The Obligatory 2013 Round Up!

Well friends, the last few weeks of 2013 have left me feeling a bit blue. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed some hard-earned time off and had a lovely holiday with my zany southern family, but as I’ve reflected on 2013 it has just felt a little blah and insignificant. No big exciting career advancements, no discovering new hidden passions or talents, no riding off into the sunset with Justin Timberlake, no saving the world, and no winning the lottery. Just the same old stagnant, exhausting grind. Insert scowling Debbie Downer face and “womp, womp” sound effect here.

Next year...

Next year…

I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to even write an end of the year wrap-up, for fear of coming off as a total whiny-ass bitch. But as I combed through the various pictures and posts of my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds in search of some small morsel of accomplishment from 2013 I realized two things… (1) If your biggest end of the year dilemma is whether or not you should write a cliché, obligatory year-in-review blog post, well, then you probably can’t really call that a bad year. And (2) I have posted A LOT of pictures in the last year, probably more than you ever hoped to see, and in practically every one  of them I am doing something fun with awesome people who I love. And y’all, that is nothing be a whiny bitch-ass about. So I have decided that instead of feeling bad about all things that did not happen in 2013, at least within the parameters of this blog post, I would like to reflect on the cool things that I DID experience… You know, like the stuff that was crazy-fun, and the stuff that was incredibly inspiring and moving. Hell, I even managed to dig up a few  accomplishments and self-realizations in my little social media stroll down 2013 memory lane! Let’s talk about those too! After all, there are few things in this world I like less than a whiny-ass bitch blog post.  So let’s round-up the good stuff, shall we?

1. The Boston Marathon Restored My Faith in the Good of Humanity. 

Given the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon, you may think this seems like an unlikely thing to land on one’s annual list of “good stuff”. And of course what happened at the finish line that day was absolutely inexcusable, and nothing could ever justify or validate it. I shed many tears as I processed the Boston bombings (ugly crying is kind of my thing), and it is certainly true that plenty of those were tears of sadness, anger, fear, and maybe even guilt for so, so narrowly avoiding the tragedy that so gravely impacted the lives of many others. But I cried just as many tears because I was incredibly moved by the courage, the selflessness, the compassion, and the tenacity of the volunteers, spectators, runners, and emergency personnel who were there to respond when the bombs went off. The outpouring of love and support for the marathon, bombing victims, and the city of Boston was nothing short of magical, and months later I am still deeply touched and overwhelmed by the kind concern so many of you expressed for my personal safety. I recall commenting upon being reunited with my smart phone at bag claim after the race that the Boston Marathon had officially surpassed my birthday as my biggest social media event of the year. Boy, did I have no idea how dramatically the implications of that statement would be changing within the next half hour. I have said it before, but again, my most heartfelt thanks to each everyone who reached out to me on that day. My thoughts of comfort and healing continue go out to all those physically and emotionally effected by the bombings, and I have nothing but the highest praise and respect for the organizers of the Boston Marathon and the City of Boston for handling an awful, chaotic situation with swift, effective action and class. For all that was terrible about the Boston bombings, it is very easy to see the good that rises from the ashes, and that is the most beautiful thing I have  witnessed all year. I couldn’t be more excited to return to Boston in 2014, and you’d better believe I’ll be packing a metric ton of Kleenex, but only for crying tears of happiness and awesomeness.

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A few powerful, iconic images from the Boston bombings.

...And some of my favorite moments from my 2013 Boston Marathon experience.

…And a few of my favorite moments from my 2013 Boston Marathon experience.

2. I’ve Got My Shit Together Much More So Than I Did in High School.

Ok, if I’m being perfectly honest, I actually question the validity that statement on an almost-daily basis. But this year I found out that I can run a mile  A LOT FASTER now than I could in high school. Excuse me while I interrupt this blog post for a brief fantasy where my current self taunts my (MUCH dorkier) 17-year-old self with the most obnoxiously legendary NFL end zone-style victory dance imaginable.

Present day Ellen (left) well on her way to kicking Dorky High School Ellen (right)'s ass in the mile. IN YOUR FACE, High School Ellen!

Present day Ellen (left) well on her way to kicking High School Ellen’s  slow, dorky ass in the mile. IN YOUR FACE, High School Ellen!

