Ragnar ADK 2016

The short version of this would be:

We crushed it, knocked 2 hours off our time from last year and won the race (I think).

The longer version is a bit more interesting.

We arrived at Saratoga Springs at 4:30 on Friday morning. I drove into Syracuse that morning and caught a van at around 2AM.

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Our first team D started at 6:00AM, team C at 6:30AM and team D at 8:00. My team started at 1:00, so we had time to kill.

After seeing the first few teams off, we went to a health food grocery store to eat and chill. I was definitely ready for some food at that point. It also gave me a chance to meet and get to know a few new teammates. I think I was the only person in our van who isn’t an ultra runn and I was the youngest.

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Racing Team Roster
When we get back to the start line, we found out that if we chose, we could start the race at noon instead of 1 if we so choose. So, we started.

I was leg 6 in van 1, so I got to wait and watch all my teammates run first. Two new guys, Jason Mintz and Mike Weldon were two new to Ragnar runners and they totally crushed their legs, clocking sub 6 miles and getting us ahead.

When it came to my leg, I felt ready to go. The first two miles were a bit frustrating as I ran through a busy section in town. I had to stop multiple times for traffic and people. My first few splits were a bit slower, in the 6:30s range, but after I got out of town I picked it up. I had a nice road section of rolling hills and then came to a steep downhill trail. Being the only runner in my van who doesn’t regularly run trails, I was the most under qualified for this section. I focused on not falling down.

As I neared mile 5, I saw a “one mile to go” sign. I thought my leg was 5.7 miles, so when I got to 6, I thought I had made a wrong turn. I started getting a bit upset with myself, because I made a wrong turn last year. However, I saw another Ragnar sign and eventually made it to the exchange. I passed it to Dana who was the first runner in van 2.

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My team was then off for a few hours, so we fueled up, rested and watched Mike and Alan pound tons of vegan snacks. You know they are ultra runners, because holy sh*t they can EAT!

We started our next series of legs at about 6:30PM and again everyone crushed them. When I was coming up, I just felt off. I have been struggling with confidence in my racing lately and although I knew I had nothing to prove, I still felt almost sick with anxiety. Thank you to my team who was so supportive and great. They talked me down off my pedestal and I started my leg of 8.7 miles.

Running at night is always something foreign to me. Tonight I felt fine once I got going, but I was lonely. There aren’t too many runners out there and the night feels empty. I thought I heard wolves, but it was most likely in my head. There was a bear sighting, but I saw no wild life, just blinking red lights. I made it to the next exchange in about an hour, accomplished, but not too impressed with my time. (Again, thank you to who talked me out of my funk).

Our team then went to the next major exchange, which was a creepy race track with no indoor bathrooms or anything. We just all slept inside the van and tried to rest before our next legs. Little did I know, van 2 missed an exchange point, so one of our runners, Ian, ran about 13 miles for his leg instead of 8. He totally rocked it and probably got us more ahead. Thanks Ian for making up for my slower time.

When we got the bracelet for our last legs, it was about 2:30 in the morning. This was the first Ragnar where we had two night legs. The one benefit of being the last person to go was that I had a sorta lighter leg. I began my leg at 6:15, which is when I normally wake up to run. I was tired, but so ready to crank out 4.4 last miles. My only goal for this was to stay ahead of an ultra team we had been running closely to all day. I can say I was successful.

After I handed off to Dana, a few of our teammates got this idea that we had to race the ultra team, who passed us on the next leg. A couple of the guys, who shall remain nameless, started keeping track of how many minutes we were behind the ultra team and coaching van 2 on how to get us back to them. In all honestly, it was really fun because I kept telling our runners that they should just have fun and not worry about catching this team. The ultra team was really good by the way, like father 60 years of age clocking 6:00 miles good.

So, instead of going to the finish line, we followed our other van cheering and “inspiring them” to catch the other team. I enjoyed this a lot more than sitting at the finish line waiting, so even if I wasn’t too keen on coaching our second van, it was nice to be out there. This was all in good fun. The other team was really nice and they beat us by a couple minutes to the finish.

