Tag Archives: race recap

Ragnar Keys. Teamwork makes the dream work

As you all know (because I’ve been talking about it forever), I along with 11 other team mates, (all members of the group Black Girls Run!) completed the Ragnar Relay in Key West last weekend. There is so much to share, but I don’t want to do multiple post, so I’ll try to summarize it here.

The basics:

We were a 12 member team who took turns running 198 miles, relay style from Miami to Key West. Each runner ran a set amount of miles, then tagged the next runner and so on. We ran 3 different legs each. We were divided in two vans based on the legs we’d be running. We also had an additional non running driver for each van. Runners 1-6 were in van 1, runners 7-12 were in van 2. I was runner 11.

Ragnar team H&S

This was our very first Ragnar experience so we were pretty green. The race started in waves and we had the earliest start time possible…  the 5 am start. After a safety briefing, we cheered as runner 1 took off, then our van drove ahead to meet them at the exchange area where van 2 would take over.

My first leg:

After waiting for runners 1-10 to finish, by the time my turn came to run my first leg, it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon. My first leg was labeled “Hard 5.9 miles”. I blogged about kicking butt at Ragnar… Well, I’d have you know that the only butt kicked was mine. That distance is usually a piece of cake for me, but not at Ragnar. It was about 90 degrees, but it felt like 110. My run started on a gravel road…very difficult for me to run fast. I felt every rock and stone under my feet. I’m used to running in the Florida heat, but this was different. There was absolutely no shade. The sun was giving me such a beat down, I was begging for mercy. ( A week later and I’m still sporting my Ragnar tan lines :) . I quickly depleted my hand-held hydration. It was brutal and I was mentally unprepared for it.The team met me at 3.5 miles to give me water…I scarfed down half the bottle and poured the rest on my head. It felt like I’d been running for 20 miles.

Ragnar exchange 1 Collage

When a team member is out running, the rest of the team offers van support along the way by giving hydration, a cool towel, energy supplements etc. So there’s basically no rest for the runners on or off the pavement.

Ragnar highlightsCollage

Every one pretty much had a death match with the heat.  Some of my team mates ran in the Everglades, in the dust, near the swamps, with the snakes and gators, during the wee hours of the night…

My second leg was an easy 2.9 miles. It was a welcomed one. It was supposed to be during the dark early morning hours, but because the team fell behind with such a difficult first leg, it pushed my run to the break of dawn. Hallelujah. The sun was just coming up and it was a tad bit cooler. I was able to keep with my expected pace and ran this leg with no issues… Soon it was van 1’s turn again.

A highlight:

While van 1 ran, van 2 had an opportunity to “rest”. We headed to a high school gymnasium (a rest area designated by the race directors). We were able to pay $3.00 to shower in a filthy, nasty bathroom with weak water pressure and barely any warm water. It was the best $3.00 I spent in a long time :) .

Finally, it was time for us to finish our final 6 legs (about 19 miles)…which would have been perfect except (because of the unexpected delays) we had to rush to beat the 8:00pm finish line cut off. Now it wasn’t about making a certain time, it was about avoiding disqualification. By this time, we’d covered a total of about 180 miles. Extremely tired and delirious, we had to give it all we had to finish on time.

All Heart.

This was one example were the spirit of our team shone through. One of our runner was injured. She had already completed over 16 miles in excruciating pain and her final leg was less than 2 miles. The way the team stepped up was amazing. One teammate ran her leg, while another runner gave up her own easy leg and took a harder leg so that the driver…can you believe it? Our driver stepped up and ran a leg.

My final and fastest leg:

I still had another 3.5 miles to go, over a bridge with no van support. After 36 hours of extreme fatigue and little food, I ran my third and fastest leg. It took everything we had, but we did it. We left it all on the pavement and reunited with the entire team to cross the finish line together.

Teamwork really made this dream work. 

Ragnar offical finish pic edited

This was my experience in a nut shell. It was an amazing experience with an incredible group of women and an awesome team captain. Initially I vowed never to do it again, but after getting a good night’s rest, I’m thinking about ways to better prepare for the next one.

  • Have you ever or would you ever run a Ragnar Relay?
  • Would you pay $3.00 to shower?
  • What was your most difficult endurance experience?

I-4/Selmon Connector 5K Race Recap

I said that I wouldn’t recap my final two races of the year, but I changed my mind about one. It was such a great experience, I had to share.

