NuunHTC is HERE! (and the Nuun Daiquiri recipe to celebrate)



We’re piled into the vans, en route from the land of Nuun (Seattle) to the beginning of a wild, crazy, sure-to-be amazing journey from the top of Mt Hood to Seaside, OR.

Keep an eye on the #NuunHTC feed to follow the madness (while service allows), and watch Instagram (sarahoual) & Facebook for photos.  At least until the delirium sets in and people start forgetting about anything that isn’t “right foot left foot” or “can I sleep here?”

And in the meantime, since it is still Friday in normal non-relay parts of the world, how bout a new Bar OUaL Nuun Cocktail recipe to toast to the event??  Yes??  Ok.

(nuun-arita recipe here)

I’ll cheers with you as soon as we cross that finish line at the Oregon coast :)

Sarah OUaL

So You Want To / Are / Got Roped Into Running a Relay…

Just another post where I act like I know more about something than I really do…

So, you’re thinking about running a relay.  Or a friend conned you into replacing their injured teammate last minute.  Or maybe in a fit of relay-envy and race registration trigger happiness you signed yourself (and 11 TBD friends) up to run 200 miles overnight.

… I mean, nobody does that …

… ahem.

And so you had a minute to think about it, and suddenly you’re like, “Wait, WTF did I just get myself into??!”

I’m no relay vet, but my experience at Ragnar SoCal came with a few eye openers – some helpful, some humorous, some embarrasingly obvious if you weren’t delirious from all the running and not sleeping…

And so, as a Nuun Hood to Coast Prelude, here are my bullet points for a successful & happy & drama-free-minimal relay from an ‘experienced newbie.’

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


A lot of shit goes into relay’ing.  After the training, planning, and packing, the running almost seems easy.  Make lists.  Put someone in charge.  Ask questions.  DON’T OVERPACK.

(I’m not going to write about training since I didn’t, nor do I know how to, train specifically for a relay)

  • Choose Your Leader.  Even as a convicted Type A Control Freak, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the amount of planning.  Your ideal captain will have lots of free time, relay experience, a penchant for sending 2000 word group emails (ok maybe that was just me), and a willingness to delegate when possible.  Let them be in charge of the reservations, route planning, gear checking, and scheduling.  Remember, too man runners chefs in the kitchen…
  • Reserve your vans early!  Google “passenger van rental + (your city)” and shop around.  Don’t be afraid to negotiate, but remember there are 200 other teams that need the same thing you do.  * Watch out for mileage limits, factor in the cost of gas (we spent ~$100/van), and opt for the full-coverage insurance (parking in fields full of other vans driven by delirious runners? expect a few dinks)
  • Hire a driver.  Or be married to some saint’ly person with more late night endurance and a love for driving than any other human alive.

  • Pre-plan your outfits.  Pack them in ziplock bags. This will save you from dumping your bag out on the back seat looking for your “effing sports bra”, and gives you a quarantined place to stash your sweaty nasty used outfits – keeping the rest of your stuff dry/clean and your van Stank-Free.

Outfits for 3 runs (inc headbands, arm sleeves, etc), “chill in van” comfy clothes, and finish line party outfit. Separate bag for safety gear.

  • Don’t overpack. Seriously there’s not going to be any extra room in that van. Don’t even give yourself options – pack what you’re gonna wear and stick with it.
    * Packing Splurge : I brought two pairs of shoes (plus flip flops) – GREAT idea after stomping through a giant mud puddle on my night leg.
  • Coordinate with your vanmates.  No need for 5 first aid kits or 9 boxes of gu. Assign items or agree to only bring what you need for yourself.  Space is a premium here!

* Tip : My Nuun HTC teammates Katie posted a great individual packing list here, our Ragnar van packing list is here


Fueling for a regular ol’ race is pretty simple once you’ve got your routine figured out.  Trying to maintain that over the course of 24+ hours & three separate runs?  Not so much.  Be extremely conscious of your calories and fluids – it’s so easy to eat too much or too little when you’re all out of schedule whack playing van vagabond.

  • Stick to your norms.  PB bagel/banana your long run staple?  Give yourself enough time before each leg to choke some down.  Never eat pizza (or giant pickles)?  Not the time to see if they give you wings.  Try sticking to semi-normal eats as your stomach will allow – nobody wants to exist solely on Clif bars, but if that’s all that’s going to keep your GI happy, so be it.

* Tip : 2-van teams will have time to stop for proper meals while the other van is running.  Scout the options near major exchanges – Deli/bakery/sandwich shops are universal pleasers, and keep an eye out for coffee spots for those early morning legs.

