Running Through May - Part 1: Ragnar

This May brought me my first Ragnar Trail Relay and my fourth BolderBoulder. First I’ll give you the low-down on the Ragnar.

On May 12-13, I was part of an 8 person group that took turns running through trails near Zion National Park. Yes, there are crazy people who voluntarily run miles through the desert at odd hours of the day for fun. 😉 A few weeks before the race, a friend reached out to me asking if I wanted to join their team, because they were short one person. In those weeks leading up to the race my emotions ranged from excited to do something new with my friends to crazy terrified that I’d fail or break myself or something crazy would happen (because I’m not the most graceful person). We ended up having a super fun time and we placed 15th out of 313 teams (despite me dragging down my teams average pace 😜)

Our team name was "El Mem̃o", and we all dressed like memes. Also, none of their systems could handle an M with a tilda, so variations included "El Memzo" and, my personal favorite, "El Mem?_o".

A few things I learned and will hopefully remember for next time:

Detail of my DIY Nyan Cat costume

  1. You won’t sleep enough. Of course, you might have guessed that, but really, I didn’t realize just how little I’d get. Between my runs, I tried to sleep, but often woke in a panic, wondering if I’d missed my next turn.
  2. Eating is hard when you need to run so much. I typically run in the morning on a mostly empty stomach, but when you have to run multiple times in a 24 hour period, you need to fuel your body without feeling too full, and you need to be aware of foods that might not sit well in this sort of scenario. I had my first ever shot blocks, but also tried to eat normal things like bananas and nut butter. ALSO, you don’t want to et caught in a situation where you need to go to the bathroom on the course (you’ll get disqualified, too).
  3. I’m so glad I brought a change of clothes for each run. There wasn’t enough time between runs for my clothes to fully dry, so having extra outfits was amazing. Especially socks.
  4. It’s super fun! We dressed up and didn’t take ourselves too seriously. I started with a bunch of doubt and fear, but my teammates were super sweet, and I couldn’t be happier with how much we as a group cheered each other on.

Some things I would have changed if I were in charge of the whole event… 

Zion through the car window

  • Don’t call it “Zion” because it’s not actually in Zion. It's near Zion.
  • Try to keep track of where teams set up camp so that people who don’t arrive together can find each other because there's practically no cell reception.
  • Don’t break down the event the instant people stop running. There were s’mores the night before we got there and the night that we were running, but not the night when everyone had finished! Seems a little crazy to me - all other races I’ve done make it feel like a party once everyone is done! Instead it felt like a ghost town. Maybe other Ragnar events do it differently, but this was pretty strange to me.

Anyway… We kicked butt, had fun, and did get to drive through Zion National Park when we went back home 😍

An Impromptu Kitchen Remodel

A handful of weeks ago we were going to paint my craft room - I was going to empty it out completely, give it a fresh, clean start, get rid of some stuff, reorganize my closet (so I can have everything in one place)… [I talk about this here, here and here]

The hole between my kitchen and living room

But, alas, life never goes as planned. We found water in the wall behind our kitchen sink, a wall which separates our kitchen and living room. Water inside your wall can never be good, so we got it inspected, found out we needed to rip out a bunch of gross drywall, and now there’s a giant hole in the wall. We’re taking it as a sign that it’s time to remodel the kitchen. We’ve never been in love with it, and we wanted to tear out that whole wall anyway, so we opened a line of home equity, and our summer project is going to be to slowly make the kitchen into a better space for us.

Only the finest plywood counters for us!

Chaotic - this picture also represents my brain right now

But Kathryn - painting your craft room isn’t that big a project, is it? Compared to a new kitchen, you’re right. It’s totally smaller both in magnitude and budget, but currently my house feels chaotic. It’s messy. Things aren’t in the right places. The extra bedroom on the main floor (where I’d temporarily relocate the contents of my craft room) is full of kitchen supplies because we don’t want to reload the temporary kitchen with things we don’t use often, just to have to empty it again when we re-do our cabinet situation. Heck, my fridge isn’t even in the right place. Working on my craft room not only feels impossible right now, but also incredibly irresponsible. So I’m finding small things I can do to keep it feeling more and more like my own space. I can slowly hang a couple more pictures on the wall (which I did this weekend). I can make sure I keep it tidy so I can continue to be creative. I can slowly go through my shelves, drawers, boxes and closet, so that when it does become time to paint, clearing out that room won’t be as difficult.

Baby steps in making my craft room better - hung the three small drawings (Karen Hallion) this weekend.

So this is me learning to put things on hold. I hate waiting. I wish I could wave my magic wand and make both my kitchen and my creative space finished. Even though I know a house is never truly finished. We need to be smart about how we choose to spend our time and money right now, since a kitchen remodel is no small feat. But boy will this all be fun once we’re done!

Turn Flared Jeans into Skinny Jeans

Original flare

If you're anything like me, you've got old stuff in your dresser that you don't wear for one reason or another. Maybe it doesn't fit you but you dream of the day it will, maybe it's not your style anymore, or maybe it's something you've got a nostalgic connection with. I'm guilty of all of the above.