On Saturday I ran the I-4/Selmon Connector 5K. The I-4/Selmon Connector is a highway project that connects the two expressways. After three years and 400 million dollars, the project is finally complete. To celebrate, the Tampa Port Authority and the Florida Department of Transportation decided to give 1000 runners a once in a lifetime opportunity to run the new highway before it opened to the public. I quickly jumped at the chance to be a part of history before even considering that I’d be running ALL bridge at 90 feet above ground. Guess who’s uncomfortable with heights. Yep. Me.

The more internet pictures I saw, the more I freaked myself out and wondered should I have committed to this run. The night before, I could not sleep due to nervous energy.


The Event

The morning of the run was a cool, overcast 68 degrees. The organizers provided shuttles that took us from the Port of Tampa to the connector ramp. The shuttle service was very organized and consistent. After a somewhat brief ceremony and ribbon cutting, it was time to run.

I4connector my pic

One of my Ragnar running partner decided to pace me. Lord why? The course started with an incline. For nearly 3/4 of a mile we were running up, up, up before finally reaching a gradual decline and turn around point. After the turn around, it was more of the same. The view was actually breath-taking as opposed to frightening like I thought in would be. It was really neat seeing the city from that vantage point.

I made a couple of quick stops to take pictures, but with my running drill sergeant friend at my side, I didn’t have time to worry about height nor incline, I had a race to run. Lean in, short strides going up hill, long stride, fast pace going down. I had to catch my breath a few times, but I kept going…side stitches and all. 3.1 miles later, it was finished and I had a new 5K personal record.

I4Connector Collage

There were lots of media attention pre and post race. I even saw me running in a few segment later on the local news. It’s a cool feeling to know that I crossed that bridge on foot.

  • Have you ever participated in something just for the historic nature of it?
  • Are you afraid of heights?


The Space Race Recap

Last week I ran the 42 Annual Space Coast Marathon and Half Marathon. This was my fourth half marathon, 3 in the last year. I enjoyed this one the most. I loved that it’s the only space themed race and that the expo was held at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. I was able to meet Olympian, author and founder of the Run Walk Run method, Jeff Galloway.

Space Coast collage

I also loved that the race organizers started a 5 year “Big Bang Series”.  Each year for 5 years, the race medal will represent one of the 5 fully operational orbiter spaceships: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavor and Atlantis. The Columbia and Challenger were destroyed in mission accidents. This year’s medal commemorated Columbia.

space coast bling

In my last race recap, I talked about getting up at 3:30am to drive to the race location. Well, for this race, we drove two hours the night before and spent the night in a host hotel…I still had to wake up at 3 am to catch the 4:15 shuttle to the starting line.

I was rocking my Black Girls Run! gear. BGR! is an organization that was formed in an effort to “tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners”. The popularity of the organization is so great that random women wanted to take pictures of and with me in my BGR! gear as a show of support.

Starting Line: The half marathon start was at 6 am and the marathon was at 6:30. The excitement was palpable. I loved that the countdown to the start was a video countdown of an actual rocket launch…complete with smoke and sound effect.

Space Coast start line

The course: The course was “fast and flat”, out and back. It had a wonderful coastal view the majority of the way. The weather was cool and overcast… perfect race day weather. I decided to do the Jeff Galloway Run Walk Run method by running for 30 seconds/walking 30 seconds. My summer training consisted of continuous running with minimal walk breaks. But a few weeks prior to this race I started to experience burn out and fatigue while running…so I switched to the Galloway method.

I felt great the first 8 miles. I was able keep a steady, consistent pace. By mile 9, I started to get tired and somewhat bored with the stop and go. My pace slowed and I had to fight the strong head wind on the way back. But as I approached the 13th mile, hearing the cheers. The energy was revitalizing. I abandoned the run-walk and ran the final half mile in. Even with waling half of the race, I managed to shave a full 9 minutes off my last half marathon time.

Space Coast finish collage

The post race amenities were great. Besides the beautiful bling pictured above, we received a nice beach towel, cold wet rag to cool us off, egg and pancake breakfast, pizza and lots of other good eats and fine treats.

I have two more races to close out 2013. December 21, I’ll be doing the Say No to Drugs 10K and Run the Connector 5K on the 28 to celebrate the opening of the new $420 million local transportation connector. I will not be doing race recaps on those :) .

