This Is Ragnar

18 May

Last weekend I completed my second Ragnar Relay If you have been anywhere near the running community you’ve likely seen the big orange Ragnar logo either on shirts or car decals – though the car decals do tend to be white!

In a nutshell – 12 people, 2 vans, anything between 180-210 miles, and more fun than you would think it would be!! Each person on the team runs 3 “legs” of varying lengths. There are ‘exchanges’ where runners tag in the next person in their van and “Major exchanges” where a runner tags in a runner in the other van. Each van runs 6 legs at a time and then gets some time to rest. Or eat. Or shower. Or…rest. Alternately, there are teams of 6 in one van called “Ultra” teams. They get no real down time except when they have a runner on the road! They are crazy 😀

Last september I joined a team of Skirt Sports ambassadors to run from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC. And I was hooked!! (Note – apparently you can drive this distance in a couple of hours without all the hills and van sleeping…but also without all of the fun!!)

This year, a call went out in January for 2 replacement runners for a team to run the Ragnar Cape Cod relay and….well, I have a ton of time on my hands these days so of course I said YES!

When we ran in DC I was runner 12 and riding in van 2. This time I was runner 1. Pretty much kicking things off!

Ragnars generally run Friday morning to Saturday afternoon/evening – your start time depends on your speed. Or lack thereof! Our start time was 5:15 am Friday. There were teams starting as late as 1 on Friday afternoon. And, many of those late starting teams finished before us. Or really close!

Thursday morning I dropped the Mr off at his nanny’s for a sleepover and headed over to Providence to meet my team. Oh. Did I not mention that I didn’t know ANY. ONE. On my team?? Yeah…that! A group of us were meeting in Providence to pick up one of the vans and drive to our hotel in Quincy MA. When I got to our meeting spot I met Mindi and Laura (in my van!) and Andrea, Deb, Hilary, Kelly and Kim who were in Van 2. The drive up towards the Cape was quick and easy and we checked into the HoJo to wait for the other ladies!

Loading up the van in Providence!

The plan was to head to the check in spot so that we didn’t have to be at the start SO EARLY in the morning and then head to dinner. The “Providence Van” headed to the check in to wait for the rest of the team. While we were waiting, Kelly decided to get the Ragnar logo shaved into the back of her head – the St. Baldrick’s charity folks were collecting money and getting the shaving done. While Kelly was in the chair I started thinking that I wouldn’t mind losing a bit of hair…but wasn’t keen on a logo so…

Flashing back to the 90’s or so…

While my head was being partially shaved the rest of the team arrived and we got to checking in. It was starting to get late and some of us had to get up pretty early the next day. After showing off our Safety gear we watched a safety video (“Jimmy likes the juice” is pretty much my favorite part of the video!) we headed over to the Wahlburgers nearest the Cape for a yummy dinner and some more getting to know each other!

Almost like family already!!

Side note: I had a great sloppy Joe sandwich and there were a zillion things on the menu I wanted to try so hopefully I’ll find one closer!

After dinner we headed back to the HoJo for showers and sleeping. But First:

Getting in the chair was easy….

And repacking and rearranging my bags for the 1st of many times! I hopped in the shower and then got in bed as quickly as I could, hoping to fall asleep fast. Unfortunately, I guess the sloppy Joe didn’t really agree with me so it took me a little longer to fall asleep than I hoped. I did eventually sleep and woke up around 3:30 to go to the bathroom. Of course there was then the internal debate – try to sleep another 20 minutes or just get up and start moving…I got up, terrified of oversleeping!

At about 4:40 we were ready to go….

Unfortunately we got to the start line just as our 5:15 wave was taking off. Fortunately, Ragnar is flexible and I was able to start my first leg at 5:30.

Van 1 at the start. When we were clean.

Getting ready to go #SafetyFirst

Worth waking up for.


Told ya…#dork

On my way!! #AdventureIsOutThere

I always have a hard time getting started, or heading out too quickly. This was no different! The leg was mapped at 5.3 miles and since it is in the colonies it was a bit hilly 🙂

But it was GORGEOUS! Basically a straight line into Hull, MA past old homes, at least one cemetery and some railroad tracks! People who happened to be out that early were super encouraging and friendly. This was going to be a happy trend. My first mile was my fastest of the whole weekend!!

