Friday, September 7, 2018

KidStuff Resale Experience (and Loot)

This post is totally parenting related. If you're here for the running/triathlon stuff - skip past this one - but if you want to hear about the fun part of parenting that is spending money, keep reading!

Two weekends ago I randomly found out about a kids' resale event that was being held at my mom's church called KidStuff Resale, run by Moms of McHenry County. I checked out the Facebook page for the event and it seemed like it might be worthwhile, so I asked Anthony if he wanted to check it out. He's been talking about getting some more toys for Little Man, and we were in desperate need of 9+ month clothes, so we decided it might be worth it.

For us, it ended up ticking all the boxes. We were able to get gently used (and some brand new!) clothes, shoes, and toys. We spent a fraction of what we would have buying these things new at Target or Walmart, and we were able to pick up a lot of things. I'll highlight some of the great finds below.

We're Used to Used.
Now, as things go, our kid has a ton of hand-me-downs. Half of his clothes have been secondhand since the minute he came home. A friend of Anthony's sister dropped off huge garbage bags of both girls' and boys' clothes when I was still pregnant, and we went through it all to keep what we wanted, then donated the rest. As Little Man has gotten bigger I've pulled the boxes out and swapped out the clothes that no longer fit him for these "new" outfits. Some of it isn't seasonally appropriate, but most of it has been stuff we can use.

Don't get me wrong, this kid has plenty of stuff that's brand-spanking new. I had a two of the most gifted baby showers ever (my aunt told me she's never seen so many gifts as at the shower my mom threw), so everything from car seats to pack-and-plays to exersaucers and walkers were out-of-the-box-have-to-be-assembled new. Which has been awesome. But we're practical as well, and finding out about this resale was perfect timing as we're looking towards 9+ month everything.

With that said, we've gotten oodles of toys from friends. I had a friend from work give us a stand up piano. Another friend gave us a huge haul that included toys to enhance motor skills, stacking blocks, carseat toys, addition to the high chair that I was actually picking up from her, and the changing table I repainted when I was pregnant.

I say this so everyone knows we're no strangers to secondhand stuff. And for kids it makes sense. They grow so quickly (physically and mentally) that it's a constant trick of parenting to keep them clothed and entertained. *Cue the next 18 years of my life, at least.* We've gone from needing toys that simply make sound or light up, to toys that "teach" something, whether it's a color or an animal to some kind of coordination.

Unintentional upside: Every toy for the child is a toy for the cat, too. No joke!

For some people, resales aren't their thing, and that's cool. If you don't like to go to Goodwill or consignment shops, you probably are not going to like a sale like this. There are some new outfits with tags attached. We bought some of them. But be aware that they're about the same price that you'd pay on clearance for them.

A friend of mine also commented on my Insta post and said she'd never had much luck at this particular sale for her kids. I can totally understand that, since it seems most of what's available is seasonal. If we hadn't been looking for cooler/cold weather outfits (see bullet list below) this might not have been as beneficial for us.

We went in with a plan.
Anthony and I weren't looking to spend money all willy-nilly. There are specific things we've been saying Little Man needs, and it was our intention to purchase those things. We were looking for the following:
  • Stand up/walker toy(s)
  • An all-in-one sports toy (Anthony has been dying to get him a baseball/basketball/football one)
  • 9 and 12 month sweatshirts
  • 9-18 month onesies, short-sleeves
  • Pants, especially black and grey
  • 9-18 month tshirts (mostly short sleeved)
  • Shoes (now - 18ish months)
  • My mom also asked us to look for an umbrella stroller to keep at her house.
What We Brought Home
Not pictured: The cute spaceship umbrella stroller we found for my mom, and a few outfits she purchased.

Here were the clothes and shoes we picked up:
Lots of shirts and pants, and some other tidbits. Those boots you see in the back were a steal...brand new and only $6! They'll fit this winter too!
This stand and walk music thing: $10

The exact 3-in-1 sports thing that Anthony wanted to get from Target (it came with balls that the cat immediately started playing those are somewhere...): $5

This weird little ball that rolls around by itself (and doubles as a cat toy): $2
Some great clothing finds:  
Here are some of the true clothing "steals" we found:
THREE pairs of pants for $1. ONE DOLLAR!!


