ragnar relay

At first we run from until we run towards

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If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you may have noticed a bit of a lull in my posts. I’ve been debating addressing it for some time now but ultimately feel like there is NO WAY I’m the only one in this boat so here it goes.

The day after Dances With Dirt my life changed. I won’t get into details but VERY quickly my marriage of 7 years, my partnership of 9 years and my best friendship of 10 years was over. By Wednesday I was looking for a new place to live and subsequently couch hopped, weekday camped (which was actually really fun/cool), and slept on the couch at my soon to be former apartment for almost 3 weeks. Recovery and running took an understandable back seat to finding a new stable home for me and my kids (part time 😦 ). If you want to see what your body is capable of run a hard, hilly 50K, go to a wedding and dance/drink then live off of pretty much only coffee and beer for the following 2-3 weeks!!! Actually don’t do that, it is NOT pretty. I lost 8lbs (a lot of muscle) and was a shell of myself. HOW could I run?!?!

During the last few months I have made some choices that were not the healthiest. I stopped being excited about running and binge watching Netflix until 3am became more important than getting up at 5am for a run. I felt broken and didn’t care about much.

I have also made some AWESOME choices that I have been really fortunate to share with some AWESOME people.


Ragnar Great River – This was the FIRST time in all of this I remember smiling/laughing/feeling “better”. My sister, friend/running buddy Jenny and me “jumped” on a team and we couldn’t have asked for a better van!! Seriously SO. MUCH. FUN!

double medal

The Lake Michigan Trail Marathon – I HAD this great plan to recover from DWD and run this 26.2 for fun (see above on the whole recovery thing). So I decided to show up and see what happened. Jenny and I stuck together for 18 miles when she MADE me go ahead. We had been taking it pretty easy so I felt GREAT for the last 8 miles, which is a new thing for me. I learned A LOT that race and OF COURSE had fun because that’s how we do! Congrats to Jenny for finishing her FIRST 26.2!!!


Volunteering/Spectating Ironman Wisconsin – I volunteered last year and it was so inspiring I decided to do it again this year. That AND my friend of many years Teresa was doing HER FIRST IRONMAN (she blogged the whole process here). I got to see her on her mile 6, 8, and 20. I also got to see her finish which was AMAZING having watched her transform. She kicked ass and took names finishing in under her goal and smiling most the way! You ready to talk Lake Placid yet Teresa?


All in all I’m getting back to being “fine”. Not the kind of fine you say at 3am during Ragnar when you haven’t slept, eaten well and everything is getting on your nerves but the kind of fine where I am eating healthy again, finding my groove and able to make it through the work day without crying (most the time). I’m running more often but still finding it hard to adjust to my kids schedule. I EVEN “allowed” myself a babysitter 2 times to I could run a whole hour and a half!

I don’t write this for sympathy rather to say I fell off the running wagon and I’m slowly getting back on. I want you to know you can too!! I’m sad this effected We Run This more than I ever wanted but know we are coming back in FULL FORCE! Fun Runs BACK ON ASAP and through winter!!! Be on the lookout for those AND some other events/meet ups.

Tighten Those Laces – Let’s Run!

– Rachel

So You Want To Run Ragnar… ULTRA Captians Blog – THE RUNNING PART

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YOU MADE IT! You successfully recruited 5 or less friends, found a vehicle (borrowed, owned, rented), got your team some awesome t-shirts (PS – if you have the skills I highly suggest designing your own and going with a local print company to keep costs down), and have made it almost to race day without injury or loosing your mind!! CONGRATS! Now all you have to do is RUN THIS THING!

3 or 6 legs?!?!

I hope you have already discussed this with your team! This is something that should be discussed as soon as possible to help your team train. If not, no time like the present. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to run Ragnar Ultra. For Madison – Chicago 3 legs works just fine if you have some FIT people (the longest someone will run is about 16 miles) and it is a VERY runnable course. For other relays look at the most mileage one person will have to run in a leg and see if you think that is “doable”, encourage your team to be honest. Private message or e-mail each member so they don’t feel like need to impress the group by saying yes to a huge distance. No matter which way you choose the following will be important.