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We finished with an unofficial time of 22:47 which broke 24 hours and beat our time last year by 2 hours. We also won our division, as the ultra team was not competing officially with us.

Our other teams also did very well and finished soon after us. We finished up with an awards ceremony and a drive back to Saratoga Springs.

Overall, even though I wish I could have raced harder, I think racing last weekend was a factor in my lingering fatigue. This race was the most fun I’d had and I’m once again surrounded by new friends. We really outdid ourselves this weekend and I couldn’t be happier with our team.

Check out the hashtag #strongheartsveganpower on Instagram and Twitter to see all the updates from the other teams.

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Check out how a bunch of #vegans won RagnarADK 2016! Click To Tweet

Thanks again to all the support we recieved and all the companies who donated to us. Our donation this year went to Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary, so show them some love too!

Strong Hearts Vegan Power website
Our Sponsors
Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary

Finding out “Why” is not going to fix you

When there is a problem in my life, my first thought is often to ask “why”?

Why did I bonk last weekend?

Why do I feel lousy right now?

Why can’t I sleep?

Asking myself that question, and then figuring out the answer, is often a catalyst for change.

What happens when it isn’t? What happens when you ask yourself why, figure it out, and then do nothing about it?

finding out why

Asking the question “why” itself is not going to solve your problems. I know it hasn’t solved all mine.

The following two examples are true in my life.

Example 1.)

Why am I tired today?

I didn’t sleep well last night.

Why didn’t you sleep well last night?

It was hot and I was sweaty.

Solution: buy an air conditioner

I answered the why and gave myself an option on how to solve the problem. Is my problem now solved? No, because I am not going to pay for that right now. It is not worth the money. Finding out the why did not propel me to change.

Example 2.)

I do not spend time with other people outside of work, yet I want to.

Why do I not go out more?

I like my alone time.

Lies, answer the question.

I lack the confidence to fit into social situations and I don’t like to stay up late and spend money.

Why don’t you have the confidence?

I was treated poorly growing up and those skeletons are still in my closet. I was also taught that saving money is a great accomplishment.

Solution: make a plan with someone that feels safe and gradually go out later each week.

Will I do this? I have provided my own solution that seems very reasonable to me and I have discovered why I do not like to go out. The answer again is no, I probably won’t do this.

Why? Because there is no big motivation to do it. It’s not life or death, it’s just a social stigma I feel pressured to fit in to.

Finding out the whys in each situation here has not motivated me to change.

This is the problem I sometimes have with therapy or health coaching and why I think some people stay stuck. I have been in therapy before (granted it was a few years ago now) and it seemed to me that most therapists helped you figure out the why, but did not focus on moving past it and getting on with your life.

Now, this is not all situations, but roll with me for a bit.

Too often, we search for reasons why we are the way we are as if unpacking that will help us change. I certainly did when it came to my family. If only I could change and fit in. If only I were better.

What if we just accepted the person we are, stopped asking why, and just moved forward?

What if instead of asking how we got that draped it card bill, we simply worked hard to pay it off?

I believe that sometimes, it’s best not to look too far into the negative things about ourselves, but to either accept them, or change them and move on.

I’ll give one more example.

When I lived at home, it was a very negative environment. Everyday I got the message that I was a worthless being. While I lived there, I would constantly ask myself why I was treated this way, as if I could change it.

But you know what? By simply being in that space, just physically being there, was enough for them to treat me poorly.

Asking the why was pointless because there was nothing I could do to change their behavior. It was just the presence of another human being that made the negativity spew out.

So, I decided not to change myself. I simply moved out and started living to be me. When I am a health coach, my goal will be to give people the tools so that they don’t need me. I will constantly evaluate my client’s progress and if things aren’t progressing, I will change my methods or suggest they see someone else.

I challenge you, instead of asking yourself why you missed that workout, just do the next one.

Instead of asking yourself why you made a bad grade on the paper, just try harder on the next one.

Do not dwell in the negative. Learn from it, then move on from it. Click To Tweet

I have decided to stop asking why something bad has happened and just do what I can to make the next moment a good one.

Do you find yourself asking why instead of making change?

How has this help you back?

Barney Butter, Vegan Sandwiches, and I WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOU!