$5 for 5 tags-on Carter's onesies!

$1 for these three a new pack is like $10-12

Anthony is all about cute sports gear. This one was $1.

I could not resist these pjs: $5

This was the most expensive outfit...$8 for a brand new Carter's onesie!

A mustache onesie! Kiddo is wearing this one as we speak ;) $3

This cute little bomber jacket: $5

Adorable sweats with teddies on them...again I couldn't resist. $1

Event Organization
I have to admit, I kind of assumed going in that this thing would be fairly unorganized, so I was pleasantly surprised when we got there. Aside from some of the clothes being in the wrong age/size section, things were very well organized.

Entry Fee: The event cost $1 to enter (so a whopping $2 for us).

Bring a bag: You must provide your own bag or basket to carry items in. I just took a large reusable shopping bag.

Tender accepted: Cash, debit, major credit cards, checks (with ID).

Sections: Strollers, large toys, small toys, crafts, books, back to school, shoes, clothing.

Large Item Holding: This was handy, as we grabbed a few larger items. Each large item had a sticker on it with a number, and that number and sticker color corresponded to a wristband that they gave you when the item was placed in holding. You then picked it up on your way to checkout.

Checkout: Checkout was smooth sailing for us. There were 8 "registers" (laptops equipped with hand scanners), each with 2 volunteers. One volunteer took thing off the hanger/bagged them up for you, the other scanned each item and ensured the price on the register matched the tag. It was an efficient process and only took about 5 minutes for us.

Discount Hour: The last hour of the sale was a discount hour. They have everyone checkout or exit, all hold items are put back on the floor, and any item with "Discount" on the tag is half price. We did not stay for this - but it sounds like the line outside was VERY long prior to the discount hour, so I'm assuming it was slightly more chaotic.

Overall, we felt the event was worth it for our needs. There seemed to be a greater selection of infant clothes, which isn't surprising since an infant will only wear an outfit a handful of times before they outgrow it.

For bigger items - namely toys and winter clothes - this was very helpful for us. We spent a fraction of what we would have on these items had we bought them new. We will definitely be going back!


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ragnar (the running)

**Edit: I realized a few days after posting that the videos did not come through. I've tried to fix that. If it doesn't work...I'm sorry!**

Here it is! After three months I'm ready to publish this!

This post has taken me ages to put together, because I compiled over 300 pictures from the experience, taken by 14 different people. It's taken me all this time to go through and organize them to figure out which ones to use and then to put my thoughts into words. So settle in with your favorite beverage or's a long one! (With lots of pictures!)

We woke up bright and early before it was even bright and early on Friday morning and got ready to head to the start as a team. Anthony and I had roomed with Kara and Meghan the night before, both of whom were in Van 1, so they had first dibs on whatever they needed to prepare for their morning (bathroom included).

Once ready we headed out to the vans, did some shuffling of supplies and coolers (although somehow ALL 10 gallons of water got left in Van 1 LOL), Van 1 packed their stuff up, and then we were on our way to the start!

We of course got a team picture as we waited. We were all quite chilly that morning, which you should be able to tell from the abundance of long pants and sweatshirts :P Unlike last year, this year we were set up for perfect running weather!

The Runners Who Say Ni! (Damn straight, we were Monty Python themed this year!)
Front to back, left to right:
Dana, Sam, Kara
Me, Meghan, Kristin, Nick
Anthony, Eli, Heather, Lisa, Savannah Justin
Also, the Random Stranger Selfie:
Random strangers are the best strangers!

