26.2 Musings About My First Marathon

photo(1){The start of the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.}

So, I did it. My first full marathon. The big 26.2.

I’ve been trying to come up with a good recap of the race, but all I can remember {I have brief amnesia of the race – did I even run it?!} are certain memories and feelings during each mile.

First thing I’ll tell you though, is that the course was NOT flat, as we thought it would be. There was a constant flow of rolling hill after rolling hill. Add 80-degree weather on top of that and, well, you can see why I say that it was the hardest physical challenge I’ve ever had to do in my entire life.

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I did have some amazing inspiration along the way, though. I wore a charm necklace that had “26.2″ and “For Jane” engraved, and a grey ribbon in my hair {the official color of brain cancer awareness.} My sweet friends in Arizona sent it to me a few days before the race. It had been a tough few weeks leading up to the race, so it was a really nice trinket to carry with me throughout the race.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset{Browsing the boot selection in Nashville. I want those red ones!}

Nashville itself was amazing. I’d been there once before doing the country bar and big nights out thing, but this time we got to see the less busy side of the city, eating and drinking at local hangouts, along with listening to live country music and shopping for boots!

Back to the race: The first half of the course was fantastic, with just a few hills, but beautiful scenery and the best crowd cheering us on. The second half of the route, well, can kiss my ass, really. It sucked. But, the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll organizers DID do an amazing job with water/Gatorade stations, and also gave out oranges, had hose sprinklers for us to run under, and had some other cool-down things to hand out, including an ice cold water-soaked towel to put around our necks right after we crossed the finish line.

So, without further ado, I give you my 26.2 musings {and some that I got from Erika and Lisa} from my first 26.2-mile race:

photo(2){But first, #letmetakeapreraceselfie.}

Mile 1: The time is here! How exciting is this? We get to start near all the bars! This is the best start ever – there’s so much space, no dodging people, the crowd is wild. I just love Nashville!

Mile 2: Man, I already have to pee. Wait, WHAT is that weird looking statue of naked people?! Nashville is a little weird, but super rad!

Mile 3: Oh, we get to run down Music Row!! How fun!! Those little houses are actually recording studios? Nashville is just so hip. Awww, everyone has such cute signs!

Mile 4: Is that band playing Kenny? We love Kenny! I’m just so happy! This is just the best route, ever! “I go baaaaaack.”

Mile 5: I might feel something in my knee, but I’m not going to speak up about it because if I did, it would be true. Just keep running…just keep running..OH! Is that a running bride? Awwww…

Mile 6: Frats in the south really know how to tailgate for a 7am race! And that sorority girl really knows how to twerk! Yea, girl! But really, what is up with all the signs that say: “If this was easy, it would be called ‘your mom.’” Like, what?

Mile 7: No thoughts, just drooling over a table in someone’s lawn adorned with a fancy table cloth, glass pitcher of orange juice, champagne flutes, croissants, and a fruit bowl. People really do know how to host a party in the south.

Mile 8: All of us: “Oh hey – remember the name of that bar. It’s packed…at 8am. It looks like so much fun, and they’re all cheering us on.” The name of the bar is Edley’s. Erika: “So ‘Ed’ is pretty easy to remember” Me: “And ‘Ley’ is the last part of my name!’” All of us: “Yay!”

Mile 9: Hi, Lisa’s parents! Thanks for cheering us on today! See you again at mile 16! Bahaha that poster cracks me up: “Smile if you pooped today.”

Mile 10: Gummy, gummy, gummy time! Also threw in a few jelly beans. And we’re back near downtown Nashville. Oh, so pretty! Oh – look at that guy with the GoPro filming himself running and hanging with people on the sidelines. Man, I wish I had a GoPro.

Mile 11: The point where the men are separated from the boys. Me: “That’s right! What, what!” Throw in a few more Sport Jelly Beans and a Clif Shot gummies and we’re feeling good. Except, I still have to pee.

Mile 12: Are those oranges?! They look good, AND refreshing. I wonder how I’ll look trying to eat one while running. Welp, that happened. Twice. Hope my face didn’t scare anyone. But wow, that hill coming up is quite the buzz kill from my orange high.