I came into the exchange feeling pretty good and passed off the slap bracelet to our second runner Paige and headed to the van for coffee!! My next leg was scheduled to start around 5 in the evening so now it was time to stretch and relax. And change. Which I eventually did 🙂

But first, we got the next 5 runners on the road and headed to the first Major Exchange – Exchange 6. This was the start line for Van 2 so there were tons of vans in the parking lot and a couple of vendors and more teams watching the safety video. I grabbed a finisher shirt and a window decal and some RxBars. It was nice and warm and sunny by now. And after runner 7 took off Van 1 had time to go get some lunch.

Lunch in Plymouth

We headed to Plymouth – you know, that Plymouth, with the rock.

Plymouth Rock. #history

Van 1 rocks!

One yummy burger later and I was ready to change and start getting my brain ready for my second leg. Leg 13 was starting in Sandwich but we had to do a ‘virtual’ handoff since runners weren’t allowed on either of the bridges on to the Cape (due to construction we were told). After lunch we hung out in a Pop Warner park where Ragnar provided some fruit and beverages if we wanted. We also had a huge field to lay out and try to sleep. I did not sleep 🙂

Pop Warner field

When it was time we headed over to the actual real exchange point to wait for word that our 12th runner had finished her leg. Due to poor signals, we hadn’t heard when we expected to so I just took off!

Turns out we were almost right on target! Fun (not) fact about running in Sandwich MA – headphones are prohibited…Um…I didn’t get arrested! So that’s all good My second leg was mapped out at 3.9 and it was another pretty straight shot – I happily finished JUST before ‘nighttime’ hours started. Now I was going to have almost 10 hours before my next, and final, leg at 4-ish in the morning!

After our last runner came into the exchange we headed to my next starting point to wait for Van 2 to hand off one last time! We landed at a high school and found a place in the rear of the parking lot to spend the night. The gym was open for sleeping but I chose to stay in the van.

It was surprisingly quiet – until runners started hitting the exchange in droves!

At 3 I woke up, brushed my teeth (in the super humid warm bathroom!) and changed into my capris and long sleeve for my final leg – 6.9 miles partially on a rail trail.

I had started out with my pajama top over my running shirt and that came off about a mile and a half in when it got super warm! It was a beautiful morning and I was so glad I was getting to enjoy it.

Start of my final leg…looks as fuzzy as I felt!

This was on the gorgeous rail trail…

I’d like to blame my slow pace on stopping for pictures but…

It just kept getting better…

And better…

This right here is my favorite one…

And. Scene. #fin

My legs weren’t thrilled and it seemed like I was working twice as hard as the day before and going much slower! There was one van along the way and the folks inside gave me a bottle of water which I most definitely appreciated! I eventually made it to the exchange for one last epic handoff to Paige (well, in hindsight it was epic…it might have been pretty normal!). And my second Ragnar was complete.

There’s a good chance I was doing a happy dance in the van. Also, note the ironic sweatshirt!

The rest of our legs were fairly quick and we did out last handoff to Van 2 – by now it was starting to get more overcast and rain was on the way. We decided to park at the designated van lot and shuttle in to Provincetown to get some food – and adult beverages! It was a drizzly day but we were all happy to not be running in it!

We found the finish line – which, if you’re curious, is UPHILL. We still had a couple of hours before our last runner would get in so we went down the hill and found a brewpub that still had open seats! After a delicious lunch and some beers, we headed across the street to another bar to wait for our finisher!

When we got word that Van 2 was on the way, we walked back up the hill to wait and make our plan to run in with Janine. Eventually we were all together and J was on her way! As she rounded the corner the feels started, and we all joined her for the last few yards of 2018 Ragnar Cape Cod!

Heading to the finish!

Team Picture!!!

More feels.

It was now time for medals, and a bit of celebration!

Awesome bottle opening medal!

Always check the back of your medal.

We headed up more stairs to the lawn and grabbed another beer. There was also chowdah and chili but I was still full from my lunch so I stuck with a beer! Once we had had some time to unwind from the past 48 exciting and wonderful hours, 11 of us got into Van 2 to head to the shuttle. Corrine was staying in Ptown for the night.