For those wondering, here was our running order:
  • Van 1
    • Savannah (Runner 1)
    • Justin (Runner 2)
    • Meghan (Runner 3)
    • Kara (Runner 4)
    • Sam (Runner 5)
    • Eli (Runner 6)
  • Van 2
    • Heather (Runner 7)
    • Kristin (Runner 8)
    • Anthony (Runner 9)
    • Lisa (Runner 10)
    • Me (Runner 11)
    • Dana (Runner 12)

Psyched to be standing in front of that big orange arch!
And let's not forget me and my boo :P I honestly can't tell you how happy I was to share the running experience with him this year!
We're cute together when we wanna be!

Later I sent the above picture to my mom, and she returned with one of our little beebs, getting up for the morning:
My heart! It was our first morning away from him!
Before we knew it, 5:30 rolled around and our team officially started! Savannah was our first runner out, and I captured it on video!

We watched her run off, then it was time to bid adieu to the runners of Van 1 as they hustled off to the next exchange. Those of us in Van 2 had a bit of a wait ahead of us...!

First Leg "Break"
During our wait, we went back to the hotel to get ready (for me this included taking a shower, since I figured it would probably be the only one I'd take before going home on Saturday - solid decision) and then we met out at the vans to decorate and head to Walmart to pick up some water.

You Guys. Our team went nuts with the decorating this year and I went especially nuts and kept adding stuff throughout our first legs. Our van looked SO cool. Dean and Sonja got vinyl stickers for us, and we had a ton of different color markers to use! I randomly took pictures of it all (unfortunately I don't have any good pictures of Van 1 *sadface*), including some "after" pictures the next morning, as it rained on us overnight. Here's the collection I've assembled of Van 2:
Bring me a shrubbery of killer rabbits!

Ready to check off some legs!
I went a little nuts on this window when Heather was running her first leg.
I kept calling him Chad. This is not Chad, this is Dean (and his wife, our injured runner-turned-driver Sonja, making faces in the background!). It was awesome having the two of them as drivers!

It rained at night, so in the morning I updated the drawing.

I updated the back, too.

I was so sad that we lost that flag.

Dana, counting kills in the morning!
With the van decorated and water purchased, Van 2 was ready for...

Finally. The actual Running of Ragnar!

Van 2, First Legs

I have videos, I have pictures. I'm going to throw in what I can, and I'll cover Anthony's legs to an extent...that extent being my seeing him off and cheering him in, lol.

Starting with the first major exchange!

Eli was coming in, Heather was going out. We got our Monty Python on as a group. Sonja and I took a candid selfie with a cow. There was other random randomness:

The announcer needed to be told how to pronounce the word "Ni" (it's NEE, for those of you who are so sheltered that you've never seen the amazingness that is Monty Python and the Holy Grail)...

We hustled off to the next exchange after this, and continued in turn until...

Anthony's First Leg - 5.98 miles / 9:15 pace
Anthony started his first leg ready to get out and run, and I was so excited for him. Even when I started my own legs I got that "nervous race feeling" that I always get before a race, and I know he had it too. But at the end of the day, Ragnar boils down to the running, and I knew once he was on his way he'd feel that.

Plus, he looked AWESOME in his Power Rangers shirt! Who wouldn't want to run 6 miles looking so fly?
Ready and waiting for Kristin to run in!

Running it in looking strong!
We were FLOORED when we got Anthony's one-mile-left text way earlier than we predicted it would come in. He was killing it, and some quick math told us his pace was somewhere in the 9:30 range. Official Garmin data when he finished told us his pace for those six miles was 9:15/mile! That was a solid minute faster than he'd been running in his Ragnar training.

It turns out we took two pictures while Lisa was I'll put up both ;)

Runner 9 done with Leg 9, as I waited to start leg 11 (my first run)!
And with Anthony's first leg done we headed off to the next exchange, where I'd prepare to take on the mantle!
And Lisa, on her way...I'd be at the end of her run waiting!
(If you're wondering what Dana is doing, she's the Monty Python escort.)

First leg (leg 11) - 6.28 miles / 10:49 pace / 4 kills
My first leg started at 3:00pm on Friday in Kenosha, WI, and my number one concern was: The Wind. We sat in the van waiting for Lisa to run in, and we were right on the lake front. You could tell from the white caps that the wind was blowing, and I knew I would head out directly into a headwind for at least a mile.