I have had moments when I felt that I couldn’t rightly claim this giant (roughly 45 sec) new mile PR as a really big deal. For starters, I hadn’t even thought about racing the mile distance since high school. Furthermore, I currently run an average of 40 to 50 miles per week, vs my high school training regimen of I don’t even know what, but certainly something much less intense and much less consistent than what I’m doing now. I guess my odds of smashing the high school PR going into that mile race in September were actually pretty good, but still, the outcome was much better than I expected and that race result completely redefined my training for the remainder of the fall.

Coach Bigs, who is my running BFF and one of my many running mentors suggested that we plug my new mile PR into the McMillian Running Calculator to figure out some pacing guidelines for my training for Richmond. The numbers that this yield completely scared the shit out of me! When she sent me a workout that included 800s at prescribed pace that started WITH A TWO (!!!) I was all like “HELL TO THE NO! Homie don’t play that.” But when she sighed and rolled her eyes at me (actually, I think this entire interaction took place over text message, but I could feel her sighing and rolling her eyes,) I reluctantly agreed to give it the old college try. And then to my great surprise and amazement I DID IT! This little breakthrough was clutch in launching the intensity and volume of my training, as well as my fitness and confidence levels to great new heights this fall.

All the awesome teammates I got share The Great Mile PR of 2013 with. EVERY SINGLE WOMAN IN THIS PICTURE can run a mile in under 5:50. #badass

All the awesome teammates I got share The Great Mile PR of 2013 with. EVERY SINGLE WOMAN IN THIS PICTURE can run a mile in under 5:50. #badass

Additionally, The Great Mile PR of 2013 reminded me that the heading of this section of today’s post (the one about having my shit together more than I did in high school) really is true. As much as I have struggled this year with a severe case of “OMG, I’m 32 and What Do I Have to Show for It?!” Syndrome, I have still come a long way since high school and I can celebrate the many small victories that have gotten me here… Like being financially independent from my parents (you know, unless something really bad and expensive happens to my car), and paying off lots of debt from the poverty and bad decisions of my youth, and having lived on my own for an entire decade without starving to death, despite my lack of patience for or interest in cooking (I have mostly Trader Joe’s and The Bigelow Family to thank for this one,) and just being infinitely more confident in and aware of who I am. I know all of this is pretty basic, and none of it is earth-shattering, but it is a perfectly respectable foundation for being a responsible adult. Now it’s just a matter of leveraging it into something awesome in 2014 and beyond! So yes, I am a grown up who has my shit together! Major shout-out to The Magnificent Mile Race for reminding me of this!

3. The Best Part of Running is the People Part, and Everyone Should Do Relays.

Historically, my very favorite type of running event has been the overnight relay. I love relays because their primary emphasis is the only aspect of running that I am truly naturally good at: The people part. The part where you work as part of a team to accomplish something that you probably couldn’t do all by yourself. And better yet, the part where expectations, preconceived notions, and judgments are all checked the (van) door so you can REALLY get to know people for who they are… what motivates them, what makes them feel insecure, what makes them laugh, and of course, their deepest, darkest poop stories. There is just something magical about being in squished in a van for 26 (or even for 36) sleepless, showerless hours that breaks down boundaries and brings people together. This is true whether you are relaying with your nearest, dearest besties whom your are blessed to train and hangout with on the regular, or prefect strangers who were previously just people from your Twitter feed who sounded pretty cool. It’s an amazing phenomenon and I can’t get enough of it.

In October I was lucky enough to have two equally awesome, but very different relay experiences. The first being Ragnar DC with a bunch of fabulous Durham friends/ Bull City Track Club teammates, plus my dear college BFF and some spontaneous tangential acquaintances who bailed us out of a bind at the last-minute. I seriously had been looking forward to this race from the moment we signed up for it, and it was all I dreamed it would be and more. Just when I thought it wasn’t possible have anymore inside jokes with a group of people, or eat anymore Costco Chicago Mix popcorn in one 26 hour period, or think  of more creative uses for Shittens and plush turkey hats, somehow we still managed to achieve a whole new level of doing all of these things. Our super-cohesive, dynamic, fun-loving team reigned total domination on the competition and walked away with the award for most team spirit, as well as the win in the women’s team division, and 11th place overall. Booyah!