At the lot we repacked the vans, stole magnets from other vans (Hey! I needed that “Running with my Gnomies” for a friend!)

Me and my Gnomies

and said goodbyes to some of the new friends we’d made.

Sisters by Relay-tion

Van 1 headed to our starting point…the awesome HoJo…. to drop off some drivers and Uberers before heading back to Vermont.

Van 2 headed back to Providence and my car. Also Mindi’s car. The other ladies were planning on a rocking night out before flying home on Sunday.

Some stats from my weekend – May 10-12:
Hours Slept – 8.27
Miles Run – 16.09
Fastest Mile – 12.25 (Mile 1 of my first leg)
Slowest Mile – 15:41 (Mile 6 of my last leg)
Total Miles – 183.6

And worth every second!!

Dear Ragnar,
I can’t quit you. Help!!

And some more random shots from the weekend….

Van 1

Runners and legs in Van 1

Would you like a discount with that skirt?

Sweaty seat – also navigation!


Van Life.

This is just 100% awesome!!!

Why Do I Run?

29 Mar

It’s Complicated.

This isn’t an easy question to answer but I’m going to give it a try…

I was a late starter with running. Growing up I would have done just about anything to get out of running in PE class. When forced to, it would take me the entire class period to run a mile. **I did however love the time we got to do hurdles**

So what made me start running 25 years later?

I didn’t have some major life experience – good or bad – that running helped me get through. No major disease diagnosis. No desire to break the tape at the Boston Marathon (I’d be surprised if Boston was even on my radar 20 years ago!). All of those reasons that people give for taking up running….I don’t have one of those.

I used to run the occasional 5K – maybe once or twice a year. And of course by ‘run’ I mean waddled. One year I volunteered at the LA Marathon – at a water station on Wilshire Blvd – and thought “I might be able to do that” as I watched runners pass by for hours. But then it was another few years before I actually did it.

And then, after my first marathon I just kept doing them. Keep in mind, my training has*NEVER* been what you might call…um…stellar. Even though each time I cross a finish line I say to myself “I bet if I trained I could do lots better”. And then I don’t train. Lather, rinse, repeat

5 years after my first marathon I was diagnosed with diabetes. So now, 14 years later, running is a way to keep things a little more under control. And to try to manage my weight.

But, I don’t *LOVE* running.  I love the excitement of the starting lines, the people along the course, the places I’ve gone. Seeing a city on foot isn’t a bad way to go! I enjoy the bling, but it isn’t the reason I show up (unless it’s really great!!) I love the people that running has brought into my life and sometimes the only time I see these people, my ohana, is when we’re at races. Running. So I love that.

I couldn’t tell you how many half marathons I’ve done. But I can tell you I’ve done 25 marathons (I think…I will have to re-count) since my first in 2000. I can tell you I didn’t even run the full 13.1 in my first half – I didn’t even go to the finish line since I passed my car. I may have also cut the course on that one.

But I don’t love running. At the same time, I feel guilty when I don’t run.

So you’re probably saying “then stop running”….but then what do I do? I get it, there are millions of people who don’t run and I could easily be one of them. But I would miss it. Really I would.

Plus what would I do with all my super cute running clothes??

See? Cute clothes! Skirt Sports Jette Skirt and Tough Chick jacket in Frolic

Skirt Sports Jette Skirt in Tantrum

There’s that Jette Skirt again!! Tantrum

So, while I don’t love running, I don’t actually hate it either. I’m comfortable having running in my life. And I would miss it for sure if I stopped.

WDW Marathon Weekend Presented by Cigna – Half Marathon

30 Dec

Getting so excited!!

Well, next Saturday is the 2018 Walt Disney World Half Marathon – part 3 of the Dopey Challenge and the beginning of the Goofy Challenge!!

This will be my 4th time tackling this particular 13.1 Magical Miles! Last year doesn’t count since…it actually didn’t happen (until April when Angela and I ran through Celebration in the mid-day heat!!)  Even though I’m not as well-trained as I’d like to be, I’m really looking forward to spending a few hours hanging out with some special people.

