I have decided to interview myself regarding my Ragnar Relay experience. I started to post a blog about Ragnar the other day, found myself getting way too wordy (oh, the shock of THAT
) so I decided to do a question and answer format to try to keep myself from going on and on. Well, let's see how it goes....
Q. What IS a Ragnar Relay? A. It is a 200 or so mile relay race and they are held all over the country and usually involves 12 runners but some crazy/fit people only use 6 runners, and, in the case of truly CRAZY/FIT, two people split the 200 mile distance. It is a combination of endurance event, slumber party, road trip, and mostly, a great way to spend a couple days completely outside your comfort zone and daily routine.
Q. What were you most worried about, in terms of doing Ragnar? A. I was most concerned about letting my team down. Our team is 12 women ranging in age from 22 to 55 with average running paces varying from 6 minutes per mile to 11 minutes per mile. The best advice I was given, when I shared my concern with a friend who has done the Ragnar Relay, knows some of the women on the team, and knows me well, was "surprise them". I even wrote a blog about this advice. It did inspire me, for sure.
Q. So, did you surprise them? A. Why, yes indeedy, I did! Yay! I have a tendency to sell myself short, to be self-deprecating to a level that can border on annoying to those who know me well. I basically told my teammates that I would definitely finish every leg (each runner is assigned three legs of the race, varying in distance from about 3 miles to over 10 miles). I guesstimated that I would do an average of 11 minutes per mile. I did three legs - 6.1 miles at 7am (I was runner one, and was very glad I chose to run first), 6.2 miles at 5pm, and 3.1 miles at 5am. I averaged 10 minutes per mile. My teammates were definitely surprised and, in a couple cases, they were kind of shocked (which I tried not to take personally - they were basing their expectations mainly on what I had told them).
Q. Did Sparkpeople help you with Ragnar? A. Oh, very much so. I was encouraged by all the interest and the words of encouragement from Sparkfriends. Another Sparkler was on a Ragnar team and I knew the name of her team so I was watching (vans are decorated with team names and themes). I was struggling during my second leg of the race and there was a big hill. I started to walk it (which is fine if walk/run is the plan, but it wasn't my plan since I find it too hard to constantly switch off between walking and running). WHich van, of the over 300 teams that participated in Ragnar, do you suppose was parked near that hill when I was struggling? Yep, the van belonging to Sparkfriend GetFit2Live (she wrote a great blog about Ragnar, by the way - you should check it out). I knew she was not in the van because there are two vans for each team - I was Van 1, she was Van 2, but just knowing there was a SP connection made me start running. Later, I saw her team's Van 1 again and I approached them to give her a message for me. They said "were you wearing an orange running shirt earlier? You were doing great!" How's that for Sparkly serendipity? I also spent time praying for Sparkfriend Bren aka Jitzuroe, who was in the hospital while I was running. I reminded myself how much she would rather be running, than undergoing painful tests and procedures. I told myself to finish strong for her.
Q. Did you learn anything about yourself by doing Ragnar? A. Oh, yes - I learned a lot of useful lessons that will serve me well if I heed them going forward. I learned that when I have a burning desire to do something, even if it doesn't happen right away, I can persevere and do something that on the surface seemed out of reach for me. I was intrigued by this race 5 years ago but I felt I was too heavy and out of shape at the time to be able to participate and actually enjoy myself. What else do I have a burning desire to do but seems currently out of reach? (That's a whole 'nother blog, Sparkly people). I learned, with help from my best friend, who was at times blunt, and at other times gently, sweetly encouraging me, that I don't have to do so much for other people. I tend to over-do for people in an attempt to bridge the gap between who I think I should be, and who I fear I actually am. It's old, old insecurity and as much as I generally conduct myself as a confident woman, and am far more secure in who I am, and don't have nearly the fear of other's judgement as I did when I was younger, those old feelings of "I am not enough" are still hanging around, on some level. Doing too much for others, putting myself down to others - these are not endearing traits. Honestly, they can annoy the cr@p out of people. These are behaviors that need to be retired and this knowledge really crystalized for me during the two days of Ragnar.
Q. What is your favorite Ragnar memory? A. I have a few. One of them is running my last leg of the race, in the dawn, on a beautiful summer morning, ending in a downhill on beautiful Whidbey Island, looking out at the water, and arriving at the chute to realize my team wasn't there yet. A big part of a relay race, of course, is handing off to the next runner. So, I was looking around, and the people standing there were probably feeling badly for me, when all of a sudden my team came screeching up, in our big white crazily decorated van (our team name is "Easier than Labor", thus part of our decorations is to have a baby doll bungeed to the front of each van - we get some looks, believe me). My teammate Carly comes flying out of the van. Everyone looks at her because, even if she wasn't flying out of a big white van, she is the kind of woman everyone looks at. It cannot be helped. She is stunning - she looks like a supermodel mated with an angel - seriously, this girl is bee-yoo-tee-full. So, from this lovely creature comes this, at a full yell: "Carole (my actual name, you know), I am SO sorry - they had to get some effing coffee!!" Only, lovely Carly did not say "effing". I had to laugh, and so did everyone else. I gave her the bracelet, blew her a kiss, told her not to worry, and sent her on her way. She ran like the wind up and down hills for the next 6 miles, while we cheered her on. Those are wonderful memories, as well. Cheering on other runners - our own, those on other teams, those who are flying, and those who are struggling. We cheered them all. And, I was cheered on as well. Usually, I am doing all the cheering, for others, whether it be other runners, or my boys while they play baseball or football or while they wrestle, whatever sport they are in, I cheer them and their teammates (and, when they are little, I cheer the other team as well - that doesn't go over as well in high school ; ) One of my other favorite memories is my dear friend Melissa, who served as our driver and navigator and without whom, Ragnar would be a less joyful experience, commenting on my running. She told me "you were running really steady and you looked really strong and I am so proud of you". She and I have shared many a struggle and she knew how nervous I was about whether I could measure up and I swear she was as happy as I was, when I did.
Q. What was the hardest part about Ragnar? A. Well, it wasn't the Port-a-Potties, or the lack of sleep, or the upset stomach I had to contend with, or being in the van right after running for miles, or the aches/pains/blisters. It was having out-of-state houseguests come to stay for a week, arriving shortly after Ragnar. I got home Saturday night, slept 11 or 12 hours, laid around Sunday but knowing that Monday my houseguests would arrive and I had a long list of things to do - like cleaning, and grocery shopping, etc. It was not the best timing, for sure. It meant that for the week after doing Ragnar I was on the go, doing various daytrips and being "on", and being available and trying to make sure my houseguests were comfortable, etc. It meant that I was doing all this while tired and so I accepted that my house would not be close to perfectly clean, I would not make every meal by a long shot, I would at some points ask someone else to help entertain my guests, and I would accept that I cannot please everybody and I cannot go and go and go without it catching up to me. It meant my guests could accept me or judge me and that, either way, I would be okay. It definitely caught up with me after I drove my guests to the airport. The past few days I have slept more, and done less, and spent some time by myself and just today I am feeling like I can get back on track, literally. I am off to track my food, and then run at the track. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you are at all inclined to do a race like Ragnar, I would definitely encourage you to do so. You know what they say: "everything you want is just outside your comfort zone". So, go do something uncomfortable!