Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pretty in Pink, WICKED in Sneaks!

This is the story of my team running Ragnar Northwest Passage 2016.  We met at Eri's house, most of us meeting for the first time, on Thursday afternoon to drive north.  We went to a high school in Bellingham for registration and a safety video, and we picked up our shirts.  Pictured from left: Jen, Sierra, Marie, Eri, Laurie, Sarah, Kailyn, Lynna, me, Tiffany, Carlie, and Alex.  We spent the night in a hotel/casino before Van 1 started early the next morning.  I shared a room with Lynna. I think everyone had a hard time sleeping with race anticipation.  
This park where we started is on the Canadian border.  You can just wander into Canada, and then wander back.  It was pretty cool.  I'm not sure I was ever on the Canadian side, but this is the closest I've ever been to Canada.  
 This is me with the starting line behind me.  Tiffany was our first runner.  I was runner #5.
 This is me goofing off at the second exchange while we waited for Alex to finish her first leg.
 This is me pretending to be ready and excited instead of horrendously nervous for my first leg.
 And this is my post run selfie.  I was a sweaty mess.
 When Carlie finished for our van, and we passed it off to Kailyn for van 2, we took a van selfie and went to look for lunch.  I was still too anxious and over hydrated to eat. It's hard to drink the right amount of water when you are running multiple times in a day.  From the left we are me, Alex, Lynna, Tiffany, Carlie, and Laurie.  
 When we handed off to van 2, they finally gave us the markers so that we could decorate our van.  Eri even made a stencil cut out of a running girl.  It looked awesome.  I filled in the stencil and Carlie dressed it up.
 We kept track of our legs on the side of the van.  I brought the top carrier, but, while van 2 was over loaded, the van 1 crew packed light.  We hardly used the top carrier at all.
 We headed off to the next major exchange to await van 2.  We were there for over an hour when we started getting messages from the ladies in the other van.  "We're here! Where are you?" "We're here too." "At the high school?" Oops.  We were at a church.  We ran for the car and, thanks to some crazy driving by Carlie, we made it just in time for Eri to hand off to Tiffany.  Lucky Tiffany didn't have to run in the dark.
 My night run was not fun.  Eight miles in the day time is a lot of miles, but eight miles of long, straight lines in the pitch black of night in dairy country was pretty dreadful.  I sort of hated it.  Our team's strategy for dealing with running boredom was taking running selfies, but there wasn't even a street light for pictures.  I took this picture to show my team that I was only a few minutes away.
 After Carlie ran her second leg, we went to a hotel room that was recently vacated by van 2.  It turned out to be a tiny room with a full sized bed, a big bathroom, and hardly any floor space for anyone else.  I was so tired and sick feeling, from so much running and being out so late, that I just threw my sleeping bag into the space between the bed and the wall, said a silent prayer, and fell asleep instantly.  When Tiffany's alarm went off four hours later I felt so much better than I had when I fell asleep.  I popped up excited to run my last leg.  The rest of the team wasn't quite so cheerful.  Some of them were dealing with very sore knees, and all of them were dealing with sleep deprivation.  We made a tunnel for Eri to run through for her hand off to Tiffany.
 Here is Lynna finishing and Laurie starting her last leg.
 Alex was done, but both of her knees were killing her.
 My last eight mile run was great!  I took selfies, I video conferenced with my kids, I ran, and I ate some hills for breakfast.

 I even made friends with another runner from "The Team Your Mother Warned You About."  This is my selfie a quarter of a mile from the finish.  I took it to send to my team so that they could see that I was close, but I had no service here to send it.
 After my run, then Carlie's run, we had showers in a high school gym, and then we went out to breakfast.  I was hungry for the first time in two days.  After we ate, we tracked down van 2 and cheered for their runners until the very end.
 We all joined Eri at the end to run across the finish line together.  Our final time was 34:22:10
The medals were part of a puzzle.  When we put it together for the whole team, it said, "We believe that being a Ragnarian is about more than being a runner; that misery loves company and happiness is 'only real when it is shared;' that there is a badass inside all of us; that everyone deserves to be cheered at the finish line; that tutus make you run faster; that what happens in the van stays in the van; that adventure can only be found if you are looking for it; and that a little sleep deprivation is a small price to pay to watch the sun rise with our friends.  Together we ran 200-ish miles.  Together we can accomplish anything.  WE ARE RAGNARIANS."
This was an amazing experience.  We started out as strangers, but we ended as friends and teammates.  It was truly an honor to run with such an incredible group of women.  
It was insane.  The cars came home smelling much worse than they smelled when we left (Eri actually found a dead frog in van 2 *gag*).  We slept very little, but we laughed a lot.  I would love to do this again with this exact group of ladies. I couldn't have picked a better group. 

