting one another to the finish.  When it is your turn to run, and only then, are you able to focus on yourself, and run YOUR race for those 3-8 miles.  For me personally, I run harder for my team, pushing myself just a tad bit further, knowing that all of the other 11 runners are giving their all for the sake of the team too! 

Leg 1: 10:something PM, 3.10 miles/8:21 avg

Yes, I wear my sunglasses at night! 

With a start time of 1pm, and being the LAST runner, I didn't run my first leg until after 10pm! The nighttime leg{s} is {usually} my favorite run of a relay...nothing compares to a star-moon-headlight-red flashing light lit run, rocking out to music on my RoadNoise vest.  Except when you are running into a dark hole, questioning whether or not you are going to see light again.  Ok, maybe a slight exaggerations, but I'll admit, I was a little nervous...

As I received the baton, I took off on a shrubbery lined bike bath through Portland, ending at Oaks Park.  The run was dark, no one in site, with a few potential turns {luckily I continued straight on the path}. After about 2 miles, the bike portion of the run ended, and I ran through a neighborhood the last mile or so.  As I approached the end of my run I saw cars backed up for what seemed like miles, and at that point I wasn't sure if my van would be at the finish by the time I got there {very tight exchanges for this first round of legs}, but as I kicked it in for the last 1/4 mile or so I saw sparkle skirts in the vanmates were making their way to the finish and van "driver of the year," Jeff, ran the rest of the way with me {much appreciated}.  After a few last minute road kills I handed off to Lauren and Van 1 was off again! 

Leg 2: 5 miles, 8:31/avg

After attempting to catch some zzzzzz's curled up in a ball {well more like a human pretzel-gone-bad position} on the end of the van bench....sidenote: it is quite a site to see 7 people attempting to sleep in a van; which we called a "cuddle puddle".... it was our turn to run again! When we met up with Van 1 at the exchange, there was a lot of talk about "Code Browns" {I'll let you figure that one out!}

While my leg was still during "night time hours," the sun had come up, which is a total game changer! {note to self: blog sooner, so you have a better recollection} What I do remember is that I felt strong the entire run and loved having my team cheer for me half way through {due to the fact that our first set of runs were on a trail, we weren't able to cheer people on while running}.  This was the second relay I ran with Lauren, and both times I handed off to her...making it extra special every time I came into the exchange.  

What I like to call my Rainbow Brite look...brought to you by Oiselle,  Sparkle Athletic,  and my favorite Lunatik compression socks

Leg 3: 5.1 miles 8:35 avg

H-squared getting ready for our final legs!

My final run started off with about a 1/2 mile run on a gravel path, followed by about another 1/4 mile climb and then a night descent.  I loved peaking the hill and cruising down, but the highlight of the run was running into {no pun intended} Kathy, of  Heart-N-Sole from the Hood-To-Coast documentary.  As I entered Seaside, I started getting emotional, as I was about to finish another relay, the mother of all relays, with NUUN.  An amazing opportunity and an even more amazing experience.  Running along the beach, having all of the other teams and spectators cheer for me, as I was all smiles, was pretty amazing! I would love to say that crossing the finish line and running in with my team was an epic moment, but unfortunately, that is not the case.  While I don't want to sound like I am complaining or focusing on the negative, the finish was definitely disappointing. As I crossed the finish I was brought to an immediate halt {talk about anticlimactic} as I waited for my team to make their way through the sea of teams to me.  Once they did, we waited in a line, and were {what felt like} herded like cattle through the finish.  It was pretty amazing, and an honor, to be able to present each of my teammates with their medals, because we couldn't of done it without the hard work of each and every one of them.  

Another relay complete, new friendships formed, unforgettable memories created, and a heart overflowing with joy and gratification! 

THANK YOU will never be sufficient for all NUUN has done for me! I will forever be grateful! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

10 Phone Apps For Running A Relay

When you’re running a relay, the last thing you want to be is glued to your phone the entire time.; there’s too much fun to be had with your teammates, in the van, cheering on the other runners, preparing for your next leg, oh yea and running, running, running! BUT, with that being said {and yes, I am kind of an iPhone/Social Networking Junkie} smartphones are great tools that can give you a little extra hand when you need it. Click below for 10 iPhones applications that you should download that will be helpful on your 200-mile (ish) journey:

Happy relaying, photo taking, coffee drinking, and dancing!

Monday, September 2, 2013

NUUN Hood-To-Coast: Blogging in Seattle

If three years ago you would've told me I'd be active in social networking {twitter and blogging}, my running would take me to so many amazing places and introduce me to such wonderful people, and that I would be running Hood-To Coast with NUUN and 20+ bloggers from across the country, I probably would've called you crazy! But two year ago I set out to pursue my running dream of running Hood-To-Coast with NUUN, and is has been a phenomenal 2 years, with "NOs" that have been some of the biggest blessings, and a YES, with perfect timing!

From the moment I stepped off the plane, I was in my element and felt like I was walking the NUUN red carpet. I met up with Jesica and Kimberly, hugs and "so nice to final meet you's" were exchanged, and the adventure instantly began.  After touring Seattle by foot {aka walked to Pikes Market, grabbed a Starbucks, took a quick photo and then raced back} we headed back to the NUUN HQs and were off to bowling! The conversation felt like we had been friends forever, and we just picked up where we left off! 

We arrived at bowling, and the much anticipated hugs were exchanged and it felt more like being reunited with friends, than meeting them for the first time. It was so fun to laugh, share stories, get to know each other more, and share the excitement of running Hood-To-Coast! I LOVED that while we all had RUNNING in common, we were all so different, with our own, fabulously unique stories...from a mom with 9 children, career moms with only one child, single, engaged, introverts, social butterflies, bloggers with a large following, elite runners, an amazing weight loss story, to a sports psychologist. The love, energy, and excitement in the room was so contagious. What I LOVED more was that no matter what each individual person's story was, when we came together what really mattered was the genuine, loving, caring nature of each person.  It's so easy in the social networking world to get wrapped up in the game of "who's who"...who the big time bloggers are, who the fast runners are, but it was SO nice and refreshing to be able to get to know all these amazing women for  who they truly are, and realize we are more than the number of followers we have or the time on our garmin watch.  The ladies and the evening far exceeded any expectations I had coming into it, and I went home that night with 30+ new friends. 

Question: Am I the only who makes up my bowling name!? For some reason its just not as fun when "Holly" flashes across the screen when I get a that night I was Leteisha! 

I can't believe this is the only photo I took while bowling...well, my phone was charging, and I was too busy mingling and perfecting by bowling stance {its all in the kickback, right Casey!?}! 

Thursday morning we were up early and on our way to Greenlake for a run, Starbucks, and visit to the Oiselle HQ.  And of course, more pictures...

 The lady behind it all...Sally Bergesen.  What a privilege to hear her share about her passion for running and the running community.  I don't remember the exact wording, but she talked about the uniqueness of the friendships and relationships formed within the running community... I left feeling blessed,  inspired and motivated.

Us crazy birds couldn't resist a jump shot in front the Oiselle sign. 

And the ride back...this is how bloggers communicate! 

Later that day we all loaded up in the vans again and headed out on a tour of Seattle #onaduck! The pictures say it all...SO.MUCH.FUN!

The night concluded with dinner and van decorating at the NUUN HQ. 

I can't say enough about Mason and his team at NUUN! Their love, support and understanding of the sport of running and runners is truly remarkable! 

And for some fun...van decorating...

Which wouldn't be complete without modeling!

 Trucker Hats For The Win!

L2 {Team Lemonade Van 2} ready to roll...

Next up, "When Life Gives You Lemonade...Run Faster"