  • DRINK SO MUCH.  This is not a road trip with your boyfriend.  You won’t have to beg Mr Drive Five Hours No Stopping to pull over and let you empty your bladder.  You’ll have plenty of opportunites to pee at each exchange, so drink up.
  • Get out and stretch.  Being cramped in the van sucks and will HURT when it’s finally time to run again.  Get out at exchanges and move around, show off your impressive ability to touch your toes, lead a yoga sesh, whatever you gotta do.

The Stinky/Dirty

Truth is, being in a van with a bunch of runners working on triple workouts is kind of gross.  2-van teams might have time to shower, but it’d be much better spent eating or sleeping.  Ultra?  Don’t even dream about it.  Embrace the stink and pack an extra can of Febreeze.

  • Baby wipes, deodorant, tooth brush.  If you forget to pack anything, DON’T let it be any of these.  A baby wipe bath before you change into clean clothes, and a good teeth brushing can literally change your world.

* Tip : No sink to brush? Don’t be afraid to camp-brush. A little bottled water and a discrete spitting area will be fine.

  • Portas are plentiful (start, each exchange, etc).  Don’t change a DQ/penalty by squatting in the bushes. If you’re weird about bluebox pooping, hit up the indoor plumbing at the gas station when you fuel up, restaurants when you eat, etc.  Oh and BRING YOUR OWN T.P.  They WILL run out.  Death, taxes, TP-less portapotties.

The Actual Running Parts

Oh you want to know about the whole, running 200 miles thing?  Fine.

* Quick overview * : Your team of 12 (unless you’re Ultra’ing) splits between 2 vans.  Van 1 includes the first 6 runners, who take turns running while the van drives to each exchange point to drop off/pick up.  After 6 legs, Van 2 gets “tagged in” and it’s the next 6 runners’ turns.  The “off” van gets to chill until it’s time to meet at the next major exchange. Repeat x2, each runner running 3 separate times.

  • Unlike a normal road race, you aren’t tracked the whole way.  Your first runner wears a timing chip across the starting mat, and your anchor puts it on for their final leg through the finish.  No need to worry about it any other time (you just have to make sure not to lose it.)
  • Each runner has their own bib with a team number on it.  When you approach the exchange a volunteer radios in your number so your next runner can get into the shoot for the handoff.
  • What do you handoff?  Only the 90’s most versatile fashion accessory!  The “on” runner wears a slap bracelet which acts as your “baton” (Ragnar and Hood to Coast both use these, other relays may not)

* Tip : take the bracelet off ahead of time, and straighten it out. Much easier to hand off a 10″ stick than a rolled up ball and have the next runner have to dick around trying to get it on.

Nobody told Margot about that tip.

  • Don’t expect a race-race.  This isn’t a corralled-start, shoulder-bumping, crowd-weaving run.  I went miles without seeing another runner on leg.  (I’ve been told this prob won’t be the case at HTC)  Don’t expect a pace group, race clocks, or cheering sections.  For me, those in-run energy boosters were quickly forgotten once I spied the exchange and saw my teammate waiting for me.  COMPLETELY different from individual racing – Team sports FTW.
  • Know your routes.  You’re running on public trails, sidewalks, the shoulder of the highway, and through places people probably don’t even know a race is happening.  The course is not closed off, and your only navigational cues are intermittent signs saying “turn left” or “1 mile to go!”  Study your directions, print them out, or run with your phone, so if you find yourself questioning whether you missed a turn or some dickhead flips a sign around you won’t get lost.

* Yes.  People DO move signs and people DO get lost.

The final mile from Ragnar SoCal – courtesy of our anchor, HauteRunningMama

  • Be an exchange cheer fan.  There’s nothing more thrilling than your whole team yelling like lunatics at an exchange and sending off your next runner on an exciting note (butt pats appreciated).  Likewise, finishing a hard run in a dead exchange is very anticlimactic.  Jump up and down, yell their name, cheer on the other teams.  You’re all in this crazy business together.

Ok we weren’t really THAT obnoxious

  • Not all reflective gear is created equal.  Every person – running or not – outside the van during “night hours” is required to wear a reflective vest.  And then of course, you have to actually run in it, too.  Don’t be like SR and buy a men’s construction worker vest on eBay just bc it’s cheap.  I found New Balance ones for $5 at TJ Maxx.

Reflectives 5 Ways

  • Sleep.  As a single-van team we never stopped moving, so any sleep we caught was while parked in an exchange lot or bumping along the roads.  The 12man team was able to stop at a girl’s house that lives along the route and catch a few hours.  Think about your body – are you a good 15min cat napper? will 2hrs leave you groggy or refreshed? – when planning your snooze sched.
  • GOOD GOD YOU’RE FINALLY FINISHED!  While your anchor finishes the final few miles, get your vans to the finish and your butts to the home stretch to run in together.  You’ll have hit a second/third/fourth wind by now, use that energy for an exciting and photogenic group finish.  We saw lots of people in costumes, with flags, doing choreographed dances, etc – we… yeah we didn’t do any of that.