Mile 13: Oh hey! Our hotel. Hi hotel! And a medical station with a table of Vaseline sticks. Haha, Vaseline on a stick. That’s so weird, I’ve never had to use Vaseline before. But OMG, give.me.advil. Have.to.prevent.knee.pain. Poppin bottles, err, pills.

Insert  Mile 13.1: Our halfway mark commemorated by a tracker and a guy on the ground making sure we step on it. Me: “That’s it? We’re halfway to 26.2 and we don’t get a band or balloons or anything?” Ew, I hate loops where you run straight and then turn right back around. How boring is this?

Mile 14: OK, my bladder is literally going to explode. Well, there’s ONE Port-a-Potty coming up. Let’s just take 5 minutes and rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, everrrrybody! God, shut up, Ashley.

Insert Mile 14.5: WHAT? That stop has 4 bathrooms! Can’t believe we wasted time at the other one. Wait is that woman talking on the phone through her headphones while she runs? Wait, wait…another hill? {Meanwhile, Erika and Lisa are singing along to “Mambo No. 5,” which of course gets stuck in our heads most of the race.}

Mile 15: Ewww is that BBQ smell? Where are the oranges!! They’re supposed to be here. And really, if I see another sign that says “Insert Motivational Saying,” I’m going to punch someone. I’m already doing all the work here, can’t you at least get a little creative? BAH. Hey Lisa’s parents again. High five away! Oh crap! My hands are ALL sticky from the oranges. Hope they don’t mind…

Mile 16: OK…I know what I said earlier, but WHERE is the Vaseline?!?! My arms are chaffing so bad. What was I thinking? Oh, thank goodness! Another medical tent. Now, how to apply this gunk while running. Welp, guess I’m getting it everywhere. Annnnd, now my hair is plastered to my arm and back. Can’t wait to run these next 10 miles.

Mile 17: WATER STATION!!! Give me TWO cups. Yes, two cups, sir. I believe I deserve at least THAT right now. One I will drink, and the other I’ll pour over my head. Oh hey, that’s Claire!!! Let me try to smile, give a thumbs up and try to look presentable and happy. Um, why is there another uphill? {Insert groan and moan from Erika} Pretty sure this whole race is just uphill. I don’t even know why I bother saying “another.”

Mile 18: Oh – guys in Chive shirts!! Me: “Keep Calm and Chive On!! Thanks for supporting us!” Okay, and that guy gave me a weird look. I blame my husband for my outburst – he’s so obsessed with the Chive that I’ve come to notice it everywhere and now, just embarrassed myself. That’s my last happy outburst. You guys just don’t deserve my energy!

Mile 19: Oh an uphill? Again? Oh look, another water station. And. they. have. cold sponges!!! Brrr! Ice-cold sponges!! Oh, I will rub this ALL over my body. This is what heaven must be like. To the house that commemorated 19.6, thanks for your awesome super hero costumes and cheering, oh and bubble antics! I’ll “think” my thanks cause I don’t have the energy to say it. But, I will take a handful of ice from your buckets. Lisa: “I just grabbed ice from that girl’s hand, think I can eat? Oh well, I just did.”

Mile 20: I’m not even sure this mile happened.

Mile 21: There’s Claire again! A little bright spot in this haze. And, loving the signs she’s holding: “Run Like You’re In The Hunger Games.” Yup, just call me J-Law. Lisa: “Should we do another gummy?” Ash {grunting}: “Done.”

Mile 22: WHY is everyone walking? Don’t they know this is bad for moral? And is that guy limping? I mean, nice little loop around this little lake around a golf course, and wow that girl country singer is really talented, but up and at’em people. Get moving! And, to the woman who blatantly stopped in front of me going up the hill, I apologize for my outburst. Me {with hands thrown in the air, looking like I’ll start a fight}: “Are you KIDDING me?!” Her {very nicely}: “Oh, I’m so sorry.” Me {super embarrassed and now guilty with my tail between my legs}: “Oh no, it’s okay.”

