Office Life

The window blinds in my office are broken.  It's like a cage with no breathing holes!

Sometimes I leave the door by my desk wide open.  The nose of my car is so close that it practically takes up the entire doorway.  So I don't get sweeping views but I do get extra sun.  I just hope that the blinding reflection off of the windshield is providing me with some kind of tan.  Or at least vitamin D.  Because there's nothing about office life that gets me more down than hearing people talk about what an "incredibly beautiful day" it was, and I didn't even see a sunray of it!  

So the door stays open a lot these days.

I don't dislike the office.  But sometimes I wonder whether I'd actually prefer physical labor.  Okay, you're probably already laughing, imagining me wielding a jack-hammer.  You're right, maybe not that intense.  But in high school I was a nanny for two and a half years.  Trust me, that is physical labor.  I went straight to their house every day after school and stayed until 8ish, covering everything from snacks to naps to games to baths to bedtimes.  There were four kids.  Originally a 6-year-old boy, a 3-year-old boy, and then a set of newborn girl twins.  No, it wasn't a picnic.  I always came home with crazy hair and stained clothes {peed on clothes, once}, out of breath and with sore muscles.  But I felt fulfilled.  I could see the impact I had on that family every day.  And chaos seems to help time pass more quickly.  Even though it was hard, and I got paid next to nothing, I loved it.

Office work is different.  "Fulfilled" really only goes as far as measuring how thin I've managed to whittle down my stacks of paperwork.  But how can I complain?  The benefits are great, the pay is pretty good, my boss is the bomb, I get vacation, the people I work with are the best, and I never get peed on.  These days one can't ask for more in a job!

Still... Between one project and the next I find myself staring out the open door at the sunshine reflecting off my car and missing the mud pie making... even the cleaning up afterwards.


There are other things I can do when I'm not at the office to fill whatever empty chasm has been developing lately.  Roy keeps me on my toes and is always making sure I make time to feel fulfilled.

I paint.

I indulge in my UK obsession.    

Celebrate the random and obscure. Like Oreo's 100th birthday.  Mom and I went all out with Oreo pancakes and games.  So fulFILLing.


I write.  And I've got a goal!  First draft completed by June.

{e + r = love}

And then there's my favorite person, my own personal cheerleader and best friend.  Love you Roy.  Thanks maintaining the awesomeness in our life.  "Adventure is out therrrrre!"

Running Ragnar

What's Ragnar?

A race where you and eleven teammates tackle 200 miles split between you, with someone always on the run, even through the night.  You bring sleeping bags and try to scrape a few hours of sleep when you can.  If you're not running or sleeping, you're in a van cheering on your teammates and bringing them water.

Sound like torture?  I know, I know.  It's kind of hard to explain why Ragnar is AWESOME.  So here is an extremely detailed account.  Maybe my love for Ragnar will be able to surface through the details.  So let's start from the beginning.

Roy packed for me.  He just wanted to make sure I got all my safety gear in there.  Plus he wanted me to take his huge hiking backpack, complete with sleeping bag and pad.  Mostly he probably just loves getting out his outdoors stuff.  But he was somewhat concerned I would not be able to survive two days without him.  :-)  He was also concerned I physically wouldn't be able to handle this thing.  I had a full blown uti at the time.  But hey... what can you do?

Ragnar del Sol winds from Wickenburg to Phoenix--so a little drive away from Sahuarita.  There are two vans per team {six runners in each} and I was assigned to van one, which meant we were kicking off the race.  We needed to be at the starting line at 5:00 am!  AAH!  So we left Thursday evening and got a hotel in... SURPRISE!  

What?  That's what the town is called.

First, dinner.  Then we had a fun time meandering through the sketchiest areas of SURPRISE! in the dark of night as we looked for our hotel.  We managed to arrive without getting mugged {thank you GPS} and found the place swarming with runners.  In the parking lot we saw huge white vans that some teams had rented and decorated the bejeezus out of.  Ragnar gives out awards for the best dressed teams and decked out vehicles, and some people really go all out.