To help your team choose you could make a document like this:


Captain Responsibilities (could be delegated)

Packing for the van (SEE POST HERE)

– Helpful hint here is to have a water cooler in the van you can re-fill with gallons from gas stations along the way

Route Cards

– You may wish to distribute route cards to each member of your team in an easy to carry format. This can be especially helpful for legs with a lot of directions. I have done this 2 ways

1) CAREFULLY re-type the route directions in a word document in the business card template.

2) Using a method to screen shot pull up each map and screen shot JUST the route directions

On the back of each card type/write your name/phone number as well as one other responsible team member, ideally you both have different cell phone providers in case you are outside coverage for one.

Print and “laminate” using clear box tape. This way sweat/water will not wreck them.

Put each person’s in their own envelope with their name. I have also included “team cards” since they can be made at the same time using the same method. These cards usually include the team name, relay logo/date and an inspirational quote. A lot of my team members still have theirs.

Emergency Contact List

Should include: Team member name, cell phone number and 2 emergency contacts. Make 3 copies, 2 for the van and one to leave with a trusted friend/family member you could contact in case the van lists are lost/ not accessible.

Race Bible

Even if it feels like homework READ IT! KNOW IT!

Pace Calculations

If you are running 6 legs Ragnar now has an awesome pace calculator right on your team page! You are set go plug those times into an excel spread sheet and jump to the “supporting your runner section”.

If you are running 3 long legs. Your team mates should have signed up with and given you their HALF MARATHON average NOT their 10K pace. Take those times and have someone who is good with numbers/excel put a chart together starting with your start time. Helpful information on this chart for EACH LEG: runner name, start time, average pace, predicted running time, predicted end time. In the last column it can be helpful to include the SWEET HAPPENINGS Ragnar advertises for the exchange (Exchange 6 sweet happenings would go in the last column after runner 3)  This was helpful to for a quick reference where to eat/change/ special deals you want to hit up. Also include support request information. Team We Run This’ looks like this:

Time table

Supporting Your Runner

During some legs you will have no choice but to not offer your runner support. There are areas in a relay where it is not safe/recommended. Other legs you will be able to support them, whenever, wherever. It is important to message/email each runner separately to find out what kind of support they would like. You will also want to re-evaluate with each runner/ encourage them to ask for more/less support during the race. If they are apathetic but seem down, out, beaten up, it might be a good idea to surprise them the next leg with cowbells and cheers. In my experience the most helpful times to have runners willing to go it alone are between the hours of 2a -7a during legs that will last 1.5 hours or more (this way the team can rest at a “normal” dark time) as well as the very last leg (this way your team can get to the finish, park, gather flags to return, find a good place to see you come in, etc.). In my opinion there should  NEVER be a runner who doesn’t get support on at least 2 legs!


This is the tricky part no matter how you run Ragnar. It is so fun and exciting people tend to try to stay up and be part of the party. Encourage your runners so rest when they can, especially during the run that is 2 before their next. If possible the runner that is about to run should rest or warm up as they need during the hour or so the runner before them is running. In the same vein the runner after the “on deck” runner should be RESTING as much as possible. This is where is can be hard to find a balance of supporting the team and resting. Sorry captain you will likely pull double… triple duty in this respect. You will be managing the team making sure people rest and likely not resting much. I also encourage you to take time if you need it. Know yourself enough to step back as a leader for an hour or so and SLEEP!


The part I love most about Ragnar is the FUN! Even though you are managing a team and running a lot of miles it is possible to have fun. This is why I make sure I highlight the “sweet happenings” in the runner chart above. For example I LOVE NUUN so I wanted to make sure at Exchange 6 last year I took advantage of their deal. If I hadn’t wrote it down I probably would have forgot. I also brought plenty of fun things like cowbells, glow sticks, whistles, and chalk to add to the fun race vibe. Make sure you take a lot of pictures and/or video! You could even make your own video after to commemorate the accomplishment. Ours is here  from 2013. I have watched it ANY time I felt discouraged or overwhelmed with training.