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Ragnar DC Team Spirit and Women's Division Champions, TEAM SHITTENS!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Ragnar DC Team Spirit and Women’s Division Champions, the legendary TEAM SHITTENS!!!

I was recruited for relay #2, Ragnar Tennessee, from Chattanooga to Nashville, by Oiselle teammate and Ragnar Relay icon, Holly Roberts! (Check out Holly’s fantastic Ragnar TN re-cap here!) I had never actually met anyone on Team Nuunapalooza prior to the race, and when I arrived in The Noog the night before I most definitely felt like I was crashing someone else’s family reunion, but in the best possible way. I made to feel incredibly welcome and right at home immediately. Some 36 hours, several dress-up dance parties, a lot of shouting the lyrics to “Blurred Lines”, some serious stand-up spooning, a late-night Shittens power arch, plenty of hashtagging, and thousands of laughs and temporary tattoos later my 11 new BFFs and I crossed the finish line in Nashville. In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined a more supportive, enthusiastic, kind, and just all-around delightful bunch of teammates. My experience with Team Nuunapalooza 100% confirms my theory that only really fun, nice, super-cool people do relays. Much like the amazing response to the Boston Marathon bombings, but in a different way, getting to know some really genuinely wonderful new friends was a beautiful reminder that there is a lot of good to be found in the world, and that seeking it out is always worthwhile.

 All the hugs, high-fives, and HVAC swagger to my Team Nuunapalooza Insta-BFFs!

All the hugs, high-fives, and HVAC swagger to my Team Nuunapalooza Insta-BFFs! I LOVED Ragnaring it up with y’all!

4. I am Stronger and Better than I Allow Myself to Believe I am. It’s Time to Trust the Training and Go Kick Some Ass!

This is a truth that needs to be applied in my running life and otherwise. It is also my biggest, most valuable take away from my goal race this fall, the Richmond Half Marathon. Although my aforementioned epic mile comeback was a tremendous confidence boost in terms of my training leading up to Richmond, I struggled to access my new and improved running self-esteem on race day. My lack of belief in myself and trust in my training resulted in an overly conservative race that cost me my goal time. In the moment I was still quite mostly pleased with my performance and how it reflected my training. However, I can’t help but think that it seems kind of lame as look back on it, because despite missing the mark, everything about my race that day screamed that I was fit enough, strong enough, and entirely physically prepared to knock 1:29:59 out of the park. The only reason that I didn’t was that I was scared I couldn’t do it. Ugh! I have GOT to cut that shit out! Seriously!  Here’s hoping that my experience at Richmond, and the healthy side of self-annoyance that came with it will be precisely the motivation I need to conjure up a some new courage and confidence and shatter a few glass ceilings in both my running life and my personal life in the year ahead. 2014 will be a year for leaving the comfort zone and kicking ass, friends! Hope y’all are ready for it!

I came up a little short on my goal time, but I still had a great time with lots of awesome people in Richmond!

It’s hard to feel bummed about missing your goal time when your weekend includes hanging out your college roomie, a cop who loves Shittens, and awesome signage courtesy of your 8-year-old BFF. 🙂

PS, just in case you were wondering, my name does now appears in the official results for this race. Thanks for sorting that out, Richmond Marathon!

5. If 2013 Had a World Championship of Race Photos, I Would Have Won it!

I hate to brag, but I’m pretty sure that 2013 has been my best year yet in terms of race pictures. I mean, those pictures totally saved me from writing the past year off as a miserable failure, so they must be pretty good, right? I fancy myself to be pretty damn fantastic at hamming it up for the camera and coming with fun and hilarious photo concepts (click here for my awesome guide to your most amazing race pics ever), but I can’t take all the credit for this one. Mad props to Monte, Bull City Tracking Club’s very own official race photographer for coming to ALL of our races, near and far to patiently photograph our every ridiculous shenanigan, and kudos to my running bestie Kara for being married to Monte, thus making him obligated to do this. And as always, to all of my dear running friends, thank you for being so awesomely fun, and silly, and brilliant, and hilarious.  Y’all are also incredibly patient and kind to me when I am super-late and/ or super-grumpy. I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a special place in heaven for each of you because of this, and although I don’t always do a great job of expressing it, I appreciate it more than you know. The experiences we’ve had together that make up my amazeballs 2013 running photo album have truly been the very best parts of my year, and I am on the edge of my seat in anticipation of another round of epic adventures with all of you! All the love, friends! Y’all are the greatest!

