Packing for Ragnar Relay Cape Cod

While scouring the internet for Ragnar Relay packing lists, there was a common theme: don’t bring a huge bag and only pack the necessities. I condensed my own list down pretty far but it still seemed like a stretch for it all to fit in a reasonably sized bag. Apera reached out earlier this year and offered to send me one of their bags to try. I’ve been using it for several months but wanted to wait until after putting it to the true test in Cape Cod before sharing my thoughts.

So, here is all of the crap I was attempting to cram into their Performance Duffel:

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod - Packing

The Usual Suspects

3 sets of running clothes packed into separate bags specifically marked for each leg, Road ID, 2 pairs of running shoes [there was rain in the forecast so I wanted to make sure I had a backup pair], flip-flops & sweatpants for downtime, fuel [Nuun / Picky Bars / Honey Stinger Chews], compression socks/sleeves, The Stick to work out kinks between runs [TSA didn’t take it away, hooray!], anti-chafe stick, phone wall & car charger, auxiliary cable for van music, Garmin & charger, iPod shuffle, headlamp, reflective vest, Nathan handheld, hat, sunglasses, iFitness belt, hair brush, elastics / bobby pins, toothbrush / toothpaste, deodorant.

Good Decisions

Spike Bag: This was super helpful to keep all of my frequently used items in, rather than having to rummage through my duffel in the back of the van every time I needed something. The spike bag held my headlamp, reflective vest, portable charger [see below], cowbell, runfinity scarf, Picky Bars, wallet, and extra hair ties.

Jackery Giant: Obviously being away from an outlet isn’t ideal when you spend a lot of time on social media, so the Jackery was a life saver. This particular model will charge my Samsung Galaxy S4 three times, which was more than enough to get through our time in the van. There are smaller, lighter options but you won’t get as many charges out of it. This was perfect for the weekend.

Colgate Wisps: A last minute addition to my cart in Target, but these minty little gems were well-loved by everyone in our van. It’s funny how much better you feel after “brushing” your teeth with a Wisp at 3am.

Dry Shampoo: Sure, this might be strictly a vanity item but if you sweat while on your first run, you might not want to spend the rest of the weekend hiding under a hat. The travel sized can took up minimal space in my bag and helped freshen up the lion’s mane in under a minute.

Apera Performance Duffel - Pearl

Back to the packing. The Performance Duffel had plenty of pockets, possibly even too many considering two weeks after I got back to Texas I couldn’t find my compression socks or sleeves. Apparently there was a pocket I forgot to empty. There’s 10 total pockets, including two in the front for water bottles and two spots on each end for shoe storage. In a previous bag, there was a separate compartment on the bottom for shoes but unfortunately when it was filled, it took up space in the bag’s interior. With the Apera bag, I was able to fit a pair of running shoes in each end with absolutely no impact on the space inside!

Apera Performance Duffel - Shoe Storage
Even with all of my crap packed inside [yes, ALL of it fit – a Ragnar miracle] the padded shoulder strap made it comfortable to lug around the airport. Heading up to Boston it served as my carry-on and fit comfortably under the seat in front of me. On the way home, I used it as a checked bag to test the durability and surprisingly, it arrived in Austin unscathed. The huge skeptic in me was absolutely positive the baggage handlers were going to ruin this thing.

I was incredibly pleased to see how well the duffel performed for traveling, even though it appears to be used mostly as a gym bag. The pockets made it easy to keep everything organized and the bag was able to hold much more than I initially expected. This will definitely be my new bag for weekend trips. Simplicity FTW.

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Apera Bags

Apera bags inspire a healthy, active lifestyle. The interior and exterior of each bag is coated in antimicrobial protection, with vented compartments and linings which can easily be wiped clean. Included is a removable washable insert to store your wet gear in, keeping it away from the rest of the items in your bag. Also, Apera donates a custom bag to a Special Olympics athlete for every three bags they sell. Pretty cool, right?

 

Apera’s Current Deals:

*Anniversary Sale: All bags are 20% off with the code SUMMER2014! [ends July 31st]

*All Duffel Packs are 40% off

*Time to Get the Blues: All blue bags are 40% off

*Monthly Giveaway: Sprint Pack, enter to win here

2014 Ragnar Relay Cape Cod Race Recap

If you had told me five years ago I wouldn’t think twice about flying across the country to meet a group of strangers and proceed to spend 30ish hours in a van with 6 [we’re fancy & had a personal chauffeur] of them, I’d undoubtedly declare you crazy. Since the idea was tossed around back in the fall, our team went through several iterations and the final Flock You Like a Hurricane runners who met up at Union Fish in Plymouth the night before race day were Ali, Anne, Rebecca, Amy, Danielle, Carolyn, Jess, Jessie, and our team captain Stacey. Kelly was coming down on Friday morning, Lindsay was dealing with horrendous travel delays out of Dallas, and Deb would be meeting up with Van 2 at Stacey’s on Friday afternoon.