One of those special people who will be out on the course is Sasha MacDougall. She won a contest that Cigna runs each year where employees can win a trip to Marathon Weekend and run the race of their choosing! And, reading about Sasha, she may be as Disney nutty as a lot of my running friends!!

Sasha has a magical goal: to visit every Disney park in the world. In October, her visit to Hong Kong Disneyland was made extra-special when her boyfriend proposed in Tomorrowland! She’s now eagerly anticipating running her first half-marathon at Disney World in January with her fiancé and friends there to cheer her on.

An avid rock climber, she only recently took up running after deciding to get more fit and needing an activity she could do anywhere. It didn’t go as smoothly as she expected. Sasha explains, “I started off with a ‘couch to 5k’ app, and couldn’t run for more than 15 seconds! It was so embarrassing- I guess I wasn’t as healthy as I thought.”

Working out at the gym with fellow climbers, she began to improve her endurance through a 12-week program. She credits Cigna’s work-life balance with having the time to devote to wellness. Over time, she worked on her form, breathing and taking shorter strides- and invested in better running shoes! In the lead up to Disney, Sasha is considering joining a running group as longer runs can get monotonous. She’s also more conscious of what she eats as that impacts her runs, but confesses, “I wish I could say I am eating better, but running excuses having half a pizza!”

As she built up to running 10 minutes at a time, she needed a new goal she felt passionate about to keep her motivated, so she entered the Cigna contest. She sported a long red Ariel wig in her video submission because The Little Mermaid is her inspiration. “I watched that movie every day as a kid and Ariel was my favorite princess, but the more I watch it as an adult, I see that she won’t accept things at face value. Ariel challenges herself, and the inspiration lies within her. Now I say to myself, I CAN run a half marathon!”

She’s only been with Cigna for a year, working in Nashville for Internal Audit. Her goal is to finish the Half in 3 hours – Good luck Sasha and have a great time!!! And yes, You most definitely CAN run a half marathon!!



WDW Marathon Weekend Presented by Cigna – 10K

29 Dec

Well, next week at this time I will be…well, it’s 9 at night so I will be trying to get to sleep for tomorrow’s Half Marathon. But I’m sure I’ll also be re-living the fun of the 10K earlier in the day!!

More fun times with my friends and a lot of “not exactly strangers not exactly friends”! — and one of the amazing people out the next Friday is our next Cigna guest – Bindu Panapalli.  Like, Mark who is running the 5K, Bindu is also a runner with Achilles International!

Bindu Panapalli
Bindu is 47 years old and a resident of Glen Allen, Va. near Richmond who always felt a
desire to help people with cancer through research. In February 2016, she found herself at the start of
18 months of firsthand experience battling the disease through three surgeries and eight rounds of chemo  –
she just  didn’t know it at the time.
Her journey began with a scheduled surgery to treat fibroids and a hysterectomy, leaving her bedridden.
Six weeks later, persistent pain led the doctor to find a bowel obstruction and scheduled another surgery. This time, the doctor discovered ovarian cancer and it spread. Six rounds of chemotherapy, which also caused numbness in her leg hindering her ability to walk, stretched from summer into the fall. By November, the third surgery removed the  rest of the cancer, but the battle still required two more rounds of chemotherapy in February 2017 before she could finally say she would feel like she’s truly recovering.
“I never thought I would get cancer”, Bindu recalled. “Even before all this, I wanted to help people with cancer as a researcher. After the diagnosis and treatment, I volunteered at the cancer treatment center every Thursday encouraging people during chemotherapy treatment. I was even on the bone marrow donor list.”
By August, she felt ready to start thinking about a return to work. She researched what her employer’s Cigna disability insurance benefits offered including the vocational coaching program, so she requested referral. That’s when she met Robin Randol, her Cigna vocational coach, who offered assistance.
“Every customer’s needs are different,” said Robin. “What she wanted was to build up her physical strength, so we talked about self-care and various strategies and tips to address fatigue and stamina. She also wanted to find a new job that matched her passion. We talked about career goals , updated her resume, and I provided help researching job leads.”
Well-educated, Bindu’s background includes nearly enough for a doctorate from India. She hopes to take her work history, education, and personal experience to help people.
“I want to help people,” said Bindu. “I want to interact with patients. Not sit in a lab anymore, but a make a real
difference in people’s lives. Now, that I’ve had this experience fighting cancer, I can be even more helpful.” Robin helped prepare her for job interviews and gave her the encouragement she’s needed to help take back her health and move closer to a job for which she can feel truly passionate.  One of the training programs Robin offered was the Cigna customer referral program with Achilles International, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate in athletic events
Cigna partners with organizations like Achilles International to help customers achieve their health and return to work goals by providing: access to additional rehabilitation resources including ergonomic office equipment,   software, education and accommodations to help customers stay safe and be productive at work, encouragement and support, resume review and job placement assistance.
As a result of her hard work and dedication, Cigna offered Bindu the opportunity to participate in the Walt Disney
World® 10K presented by Cigna on Friday, January 5th as a member of Team Cigna. She will be guided on the race course by Jonathan Prokup, Cigna’s executive sponsor of Achilles International and General Counsel for Cigna.
“I’m celebrating my 21st wedding anniversary in January at the race,” said Bindu. “When I cross that finish line, I want to raise a glass and celebrate life.”
The Cigna Customer Referral Program with Achilles International demonstrates Cigna’s promise to partner with customers “Together, All the Way” along their unique health journey. When injury or illness occurs, Cigna helps them get back on track to achieve their goals.
“For Cigna customers, participating in a race represents a healthy milestone on the road to recovery, but also independence,” said Robin. “As people gain physical strength, they also build confidence, which can positively
affect all areas of your life.”
“Cancer is a part of me,” said Bindu. “It changed my life completely. Now, because of Robin, I’m back at work part time work with a new employer building towards full time. I want to thank Robin because now I can look forward.”