Mile 23: Band playing “And I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more.” Super appropriate song for this moment. Too bad we can’t freaking hear the band all the way because of the long-ass, loud train going by. Lisa: “Look! A train – wow it’s loud!” Erika: “It’s long.”

Mile 24: Dear guy holding out a Pringles can and bag of potato chips, while it’s cool that you’re out here supporting everyone, I’d really like to smack you in the head with your said Pringles can. No, I don’t want some greasy chips at mile 24. If you want to support me, get me some water. Oh, there’s Claire again. Great to see you, but please don’t take a photo. ;) Lisa: “Are you OK Ash?” Me {grunting}: “I’m just trying not to have a heart attack.”

Mile 25: What.the.freaking.hell. This is the longest and most boring end to a race, ever. And dear people on the side lines, you SUCK at cheering us on. Ya, I said it. Me to the crowd: “Hey, we could really use the cheers! Woo!” The crowd {aka – 2 unenthusiastic guys}: “Go girls go.” Well, screw you too then.

Insert Mile 25.5: Me: “Guys, I can’t do this. I have to stop. I literally have to stop.” Lisa and Erika: “You’re JOKING right? We’ve gone too far together to separate now.” Me: “Fine.” I seriously dislike Nashville right now.

Mile 26: Oh, NOW the crowd wants to cheer us on. Nice, guys. Real nice. But, guess we’ll speed up and kick it to the finish. I can’t wait to lay on the ground after this. Erika: “WHERE is the 26 mile sign? Well….where is it?!”

Mile 26.2: Turn the corner and YES, the finish is right there. Yay!! Let’s hold hands and act like this is the best feeling, ever!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It was an amazing accomplishment, and I’m super proud of us all, but I’m not afraid to say that I was pretty pissed during the race. We ended with a 4:21. Not bad for our first time, and with the hot weather and hills, but I’m itching to break 4 hours. Luckily, we have another chance to redeem ourselves. We actually signed up for another marathon even before this one {crazy, I know!}. Hopefully this one I won’t be as pissed – which how could I be when it’s at Disney World!!!! Yeaup!!! January 2015 or bust!

I’m just really happy my knees held up so so well during this one! But, I did feel a little inflammation building up in my left knee, so I got it iced up right away. {Plus, the ice felt amaze balls in the heat.}
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe best part about the race, was all the post-race food and drinks! I wasn’t feeling 100% right after, but we showered and got ready and then headed for some margaritas at Saint Añejo. I also got a delish and refreshing shrimp taco salad.
photo(5)From there, we went two restaurants down to their sister sushi restaurant, Virago. It was Lisa’s moms birthday {so happy she could share her day with our race}, so we sat at a round table in the amazing weather and made a cheers to her with some bubbly. It was perfect, and the sushi dinner was fabulous. It was way to dark to take pictures, though!

The next morning, we met Claire and her friend who helped cheer us on, at Loser’s Most Wanted Bar {supposedly a chill local hang out where Claire has seen Hunter Hayes before!} and had a beer.

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We then walked to brunch at The Tavern {their dinner menu looked great too}. Oh, MY-LANTA was this place yummy. First of all, they give you buy one get one drink tokens, which is an A+ in my book. Second, their “white trash hash” was the best thing I put into my mouth all weekend.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset{Blood Orange Mimosa and Red Sangria}
photo(12){We shared Blueberry Cornmeal Waffle – which went super fast, obvi.}
photo(13){Roasted Pepper and Squash Omelet w/Crimini-Thyme Relish and “White Trash Hash}

And, to end the weekend of running and stuffing our faces, we went to Pinewood Social, an ADORABLE and super hip restaurant/bowling alley/bar/coffee shop. It was really, really cool. Basically the whole table got the Spring Pot Pie.


It was so cute, and delicious! The crust was so flaky. {I may be drooling right now.} And then we shared three different pies.

photo(16)It really was the perfect weekend. I sort of love destination races! Lisa, Erika, and I put one of these Adventure Runs on our list, too! The South Africa one is just dreamy!