Look closely and you can see all the chop:
You know you're a Monty Python fan if you know this.

I also took a picture of myself, and I'm including it because it's a good picture and the only one lacking sweat for the next 2 days:

Anyways. I clearly remembered this exchange from the year before - it was one of the last exchanges we (Van 1) saw, and I watched at least 4 people puke at this point when they finished. But this year we didn't have hot-as-balls puking weather, we had a strong, chilly wind off the lake, and I kept my sweatshirt on until the last possible minute as Lisa pulled into view. And once she did I shred the jacket, threw it to Anthony, Lisa slapped the bracelet on me, and  I was on my way.

About forty seconds later, I encountered a volunteer who was flagging traffic at an intersection. He made a joke to me that I looked cold...and I was! The wind was very strong and nippy, and he was kind enough to let me know I only had "about a mile of it" left. -____- Thanks, dude! (But really, he was cool.)

These 6.3 miles started on a lakefront trail and were mostly on a continuation of that trail, although there was about a 1 mile section (from miles 1 to 2) that was on residential roads, and a portion was run on roads where there was no sidewalk to run on.

The first mile was into a direct headwind, and I was actually a bit chilly for it. After that we turned away from the lake completely, which meant the headwind eased. My team caught up with me just as I turned from the residential lack-of-road back onto the trail, and got me galloping (a la Monty Python) right around the 2 mile mark!

Note the pony-gallop and coconuts!
The remaining four miles were on a trail heading straight north. That was it. Flat and in a straight line. For four miles. The leg had been tagged "hard" and aside from the monotony I wasn't super sure why. Aside from the headwind, it wasn't too bad...there was even shade!

About a tenth of a mile before the finish area there were two ladies radioing team numbers to the exchange so waiting teams could prep their next runner. These ladies were awesome! As I ran up they asked my number, and when I said "43" one of the women chalked the number on the pavement. I thought it was a nice little touch, that they did this for every team as we ran in, and told them they were the coolest volunteers for doing it!

Literally every photo of me at this exchange is the most unflattering picture ever, so we'll go with the least most-unflattering for the purposes of this blog:
Told you so.
I ended the run feeling good, and I was proud of the sub-11:00 average I'd achieved, I had 4 kills, and was killed (passed) 5 times. My mile splits were pretty solid for inconsistent training, and I was hoping my next two legs would measure up.
I handed the "baton" (bracelet) off to Dana, our captain, and we clip-clopped her out with the coconuts as the start of the last of the first legs began! We headed back to the van and drove to the next exchange where I checked off my first leg before we met up with the rest of our team for the next major exchange, and the start of everyone's second legs.
Run one done!
We interrupt this programming for some brief baby pictures, sent by Gramma at this time during the race!
Meeting Mrs Pillar for the first time! (It's important to note that Gramma and Mrs Pillar were at the finish line of Mommy and 'Runner 13's' first Ragnar finish in 2017!

Trying to decide if the book is a better snack than his hand.
Moving on!

Second Leg Break
We all piled back in the van and headed to the next exchange to meet Dana and the rest of our team. This was the second major exchange, after everyone had one one leg, and I thought later that it was super odd that this was tagged as a "shower/rest" exchange. No one needed to shower or rest so early - it was only 5:15. Around 2:00am this really pissed me off, but we'll get there.

After picking Dana up, we knew we had about five hours before our next legs would start. We needed to be up and ready to go at 9:30pm for out night legs. We also needed to stop for food, and all agreed Panera was the best bet to refuel and avoid any "runner's gut" problems. We were good social-media users, and took a picture:
Bottom left going clockwise: Lisa, Kristin, Dana, Anthony, me, Heather
Center: Our food.
We ate up and drove off to the rec center that the next major exchange was was almost completely empty. I knew from experience that it would fill up completely by the time Van 1 pulled in. It was still really early, only about 7, so we set up our sleep pads and laid down to rest for a few hours. To be honest, no real sleeping happened for me...I just curled up and closed my eyes and managed to doze on and off for the last hour before we had to pack things up.