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So much photographic evidence that this year was undeniably fun…

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So many great times with wonderful people!

So I suppose in the end 2013 wasn’t a total bust after all. I would be lying if I told you I am sad to see it go, and I am grateful for the fresh start that the new year offers. But I did some cool stuff with even cooler people, learned some important things about myself, and was reminded that although haven’t won the Nobel Prize or cured cancer or established world peace (yet), I’m still doing ok. The challenge for 2014 (and boy, is it a big one) is to take all these lessons learned and find the guts to apply them to doing something amazing.  I’m not entirely sure what that amazing thing is going to be or what getting there will look like yet, but I have a feeling it’s going to be really good!  So stay tuned, because I’m hopeful determined the 2014 will be a year when I really shake things up!

What were your most significant lessons learned in 2013, and how do you hope to apply them in the new year?

Everything is Fine… A Ragnar DC Odyssey.

Hey there, fast and fabulous friends! It’s been a while since I wrote a race report for you guys. I have been doing little races here and there all along, and some of them even went pretty well, but nothing really seemed like Fast and Fabulous caliber… Until last weekend when 11 of my favorite running BFFs and I, armed with a lifetime supply of Shittens, made awesomeness and glory rain down on Ragnar DC all the way from Cumberland to National Harbor. Before we go any further, you should know that I had been looking forward to this race for as long as I can remember, and it was everything that I dreamed it would be and more. Pair that with my affinity for writing borderline inappropriately long, adjective-intensive blog posts, and you’ve got yourself one long-ass race report. So hold on to your plush turkey  hats. You’ve been warned.

Clearly our reign of awesomeness and glory began long before the starting gun went off.

Clearly our reign of awesomeness and glory began long before the starting gun went off.

Showing our esteemed sponsor a little love in front of the Shittens-mobile, plus the obligatory jumping pic. (Not my best work, I know.)

Showing our esteemed sponsor a little love in front of the Shittens-mobile, plus the obligatory jumping pic. (Not my best work, I know.)

There are many moving parts to our #TeamShittens Ragnar DC Odyssey, but we’ll start with the running…

 Leg #3: 7.8 miles, 4 Road Kills, 1 Sweet New Belt Buckle

Holy balls, guys. This was a tough one. When we arrived to check in at the start line  all the volunteers were like “Who has leg #3? Oh, bless your heart!” I wondered if I should be legitimately concerned by this. Leg 3 was definitely advertised as being the toughest one of the race. It was rated “You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me” on the Ragnar Relay scale of “Easy” to” You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me” but I wasn’t really sure what that meant. As it turned out, this leg  was, in fact pretty dang tough for a number of reasons.

Reason number one being that it was effing hot as balls. For reals. It was undoubtedly 85 degrees or warmer. And just to make it extra fun, the first 2.5 miles or so of “You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me” were on a most un-scenic, freshly re-blacktopped, shade-free road which was littered with cigarette-smoking construction workers. Awesome. I was very interested to notice that this road seemed to parallel an interstate, seeing as there was very little interstate to be found the day before on our drive from Durham to Maryland. I also noted that my impressions of Maryland so far were that it was hilly and reeked of cows and road kill (and I don’t mean the good Ragnar kind of road kill, although I did score a few of those on this leg) but I digress…

Anyway, just when I thought this leg couldn’t get any suckier, the blue Ragnar directional signs sent me onto a remote dirt road and so began the great dust bowl of 2013. The heat got hotter, the hills got hillier, and the splits got hella-slow. I channeled Sheryl Sandberg as I leaned in to the hills and repeated our team mantra in my head. (I will refrain from actually writing the team mantra, as it contains adult language, but I’ve included a photo below that might help you figure it out.) Just as I started to long for my fuel belt, despite its decided uncoolness according to the survey from my last blog post,  a nice team hanging out at a turn off at the base of particularly gnarly hill offered me a bottle of water. I gladly took it, but after drinking a few sips, I regretted having this extra accoutrement to lug around. I strongly considered ditching the bottle, but just as I was about to chuck it, I spotted a sign that read “Littering: $1,000 Fine”. I thought $1,000 seemed like an extremely high price to pay for empty-handed running, so I soldiered on with the bottle. Shortly after the littering sign and just as my Garmin chirped off a mile split that started with a 10 (*cringe*), I crested a particularly heinous and dusty hill to the glorious sight of our Shittens-themed van and my fabulous cheering teammates. I felt like utter hell, but I managed to muster up a hearty fist pump, a mile split update, and a that’s what she said joke (you know, something about it being really hard), so I guess things could have been going worse.