This week has been rough work wise. Today is my first day off since last Tuesday and this past weekend was really hard on my coworkers and I. That being said, God has filled me with so much joy, I’m full and bursting with excitement about today and the future.

Let’s be honest, we all blog for ourselves first, but sometimes we want to feel like our content is helping others. Heck, I want my content to help myself. Writing helps me remember what is important in my own life. I go through periods where I question what I’m doing. After all, I’m not certified (yet….read on!) to give out any advice. I only know my own experience and try to write knowledgeably about that. This week though, I got a tiny bit of positive feedback that reminded me why I write.

I don’t want to write any lows this week or top foods (head to Kate’s blog for that) because my life this past week is full outside of those. Sure, I had loss, but to be honest, the highs outweighed those and I want to remember that so much more. My blog is a journey, my own story. This week was so tough physically and mentally at my job, so God (sweet Jesus I just wrote Gid…) blessed me in other ways. I want to share them with you.

Highlights Of My Week:

[EDIT: I have to share this video of my Strong Hearts Vegan Power team at Ragnar Cape Cod by The Vegan Zombie!]

1.) I am a Barney Butter Ambassador!

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Along with a few other bloggers, In It 4 The Long Run, Emilie Eats, The Blissful Balance and others, we have been honored to represent the amazing Almond Butter Company that is Barney Butter! I will do a full post about this next week, but I am SO EXCITED!

2.) Getting emails from readers!

I got the kindest email from a young woman who lives near me in Syracuse, NY. She wrote some very beautiful things that just filled my soul and made me glow. I love hearing that! It makes me feel like the content I share makes a difference. Since she’s so close, we are making plans to meet up. I do first and foremost blog for me, and making a new friend is the ultimate win if I ever had one

3.) Selling vegan sandwiches!

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I recently was able to convince one of our regular customers to get my favorite vegan sandwich from CTB. He knows I am vegan and we have a great relationship, but he always got a turkey sandwich. Finally, on Wednesday I suggested he get a different sandwich. He did and now it is his new favorite! He has gotten it twice since then (in two days!!!). It’s really cool to see my small vegan activism work!

4.) Guest posting on Emily’s blog!

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A few months ago, Emily asked if I would write a guest post for her blog. I wrote about my struggles with caring too much about what other people think and how overcoming that helped me love myself and pursue my dreams. Take a read HERE!

5.) Start school work again!

This is what I’ve been waiting for. All the times I didn’t eat out to save money, shopping at discount stores, wearing clothes till they’re rags, working as much as possible. I can finally afford to attend the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a certified health coach. I’m not sure if I want to start a health coaching business, but I a, sure I want to do something in that area. Whether it’s working with wellness companies or other blogs, I can do what I enjoy and maybe even make a difference. It’s been a long few years of saving, but if this is what gets me to my dreams, it’s been worth it!

6.) My Best Friend Stood Up For Herself

We all have people in our lives who just “get us”. This girl I am talking about is one of those people for me. We know everything about each other, yet live far apart. She has been struggling this past week with a few familial issues, and she made a step in the direction toward freedom. I am jealous of some of the relationship she has with her family. Her mom supports her and they are helping her pay for school. Yet, also they have been a crutch for her growth and stop her from living her own life.  This is just what I notice from what she tells me. I am trying to get her to guest post…hint hint 😉 Well, this week she stood up for something she believed in. She decided to put her self worth over the guilty feelings that come with not participating in a toxic family member’s desires. This was HuGe you guys because she (like us all) is a people pleaser. It’s hard for her not to do that. I am brimming with joy and very proud that she was able to prioritized self care over her sisters demands. Praise God for answered prayer!

7.) CTB Has A New High School Runner!

We call the young kids who work for us “runners”. We got a new one a few weeks ago and he is the cutest young boy I’ve met in a while! His mannerisms are adorable and he already feels comfortable with us. I look forward to the days he works because not only do I have less work to do, but he is great!

8.) Running with friends!

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Alright, enough about me, tell me about YOU!