Note about this site: It was good. It was clean, had a large parking lot, plenty of space to sleep, and showers (that we did not use). For us it was never too crowded, but it was filling up by the time we left. I'm actually really jealous that this was the "shower" exchange for Van 1, because Van 2 did not have anything as nice when our turn came (more on that later).

Anthony, pretending to look super annoyed for Instagram ;)
Getting our rest on.
(Lisa, me, Anthony)

Giving you a different angle of that rest ;P
When the time came, we packed up, put on our safety gear (reflective vests are a requirement during night hours!), put our stuff in the car, then went off to the exchange point for Eli to run in so Heather could head out. It started drizzling during this time, which wasn't thrilling. Rain can mean slippery conditions, and in the dark that's no fun. It can also mean wet shoes...also not fun. So in the cold and wet, and feeling the tired come on, the only thing I could think of was coffee, right as we walked by the beverage tent.

There was one problem. No cups. Because Ragnar has gone cup-free. So I walked back to the van, grabbed Anthony's Blender Bottle, and put coffee in it. Nothing stops the addiction. It was delicious.

We found our Van 1 teammates and huddled near the chute, waiting to hear our number called. Eli came in, Heather went out, and thus started Van 2's second legs!

Van 2, Second Legs
You're going to notice one thing about second legs...there are no pictures. This is because it was dark and during sleeping hours (in the van) for most of the team. When everyone's concern is staying dry for as long as possible and not slipping while walking to finish chutes, taking pictures completely leaves your brain.

It was crazy how many of these smaller exchanges I recognized! I remember being at them very early in the morning last year...only this time it was late at night!

Anthony's Second Leg - 6.3 miles / 11:13 pace
I don't have too much to tell you about Anthony's second leg, but I have a very precautionary tale about shoe choice. Also, I blame myself for this entirely, because as I runner I should have known.

I mentioned in the previous post that last year I used my free-captains-shoes thing to get Anthony some running shoes. Prior to that, he had take up running wearing a pair of - I kid you not - 8+ year old Asics he got when he was in high school. I don't know why. He mentioned that his knees would hurt after he ran, which was why I gave him the Floatrides. Leading up to Ragnar I kept telling myself, "He needs a second pair of shoes, what if it rains?"...but I never pushed him to get them. It's a cardinal rule of Ragnar - pack two pairs of shoes. And he did. But the second pair were not any good for running.

Fast forward to our night legs. It was raining. He had 10k to run in the wet conditions, and would have another 7.5+ miles the next morning. He (understandably) did not want to run his longest run in wet shoes, so he wore his battered old Asics for his 6.3 mile second leg.

It was not a good idea. When his run ended, he told me his knee was killing him. He was limping. He was also really upset with his time, saying if his knee hadn't started hurting he could have finished faster (his mile splits were 9:15/10:17/10:52/11:23/11:39/11:36). That drop after the first mile shows that he was in pain.

I had him lay down on the back bench of the van and prop his knee on my lap, and I think we also found him some ice. I KT taped his knee in the morning. You'll see that he still finished his last leg...but the pain in his knee caused Anthony to stop running after Ragnar, and his knee bothered him for weeks afterwards.

So there's your warning to have a backup pair of actual running shoes.

My Second Leg - 4.5 miles / 11:02 pace / 1 kill
After Anthony came in and Lisa went out, we headed to the next exchange at Carroll University. I also remembered this exchange from the year before, and this year it was labelled as a shower exchange...but people weren't allowed to sleep there. The next sleep (but not shower) exchange was six exchanges away, where Van 2 would start our last legs. I thought that was really weird, and it felt like poor planning on the part of the race directors.

It was still raining as we pulled in and waited for Lisa's one mile text. I didn't want to get out of the car before I needed too (because of the rain), but we waited and waited and finally I decided to go hit up the port-o-potty and stretch my legs and prepare a bit before my run.