Our team motto... BTW, no Oiselle 50/50 tees were harmed in the making of this shirt.

Our team mantra… BTW, no Oiselle 50/50 tees were harmed in the making of this shirt.

Feeling rough, but rocking the fist pump and refusing to give in to the evils of littering.

Feeling rough, but rocking the fist pump and refusing to give in to the evils of littering.

After another mile of climbing, I finally found the downhill I was so desperately seeking. I tried with all my might to get those last couple of miles down into the lactate threshold pace zone, both to make up time lost on that big ass climb, and because my running guru, Coach Bigs had prescribed at least 10 minutes at LT pace (which is 6:45ish for me) per leg. I successfully made up some serious time, and even added a couple more road kills to my total for the leg, but it wasn’t until the final flat .8 into the exchange zone that I managed to get a split that started with 6 on the watch.

I knew I was way off my goal time based on the 10K pace I had submitted for time projection purposes, and I was feeling a little down on myself as I handed off to Brittany.  But my spirits were instantly lifted by the encouraging words of my teammates, who lovingly wiped the copious amounts of dust from my face and limbs with Shittens while showering me with compliments. (Let me tell you friends, it just doesn’t get much better than being showered with Shittens and compliments at the same time!) And then a nice volunteer presented me  with a delightfully tacky Ragnar DC belt buckle for completing the hardest leg of the race! #Winning! Legs 2 and 3 promised to be much easier, so this was a tremendous relief! Go Team Shittens!

The dustiness, and the soul soothing Shittens shower that followed.

The dustiness, and the soul-soothing Shittens shower that followed.

Sporting my sweet belt buckle swag with my fab Van 1 teammates.

Sporting my sweet belt buckle swag with my fab Van 1 teammates.

Just in case you didn't believe me when I said it was dusty out there, here's and amazing picture of Sarah's teeth post-1st leg to prove it.

Just in case you didn’t believe me when I said it was dusty out there, here is an amazing picture of Sarah’s teeth post-1st leg to prove it.

Leg #14: 4.8 Miles, 8 Road Kills, 1 Kankle-Inducing Ankle Roll.

Go time for Leg 2! After a little down time which included but was not limited to a hearty rural West Virginia dinning experience filled with fascinating/ horrifying people watching, an after-dark photo shoot, and a fun chance meet up with Oiselle Teammate Steph G., I was ready to rock and roll all over my 2nd leg. The description read that it was essentially flat and easy, so I set out to make up some of those lost minutes at LT pace from leg 1.

You know, just keeping it real while we wait around for round two.

You know, just keeping it real while we wait around for round two.

Looking hella #flystyle as I contemplate the ass that is about to be kicked and the names that are about to be taken. Let's do this, leg 2!

Looking hella #flystyle as I contemplate the ass that is about to be kicked and the names that are about to be taken. Let’s do this, 2nd leg!

I warmed up with a couple of 7:20-something splits and then settled into some close-enough-to-LT- pace-for-me miles for next 2.78 (6:49, 6:45, 6:46 for the last .78). There is no doubt that those tempo-ish miles felt like work, but whateves. They’re supposed to feel like work, not to mention the fact that I had run through an epic uphill dust bowl just a few hours earlier,  as well as the fact that this run started at 11:11 pm, which is a far cry from my typical run time. (I know a lot of you people out there get pretty excited about those kind of numbers, so #omgiheartnumbers to that!)