Still have questions/concerns e-mail me at Rachel@werunthis.org I’d be happy to help!

Tighten Those Laces. Let’s Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat!

– Rachel

Get To Know Team We Run This – Ragnar 2014 – Rachel

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WRT Front 1

Hey look it’s finally MY turn to do one of these! Please check out the rest of team We Run This:

Jennifer M, Barb, Jennifer H, and Taylor

Rachel G, 30, Milwaukee, WI    Founder – We Run This


Rachel after her first 50K
Rachel after her first 50K










1) How long have you been running? What got you started?

I have been running 5 ½ years and started on a bet. More on that here
2) Why Ragnar Ultra?

After crossing the finish line on a regular team in 2012 I KNEW I wanted to captain/run an ultra team because managing 11 people was rough for me and I LOVE pushing myself in running. Ultra is a different animal. There is less “down” time but my favorite part of Ragnar is spending 30+ hours engulfed in the running community!

Ragnar 2013
Ragnar Chicago 2013

3) Where do you typically run?
I run outside as much as possible. This winter in WI REALLY pushed my limits and I relied on the Pettit and my Y membership more than I EVER have. I prefer trails but admit to be a bit of a wuss when it comes to being in the woods alone for too long. That and having small kids it is usually most convenient to road run.
4) Do you cross train? How?
I TRY to get to the gym once a week for strength training/ incline training. I use THIS ab workout and do free weights. For Incline training I spend time on the stair machine and run/walk on the treadmills that go to 25% incline. In conjunction with Ragnar training I’m training for Dances With Dirt – Devil’s Lake – a 50K with A LOT of hills. I also bike to work when weather/schedule permits. I’m a nervous road biker though and haven’t food a GREAT way to work yet so I chicken out and run instead sometimes.


5) Must have running gear?
For longer distances a hydration system that works/fits. For an average day run something to keep my hair out of my face, usually a hat.
6) While running Music/ No music?
No music. I use to not be able to stand running sans music now it makes my head hurt. I will use it sometimes inside but even then it makes me tune out my body and changes my running experience.

Ragnar Chicago 2012
Ragnar Chicago 2012



7) What are you most excited about for Ragnar this year?
My KICK ASS TEAM!! We have a great group of athletes who are just different enough to keep things interesting. It can be nerve wracking as a captain to stick 5 people plus yourself together because you never know what you will get, personality wise. This year I don’t have that fear!
Also pushing myself by having just over a ½ marathon my last leg!



8) What are you most scared of about Ragnar this year?
Logistics. ALWAYS logistics. Will we be to the exchange on time? What if someone gets hurt? Who can go unsupported so we can sleep? Is anyone mad? Did ______ eat? As a captain Ragnar is a different experience, you have to run but also make sure you get those other 5 people to the finish and on team We Run This we aim to do that while having THE MOST FUN possible. I trust my team so that helps!

9) If one thing could be waiting for you in Chicago at the Ragnar finish line what would it be?
I think the FREE ice cold Sierra Nevada (Ragnar Sponsor) will do!!!

10) Anything else you would like to share?
Thanks to everyone who has followed the series of Get To Know Team We Run This! Follow us leading up to the race and during on Twitter at @WeRunThisDotOrg or #teamWRT or on Facebook facebook.com/werunthis1 or #teamWRT

Let us know if YOU on running Ragnar Chicago 2014!

Tighten Those Laces! LETS RUN!


Get To Know Team We Run This – Ragnar 2014 – Taylor

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I have known Taylor for longer then I have been running. My cousin by marriage he has always been active and positive. Taylor was on our 2012 Ragnar Chicago team and easily the fastest person on that team. I’m excited to get to share a van with him this year and nervous about getting to his exchanges on time!

Taylor S, 22, Madison,WI 4th-Year Student at UW-Madison studying Chemical Engineering

Taylor (right) during “off” time Ragnar 2012

1)How long have you been running? What got you started?

