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How to have a Ragnarly, dude! relay race September 5, 2014

Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Running.
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Today, we are a week out from Ragnar DC – squee!  I started re-reading posts this morning from Ragnar TN back in 2012, and it got me all excited for the fun that is to come.  But, I also started getting a little anxious about logistics and packing – after all, there are a LOT of moving parts when you’re talking about 12 people, 2 vans, 200 miles, and zero sleep.

There are oodles of blog posts about how to pack for Ragnar.  When I was prepping for Tennessee, the chronic overpacker in me got really frustrated – you want to have everything you could possibly need for 3 different “mini” races (and for lots of potential weather scenarios), but you also can’t take up so much room in the van that you don’t have any left for the really important stuff (otherwise known as your teammates and a cooler).

So, rather than put together yet another in-depth packing list, I’m going to talk about the things you probably DON’T need to bring to Ragnar…

Lounging/non-running clothes – Okay, so I’m not talking about clothes for partying after you finish the race, or PJs for in the hotel the night before the start.  I’m talking about clothes for DURING the race, after you have completed one of your legs and the waiting begins.  While I definitely recommend bringing three separate running outfits, there is no point in putting on “regular” clothes in between.  You probably won’t have time anyway.  Make sure you have flip flops or slippers or other comfortable non-running shoes, and call it a day.

Enough food for a small army – Yes, you will definitely eat a lot during Ragnar.  But, not everyone likes the same things, and even ONE person’s tastes will vary during a 30+hour period (for example, I liked pumpkin muffins at the beginning of Ragnar TN, but I had eaten so many of them by the end of my second leg that I never wanted to see another one as long as I lived).  Make sure you have plenty of hydration, and sure, pack some portable and chewable fuel, but remember that you can usually stop for food at least once or twice during the journey.  I distinctly recall both a Zaxby’s AND a Cracker Barrel stop during our van’s off time.  At the time, they were both the best meals I have ever had.

Full size pillows – They take up a LOT of room.  Chances are, not everyone will be sleeping at the same time, so you could always use folded up sleeping bags and/or blankets to rest your head.  If you have one of those airplane neck pillow things, all the better – it’s small, and it works for both sitting up sleep AND laying down sleep!

Your pet – I love my furbabies as much as the next person.  Probably more, come to think about it.  But as much as you don’t want to take Fifi to the kennel while you run around the countryside, do the humane thing and spare your dogs/cats/cockatoos the misery of being crammed into a van with a bunch of crazy, delirious humans.  Plus, you don’t want your best buddy breaking loose when one of your teammates, in a sleep deprived haze, opens the door to the van before you’ve actually put the leash on.

A bad attitude – Seriously, just don’t.  Ragnar is FUN!!!  If you come expecting to have a good time, meet some cool people, and enhance your existing friendships, you’ll be in great shape.  The opportunity to be tired and cranky will most certainly present itself, but don’t take the bait!

Anyone else have tips on what not to bring?


New tri gear! August 20, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Uncategorized.
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When my fiance and I moved from DC to Atlanta in May of 2008, one of the first things we had to do was buy a car.  After all, Atlanta is SUPER spread out, and public transportation is a joke (there’s a train system, but it basically just goes north-south and east-west, and you’re SOL if you live anywhere in between).  So, I paid cash for my dad’s old Infiniti G20, and we rented an apartment that was strategically located within a short bus ride of Jason’s office.  People thought we were  crazy for having only one car in Atlanta, and it wasn’t always the easiest thing to deal with, but we made it work and enjoyed the lack of a car payment.

Then, Jason lost his job.  The good news is that he pulled himself up by the bootstraps and used the layoff as an opportunity to hang out a shingle and do what he truly loves, which is practicing law.  The bad news is that he practices a LOT in Gwinnett County, which is 20-30 miles away from where we live, and he needs the flexibility to go to court and meet with clients on a fairly irregular schedule.

We tried car-pooling for a while, but it usually meant that I’d have to go to work early and leave late, and that we couldn’t run errands and walk our dog and do the other household errands that keep things running smoothly.  I would have loved to ride my bike to work, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate, and my road bike doesn’t have any racks or ways to transport work clothes, lunch, purse, shoes, etc.  I investigated MARTA options, but it would have taken me 3 buses, a half mile of hoofin’ it, and over an hour and a half to get to my office…which is a mere 6 miles away from our loft.  Ridiculous.

So, this week, I bit the bullet and bought a car.  I am pleased to introduce you to…the Bett-mobile!!!

Car 2

It’s a 2006 Ford Escape (certified pre-owned), and it has about 52,000 miles on it.  It doesn’t have any crazy bells and whistles, but with the back seats pushed down, it has plenty of room for my bike and other tri gear!  Plus, my doggie will definitely enjoy the extra space in the back.