Not to be outdone, we were down in the parking lot with big bottles of paint, smearing the stuff on with our fingers.  The theme: Soles.  Our team name was Sol Sisters.  Double play on words, whaaat?!

It was late by the time we got up to our room, with paint crusted all over our hands.  And then there was figuring out who was sleeping where, constructing makeshift beds, and taking turns using the sink.  I don't remember exactly what time it was when the lights were finally out, but I remember thinking that we really only had a few hours to catch some z's.  Our alarms were set for 3:30 am.

But z's eluded me altogether.  I was hot in my sleeping bag, but cold outside of it.  I'd have dreams about waking up late, missing the race, or running on the dirt without any shoes on!  Every noise was amplified and shook me awake every ten minutes.  When the alarms went off {all buzzing and ringing at the exact same moment} I literally shot out of my sleeping bag on the floor, "FINALLY!"

An hour later we were in the park where it was dark, freezing, and we were munching on bananas and trail mix for breakfast while we waited for safety orientation.

Here's the drill: wear your headlamp, taillight, and reflective vest when you are running between the hours of 5 pm and 9 am.  Anyone else who gets out of the car for any reason during those hours is also required to wear a reflective vest.  Brutal, huh?

Safety first!

{Glow stick bracelets/ears optional}

When we signed in with one of the volunteers we were told that we had showed up for the wrong starting time.  We weren't scheduled to start until 7:00!  What?!  But he didn't turn us away.  Pretty sure I would have thrown a hissy, so let's just be grateful this post doesn't end here with me getting us kicked out.  :-)  

He gave us our numbers to pin onto our shirts and let us gather around the starting line.  Elisha was first up, our Runner 1.  Nine or ten other teams were starting as well, and they all lined up while we stood around the sides and cheered.

There was some dude in an orange full body suit under an orange tent playing music and heightening the excitement.  "Team Sol Sisters!"  We screamed, cheered, flashed out headlamps.  And then suddenly the countdown was over and the race was on!

As far as we could see, Elisha was leading the pack!  We scrambled into our Sol Sistermobile and headed down the road, looking for her.  Man she was fast--I couldn't believe how far she'd gotten already.  And then when we did find her, I couldn't believe the hills she had to climb!  It was her hardest leg--nine miles I think--and the sun wasn't even up yet.  Yeowza!

We parked about halfway through her leg and waited for her in the car.  It was weird how not-tired I felt after getting absolutely no sleep.  Our adrenaline was just palpable.  It didn't seem like we even got to hang out that long before she came trucking up the hill.  The only runners in front of her were freaky-good career-type runners with calves the size of my waist.  So she was pretty much dominating.

After jumping out of the car to give her water and encouragement, we headed to the first exchange.  Cars/vans are all parked and people are hanging out, waiting for their runners.  We were there, dancing to "Hey Soul Sister," and cheering for her when our runner crossed.  Runner 2 was ready-- vest on, headphones in--and as soon as Elisha slapped the bracelet/baton onto her wrist, she ran off.

During her run we got to enjoy the sunrise.

Same thing, we stopped halfway and gave support.  Met her at the second exchange.  Runner three took off.  We all clambered back into the car.  We had a seating system going, where the last runner got shotty, since no one wanted to be rubbing shoulders with the sweaty one.

And suddenly I was next to bat.  I had crazy butterflies, and I couldn't figure out what I was so nervous about.  Since we were with the first group to start the race, there really weren't that many people around us yet.  It's not like I'd have an audience!  Still, I couldn't help it.

Luckily, there was plenty of craziness going on at the exchange to keep me from breaking under my self-imposed pressure.