Anyhoo, despite my higher-than-ideal rate of perceived of exertion, I started to feel like an awesome badass for mentally keeping my shit together enough to maintain something akin to my goal pace despite the bizarre relay circumstances. As a runner who historically struggles with the mental game side of training and racing this felt like a big win for me. My ego continued to inflate as I opened up a sizable gap on this dude who was clearly bound and determined that he would not be chicked by me. We had been engaging in a little back and forth passing game for the better part of a mile or so when I finally wore him down, crushed his dreams, and broke his spirit as I added him to my growing list of road kills. I must have lost focus while I was high- fiving myself and signing Queen’s “We are the Champions” and that “All I Do is Win” rap song  simultaneously in my head, because shortly after leaving Mr. I-would-sooner-die-than-get-passed-by-a-girl in the dust I rolled the ever-loving crap out of my ankle on a rogue littered beer can. I couldn’t help but feel super-annoyed by this since I had gone to great lengths to maintain good anti-littering karma during my previous leg, but I suppose I was due for a great moment of humility. I’ve done enough rolling of the ankles while running to know that there are two types of ankle rolls: The standard kind that are like “Oh, no big deal. I’ll just take a few seconds to walk this off and it will be fine,” and the far less common “Yikes, my ankle is going to be the size of my face tomorrow!” variety. I knew right away that this was the latter, but there was no effing way in hell that I was going to let that guy reclaim my hard-fought road kill victory. You best believe that my freshly minted kankle and I continued hauling arse towards the exchange zone, maintaining our sub-7 pace like it was our job, because that’s just how we do here at Team Shittens.  In your face road kill dude!

That's the knakle finishing up our second leg like a boss, and then being a whiny little you-know-what after the race.

That’s the knakle finishing up our second leg like a boss, and then being a whiny little you-know-what after the race.

Please let my Ragnar DC second leg experience be a reminder to all of you that littering is bad for many reasons, one such reason being that it could contribute to the kankling of perfectly innocent, well-meaning nighttime  runners. Don’t do it!

Leg #26: 3.2 Miles, 4 Road Kills, 1 Frustrating Traffic Stop.

After a rest period that included all the ice packs, ibuprofen and compression socks,  a few hundred trips to the porta potty, a sleeping-turned-unintentional-spooning session in a wet sleeping bag with my college BFF , and some life changing photo booth shenanigans it was time for the 3rd and final leg of Ragnar DC. And you bet your Shittens I was ready for it.

Legendary 5 am photo booth shenanigans!

Legendary 5 am photo booth shenanigans!

My ankle was definitely swollen, but not to the point of severe alarm. Since it didn’t hurt to put weight on it, my plan was to take it easy and do only what I had to do to get through it so I could be done once and for all. When my spooning buddy Cat hauled into the exchange zone and handed off to me I took off and quickly decided that the kankle was not effecting my running game. Instantly my new goal became to get this over with as fast as humanly possible. I rolled through the 1st mile in just over 7, and mile 2 was my fastest of the entire Ragnar experience at 6:37. The final mile of my 3.2 mile leg was slightly uphill, which slowed me back down to 6:57. Then I very nearly threw a temper tantrum when I was stopped by a crossing guard at the last busy intersection separating  me from the final .2 of my leg and the exchange zone. I was made to stand still for several minutes in clear view of the finish  waiting for the light to change. (Seriously, whose brilliant idea was it to put the exchange zone on the far side of a busy intersection anyway?!) These were the longest several minutes of my life. I asked the crossing guard when the light would be changing and if I could go yet at least once every 5 seconds. (Very adult and rational of me, I know.) At long last that glorious little white stick figure guy popped up on the crosswalk sign and I bolted across the street and into the exchange, but not before  my average pace for the whole leg slipped from the 6s into the 7s. Thanks for nothing, DC area traffic. But it was oh-so-fabulous to be done, and the kankle didn’t seem to slow me down, so all is well that ends well.

Van 1 celebrates being done with hugs, jumping pics, and a rad new Speedo-wearing friend.

Van 1 celebrates being done with our share of the running with hugs, jumping pics, and a rad new Speedo-wearing friend.

An infinite number of laughs, photo shoots, pretzels, Swedish fish,Tums, Gatorade, Picky Bars, and Shittens later our final runner crossed the finished line at National Harbor with  24:41 on the clock and enough road kills to bring our team total to over 200! I take great pride and joy in reporting to you that this was good enough to clinch the win in the Regular Women’s Open division, and an 11th place finish overall! Victory, all the bragging rights, and those sweet golden Ragnar batons that they mail out to the winners are ours! In other exciting and possibly less surprising news, we also won the team spirit award thanks to all of that great social media hype that you surely enjoyed experiencing during the race, and of course, our hilariously novel yet highly functional miracle product sponsor, Shittens.