  • What are your exercise plans to wrap up the year?
  • Have you ever visited the Kennedy Space Center?
  • Ever heard of/ or tried Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run method?


5K…Fun K race recap.

I hope every one had a great Thanksgiving weekend. I’m still recovering from a half marathon I complete yesterday (recap to come), but I wanted to share my experience from the Women’s Running series 5K  in St. Pete that I completed last week. If you’ve been following this blog, you might recall that last year I ran the Women’s Half as my 2nd half  after 8 years of not running.

St pete 5k bling

Last week my morning started at 3:30 am. After getting ready, meeting my friends, I drove an hour to get to the race destination (yep, I drove an hour for a 5K :) ). We had a mild cold front that came through so it made for perfect, overcast running weather.  

Normally my race recap details the overall event and how I felt during my run, but this event was a little different for me.  Although the race was well organized, the course was fast and flat and the amenities were excellent and included a post race “freshen up” tent (complete with wet wipes, deodorant, lip gloss and a personal photographer), massages, tons of snacks and refreshments…even champagne; but the thing that I enjoyed most about this race was the camaraderie among the runners.

I’ve been running for almost two years now and every time I attend a race, I meet new people and reconnect with familiar faces. Overtime, I’ve gotten to know so many runners, many of whom I now call friends. When my two running friends and I arrived, we went directly to a predetermined meet up spot to take pictures with running groups we belongs to and friends.

I was able to hang out and reconnect with my friend and  former running partner Jan, who I ran my first 5K with almost 2 years ago. She is the reason I started waking up super early to run. This was our first opportunity to hang out since she moved to Atlanta over a year ago.

St pete women 5k

I also got to spend time with my girl Mel. When I decided I wanted to start running, I showed up for a run with a local running group on a night they were doing hill repeats. Needless to say it was horrible and I almost passed out, but Mel was the one who ran with me and stayed with me the whole time. She introduced me to Jan. Mel has been MIA from the run scene after giving birth to a beautiful baby boy. It was nice to see her again.

Oops, I almost forgot I’m taking about a race event. That was pretty much how it was. Before the race we socialized and took pictures. We ran. Then post race we socialized and took pictures.

But by far, the highlight of the race was being able to cheer people on at the finish line. It was such an encouraging experience. There were women of all shapes and sizes making their final dash towards the finish, many in under 2 hours. I was especially amazed at the determination of the runners to finish. It was obvious that some were in excruciating pain from the grimace on their faces and some were literally being pushed across the finish line. I stayed on the sideline and screamed and cheered for so many people I lost my voice. I was even moved to tears at some of their efforts. It gave new meaning to the term “finish strong”.

I very seldom get an opportunity to watch runners as they finish, so this was a real treat.

Have you ever participated in an event where you enjoyed the social aspect more than the event itself?

When was the last time you got a chance to cheer people on at the finish line?

Master of No Terrain: Well, maybe just one (Race Recap)

To kick off my running season, I decided to do my first trail run last week. I’ve hearing quite a bit of runners talk about trail runs. They talk about how the trees offer wonderful shades along the path, how beautiful and peaceful the views were and although the paths were generally unpaved, it was actually much softer than road races. So when I had the opportunity to register for The Masters of All Terrain race, I jumped at it. There was a 50% off discount code which definitely sweetened the deal. I expected some gravel, maybe a few branches, but boy was I in for a surprise.  trails  As race day approached, I began receiving updates about what to expect. I read about the potential of wild animals, snakes, mud and rivers over flooding due to the rainy weather. What have I gotten myself and two of my running friends into? I was so happy that I had signed up for the 5 miler instead of the half marathon (13.1) that I originally wanted to do.