Maybe later I’ll install a trailer hitch in order to add a bike rack, but for now, this is a great solution to a lot of problems.  I know it’s a stretch to call it tri gear, but who knows, maybe it will improve my performance because I’ll be able to ride more!  🙂

My first tri injury… June 12, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling, Swimming.
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…and I wasn’t moving at all when it happened.

Okay, it’s just a busted thumb–I sort of stabbed it and jammed it simultaneously, so it is bleeding/scabbing AND sore/swollen.  BUT, I did it while trying to change my tire, which is probably the lamest excuse for an injury, ever, in the history of triathlon.

I got to Dynamo early on Wednesday so that I could learn all about how to perform tire maintenance.  Getting the front and rear tires on and off the bike was a relatively simple process, but once I sat down to “change” the rear tire (which actually means removing the tire itself and changing the interior tube), I started having trouble.  First, I couldn’t seem to get the tire levers hooked into the tire and NOT the tube–I guess partially because my tires have an unusually large bead.  When I finally got one lever hooked and tried to slide the other lever under the tire to remove it, my hand slipped and I ended up stabbing/jamming the tool into my thumb.  Ouch!  After washing my bloody finger and gathering all of my gumption, I did manage to remove the tire, take the tube out, put the tube back in, reposition the tire, and pump the whole thing back up.  Then I put the tire back on the bike and PRAYED that I didn’t screw anything up too badly.  Guess I’ll find out during this weekend’s ride…

After the tire clinic and a VERY stern lecture to my teammates about the importance of sunscreen (I will probably post about that soon), we got in the pool, which felt surprisingly refreshing.  I did 300 meters of warm-up, and then moved on to 6 x 50 of “distance per stroke” swimming, which basically involves being as long and lean in the water as possible (to decrease the amount of strokes you have to take).  Then we did a delightful little torture routine of 10 pool-deck push-ups (hands on the deck, body in the water, push up), 100 meters fast, and 100 meters easy, with no rest in between.  I got through that routine three times and then it was almost time to quit, so I did another 200 meters, this time at just under race pace.  Whew!

I’d say I definitely earned my burrito that night.

My new (used) baby May 26, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Cycling.
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In addition to my farmers market bounty, I also acquired THIS over the weekend:

New bike

Yup, I am finally the proud owner of a road bike (or, as I affectionately called it, my “big girl bike”)!  Check out how pretty it is!  Marvel at its shiny high-end components!

New bike 2

New bike 3

I was contemplating buying a new bike from Performance, but while I was weighing the financial consequences (which wouldn’t have been insignificant), a gal from the spring tri team emailed and said she had a 50 cm Trek for sale, at a MUCH more attractive price point.  Since I know very little about bikes and sizing and what not, one of my coaches agreed to go out and look with me, so that’s how I ended up in my jammies, on a bike trainer, in the middle of an affluent suburban neighborhood at 9:30 on a Sunday morning.  Strangely, even though the seller is a bit taller than me, the fit of this bike was practically perfect (only some minor handlebar adjustments needed, due to my freakishly small hands).

I’m still trying to sell my other bike (a practically new hybrid, great for commuting, in case anyone is interested), and I have a VERY interesting story about my first ride on the new toy, but I am super duper happy!  Now if I can just stop being afraid of my crazy speed…

Just Keep Swimming April 16, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Swimming.
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Last night at our group swim practice, our coaches said that the workout was going to be fun.  I always start shaking in my flip-flops when they utter things like that, because fun usually means fun for THEM.  This time was no exception, as they informed us that we’d be doing our longest continuous swim yet (500 meters for the beginners like me, and 800 meters for the more experienced swimmers).  Oh yeah, and they were timing us.  Stellar.  We were in the indoor pool for a change, so 500 meters equated to twenty 25-meter lengths of the pool.  Counting the laps may have been the only thing that saved me from drowning!  Even though my stroke wasn’t as pretty or efficient as it could have been, I finished the 500 in 11:17.  That represents about a third of my race distance (for Chattanooga), so assuming that the current helps me out and that I improve even more over the next two months, I should be able to finish the swim in 30-40 minutes.  Woot!

We also had a tire-changing clinic before our practice, which was short and sweet but very helpful.  Now all I need to do is go to the bike shop and actually BUY all of the necessary gadgets and doodads to carry with me.  My mentor suggested sitting in front of the TV and practicing tire-changes, which I think is a great idea.  I will probably still cry if I get a flat during either of my races, but as long as I can change it through the tears, I guess I’ll be just fine.

In addition to the above activity, I managed to sell a few BondiBands last night.  Hooray!  All in all, it was a very productive Wednesday night, and a lot more fun than I would have anticipated.  There’s just something about coming home smelling like chlorine that really makes me feel good about myself…