#TeamShittens crosses the finish line in yet another blaze of awesomeness and glory.

#TeamShittens crosses the finish line in yet another blaze of awesomeness and glory.

Celebrating all the road kills with all the pizza and beer.

Celebrating all the road kills and all the winning with all the pizza and beer.

Other Cool Ragnar DC Stuff Worth Mentioning…

A Shittens Shout-Out: Before I conclude this post, I would like to send out a big mitten-shaped wet wipe-clad high-five to the awesome people who created Shittens. Our our unbelievably organized and on-the-ball team captain, Kara discovered this little gem of a bathroom product on a hilarious celebrity gossip blog by the name of Dlisted. Our running group was so enamored by the concept of Shittens that we sent their customer service department a compelling email about our platform for promoting their product in the running community. And lo and behold, they sent us AN ENTIRE CASE to use and distribute to the masses at the race! Talk about awesome swag win of the millennium!

As it turns out, Shittens really are  well, you know… the shit. We found myriad uses for them on our Ragnar DC adventure from errrr, their intended purpose to shower substitutions to cleaning dust and marker off the van post-race. And their fresh, lemon-y scent is truly divine. Visit and checkout the fun little jingle below to learn more about this versatile, ingenious, hilarious product!

Showcasing Shittens' versatility and sharing the mitten-shaped wet wipe gospel with our fellow Ragnarians. Obviously everyone agreed that Shittens are the shit.

Showcasing Shittens’ versatility and sharing the mitten-shaped wet wipe gospel with our fellow Ragnarians. Obviously everyone agreed that Shittens are the shit.

If You Haven’t Done a Relay Race, You’re Doing it Wrong: Speaking of things that are the shit, I really just can’t say enough about how much freaking fun these overnight relay races are. For reals y’all, whether your are in the company of people who are already your BFFs or that of perfect strangers who you only previously knew from Twitter, nothing brings people together like the folly and animated discussions of bodily functions that happen when you put a bunch of runners in a van, feed them only bagels, bananas, and Immodium, and deprive them of sleep for two days. To quote the wise and profound Taylor Swift,” it’s miserable and magical.” But mostly magical. I honestly do not have the words to describe all the love I have for my fabulous, hilarious, witty, inspiring, beautiful Team Shittens teammates and how much epic fun we had together. All the hugs and high fives to you, Kara, Caren, Sarah, Cat, Brittany, Kate, Kim, Liz, Jennifer, Gretchen, and Kathryn!  We totally rocked the Shittens out of that race, and I can think of another group of people I would rather spend 24 + sweaty, shower-less hours in a van with! Let’s do this again as soon as possible!

Thanks for a most amazeballs weekend, Team Shittens! Xoxoxo!

Thanks for a most amazeballs weekend, Team Shittens! Xoxoxo!

Also, much love to all you Oiselle birds I ran into out there! It’s pretty cool when someone just walks up and hugs you because the two of you are wearing matching outfits, and that happened several times at Ragnar DC. It was such a treat meeting Steph G., Steph D., and Michelle, and I was super-bummed that I missed Nicole, but proud of her for nailing some serious finish line jumping pics in her fly pink tutu!

Feeling the Ragnar DC Oiselle love! (Photo Credit: StephD. and Michelle.)

Feeling the Ragnar DC Oiselle love! (Photo Credits: StephD. and Michelle.)

And mad props to the people at Ragnar for putting on a great race! I shutter to think about what a logistical nightmare it must be to coordinate an event like this, and this specific race was further complicated with last-minute route modifications thanks to the government shutdown. Through it all the Ragnar staff and race volunteers remained friendly, upbeat, organized, communicative. I have done several other relays races of this sort, and this was certainly one of the most organized and congenial I have ever encountered. Cheers to Ragnar DC’s party atmosphere, its baller bottle opener finishers medals (I think these may double as some sort of ninja weaponry?), and the fact that was there was plentiful pizza, beer, and general merriment for all at the finish line. If you have not yet checked the overnight relay race off your running bucket list you need to stop doing it wrong and sign up for one post-haste! You surely will not regret it! Only 2 weeks and counting until the next Ragnar adventure! Hold on to your Shittens, Team NUUNapalooza! Ragnar Tennessee is sure to be a wild ride!