I competed in pole vault in High School but never got much into running any distance. I began training for running in order to do better in triathlons. Other than that, I had only done a few short races before doing the Ragnar back in 2012.

2)Why Ragnar Ultra?

I’m doing the ultra because Rachel asked me. I enjoy training and challenging myself so this race is perfect.

3)Where do you typically run?

I usually run outside on roads because I can’t stand running on a treadmill for more than 20-30 minutes. It gets too boring and I like being out in the fresh air

4)Do you cross train? How?

I cross train with swimming, biking, and rock climbing. I plan on playing in the UW-Marching Band for a 5th year next year and I’m trying to do anything to avoid injuries from doing anything too repetitive

5)Must have running gear?

When running, I tend to go with whatever is lightest and keeps me coolest. Light shoes and shorts are what I go with when I can.

6)While running Music/ No music?

I used to not like running with music, but I’ve become more used to it over the last year or two. Any album or podcast by The White Panda works well for me because it is so upbeat

7)What are you most excited about for Ragnar this year?

I am really excited to challenge myself with the distance. I have never raced this far before and I’m looking forward to the mental challenge.

8)What are you most scared of about Ragnar this year?

I’m most scared that my body won’t be able to hold up over the distances. I’ve had knee problems in the past that have been improving, but I just hope that they don’t return during the race.

9)If one thing could be waiting for you in Chicago at the Ragnar finish line what would it be?

If there could be anything waiting for me at the finish line this year, it would be a pool. If this year is going to be anything like 2012, it’s going to be HOT, HOT, HOT and a dip at the end would feel great!

10)Anything else you would like to share?

At UW-Madison, I’ve marched 4 years in the UW Marching Band and plan to do another. It is a big time commitment, but I really enjoy the athletic challenge and the ability to play and perform music all year round. Outside of classes, this is what I spend the majority of my time with.

Taylor Marching with UW Madison

Thanks for sharing Taylor!! You can get to know the rest of the team – Heather, Jennifer H, Barb, and Jennifer M

The race is ALMOST here so be on the lookout for our last installment of Get To Know Team We Run This – Ragnar 2014 as well as an all new Captain’s Blog on race day preparedness!

Tighten Those Laces – LETS RUN


Get To Know Team We Run This – Ragnar 2014 – Jennifer M

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In our 4th installment (other stories HERE, HERE, HERE) of Get To Know Team We Run This – Ragnar 2014 we meet Jennifer M. I have known Jennifer (Jenny to me) technically since she was born, which was to her parents who lived across the street from my parents. We moved when I was 5 but our families kept in touch for a while so when I moved back to Madison at age 17 we got a chance to catch up and both eventually ended up in Milwaukee. Jenny is a true Ragnar success story because in 2013 she proved that even non-runners can complete Ragnar, ULTRA, with the right grit and training.  

Jennifer M.29 Milwaukee, WI Business Manager – ORO di Oliva

Jennifer at Ragnar Florida Keys 2014

1) How long have you been running? What got you started?

I started running in July of 2012.  A good friend of mine, who happens to be our Ragnar team captain, was at my house.  We hadn’t seen each other in quite some time.  She was talking about how GREAT Ragnar is, and then suggested I train to run….ON HER ULTRA TEAM.  I agreed, stone sober mind you.  The rest is history.  I trained from July to the next June and finished Ragnar Chicago 2013 as an Ultra runner.  I was never so proud of myself.  I committed, and I followed through.  I owe Rachel a great deal of thanks for getting me motivated and inspired. Thanks, Rachel!

2) Why Ragnar Ultra?

Before I ran an Ultra, I knew no other Ragnar.  I have since run Ragnar Keys on a regular team, but I certainly enjoy the intensity of Ultra running. I am happy I began my running career training for Ragnar.  I doubt I would have followed through had I not had a team counting on me.

Jennifer at Ragnar Chicago 2013

3) Where do you typically run?