Keep in mind, we were waiting for that text. We all knew each other's anticipated mile times, and around when to expect a text and then how much time we'd have to get to the exchange chute. We waited, the time for her text came and went, and I suggested calling in case her phone died. If we called and it went straight to voicemail we'd know to just head over. But no one called.

Finally I just said "f*ck it" and decided to head over. It turned out Lisa had accidentally put her phone on airplane mode, and her text didn't send until she got to the chute and realized what happened (we should have called!). She'd been waiting a few minutes by the time we got there, but it didn't matter. I was ready to head out!

Because we got there late, I had no idea where the in/out was...I looked at a group of teenage boy volunteers and said "Do I go this way?" and they ignored me *thanks guys* and I started with a slow jog and got a hundred or so feet out before I saw another runner coming towards me, and their teammate behind me waiting to take the bracelet from them. I'd gone the wrong way out of the chute (again, thanks volunteers) and so I turned around. I ran straight past the oblivious volunteer group,  following the reflective strips on the shoes in front of me, and thus began run 2.

This run was 4.5 miles on the Glacial Drumlin State Trail through Waukesha. Almost the entire time the path was wooded on both sides, and it was dark enough that you couldn't really see more than a few feet off the path. It drizzled the entire time. My breath came out in fog under my headlamp. It felt creepy. And then I remembered something...

(I posted this on Instagram story after my second run:)

As soon as I remembered this thing about the guy who dressed as the clown my anxiety level went up. Yes, there were other runners around me at different times, but not many. Nearly all of them had headphones in. I felt like, if at any point someone screamed, no one would hear them. It just creeped me the f* out.

I had also decided to carry a knife with me on this run (hey, personal safety first!), and this was the point where I took it out of my pocket and carried it in my hand for the remainder of my run. I didn't open it, I just had it in my hand. Just in case. Because clowns.

Things ended uneventfully. I didn't get kidnapped by a clown ;) But I was really glad when that run was over.

And here are my splits!

The next morning, marking my leg off.
When I ran into the exchange Dana didn't even see that it was me, which was pretty funny! I yelled her name at her but she had headphones in and didn't hear me (ironic, haha), but the bracelet slap was enough to tell her it was her turn to head out!

Anthony wait waiting for me behind the exchange (aww) and limped me back to the van. We crawled in, Anthony laid down in back, and we headed out to find Dana.

Third Leg Break
When I got back in the van after my leg and everyone was sleeping. Sonja (driver) was the only one awake, and I found a spot next to Kristin (who was fast asleep) so I could change. In the pitch black of a moving van I pulled a towel over myself, stripped down, and changed my clothes. I packed up my ziploc bags as best as I could in the dark, and tried to come down from anxiety and endorphins of the run.

We found Dana after her second run, shuffled around a bit, and I curled up in the back under Anthony's legs using my towel as a blanket. Because there wouldn't be any showers or sheltered sleeping at the next exchange, our Van had decided to head back to the exchange at Carroll for those who wanted to shower - after that we'd go to the next major exchange.

I can't even tell you who got out of the van at that point, but I was hyper annoyed the entire time. This is where the Ragnar-ness of Ragnar comes in. Spend that much time with almost no sleep in a van with anyone and you will get annoyed at everyone for a while.

Unlike last year, I knew I wasn't going to bother showering. Anthony and I were in the back of the van trying to sleep, it was like 3 am, and people kept opening and shutting the doors, turning the lights on, all I think I got about an hour of "is it reality or am I dreaming" doze-state sleep, in a hella uncomfortable position. I "woke" up still super annoyed. Anthony and I shuffled around a bit, managed to shove our bags into the footspace to make the laying-down area on the back bench a bit bigger, and dozed some more as Chad Dean drove us to the next major exchange, where we would wait to start our last legs!

Next up, this picture:

These good people are standing in line to use the port-o-potties. At this exchange there were - and I counted them - ten. Ten bathrooms. Ragnar Chicago has 500 teams. That's teams. Not runners. Teams have anywhere from 2-10 people (I'm pretty sure this race was more the 6-10 variety).