We all agree to keep a positive attitude and have fun. The morning of the race, I woke up at 3 am, met my girlfriends at our meet up location, then we were off. An hour and a half later, after exiting the major highway onto a dark isolated road, my anxiety formed a lump in my throat. When we finally turned into the Hal Scott Preserves, on to a bumpy, bug infested dirt road, I developed a nervous laugh. Below is what we saw when we arrived. off road darkness We fought off the mosquitoes and bugs as we went to pick up our race packets. I became even more concerned when I saw a bucket full of OFF!Deep Woods insect repellent spray for everyone to use. I quickly grabbed one of the bottles and sprayed every uncovered part of my body. After the singing of the National Anthem, it was time to start. The start line is picture below. We were running into the woods. Lord help!  off road start After about a quarter-mile of running over dirt, grass, gravel, rocks, sticks and through one foot deep mud and water, we entered an area that I actually felt was breath-taking. As the risen sun glistened through the morning fog, I felt the presence of God in His beautiful creation. I had to pause to give thanks and to take a picture. That was the first time I thought “this might not be so bad.” off road forrest Unfortunately, it was short-lived and we were back to the sticks, mud and floods. Thankfully, I didn’t have any encounters with the wild things. My running friend and I decided to take it easy. We talked, laughed, took pictures and enjoyed (most of) the journey…until we had to cross more muddy streams and brown water. The medal was nice too. In the end, my shoes and legs were muddy and I was glowing from a combination of bug spray and sweat. off road recap collage The race director and volunteers did a great job organizing the race and driving the course continually to make sure that everyone was ok. The rice and beans and “no milk” muscle milk was a nice touch post race. I can’t promise I’ll do it again because I don’t like muddy races, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience. My take-away from this experience:

  • Know what a trail run is prior to signing up.
  • Do a “training” trail run before the actual event.
  • Don’t wear your good running shoes to the race.
  • Bring extra socks and a change of shoes.

Have you ever done an off-road “trail” race? Would you do a trail run? Do you like to camp or hang out in the woods?

Miami -INGeez, I’m Glad It’s Over!

On January 27, I had the opportunity to complete the Miami ING Half Marathon. Normally after completing a  ING Bling2 major race, I can’t wait to blog or talk about it. This race was very different.  I just wanted to forget all about it…and I did, that’s why I’m just writing about it now. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very huge, well-organized race. It was sold out with over 25,000 participants. The course was mainly flat, but had about 3 somewhat challenging bridges. The course was also very beautiful. There were coastal views, many lined with exquisite boats and buildings.

The reason I wanted to forget about this race had little to do with the race itself and a whole lot to do with personal events surrounding the race (including not enough rest nor preparation). Those events, I’ll leave for another post. I arrived in Miami an hour before the race start time take pictures. I was very excited but also tired and sleepy. I decided to take my energy gel as soon as the starting gun sounded.  I figured the gel should take about 15 minutes to “kick” in and give me a nice boost at the beginning of the race. Unfortunately, the corral I was in was so far back that it took and extra 30 minutes to actually cross the start line after the gun sounded (talk about buzz kill ;-))

The first 8 miles, I felt pretty good. I kept a steady pace ahead of the 2:45 pacer. I decided to bypass most of the water stations because I didn’t want to have to stop to use the Porto potty (bad decision). By the ninth mile, as the sun began to beam and the temperature rose, I felt my energy dwindling. I took another energy gel and drank some water. Honestly, I can’t say it helped at all. My legs felt like bricks. I was dehydrated and feeling weak. I hobbled along doing intervals, then decided to slowly walk the entire twelfth mile. I thought I was going to pass out. My mind started to wonder about all the negative things that could go wrong.

Eventually, I decided to focus my mind and what’s left of my energy on positive, encouraging thoughts. Scriptures started flooding my mind:

  • I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.  
  • The race is not given to the swift nor the battle to the strong.
  • He who endures to the end will be saved.

Gradually my walk pace got a little faster, then turned into a shuffle, then a woggle (jogging so slow, I might as well had been walking), then a jog. Before I knew it, the crowd cheers got louder, the music, the cow bells, the energy and excitement was palpable. I realized I was close to the end of the race. I mustered up everything within me and ran with towards the finish line. I really just wanted to get off that course and get my medal (true story).

Post ING pic blog edited Finally I crossed the finish line huffing and puffing thinking “Geez, I’m glad it’s over!” We actually had to walk about another 1/8 of a mile to get our medals, food and take pictures.This was my second Miami-ING half marathon. The first I did 7 years ago. I’ve also completed another half marathon,  a full marathon and a host of 5K’s, 10K’s and 15K’s. My goal is to become stronger and faster as a runner.  This summer, I plan to focus on strength training, cross fitness and speed.

If you’re a runner, I welcome any advice to help me improve. What’s your mental strategy to get you through a difficult run or fitness program? What are your fitness goals for the summer?