Union Fish - Group Photo

Our team started at 10am on a super foggy morning in Hull and Ali was our leadoff runner. This girl had just run a marathon [and PRed!] the weekend before and absolutely crushed all of her legs. Anne and Amy were seriously fast and as many times as they said they were going to “take this leg easy”, they flew from exchange to exchange ticking off miles consistently in the 7s. I loved Rebecca – her last leg was tough and she was definitely hurting, but was still all “I LOVE RUNNING!” Wish I could kidnap her and run with her in Texas every day. Kelly displayed her impressively strong running skills as she powered through a hilly first leg and finished out the race with about 32 miles under her belt.

Van 1 Runners
I went into the relay with a twisted left knee and achy right shin, both courtesy of a nasty fall I took when Sox cut me off during one of our early morning runs. The knee was my main concern because shin issues are the bane of my running existence. My first leg went off without a hitch and as runner 6, passed off the slap bracelet in Duxbury Beach to Van 2’s first runner – Lindsay.

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod - Duxbury Beach

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Van 2  Runners

Our van had a break from 2 to 8ish, so we grabbed a quick lunch at Driftwood Publick House and then attempted a nap in a field at the exchange where we’d start running our second legs. Napping is a skill I’ve never been able to master so I spent the downtime Stick-ing my calves and following Van 2 via the #FlockYouLikeaHurricane hashtag on Instagram. We kept in touch with the other van through text message but Instagram was a great way to follow along and see which runner was currently out there knocking out their miles. Despite not being able to nap, it was still nice to take my shoes off and just stretch out the legs. Once nighttime fell, it was time to dress head to toe in reflective gear and prepare to send Ali on her way!

Van 1-2 Night Exchange
The night leg seemed to be everyone’s favorite so I was super pumped by the time 11pm rolled around and it was time for me to run. However, my right shin was less than enthused and throbbing only a mile into it. I decided to walk/run to keep it somewhat happy but running quickly turned into a shuffle. My gait started to change in an attempt to relieve the pain in my shin and then I felt the strain on my other knee. The last thing I wanted to do was bail on the leg, so I grabbed some ibuprofen at mile 3 and Kelly jumped in to keep me company. She was a lifesaver and kept my mind off of running while we finished out the leg together. After the handoff to Lindsay in Hyannis, Anne grabbed me some ice from the aid station and we set up some sleeping bags in a ditch [no, seriously…] near a school to sneak in a couple hours of rest.

Van 2’s night legs weren’t that long so we only had a few hours before it was time to run again. Shaun (Kelly’s husband and our fantastic driver) woke us up and we tried to quickly get our shit together after realizing we weren’t even at the right exchange. I had a minor meltdown when I realized my phone was missing, but while we were driving to the exchange Amy found it rolled up in one of the sleeping bags. Crisis averted. Once we pulled in, Ali hauled ass to the exchange and made it there just in time to grab the slap bracelet from Jessie as she ran in.

I spent the next couple hours trying to convince my teammates I could run my final leg, since it was “only” 3 miles. The response was a resounding “NO” and eventually I accepted it would be for the best if Kelly picked up the mileage. After she was done, we handed off to Van 2 for the final time and headed to brunch in Wellfleet. This was followed by a killer cheer session on either leg 33 – or was it 34? This is what I get for not writing the recap right away. We positioned ourselves at the top of a huge hill and busted out the megaphone and cowbell, blasted music from the van, and yelled at the top of our lungs for every runner that came by. Definitely a lot of fun and one of the highlights of the weekend.

It was also at this point where we started playing #SELFIE by The Chainsmokers on repeat. I entered the weekend with an extreme hatred for this song, but now every time I hear it I think of Van 1 rocking out and it makes me happy. But first … let me take a selfie! We made it to the finish in P-Town around 12:30 and just after 3pm Van 2 joined us. We backtracked on the course to find Jessie and then jumped in with her to cross the finish line together! Pretty sure this one is going in a frame – so many freakin’ amazing women in one photo:

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod - Finish Line

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod - P-Town
I have to send a HUGE thank you to Kelly’s husband, Shaun, for being our chauffeur all weekend. He navigated us from exchange to exchange flawlessly and surprisingly didn’t seem irritated at all to be stuck in a van all weekend with a group of girls he barely knew. He also was our professional photog, snapping 200+ pictures of us on our journey from Hull to Provincetown. He was a rockstar and made our lives so much easier.

Also a big shout out full of gratitude to Stacey, who despite being unable to run stayed on as captain and helped keep our team organized over the past several months, as well as through the weekend. She was Van 2’s driver / photographer and provided a place for Van 2 to stay between legs 1 & 2. She also took in 6 internet-turned-IRL-friends on Saturday night, which all of us appreciated SO MUCH. Her and her husband cooked us dinner, all while keeping the champagne and wine flowing as we recapped the incredible race. Best hosts ever, hands down.

I had always heard that team relays were a life-changing experience and couldn’t help but write it off as an exaggeration. How could spending almost 30 hours in a van with people you didn’t know be enjoyable? All of my skepticism flew right out the window while we were dining at Mamma Mia’s on Thursday night. The conversation flowed effortlessly and everyone’s passion for running caused us to bond instantly. The transition from ‘strangers’ to ‘friends’ was almost instantaneous. I couldn’t have asked for better teammates – each and every one of them are phenomenal. A reunion [Ragnar location: TBD] for 2015 was already in the works before we had even left the cape.