Damnit, ok FINE.  We didn’t even have all of our people.  

Relay finish FAIL.

  • Post-race party –  Truth time.  You’re going to be effing dead.  Good luck rallying for the millionth time and trying to do anything but sit on your ass, eat something, and maybe drink a beer.  Don’t expect a rager of a party, but make sure to soak up the moment with your team.  This is the first time you’ve ALL been together since before the start!  Revel in your accomplishment – whether that’s covering the distance or not killing each other – and realize you’ve got a weird crazy runner person bond with these people you’ll never get rid of.


* * * Relay’ers – What did I miss?  What’s your one (or two or ten) piece(s) of relay advice for newbies??

I’m looking forward to relinquishing my Type A and being “just” a runner this weekend at Hood to Coast. (btw Thanks for taking care of all those pesky details, Nuun)  Not thinking about more than waking up, tying my shoes, and going?  I’m down.

Sarah OUaL

How Camping, Flannel, and Beer Relate to Running a Relay

I survived my first Jamboree in the Hills.

While 95% of my time was spent like this :


… I DID manage to don some Oiselle and Brooks long enough to tackle 7.5 hilly miles with a friend.


No doubt it took less time to consume that many calories worth of (light) beer than it took to actually run them, but it was great and SO WORTH turning in a little early and chugging 3 bottles of water the night before.

After indulging in a proper shower at Kristina’s friend’s house (camp showers require a bathing suit and come with exposure to thousands of strangers) I got back to the campsite and a friend said,

“Jesus you’re like a brand new person.”

I took it as reference to the post-run endorphins, not the fact that I was no longer a skuzzy smelly mess with grass in my hair and jello shots dried to the side of my face anymore, but who knows.

Surprisingly we did spend some time actually listening to music – yelling ‘FREEBIRD!!’ at the beginning of every Skynyrd song (do they all sound alike or were we all that drunk?), sprinting 1/2 mile while dragging an (empty) cooler to beat the crowds back to camp, and watching Neil Young climb the stage rafters after sticking his head in some dude’s cooler were among the top highlights that didn’t fall out of my brain once I hit that tent floor at night.jambob

And meeting this girl, who’s name DID fall out somewhere in my tent.  See, I told you I’d post it!



Also, Brian shamelessly checking out the buns on Mr. Homemade (accidental?) Assless Denim Chaps…


And letting my competitive spirit shine through a million games of flip cup, crossfire, dizzy bat, and cornhole.

Since I’m fan of summaries, bulletpoints, and am in need of a segue back to running talk, here are my takeaways from my first Jambo and how I will apply them to better myself as a Nuun HTC teammate…

* * * * * * * * * * *

Jambo Lessons to Remember for Hood to Coast

  • Pacing is Key  –  A splash in your OJ, a pinky-out mid-morning sippin’ cup, and by lunchtime you’re settled into a nice spot where the cheap cans flows right down the ol hatch like water.  There’s no need for a breakfast beer bong, sprinting your first leg, and/or doing cowbell toe-touches every single time a runner goes by.  Conserve some energy to prevent a major crash later on.
  • Hydrate Often  –  Grab an al-free choice out of the cooler once in a while.  Ok, ok… you have two hands, grab a beer AND a water.  (Just make sure it’s not the one you refilled with vodka earlier.)  Drink often, not just when you feel thirsty or are suddenly overcome with cross-sightedness and a slurry vocab.
  • Chill When You Can  –  Downtime? JUMP ALL OVER THAT SHIT.  Sit down and freaking just hang out a second.  There’s no need to try to jampack action into every last second.  You won’t regret getting an extra ounce of shuteye or pausing the van dance party every once in a while, I promise.
  • Feed Yourself Like a Normal Human  –  Attempting to exist solely on rice krispie treats and gummy bears just because it’s vacation(/you’re running a million miles) isn’t a great plan.  If you expect your body to perform at least close to it’s norm, eat a few vegetables or a protein bar if that’s what it’s used to.  Then go dive headfirst into the jello shot cooler.
  • RALLY!!  –  I know, you’ve been going at it hard forever, you’ve barely slept, and every inch of you hurts so bad you swear you look like a walking corpse.  Time to suck it up Sally, because the show isn’t over and this is what you came for.  Dig deep, wring out your liver, and put your party pants back on for the finishing act.  You’ll forget the sore feet and ringing head as soon as you’re driving away and this crazy weekend is suddenly a thing of the past.  Soak it up and freaking finish strong.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Settled back into the real world and counting just over 4 weeks till I’m in a van on top of Mt Hood.  Hard to tell if these butterflies are nerves or excitement right now.

Or maybe I’m still hungover.

Sarah OUaL