Parks Progress Report

July 11 was freezing cold in the morning, but we are serious about our free slurpee on 7-11 day, so we bundled up and braved the cold.  For some reason there was no line. . . 
 We took our slurpees for a stroll on the Sammamish River Trail in Bothell.  Sammy loved the ducks.  He also loved his slurpee.  He wouldn't let me wrestle it away from him until he was convinced that there was not a drop left in the cup.
 Then we went to play at Bothell Landing Park.  It was fun, but a little bit crowded.
 On another day, we had a picnic at Rose Hill Meadows park.
 The last time I was here, Jared was just barely two, and the play structure was way too high for him.  Now all three of the older kids can navigate it with ease.  Sammy preferred to hang out on the ground with his "bobble," anyway.
B got jealous that Eloise has to have her hair brushed every day.  Eloise can't figure out why anyone would want to have their hair brushed every day.  He was delighted when I solved his problem with spikes.  "I'm a porcupine!"
 This is the North Kirkland Community Center train park.  I'm pretty sure that this is the official name.
 This is my favorite place B has fallen asleep.  He loves his loud music so much that he cranks the volume and literally hugs the speakers sometimes.  I am always turning down his tunes.  Did someone say threenager?  Yes.  Right down to the hair vanity and spontaneous napping.
 In preparation for our car being a team van for Ragnar Northwest Passage, I put the kids to work cleaning it, inside and out. I couldn't do anything about the dog/old milk smell that seems to have taken over the car from too many outings with babies and dogs.  
 Sammy LOVES towels.  He gets mad when I take his towel off after his bath.
The minute the van was clean was the minute I started having second thoughts about running Ragnar.  What kind of crazy person spends two days in a car, running a total of 20 miles at all hours with a bunch of strangers?  That would be this girl.

Jolley Family Reunion '16

After a long and uneventful day on the road, we got to Idaho.  Our kids really are great travelers, and they get so excited to go to Idaho that the excitement carries them through a lot of the day.  Colette and Jacob and their family were already there, along with Grandma and Grandpa Knight.  B talked for weeks before this trip about how he and his cousin, Ryan, were going to run around together without any grown ups.  It was kind of fun to just count our kids once every hour or two to account for their whereabouts.  Except for Sammy, of course.  He had to be leashed to keep him out of harm's way on more than one occasion.  
 In the photo above he is harnessed to keep him from being hit by flying sticks in this game that Todd built to bring.  It's called Kubb (pronounced koob), or Viking Chess. It was fun to have a whole bunch of Jolley cousins to join in the game.
 At any given time on Wednesday, there were multiple lawn games going on.
 Benjamin Knight, Ryan Campbell, Eloise Knight, Eli Christensen, and Parker Hansen.
 I heard about this stick game being played at the last reunion, which we missed.  I think I was supervising a nap and missed the game again.  Oh, well.  There are many reunions yet to come.
 Human foosball was a hit for all ages.
 It was starting to get hot, so Aunt Barbara broke out the slush.  It's a family tradition.
 Grandma and Grandpa Knight were only around for a day before they had to go home.  Grandpa Knight had to get immediate medical attention for some numbness in his legs.  It turned out to be swelling from overuse, and he didn't need an operation right away.  We were sad to see them go, but we are glad that Grandpa is okay, and that we got to see them for a short time.
 Other awesome family activities: Giant twister,
 Climbing in the junkyard/playground,
 Circle games,
 Driving around in Grandpa's golf cart that has scary bad brakes,

 and a trip down the road to Aunt Reah and Uncle Jim's house. . . no seatbelts required.
 We didn't see as much of the Tarkalson family as we would have liked, since they were putting on an ultramarathon, the Beaverhead Endurance Run, that weekend, but we went over for dinner on Wednesday night.  Hilariously and awfully, Eric Tarkalson, who is chief in charge of the race, had to have an emergency appendectomy on Thursday morning.  Isn't that always how it seems to go?