I either run outside, on the road, or if the weather is terrible, on the indoor track at the Petit National Ice Center.  I do plan on hitting the trails in the next week and working up to an ultra marathon trail style.

4) Do you cross train? How?

Ha…well…can I plead the fifth?  I do some yoga. By some, I mean once a month I drop into a yoga class. 

5) Must have running gear?

MY shoes, a really, really good sports bra, and my Garmin.  The rest is far less important to me.

6) While running Music/ No music?

NO MUSIC.  I do, however, listen to RadioLab once in a while on a long run if I need to catch up on my episodes.

7) What are you most excited about for Ragnar this year?

I am excited, this year, to run Ragnar with a better sense of what I’m getting myself into.  I’m also looking forward to meeting 3 new team members.  But what I’m most excited for….FINISHING.

8) What are you most scared of about Ragnar this year?

I have gotten sick a lot this winter and my training suffered.  Now for the last month, I have had MAJOR dental issues.  I am currently trying to ignore my dry socket pain.  The impact of running on my teeth is unbearable, and I hope it all heals in time for me to have a good grip on training prior to Ragnar.

9) If one thing could be waiting for you in Chicago at the Ragnar finish line what would it be?

Diet Barq’s root beer – ICE COLD.  Hi, my name is Jenny, and I am a Diet Barq’s addict.

10) Anything else you would like to share?

It is my goal to do a different Ragnar (in addition to Chicago) every year.  This year I ran the season opener from Miami to the Florida Keys.  Next year, who knows! 

Thanks for sharing with us Jennifer!

Tighten Those Laces! Lets RUN!!!


Ride Around The Clock

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You might have seen here that I had signed up to Ride Around The Clock for the Waukesha County YMCA. That ride was this weekend and I learned a lot! Since last summer I have been biking more both outside and at the gym as a way of cross training. Outdoors I have an alright road bike with a seat that is less than “grandma” like. Inside I usually stick to the recumbent bikes because I rarely have my bike shorts, I HATE how the non-spin upright bike seats feel and there is limited access to spin bikes. No matter what bike I was riding I had NEVER clocked more than 2 hours in the saddle.

Saturday I was scheduled to run 14 miles and had an option for kid care, at the Y, so I thought it was best to take full advantage. Got leaving a later than expected and ended with 12.8 not 14 but I’ll take it. The run was windy and cold but it still felt good to get outside. After all was said and done of our busy morning we were home and the kids were in bed by 1:15. I TRIED to nap. I DID! However, 1:30 became 2:30, became 3:30 and grandma was there to pick them up. After sleep seemed like a lost cause I headed BACK to Waukesha to do some work at a coffee shop. I ended up getting to the Y at 7p NOT my originally planned so I could rest 9p!!!!

I’m happy I was early because there wasn’t much of my team there yet so I got to support our rider by riding (and eating pizza) for 15 minutes on the bike next to her and standing there to chat. At Ride Around The Clock ALL teams must have a rider on the bike AT ALL TIMES. Each team also has a bike next to the “on” bike that can be used for a supporter (you can use either bike for either function someone just needs to be on ONE of them). Teams also have the area in front of their bikes to decorate. After a few hours of messing around one of our members REALLY needed support so I jumped on the bike next to her for another 30 minutes knowing it would add to my total/soreness but I can’t sit around watching someone suffer.

Eating pizza on the bike!
Eating pizza on the bike!
During my 30 support minutes
During my 30 support minutes

I’m not going to lie and say I even TRIED to sleep. I was in a weird state of awake but lethargic around 11pm and could have probably slept but it was my wife’s turn to ride. She ended up doing almost 4 hours after a board member challenged her! She is a ROCK STAR and rode very close to 90 miles during the whole event. After that I could have tried to find somewhere quiet to rest but I know it’s usually all or nothing with me when it comes to sleep and 3am was too close for comfort.