@BarneyButter @NutritionSchool & Tell me about YOU! #FriYAY #FastFriday Click To Tweet

What is the best thing that happened to you this week? It can be work, food, fitness, family, relationships, to-do list, anything! 

Brag about yourself! I want to hear it and I’ll feature all the responses next week in a post!

Ragnar Cape Cod 2016

This race is an ultramarathon. I am writing this the morning after we finished the race on that beautiful coast. I feel like I got hit by a truck and then thrown under water. Yet, I can’t wait to do it again.

Team Photo 2

Getting together with more than 50 vegans from all over America proved yet again to be an incredibly exhausting experience, one I will never forget.

I think it will be easier to write a recap in sections, so that’s what I’ll do.

1.) Getting there

I left Ithaca, NY at 1AM on Friday morning. It was a relatively slow start and after working that Thursday, I was not rested getting little sleep. After about three hours, it was increasingly challenging to keep my eyes open, so I pulled into a text stop area and napped for a half hour. I felt a surge or energy, got a coffee, put on some tunes and the rest of the journey was relatively easy.

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6 hours in total of driving got me to the Rockland Park and Ride bus stop where the team was meeting. A couple vans were early like me, so we went to Whole Foods to grab breakfast. It was here I finally met The Vegan Zombie himself, Chris Cooney. Check out his YouTube channel, it’s rather awesome.

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Getting back to the meeting place, we divided up into vans and made for the start of the race. There were so many of us! I was introduced to Micah Risk, who you will recognize as a Runners World cover model and “the girl with the vegan socks”. She was actually on my team, so I knew we would be going fast! Next to her is a new SHVP guy named Sam who basically looks like he could bench press a bus, but decided to come run around with us.

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After sending our team off, being in van 1 of team A, we left to get to the next exchange. I was the third leg so I had about an hour to get ready to run.

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2.) Leg 1: 8.5 miles

I was nervous for this, but looking at the elevation profile, the rolling hills didn’t look too bad.

Ha. Jokes on me.

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I started off feeling good and fast. I averaged sub 6 miles for the first three and passed a runner. Then the wheels came off. The hills were not rolling. They were long uphill and steep short downhills. I knew I was in for some pain. Honestly, after the third mile, I was feeling really desperate. I felt stupid for taking the first miles so fast. I also felt hopeless because the up hills did not end. Seriously they just did not stop. I almost cried once or twice.

I returned to my mantra of “relax, just relax,” and it worked for a few miles. When I hit the last huge uphil around mile 6.5, I was in so much pain, I actually practiced my sorry speech for my team as to why I was so slow. I shouted out loud that this was for the animals, and just pushed it to the end.

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Pain was real folks and I was humbled by the hills yet again.

I ended with a 6:18 average time (not as slow as it felt) and made the decision to take the next to legs very easy.

Leg 2: 4.2 miles, 7:15 average pace

My night leg went really well. It was short, flat and straight. It was just what I needed to recover some confidence from the last one. The sidewalks had an odd melted texture, but I’m not hating. I finished relatively quickly, happy and ready to eat some food!

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We had a lot of food again this year, but also a larger variety thanks to Samantha and Sean sort or organizing it. I remembered that by the time night rolled around I wanted fresh fruit and veggies, so I made sure to bring that. I also brought a large container of peanut butter, which I’m embarrassed I made such a dent into.

My teammate Jason brought lentil sloppy joes and fruit salad, which we had alongside pretzel buns sandwiches. It was delicious! After the feast, we realized our car battery was dead, and it started raining. Cue panic.

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Because most of the vans at Cape Cod were rentals, no one else had cables either so we couldn’t get a jump. We called triple A and got them to come, but luckily found some before that happened. I have to give major props to Suzie Jo, because she was a boss during this time. She knew what to do and got us back on the road. #GirlBoss

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Leg 3: 9.45 miles, 6:48 average pace

My last leg started at about 6:30 AM. This is my prime running time and the weather was beautiful. I decided to run with a podcast and just take it easy. The hills were rolling again, but felt easier as I wasn’t pushing too hard. The last 6 miles were on a bike path similar to the ones I run in Ithaca, so everything felt familiar. It was my favorite leg and the pace spoke for itself.