So we're talking anywhere from 3000-6000 people who would hit this exchange.

And there were 10 port-o-potties.

It was a very long line. They were very full potties. And very smelly.

Moving on.

Once we got to this exchange I didn't really sleep. I got out of the van to stretch my legs and wait in line for the port-o-potties. This was when the lines were short (maybe 5 people waiting in each line) and some guy was acting like a three year old, complaining about waiting and how badly he had to pee. If a person was taking too long he'd proclaim "that person is taking a dump!" Finally I got annoyed with him and said sarcastically, "Dude. We're a bunch of runners. It's 6:00 am during a race. Everyone is taking a dump." And he shut up. In my head I was also complaining, but no one wants to listen to that shit on repeat at 6:00 am when they haven't slept!

When my stomach growled I decided to pay $5 for the pancakes, sausage, and coffee some guys were making. Not a bad decision. I spent a majority of the morning out of the van, walking around. I called my mom after she texted that the baby woke her up in time to watch the Royal Wedding (at 4:30am!). I talked to random people. I ate my pancakes. I walked some more.

When my van peeps finally started stirring, I hopped back in and we all whittled away the time. We even got the chance to talk to the people from Ainsley's Angels, and they let me take Kendall Jade for a spin in her race chair:

We talked to Kendall Jade's mom for a while too. Talk about inspiring. I'm posting the video here because hearing her speak was inspiring. Even though this didn't work out for me (I looked in to running for them like I said I would, but they don't have any easy way for me to do so from Northern IL) I do want to find a group like this to run with!

And now I share this picture, which my momma sent to me to cheer me up about the long, sleepless, wet night and long port-o-potty lines, and also my missing the Royal Wedding:

The time finally came when Van 1 was set to run in, and we piled out to go meet them and get the end of our show on the road!

Van 2, Third Legs
We were tired. We were sore. We were ready to be done...but we all had a good amount of distance left to cover before our finish. And thus began the beginning of the end! And fun fact...these legs were the exact reverse of Van 1's legs last year. Heather ran what I ran last year (on the trail from hell), Kristin ran Denise's, Anthony ran Ramon's, Lisa ran Sam's, I ran Annie's, Dana took Meghan's. And it was just as awesome ;)

Anthony 3 - 7.6 miles 10:50 pace
So, full disclosure...I missed most of this leg. I remember spraying Anthony (and myself) with a ton of bug spray before he left, I remember walking over and waiting for Kristin (and reminiscing on this exchange from last year)...and that's about it.
Heading out!
Because, you see, I had not slept much at all. So when we got back in the van and I had the whole back bench seat to myself...I fell asleep. Anthony had over 7 1/2 miles to run, so we pulled over to support him somewhere around the half way mark, and I was fast asleep in the van. And then, as if by divine coincidence, I startled myself awake at *just* the right moment. It was like when you wake up and realize you're late for work - I realized I was about to miss cheering on the guy who cheers me on!

So I scrambled up and crawled to the front of the van, still a bit dazed, and perched myself against a door just as he was running by! I screamed, "Keep going baby, you got this!!" and saw him wave as he ran down the path and out of view, blocked by trees. So I redeemed myself a little bit ;)

After we saw Anthony we headed to the next exchange to pick him up. He was hurting when he came in, but you can't tell from the pictures! Probably because he was glad to have conquered his first Ragnar!
And coming in!
He managed to hobble to the van (but the dude was in pain), and headed off to pick up Lisa.

As we pulled in I thought of all the fond memories I had of this exchange. Mostly making fun of "Crossfit Guy" and his over the top stretching. Nothing quite like people who are a little to into themselves...

But let's move on.

My Third Leg (Leg 35) - 4.42 miles / 10:43 pace / 2 or 3 kills?
I'm not sure I will ever forget this run. Maybe it's because I was starting to get emotional from the lack of sleep. Maybe it's because I listened to music. Maybe it's because about 5 seconds in to this run (which had been labeled "easy") I looked in front of me and saw a never ending hill. Maybe it's because I was getting hot and wanted so badly to walk and wouldn't let myself. Maybe maybe maybe. I can say for sure that this run was different than the others.