So I was left just waiting to go, the support bike was open so I thought “why not just start now!”    It was 2:40a and I was on the bike. By this time my team was fading fast. By 3:30a everyone of them was down for the count (which is why I don’t have any pictures of MY ride). I was thankful for Dave, the guy who rode 6 hours total and my whole shift next to me and also one of the other staff who was on another team but helped me out by getting me water. The ride went by without incident even though I was worried about my wonky knee. It reminded me it was wonky but nothing more. At 6am my relief came and I have NEVER liked someone I have NEVER met so much in my life! I was really tired and nauseous (probably from lack of eating on the bike/eating crap at the event) when I got off the bike, really just ready to be DONE!

Attempting to "protect" my knee.
Attempting to “protect” my knee.

The only thing I would change about this event was food options. I don’t really want pizza, ice cream and chips when I’m riding/going to be riding. There was fresh fruit in the morning but I would have liked the option the whole day. We brought some of our own snacks but didn’t even think to bring fruits and veggies (one of our morning teammates DID bring some at my request). All in all it was a REALLY fun event and probably really good Ragnar Relay training with the sleep depravation, especially since I made it until 10p Sunday before hitting the hay. I am exhausted, and could have slept another 3 + hours, but I am also not all that sore today. Thanks to everyone who donated we exceeded our goal by A LOT!

Have you ever participated in a 24 hour _____athon?

Tighten Those Laces! Lets RUN!!


Up and at ’em 2014

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Here I am in a blogging lull again. After my 50K focused a lot of energy on recovery (eating and drinking) and gaining a good 5lb. I was being pretty lazy in all aspects of my life and you know what I am OK with that. I spent 10 months of 2013 in “training” mode. First for Ragnar Chicago and then for Surf the Murph 50K. All the while I was also juggling a lot of other responsibilities that meant late nights and early wake ups.  

So here we are January 2nd 2014! Why not be cliché and write a testament about how I won’t let that laziness happen AGAIN? Well because that’s not really my style and it probably will happen again, next October after an epic year it will be a deserved break, recharge or whatever you want to call it. I really resumed my running life about a month ago (though I had been running for fun and when I wanted the whole time) when I got bored/sick of being lazy starting building a base and eating better (subsequently loosing those 5lbs)  so this is NOT about starting new for 2014 but keeping the momentum growing.

What’s up for 2014

Monthly women only fun runs!

–          We will continue to do monthly fun runs in the Milwaukee, WI area so get connected on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know! Next run Jan. 18th 9am The Pettit

Race Directing

–   I have accepted the position as the Race Director for Run Like a Mother – Milwaukee. This 5K race will be held May 10th (Mother’s Day). Though I will not saturate We Run This with RLAM posts I will put out a few reminders to register/requests for volunteers. This is an important journey in my running life so I will share lessons learned and field notes from my adventure for anyone considering race directing as well.

Ragnar Chicago

–   As you may know I am SO HONORED to have been selected into a group of people tasked with promoting Ragnar known as Ragnar Ambassadors. I’ll be running more store fun runs and hosting some 101 sessions to help get out the word because this is probably my FAVORITE RACE! PS Prices increase 1/10 so if you’ve been debating – REGISTER NOW

–   I will be captaining and running as part of an ultra (6 person) team again and I am SUPER excited for our cast of characters (who don’t know it but I am going to ask to feature them on the blog).

The BIG run goal

–  The BIG run goal for me this year will be to complete 2 50Ks! I had so much fun at Surf the Murph I want to capture that again and again. Timing works out perfectly from a training prospective so as long as I get in to both races I will be running Dances With Dirt – Devil’s Lake on July 12th (for fun/experience/because I have a wedding to go to in Madison at 4:00pm anyways) and the Glacial Trail 50K on Oct. 12th (for time, under 7hrs). That was scary to write!

So there it is. It doesn’t seem like much but on top of a full time job and parenting twin four year olds in a household with a lot of weekend travel it should be interesting. I hope to meet as much of the We Run This community as possible in 2014 and am looking forward to many great runs!

Happy New Year!

Tighten those laces! Let’s Run!!

–   Rachel