I was ready to go.  {Yes, please do note the headlamp and vest.  It was 8:50 am, still safety gear time.}

Rennie slapped the bracelet on my wrist and I started running.  There was no one anywhere around me.  No runners, no vehicles, it was flat, faceless landscape.  Definitely nothing to entertain me... and I hadn't had the sense to actually get my iPod shuffle read to go.  So I wasted a lot of energy at the very beginning trying to untangle the headphone cords from around my wrist, pop in the headphones, find where I was at in my audio book, take the dumb handkerchief off of my face, and still keep up a good pace.

As soon as I was settled, the Sol Sister's suburban whizzed past with sisters hanging out of the windows and cheering.  Don't ask me why, but that got the adrenaline pumping harder.  The sun was shinning, it was cool with a slight breeze, my book was so good, I was going fast, and I got a trucker to honk his horn as he rumbled past.  I just felt GREAT- a major endorphin high.

After a mile I spotted a sequence skirt ahead of me.  I recognized her as one of the runners from the van that had "Does this skirt make my butt look fast?" scrawled across the back windows.  Other than the occasional Ragnar be-speckled van, truckers, and cows, there was nothing but us.

And then even the red sequence was gone!  I passed her!  And you know what  that means?  I made my first "kill."  Big deal, as most vans display their kills on their vehicles to let other Ragnarians know how intense they are.

OK, we maaaay have exaggerated a little bit.  But hey--at least two of these were legit, because I killed two people on my first leg!  {Don't worry about my ego.  When other teams caught up to us later that day I got murdered more times than I could tally.}

Having van support is the bomb.  I don't like to stop once I've started, so when I did the half marathon I was totally choking on those little paper cups of water that they provide.  My own water bottle handed to me at the halfway point?  Way better.

I credit the adrenaline, but I was running the fasted mile for a long distance race I ever have.  Nine minute miles.  For most other Ragnarians, that would be pathetic.  Or at least their average.  But for me that was a new record.  In my mind, I was haulin'.

Toward the end of my six point something miles, I started to feel that familiar stab in my knee.  I knew right then that I probably shouldn't have pushed myself so hard on my first leg, but oh well.  This beautiful marker popped into view.

It's kind of bittersweet, when you see these things.  There's a tiny part of you that doesn't want the adrenaline feeling to go away.  But there's a much bigger part of you that wants to plop down in front of the AC.

Marcy was waiting and I slapped the bracelet on her wrist.

And then we supported her.

The cycle continued until we all finished our first legs.  Then we met Van2 at the first "major exchange," I think it's called.  By this time we could see that all of those crazy fast teams had caught up to us.  There are even some "ultra" teams which consist of six people, which means they do twice the running as we do.  No big deal, they were just blowing past us!

Here we got free food and water.  It's amazing how much food you eat when you're so exhausted.  During this race I found myself just shoving fuel down my throat.

At this time we also learned that we had been given the wrong team number.  There was another all-female team called the "Sole Sisters" who were scheduled to start at 7am.  Makes sense, huh?  There was switching of numbers and figuring things out... we just kind of winged it.

People rested while they waited for their last runner.  You kind of sleep where you can.  And hey, why not get a tan while you're at it?

And we got to check out more costumes.

Our 6th runner slapped the bracelet onto the 1st runner in Van2, and then we got our break.  I was really feeling the exhaustion from getting like fifteen minutes of sleep the night before, plus we all knew we'd be up really late tonight.  We had to get some sleep.  But where?

GPS, baby!  I looked up "LDS Chapel," knowing that there would be grass we could crash on.  There was one nearby, and it did indeed have grass.  And even some shade.  So we treated our blisters, rolled out our sleeping bags, and conked out.

The cops drove through the parking lot a few times, but I guess we didn't look too much like vagabonds because they let us be.  I slept hard and dreamless.  Loved it.  When I woke up there was another Ragnar group occupying the other side of the grassy lawn.  Funny they had the same idea as us.  We chatted it up a little and found out they were an older group.  All 55 and older!  They said it was their fourth or fifth Ragner.  How about that for a reunion with your besties twice a year?