For now, I’ll settle for doing the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which runs right past my apartment. Wish me luck! It’s my last race this season. I want to take the summer off from racing to heal my knees/hip properly. Then, it’s back on again for a fall half, Ragnar Adirondacks, Rangar Trail in Arizona, and then marathon training again!

Have you ever traveled to a destination race?


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Kale and Bell Pepper Egg Bake for Earth Day!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetHappy Earth Day! Although I recycle every day, contribute to composts, and regularly hug trees, I still like to celebrate our lovely Mother Earth on its very special day. So today, I’m going to volunteer at the Sustainable Healing Herb Garden in Brooklyn. I’m so excited to get digging in the dirt!

In honor of Earth Day, I have a delicious dish packed with greens and fresh veggies.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI’ve certainly been obsessed over kale lately. I must buy two bushels a week. It’s.so.good. I’m lucky Jeff is obsessed too and loves all his green veggies!

I steamed down the kale, then sauteed it with mixed bell peppers. I whipped six eggs and some Asiago cheese, with a little fat-free milk until it was super fluffy, then mixed in the kale and poured it into my cast iron skillet. I topped with the bell peppers, diced scallions, and a little more Asiago, then baked it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until the eggs were firm.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI added sliced avocado on top because, well, I couldn’t resist adding more greens!
IMG_7475It would be great to make on a Sunday, cut into sixths, and then heat up in the morning for breakfast during the week. You’ll love it!

Are you doing anything to celebrate Earth Day?


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Boston Marathon

marathon card
Good luck to everyone participating in the Boston Marathon this morning. My thoughts are with those who were affected by last years bombings, some of which are participating this year.

Here is a round up of some great coverage of this year’s race:

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Marathon Monday, err, Tuesday

{I meant to post this yesterday, but got really busy, so it’s Marathon Tuesday now!}

11 days. 11!

I can’t believe the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon has crept up this quickly. I can’t believe that I’ve stuck with a 16-week training program {aside from a few skipped runs, I’ve been pretty loyal}.

It’s really opened my eyes to what my body can accomplish. I hadn’t run more than 13.1, but now I’ve completed 20+ miles and I’ve lived to tell about it! It’s been so much fun mapping out different routes and really getting to tour New York City in a non-traditional way.

It’s also opened my eyes to how I need to properly take care of my body. I’ve had some knee pain during my last two long runs, so I’ve just been trying to ice, rest, and foam roll a lot. I definitely don’t want a more serious injury.

17-miler recap:
We started at Union Square/14th Street and ran along to the East River running path. We headed back into the city at 57th Street to head into Central Park. After running part of the long park loop, we turned out of the park around 109th Street to get to the West Side Highway path, to run down and end at Wall Street. We felt so great throughout it all and kept a great pace. We stopped once for water, Gatorade and to eat some energy chews and sport jelly beans {I like Clif Shot Bloks in tropical punch, and Sports Beans in fruit punch}. The hardest part was the last 2 miles. At that point, we basically stopped talking and just felt everything in our legs. They were longest 2 miles but we’ve ever done!

{I did a half marathon in between these two long runs. Race recap on that soon!}

20-miler recap:
For this run, we decided to run from my place to Coney Island and then up towards the Brooklyn Bridge. It was kinda fun taking a little tour of Brooklyn! Erika and I stopped twice to grab water, take a pee break, and eat some shot bloks and jelly beans. {At this point, I’m eating an entire pack of chews as well as a handful of jelly beans.} Funny story: we had stopped at a gas station for water and as we were drinking it outside, a cop truck pulled up and the two cops stopped us and asked us if we had just come from Coney Island because they thought they saw us running there about 2 hours earlier! Haha. And it was totally true! We hit 20 miles exactly under the Brooklyn Bridge, too! I actually felt so great during this run, and felt like I could keep going. No knee pain here.