I feel confident for Buffalo now. I think I maintain that pace for a while.

The rest of our van finished and each of us really kicked it in at the end. Sean, our team captain had the most beautiful finish over a bridge and was going so fast I almost missed it. It was cool to hand off to him for every leg like I did at Ragnar ADK.

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Post Race:

After the race, we did what all great vegans do, feasted, relaxed and talked about vegan food, push-ups and ultramarathons. I think I’m one of the only people not have done one, and I’m terrified of them so that’s completely fine.

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We had a long time till our second van finished signaling the finish of our team. The post race party was fun and soon enough our last runner came in like a bullet, passing a whole team at the end. He was SO fAST and this sprint finish was faster running 10 miles.

Team Photo

We ended up with a time of 23:15, breaking 24 hours.

Final Score

Unfortunately I had to leave soon after because it was 2:30 and I had a 6 hour drive home. After napping the team picture, my two teammates Alan and Jason and I took our van back to the park no ride, where I picked up my car to begin the journey home.

Part 5:The Ride Home

This is where the ultramarathon er in me comes out. The first three hours were ok. I ate while listening to podcasts. Soon I felt myself fading and having to go to the bathroom. I figured I would stop at the next station. However, there was nothing to be found, and it started torrential raining. My eyes were so tired, but I knew I had to be sharp.

Honestly, this was the hardest part of Ragnar. Keeping my stuff together and focused on the road.

I counted down the miles and finally found a bathroom 5 hours into my journey. The last hour was a mix of really cold AC and yelling 80s hits to stay awake. I can’t believe I got home.

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Today I’m sore, majorly sunburned and eating everything in sight. The way it should be after an ultramarathon.

A bunch of #vegan #runners take on @RagnarRelay in Cape Cod! Check out the recap! Click To Tweet

I’m ready for the next one!

Training Talk [Running A Relay With A Team]

When you read this post, I will most likely be on my way to Cape Cod to endure sleep deprivation, exhaustion and 22 miles of running.

I can’t wait!

Strong Hearts Team

No matter what happens or how much of a struggle work will be the best day or two, driving 6 hours to meet a bunch of crazy vegans to run 200 miles never sounds better. I’ve thought a lot recently about why I am so excited to run this race. Honestly, when I described it to my coworkers, they thought it sounded awful. Granted, they are not runners, but they have a point.

I will be smushed in a car for 72 hours.

We still don’t know what food were going to eat.

I have to race, then sit, then race, then sit and then race again in less than 24 hours.

We all smell after the first run.

This is no small feat. Another contributing factor is that my team is the competitive team. We want to win. I am going to race each leg as best I can. When you don’t sleep, that’s a struggle for sure!

Why I do this to myself is because I am part of a team. I am part of something bigger than myself. We are part of a bigger movement advocating for animals. It just makes sense to me.

The pain.

The sleepless nights.

The uncomfort.

I thrive in that. I live for it. I can’t wait!

I think I’ve narrowed down a couple things that make being on a team worth it for me and why I think everyone should at least try it once.

1.) Less Presure

There are others on your team who share the burden of success/failure. In a normal race, it’s all on you. On a team, you help each other.

2.) Encouragement

I have never felt more amped up to run than when I have other people invested in my success. They want to see me do well in the most affectionate way. Whether it’s playing “slayer” music when they drive past or catching me before I fall into a pothole at the handoff (thanks Alan), I never have felt more cared for.

3.) Common Interest

This is a big one. I don’t know many people like me in my community. I don’t have close vegan friends. Close vegan running friends? No way! Being a part of a team, the Strong Hearts team, has given me a family. I feel completely safe and at home when I am crammed into that van for 48 hours. It’s a feeling that I would never want to give up because I don’t feel it often.

Running on a team is great! Here are my reasons why @SHVeganPower Click To Tweet

Running used to be something I would do to get away from it all. Since I’ve matured through many different stages in life, it has become so thing that has given me a community. Being part of a team, whether it’s an actual team, a group run or even a social media group, has given me that support I need to be happy and content in my crazy life.

Have you ever ran on a team before?

What keeps you returning to the pain cave running can be? To