Feeling rested and quite like peanut butter and jelly wasn't cutting it for us anymore, we packed up and went to Subway.  After Subway we grabbed ice for the cooler and also for sore knees.  All along we were in contact with Van2 and knew exactly when they were going to be at the next major exchange.

By the time we got there the sun was setting.  I don't remember what time my second leg was--maybe around 10pm?  After like ten strides I started limping a little bit.  I knew it was going to be a long 5.5 miles.  I got murdered a bunch and the only kills I made were of other limping people who were smarter than I was and decided to walk rather than irritate their injuries further.

At the end I probably looked like a complete cripple, but I made it.  I don't remember much else from that night in the suburban while the other girls ran.  I think I was in that weird place between awake and asleep.  We were so looking forward to the "covered sleeping" advertised in our little Ragnar magazines.

Turns out that "covered sleeping" means a tarp thrown over a patch of random desert.

I changed into my running clothes for the next day in one of the orange Ragnar port-a-potties.  I drank hot chocolate and snuggled into my sleeping bag with snoozing strangers all around us.  And then I slept.  Harder than ever!  And I barely was able to open my eyes at 4am when we needed to get back on the road.  My body wanted to just keep sleeping with those desert rocks digging into my hips.

But some spicy mustard almonds woke me up.  Awesome breakfast, you should try it.

There was a lot of city running during our last leg.  We were really digging deep for energy to cheer, but we did it.

We'd just gave van support to one of our girls and then were parking at her exchange.  We got a phone call from the Ragnar headquarters saying that we had a runner down.  So we freaked out and drove all around looking for her, wondering what could have happened in just that short time since we'd seen here.  Then someone realized that they may still have us confused with the other "Sole Sisters" team!

Sure enough, our poor runner was just mulling around the exchange looking for us when we got there.  The mix-up really set back our time, but we were worried about this random girl that was down and needed to be taken out of the race.  We had to call the headquarters and let them know the other team's number so that they could find their own injured runner.  {We found out later she tore her ACL.  Eek!}

Speaking of knee injuries... the girls in the car had a bunch of "essential oils" and had been letting me use them to soothe my knee after each leg.  For my final leg someone suggested I put the oils on first.  Maybe it would prevent a little?  So I did.  And then I decided to also wear my knee brace.

Basically what I did was I trapped the oils onto my skin.  I suffocated my knee.  When I was running I thought my skin was on fire!  But it was a little 4.2 and I just really didn't want to stop.  Especially now, there were runners everywhere and people watching and cheering and the positive energy was just awesome.

But when I crossed I didn't even have time to celebrate with everyone.  I sat down, pulled off my shoe and then ripped of my knee brace.  My skin was bright red, and even a little purple in some spots.  It hurt.

Ten minutes under the AC cooled it off.  Easy fix for feeling like my skin was burning away.

And then the two girls after me ran and our van was done!  It was such a great feeling, we couldn't stop smiling.  Or talking about food.  So we grabbed some carbs.

And then went to meet Van2 at the finish line.  There was a party going on.  We got free Jamba juice, there was a DJ and booths and everything.

Um... I found a spot on the grass with a scrap of shade cast by a twig and slept.  Sad, I know.  And then we got some free pizza and I ate AGAIN!  My body was spent, but I loved it.  I saw for the first time how your body needs things like sleep, water, and food to survive.  I felt like I'd explored those limits and understood my own body so much better.

And then the moment came.  We got to cross the finish line!

All together, all 12 of us.

And we got medals.

Go us!

200 miles!  I just ran 16 of them, but it felt amazing.  We got something like 34th out of 38 in our division {all women's team division} which I think is sweet!

I'm already planning the next Ragnar.  I had so much fun doing it with mostly women I had only recently met.  They were great and it was a blast.  So I can only imagine how much fun I would have with Roy and a bunch of our close friends/family!  So hey--if you love blisters and sleep deprivation and running, join our team!  Haha!  Seriously, though, you will love it.  We want to run the combined men and women division for the SoCal Ragnar April 2013.  Plenty of time for me to get this knee fixed and train again!