22-miler recap:
For this run, we started at Central Park and ran to the West Side Highway path and headed all the way up to the George Washington Bridge {the first bridge I’ve crossed that wasn’t in a car since moving to New York City!}. We ran across the bridge which was cool but so so windy! It was a really pretty route and it was good weather running up, but as we ran back down {we were at 11 miles at this point} it was so extremely windy. We were all so pissed and annoyed, lol. We couldn’t even talk because it was so windy that we couldn’t hear one another. We finally decided to head into the city and run our last few miles in the park. At this point, I was having very sharp pains in both of my knees, but primarily my left knee. But, I pushed through. We were all hurting pretty bad, no thanks to the wind which felt like we were using double the energy! My knee could have also hurt because of my new shoes I had gotten {and the fact that I pound the ground really hard when I run – Erika has even pointed out how loud I am!} But, I also think I didn’t give my legs enough time to recover.

Now, we’re in tapering mode. We ran 12 miles on Saturday, running on the East River running path to Randall’s Island and back. My knee felt fine, which is good! We’ll just be doing small mileage during the week, with no cross training so we also have plenty of time to recover. This Saturday we have 8 miles and then the next weekend is go time! I still can’t believe I’m doing a marathon. I’m so excited to visit Nashville again, and also to listen to the country bands that will play along the route! And I’m so happy to have two of my best friends run it with me.

PS. Just to add to our crazy, we’re thinking about doing another! We’re thinking the Disney World Marathon in January 2015!!! I’ve always wanted to run a Disney race – I just feel like they would be so magical.

I also just wanted to send all of my love and thoughts to everyone who has been affected by the Boston bombings during the Boston Marathon. It was one year ago today that the tragic event happened, and Boston can use all the support and thoughts it can get.


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CYC Fitness class at David Barton Gym…and Happy Valentine’s Day!

photo.PNG {Happy Valentine’s Day, Ryan}

So, I have a crush. A big girl crush.

Don’t worry, I’m not leaving my husband anytime soon (Happy Valentine’s Day, love!), but sometimes you just have to crush on a girl.

OK – so maybe it’s more of an extreme admiration for this girl. Stated plainly: She’s a freaking BADASS!

While I’m not the most fond of cycle classes, my friend Lisa convinced me to go to this class with her. And who am I to turn down a workout date.

CYC Fitness is such an uplifting, calorie-burning class. Keoni Hudoba molded the concept, which mixes intense cycling with weights, with a dash or two of a lights show and dance party.

photo-37 copy

Now back to my girl crush: She was just so motivating and inspiring, and rocked a six-pack with a ripped bod. She’s fab! Her name is Elizabeth, if you want to sign up online, but her name in class is Chainsawitall! Love it.

It’s nestled inside David Barton Gym, which makes me feel special walking into since celebrities often show their faces there. You reserve your bike online by purchasing “rides” in increments of one, 5 , 10, or 20 rides. Single class rides are $25 and go down in price depending on the package you choose.

It’s definitely worth the $25 splurge though, because you also get access to their locker rooms/showers, and also get two hours (before or after CYC class) to workout in the David Barton Gym. That’s a sweet deal. Lisa, (who introduced me to the class) and I plan on going to the class at least 2 times a month. It will be good cross training for our marathon, and it’s a great way to get cardio in when we can’t run.

Speaking of running, Lisa and I are supposed to do the Cupid’s Undie Run tomorrow, which is a one-mile run in next-to-nothing clothing that helps support the Children’s Tumor Foundation. It’s really a great cause, and the race is held on the same day in 30 cities across the country. Cool!

Only thing is, it’s supposed to be snowing. The temperature is 30, which we could probably handle for that short of distance, but we’re nervous about running in snow due to ice and the high possibility of slipping. Erika already had an injury due to slipping, and Lisa was recovering from an Achilles injury, so the more important thing is that we play it safe right now.

What are your weekend running {or activity} plans? Doing anything for Valentine’s Day? We’re going to dinner tomorrow night, then on Sunday I’m doing a little, casual birthday thing {my bday is next Thursday!} at Brooklyn Brewery, where we can bring snacks and have some local beer. Monday, I really want to check out a brunch in our neighborhood, and then I have a long run with Lisa.

P.s. It’s officially ONE week until Ragnar Relay Del Sol!!!! Holy moly guacamole!!!


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My Weekly Workout Routine: 2/1-2/16:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI’m not sure I can really see past all the snow build-up here in New York, but I’ll make an attempt at this post.