WDW Marathon Weekend Presented by Cigna – 5K

28 Dec

Happy Tuesday!!

Next week, I’m heading to Florida for my second (and last?!) #DopeyChallenge at the WDW Marathon Weekend Presented by Cigna. And, while I am a *bit* undertrained I am SUPER excited!

The first race of the weekend is the 5K – Bright and early Thursday morning I will join a few thousand of my best friends as we take a tour of EPCOT– a lot of backstage sights and a loop around the World Showcase (margaritas not included 😦 ) And let me tell you – the sight of Spaceship Earth lit up in the early (early!) morning hours and running through a World Showcase lit by the sunrise – is an awesome sight!

One of those thousands is the gentleman I’m going to introduce to you now!

Meet Mr. Mark Harsanye, 58 years old and resident of Henderson, Nev. (near Las Vegas)

Mark is a long-term disability customer with Cigna who is also a Cigna customer referral program participant with Achilles International. He will be running the 5K as part of Team Cigna and here’s his story!

Mark figures the injury occurred more than 35 years ago during basic training in the United States Air Force. He climbed a 30ft tower when the wind took him. Gravity and the ground did rest breaking his leg in two places.

“Over the years, normal wear and tear caught up with me,” said Mark. “In my 40s, my doctor warned me knee replacement surgery would be inevitable. I hoped that I could make it until 70, but the pain became unbearable. I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

He researched the surgery, the recovery time, and talked with others about it. He felt fairly well prepared for the procedure and the journey back to health and to work in June 2017. Twelve weeks later, he grew impatient as his knee still had a lot of scar tissue. So, he opted for another surgery to remove scar tissue.

“Before the replacement, I thought hard work would get me back on my feet faster,” said Mark. “After surgery, it felt more like ‘what did I do?’ I’m competitive. When I saw others recovering faster, I wanted to become better. An in-home physical therapist helped, but the second surgery helped me improve the flexibility of my knee.”

Mark couldn’t wait to get back to work. Getting a call from his Cigna vocational coach, Alicia Troski,  he found a partner with the energy he needed to make even greater strides.

“He came ready to work,” said Alicia. “He didn’t want to be dependent on anyone. That mentality means a lot when overcoming a difficult recovery process. For some, it’s easy to quit and fall back into an easy chair. Not Mark. He remained focused on getting himself back.”

One of the resources Alicia offered, the Cigna customer referral program with Achilles International, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate in athletic events, encourages people like Mark to build up physical strength and stamina.