 And I absolutely cannot wait.

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod - White Crest Beach

All photos courtesy of Stacey Hedman, Shaun Gallagher, and Jess Clarke.

And I Will Run 200 Miles

… well, at least 13 of them.

Ragnar Relay Series

In roughly a month I’ll be heading up to Massachusetts to run Ragnar Relay Cape Cod with 11 strangers. In any other life situation this would be considered ridiculously dangerous and downright dumb. But since most of them are my Oiselle teammates and we’ve been chatting in our Facebook group for several months now, I think everything will be just fine. Also no one threatened to kick me out when I went all Type A on our doc in Google Drive. We’ll see what happens when I show up at our team dinner with color-coded binders for each van.

Ragnar-Relay-Cape-Cod-Hull-to-P-Town
All jokes aside, I’m incredibly excited for Ragnar Cape Cod and have been counting down the days for months now. Since it’s my first relay that pretty much means I’ll do almost everything wrong.  I plan to Google “relay tips” eleventy billion times between now and then, filling my brain with everything I could possibly need to know to get through my 3 legs successfully. Speaking of legs, this is what’s in store for me as Runner #6:

Ragnar-Relay-Cape-Cod-Runner-6

I’m in the process of putting together a personal packing list and would love any additional input from those of you who have done a relay before. I have all of the basics down: 3 sets of running clothes packed into 3 separate Ziplock bags, baby wipes, comfortable clothes for downtime, portable charger, reflective vest/tail lights, etc. Please share your favorite “lifesaving” item for an overnight relay in the comments below!

Ideally I’d like to avoid checking a bag for the flight since handlers like to beat the crap out of duffel bags. Carrying on a bag will ensure everything I need for the relay makes it to Boston, which (unfortunately) isn’t a guarantee if the bag was checked. However, this means I probably can’t bring my Stick since TSA will likely assume it’s a weapon. Which, of course, it’s not.  Although my calves would beg to differ. A duffel bag will be big enough for 4 days, right? Please say yes.

Now I’d like to introduce you to my lovely team (if something happens to me, this list is a good place to start – kidding) and our fantastic sponsors!

Team Flock You Like a Hurricane

Ali // Anne // Rebecca // Kelly // Amy // Lindsay // Danielle // Greer // Carolyn // Jess // Jessie // Stacey

Sponsors

Oiselle // PRO Compression – use discount code FLOCK for 40% off all socks & sleeves // ShowerPill // EnergyBits // Pocket Fuel Naturals // Mission Athletecare

In 2014, I Will Run

And that’s it.

In the past I’ve declared a certain distance or time as my goal for that particular year. Whether it be to run a full marathon or PR in the half, I was always worked towards something running-related with a number tied to it. In 2013 I stepped away from that approach and simply wanted to focus on quality over quantity. Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly follow through on that.

2013 Austin Races

I jammed a million races into the spring and didn’t PR any of them. Don’t get me wrong: I know not every race is going to be at a hard effort and yield satisfying results, but at least one of them should have in order to meet my goal of “quality > quantity”. Sometimes I get registration happy and want to sign up for every single race out there.

I managed to restrain myself from registering for the Rogue Distance Festival, and a handful of local 5Ks & 10Ks. All were fairly affordable and probably could have been squeezed into the budget, but somehow I made it into the spring with the same two races on my schedule that have been there since July: Houston Half & Austin Half. And I’ve decided not to “race” either of them. The holidays/road trip threw somewhat of a wrench in my training and running was put on the backburner. ALL MY FAULT. Not blaming anyone but myself. If Houston let you defer without having to pay again next year, I’d defer to 2015. But since they don’t and the hotel is already booked, to Houston I go.

So what’s next? Ragnar Relay Cape Cod with Oiselle Team

Cape-Cod-Ragnar-Relay-Series

FINALLY! My first relay. I had hoped to run Hood to Coast with Nuun the past two years, but that didn’t pan out. I had planned on applying again in 2014 but we booked a trip to Mexico for that same week, and well, Mexico wins. Always. Back in the fall Jill tweeted about getting together a team of Oiselle runners for Ragnar Cape Cod. After countless emails back and forth, team Flock You Like a Hurricane was born + registered. So in the beginning of May I’ll be heading up to Cape Cod to run a 200-mile relay with Oiselle teammates I’ve never met. God I love the internet.

Head-Up-Wings-Out

And then after that? Who knows! I’m forgoing a spring goal race and focusing solely on Ragnar. I’ll probably have a goal race in the fall (in addition to Ragnar Trail Hill Country in October, depending on whether or not my sister decides to get married that weekend) but I don’t want to rush into it or even start thinking about which race until April or May. I don’t want history to repeat itself so instead of racing the crap out of the spring and being burnt out by May, I want to enjoy no-pressure miles in the spring.

So that’s the plan for 2014. I will run, plain & simple.