Wowza! We’ve gotten so much snow this year! It’s actually pretty magical to see it all fall down on you. Plus, it’s really fun to make patterns with your feet and stomp in big piles of snow {while trying not to slip!}. The thing I don’t enjoy is not being able to run because of all the ice on the streets. My friend Erika tripped and fell on ice during one of our runs and was out for a MONTH, so it’s a little nerve-racking to head out when conditions are like this.

Training for this marathon is going to be harder than I thought. So I decided to start documenting my runs and workouts on here as a way to hold myself accountable for doing something.
It’s just bizarre, because just a few weekends ago, it was in the 50s. Oh, it was so nice. {I mean, look, you can see a little leg poking out there! Most of the time I’m too tightly bound up!}

I ended up running to Coney Island, which was about 5 miles from our apartment. It was a really nice run, and the view at the end made it all worth it!
{Oh New York sunset}
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Here are my workouts and runs from last week (way too many off days!):

Feb. 1 – 5miles; 8:41 pace
Feb. 2 – 5 miles; 8:21 pace
Feb. 3 – CYC Fitness class
Feb. 4 – Off
Feb. 5 – NTC workout
Feb. 6 – off
Feb. 7 – off
Feb. 8 – Snowboard
Feb. 9 – Off

Workouts so far this week:

Feb. 10 – NTC workout (I was on the wait list for a CYC class, but didn’t get on)
Feb. 11 – off
Feb. 12 – CYC Fitness class
Feb. 13 – Off
Feb. 14 – NTC workout
Feb. 15 – Run 10-12 miles with Erika
Feb. 16 – off

You’ll help hold me accountable right? Especially when it’s 20 degrees and I need to get in 10 miles. One of the Valentine’s Day gifts I got Jeff {got one for me too!} will definitely help with my winter training problem. :)

I can’t WAIT to get to Arizona next week for warmer weather! It makes me gitty just thinking about it. Guess I’ll have to break out my running shorts!

Happy Snow Day!


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I’m Officially a Ragnar Relay Ambassador!

So, you know that crazy overnight relay race I’ve done for the past two years? The one that I’m going back to Arizona at the end of February to do? Ya know, Ragnar Relay? Well, I’ve been selected into their Ambassador Program!! {Pause for a little happy dance.}
ragnar-logo-wonky{Just for reference, here’s my recap of Ragnar Relay in 2012 and Ragnar Relay in 2013.}

So, here’s the back story: In early Fall, I was scavenging the Ragnar Relay Series website {per usual} because that’s when we were getting a team together to sign up for Ragnar Relay Del Sol. I came across their Ambassadors page and was really drawn to it. I could help spread the word about this life-changing/hellish/amazing-fun event? I could run 3-5 Ragnar races in less than a year? I could constantly wear Ragnar temporary tattoos for promo purposes? {Okay, that last one was my idea}


So, I applied. I told them just how obsessed I am with the race {it’s almost better than Disneyland} and tried to win them over with my wittiness {which I really don’t have}.

I hadn’t heard back for a few months, so I thought I wasn’t selected. I had already started crafting my application for the next year {as I also do every time I apply for Survivor and don’t hear back}.

BUT, at the beginning of January, I got an exciting email saying I was selected into the 2014 Ragnar Ambassador program and did I still want to participate? Um, heck yes times 1000!

What does being a Ragnar Ambassador actually mean? I mean, the title alone is cool enough for me, but I also get the privilege of competing in my local Ragnar {which is now the Adirondacks Ragnar Relay}, attending run groups, fitness studios, running stores, and clubs to talk about Ragnar, lead Ragnar 101 sessions, volunteer in Ragnar SWAT at races, and so, so much more. I’m more than stoked to start this journey!

And, Ragnar is just 22 days away! I’m so antsy I can’t even handle it! Follow along with my Ambassador adventures here on the blog or on social, via Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. You can also search for the hashtag: #ragnarambassadormacha. See you soon, Arizona.
ragnar-2If anyone is interested in running a Ragnar or have any questions about Ragnar, feel free to email me at: perfectleypeared{at}gmail{dot}com.


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