Uncle Jim always seems to have a baby animal project, in addition to his chickens, turkeys, dogs, and horse.  This time there was a rescued fawn.
 All of the small kids loved having Connor jump them on the extra bouncy trampoline.

 After dinner we went back to the Stokes' house for movie night.  We turned on a movie for the kids and then sent them to bed.  
 Then all of the big kids came for "Zootopia." I love the new, big basement for a crowd.
 B was very afraid that he wouldn't get a ride on the motorcycle, so he was glad when Nate took him for a spin on Thursday morning.  He was a little disappointed that Uncle Boyd never brought the tractor out to give rides, but I can understand Boyd's reluctance to start that, since there were enough little tractor enthusiasts around to keep the tractor running for multiple hours.
 Thursday was supposed to be slip and slide day.  The Stokes slip and slide is epic.  The sun didn't come out for a long time, though, so this year's sliding was mostly enjoyed by those too young to care about freezing.
 Mason, Hannah, Rachel, B, Brooklyn, Jared, and Eloise in line for the slide.  George and some of the older Jolley boys stood along the slip and slide to give the small people boosts so that they could make it all of the way to the end.  They had a great time.
 We tried to feed them real food, but there were too many red vines, ice cream sandwiches, chips, lemonades, and cookies to be enjoyed. That pristine sandwich that Eloise is holding ended lunch in very much the same condition it started in.
 On Thursday afternoon, Colette watched our kids so that Todd and I could go float the river with the Jolleys.  Here are Melissa and Hannah.  I was freezing for a lot of the trip down the river, and so was Hannah.  When we got out of the river we found a hot cement slab in the sun to lie on and warm up.
 Grandpa Jolley and Grandma Pat participated in as many activities as they could.  They sat on the sidelines and watched yard games, slip and slide, and they came for dinner, but they couldn't do everything, so Todd and Colette showed Grandpa pictures of some of the things he missed.
 Thursday was all about water.  This ingenious contraption pops a water balloon on someone's head when a target is hit with a ball.  Jolley grandchildren were lining up to try and soak their grandpa, Uncle Von.
 This was one of my favorite things.  The Stokes have three grandsons who were born within a month of each other two years ago.  Eli, Parker, and Tyson are inseparable little balls of energy.  They are going to be all kinds of trouble together over the coming years, but it is sweet to see them all snuggling with their Gramps.  Eloise stood by to hear the story, too.  
 Sammy loved the "tows!"  He told us that they say "boo!" He was always up for a walk to see some cows.
 Here is the proof that I was actually there.
 On Friday, Todd's cousin Stacy (from the Knight side) came to visit with her four kids and her mom, Julie.  We went to Williams Lake with the Jolleys for swimming, paddle boarding, and water skiing. The last time we saw Stacy was at Jared's baby blessing.  Here are Jared, Rachel, Sadie, Cassidy, Nate, and Hannah on a tube being pushed by Stacy.
Here is one of Todd's attempts at water skiing.  He did actually get up.  I didn't.  
 Melissa took Jared out on a paddle board.  Paddle boarding is harder than it looks.  I was surprised.
 Here is Todd in a more successful attempt to water ski.
 Sammy liked the boat, but the day was long, and the motor lulled him to sleep in spite of the wind.
 B loves everything about Idaho.  I can't believe we did so much in such a short trip.
 After the lake we went to the campground for dinner with the Jolleys before going back to the Stokes' house to sleep.  Our kids were tired, and B was trying to tease Mason by calling him a baby.  B thinks it is hilarious to call bigger people babies.  Mason said, "I'm not a baby. Hannah is the baby.  She cries all the time!"
Hannah said, "I only cry because I have lots of EMOTION!"
Just one week after the reunion, eight year old Hannah got sick from E. Coli, was hospitalized, and died over the course of a few short days.  We will miss her beautiful face at reunion time.  Our kids have not stopped praying for Hannah's family, that they will not be too sad and miss her.  I think we are part of the best family in the world.