Anyway, I've had this pair of flared jeans for a few years now that I haven't worn much because I prefer skinny jeans these days. But I just couldn't ever bring myself to part with them because they fit me so well! So I decided to try to make them into skinny jeans. If I failed, I wouldn't be losing much because they weren't getting worn anyway!

Materials:

  • Jeans to be altered
  • Jeans that fit you
  • Pencil or pen for marking where you're sewing
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins

Steps:

  1. Turn the jeans inside out and lay them on the floor. Line up the jeans that currently fit you the way you like on top of them, right side out.
  2. Mark where you'd like to make your seam, along the outer edges of the skinny jeans. I used a ballpoint pen, because the wash of the jeans was too light to see my white pencil.
  3. Pin along that line, so your jeans don't slide at all, and the seam goes where you want.
  4. Sew along the line you drew, then sew just outside of it for more reinforcement. Denim is a sturdy fabric.
  5. Put the jeans on to make sure you like the way they fit. You can rip out the seam if you've made them too small, or you can make them skinnier if need be.
  6. Once you're satisfied with the skinny-ness, cut off the extra fabric.
  7. If necessary, hem the jeans - mine needed this a lot! I marked where I wanted them on one leg, then added about an inch, marked the same on the other leg, and cut off the excess fabric, then did a double folded hem.
  8. Turn your jeans right side in and there you have it!

Step 5 - I shoulda just stopped here 😂

Step 7 - I marked where I wanted my pants to end with a ballpoint pen

Step 8 - Finished hem! If I had a machine with thicker thread, it would look more professional, but I'm happy with how mine turned out 

Glamping - The Great Outdoors

Camping can mean a lot of things. It can mean using an RV, setting up a tent, or sleeping in your car. It can mean going to an established campsite with some amenities or it can mean going to the middle of nowhere and finding a flat enough place to set up a tent. It can be in the woods, the desert, on the beach, anywhere, really!

Our caravan of cars in the middle of nowhere

For us, we tend to find known campsites that are more of the beaten path. Clearly others have been here before, but they’re fairly far from other sites, and there are no amenities. [Either that, or we go to Disney World 😉]. We recently got a MASSIVE tent, and we like to bring an air mattress so we don’t have rocks digging into our bodies as we sleep. We also recently got a two-person sleeping bag, and it’s great for using body heat to keep warm. We also bring pillows and extra blankets, because you never know how chilly it’ll get!

In addition to the kitchen gear I talked about here, we also bring fold up camping chairs and tables to put near the fire for meals and just hanging out. I’d also recommend bringing some sort of emergency gear, like a car kit and first aid, just in case. Hopefully you won’t ever need to use it!

Depending on your activities, you may decide to bring a number of other things. We saw so many cars towing ATVs, motorbikes and/or mountain bikes. If you plan on hiking a bunch, hiking poles can be nice, and a Camelback backpack is convenient for carrying lots of water easily, plus food and sunscreen. There are lots of canyons around which require climbing gear, so rock climbers can have a lot of fun, too. If you’re a photographer, bringing lots of gear can be great - just be careful of dirt and sand! Night photography is great here, because of the lack of ambient light.

"Vader Rock"

This trip we went to the San Rafael Swell. Our first night we spent near Goblin Valley, at a site we call Vader Rock because the shape of the huge rock reminds us of Darth Vader’s helmet. From this site we can walk up to a nice little notch and look over at the canyons on the other side, or climb Vader Rock itself. We also hear a lot of people on ATVs and motorcycles. You can also quickly drive to Goblin Valley, which is worth seeing!

The next two nights, we went a little further and camped near Cistern Canyon, which we could walk to from our campsite. In order to make it all the way through and out Ramp Canyon nearby, though, you need mountaineering gear - it’s a bit more technical, and we didn’t do that. We did make it all the way to the chokestone in Cistern Canyon, though, which makes for some fun photos.

At the chokestone!

Muddy pups in Muddy Creek

The next day we drove to the Muddy Creek hike. This water really lives up to its name! There were some dogs with us and they got FILTHY swimming in this water. It would be good to bring water shoes (like Tevas or Chacos) on this hike, because you will get wet! I think we got about knee deep at one point, but if you go even farther, you might get even wetter! Also, entering this hike you get to pass by an old mining area, with some dilapidated wooden buildings. It’s amazing that this land used to be utilized for mining so much, and now it just sits there. Do NOT go into any mines, though. That could be super dangerous both because they may not be stable, and because they aren’t cleaned up and you could get radiation!

A lot of people go farther south to Moab and Canyonlands, but we really like this area around Green River - I think it’s a little less off the beaten path, and it’s not far from Moab anyway, so it could be fun to mix things up a little bit.

(edit: reviews.com reached out to me about their reviews of the best air mattresses - check it out if you're in the market)