As I started running up that never ending hill I realized what exactly I was doing. What I was accomplishing. Here I was, not even 5 months out from having a baby, completing Ragnar.

On their own each of those things are an accomplishment. But doing one so shortly after the other...I needed to let myself be proud of that. So I spent this last run reveling in it.

I won't lie - it was a challenging run. It really was an uphill battle. As I started out and looked in front of me, I saw that I would be heading uphill for a long time. The first mile and a half were straight up. I climbed about 200 feet in that time. But after that I got a steady downhill, taking me 200 back down over the next 3 miles. When the elevation dropped, so did my pace. I pushed it. I wanted to be proud. I wanted to feel all of the grit in those 4.5 miles.

I was so determined not to walk. Even as the sun (finally) came out. After a full day of clouds followed by rain, the sun came out in full force as I hit my first mile. I was hot. Still running, I pulled off my my tank top and tucked it into my Flip Belt. It was something I never would have done the year before. But want to know something? Growing and giving birth to a baby made me more proud of my body than I've ever been, and I no longer cared what people might think. I was hot, taking off my tank top made me not (as) hot!

And on I went.

I passed a gas station where they had water bottles out on ice, with a sign saying they were for the runners. I yelled to the two attendants who were outside that they were awesome, and then poured half of the ice cold water on my head. It felt great!

At one point a girl passed me, and it just worked out that she hit every single red light from that point on. I was right behind her the whole time, praying for a red to stay red so I could have a slight break, but every time she hit that freaking button and I had to keep going as the "WALK" sign came on signaling us to move.

So I kept moving. Finally, a quarter mile from the finish I caught and passed her at a light (it's still a kill!) and by some miracle she stayed passed!

I knew where the exchange was. I knew just what it looked like, and remembered the year before, screaming "38! 38! 38!!!!!" trying to get Annie out of the bathroom as Meghan ran up. But this time it was in reverse, and I was the one heading to the chute, and we were that much closer to finishing because Dana only had ONE leg left!

There's no finish chute picture, but that's okay. The picture wouldn't have done it justice anyways. I was flying SO high from this leg, and that feeling didn't go away for days!

This next montage of pictures was my favorite part of Ragnar. This whole sequence pretty much describes mine and Anthony's relationship. And beyond that, we were both so happy and proud to have finished this - together.

I owe this man so much. For encouraging me to get back at it. For allowing me the time and space to get my workouts in (by watching our baby, or sacrificing his own workout). For being a true partner in every sense of the word.

Also, did I mention it was our first night (two nights!) away from our baby?!?
Happy to be done, and SO proud of each other!
I followed up my run by decking out the van with everything I was feeling during my run:
I owned that shit on our van window too!

Owning it!!!

The Finish
After I decorated the window, we hopped in our van to head over to the designated parking lot to get bused over to the finish, our orange team shirts in hand! Van 1 was already on their way:

Once we got to the finish there was only one thing to do - wait for Dana, our captain and fearless leader, to roll in. We sat down, sipped some water, and before we knew it she sent her 1 mile text. It was time to run it in!

We ran it in ^ then lined up for our team picture (this is not the official one) before grabbing our pizzas and a place to sit, where we relaxed for a bit and signed each other's t-shirts.

Here we are. My amazing Ragnar Chicago (2.0) team, and the Madison skyline in the background. I couldn't have found a better group of pretty-much-strangers to travers 200(ish) miles with. And I'm positive we will do it again!
The Runners Who Say Ni!

A team chillaxin'
We also assembled our medals to see the message they made:

We'd all randomly grabbed our medals, and mine had a great message that really summed up everything about Ragnar - from training to running - for our family.

"The wildest experiences become the best stories."

My rock!
Ragnar Chicago 2.0 was a great story.

I'll spare you the details of the trip back. It was boring and whatever.

But that's the only part of Ragnar that was ;)

And I'll keep doing.