Cigna partners with organizations like Achilles International to help customers achieve their return to work goals by providing access to additional rehabilitation resources including ergonomic office equipment, software, education and accommodations to help customers stay safe and be productive at work, encouragement and support, resume review and job placement assistance.

“My employer has been supportive throughout my recovery process from accommodations to treatment,” said Mark. “If I needed a break to ice my knee, I could do it as I needed, when I needed. If I had to take off for therapy, I felt comfortable do so.”

As a result of his hard work and dedication to return to work, Cigna offered Mark the opportunity to participate in the Walt Disney World® 5K presented by Cigna on Thursday, January 4th as a member of Team Cigna.

“I have a plan – stretches, working my core, weight training,” said Mark. “If I did nothing, it would be like owning a sports car and letting it rot. I’m only going to get better by working at it.”

The Cigna Customer Referral Program with Achilles International demonstrates Cigna’s promise to partner with customers “Together, All the Way” along their unique health journey. When injury or illness occurs, Cigna helps them get back on track to achieve their goals.

“For Cigna customers, participating in a race represents a healthy milestone on the road to recovery, but also independence,” said Alicia. “As people gain physical strength, they also build confidence, which can positively affect all areas of your life.”

“I’ve come far, but I see it as just the beginning,” said Mark. “I’m back and work because of Bethany and none of this would have been possible without Cigna. So many resources came together to make things happen at my own pace.”

So You Want to Run a Marathon?

27 Dec

Or, a Half Marathon. Or even a 10K or 5K. Or….there are crazy people who run hundred miles and fifty miles at a time but that’s a whole ‘nother nother.

I’ve mentioned my favorite full is Marine Corps Marathon a few times but a LOT of people – and I mean A. LOT. – think that the Walt Disney World Marathon is a great first time marathon. And it is definitely fun!! RunDisney also offers shorter distances from 5K all the way up to the Marathon in this one weekend!

But whatever event you choose – Cigna, presenting sponsor of the above mentioned WDW Marathon Weekend – has pulled together this cool infographic with some important tips for working through your training plan!


So, choose your distance and find a plan. Then, the sky’s the limit!!

So…Yeah…. About That…. :)

19 Dec

Well. Here we are. Again.

End of the year and I’ve posted, what? 4 times maybe? And generally I’d be all “oh…I’m going to do better” “I’ll catch up” …but not today people. Well, maybe I’ll throw that in somewhere!!

This hasn’t been my best year. Hasn’t been the worst either so:)

I had a fairly light race calendar this year – relatively. I’ll do a summary later (really, I will!) but I think I only “officially” ran 5 half marathons this year, not including the weather-cancelled WDW Half in January. And, no marathon. I did run a Ragnar Relay though which was an amazing experience that I can’t wait to repeat!!

In July I started developing some issues with my feet – the most prominent being a ganglion cyst on the left. This put a big damper on my running/training for the year (which I’m sure contributed to the above 20 lbs) I ended up DNSing at the Marine Corps Marathon which, you all know, is my absolute favorite event all year! For the first time, I decided in advance that it wasn’t going to happen. I actually based this on medical advice for a change! Given my lackluster training there was no way to safely build up the mileage and even just jumping in to 26.2 could get ugly! So, I made the adult decision.

I’m still planning to “run” the 5th Anniversary Dopey Challenge presented by Cigna at Disney World in January – I’ve done a lot of half-assed training and am pretty sure I can get through it. It will NOT be pretty. Not at all. But it most definitely will be fun!! And then there is the Gasparilla Michelob Ultra Challenge in late February. This one has been on my to-do list for quite a long time now so I’m really excited to get to it!

After that I’m not so sure. Of course there are races that I love and really want to do (I’m looking at you Hershey 10K and Marine Corps Historic Half!) and definitely need a real do-over for Marine Corps Marathon.  And I’m sure there will be new adventures showing up along the way!

Here is where I usually will resolve that “next year will be much better” but, since for the last 2 years my “word” for the year has been “Consistent”… at least I’m consistent about that!!

What I will resolve is that I will make much more of an effort to be more motivated – even if I’m not doing a ton of races, there’s so much other fun to talk about! Rest assured though…there will be running!!

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