Fear, excitement, anxiety, exhaustion…the emotions of training for my second marathon -all the while sorta training for a triathlon, too- has been an emotional roller coaster and I have certainly been going through each emotion. Not to say that every distance doesn’t come with new emotions, but because running is so mental once you know you can cover the distance those initial fears become much less.
They are not kidding when they say marathon/Tri training consumes your life…and I've had some thoughts along the way:
I still have so much to learn about EVERYTHING RUNNING!!!
Let me begin by saying I couldn’t have had a better team. They were positive, fun, witty, competitive, smart, and – fast. And when you are stuck in one van together, navigating, driving, running, eating, and trying to sleep, all those things are extremely important. When it came down to running as an ultra or not running at all- this team fully embraced the ultra and we all couldn’t wait to cross that finish line together. None of us really knew what to expect, but one thing was certain – we all came for an EXPERIENCE. I can’t even begin to explain the next 30+ hours…. And I’m not even going to try. It’s indescribable. It is truly just one of those things you have to experience to understand. And experience it we did.
I will, however, let you in on a few of my thoughts along the way (we had a lot of time to think):
The joy of an Ultra team-Instead of 12 people running 200 miles, we had 6. Instead of meeting at each leg & exchanging the wristband, we met and provided water and high fives! Instead of “just” running 15-20 miles each, we doubled it. Each person ran 2 legs back-to-back before switching off to the next runner. This course is hilly. We all know because if we didn’t run it, we drove it. Everyone had their own good dose of hills. I really enjoyed the “alone-ness” at times. Sure I’d pass a runner every now and then or get passed myself, but having the open road really allowed me to stay present. To be in the moment. To take in the beauty of the nature surrounding me. To enjoy being a part of this amazing thing we were all doing (rather than just being out on a typical Saturday morning run). Just my view. But yes, selfishly, I wanted to chat with people too. Running in the middle of the night is a weird kind of awesome though. Enough said.
By 2am it was hard to stomach anything after so much running (and so little sleeping). Your body is – quite simply – messed up. Our bodies just weren’t used to operating 20+ hours, running and eating sporadically throughout it all! We were kind of done with the usual –peanut butter, banana, pretzels, oranges, meal bars, & jerky – so we started talking about egg burritos and hamburgers. Talking, not eating. We can all dream. Well, except Anya, she ate her burger and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Driving, navigating, running, eating and sleeping all fell under “team responsibilities”. Everyone pitched in BIG TIME. We didn’t have our own dedicated driver, but I think that made us more of a team (and more of a challenge!). Remember that time we went to the wrong exchange- TWICE! Haah Hey, only one of those was my fault! This race is all about teamwork and we had it nailed.
We all got out there and raced our asses off. We all crossed each “finish”. And while you have to prepare for running longer than your body might be used to, you also want to push your body to an extreme it hasn’t seen before. We had no idea how we were doing, or if that even mattered, but we did have that winning attitude.
We were chasing a goal not many could imagine. We didn’t even know what to expect, but we rolled with the punches. Ragnar isn’t just about running 200 miles. It’s about teamwork. It’s about stepping up when things get tough and taking on extra miles. It’s about taking the wheel (driving) when no one else wants to. It’s about bonding and sharing. It’s about racing when you aren’t actually being timed (we were only timed as a team, not as individuals). It’s about seeing what your body can do when it doesn’t want to “do” anymore.
A special shout out goes to my teammates who all no doubt took one for the team pushing themselves on incredibly hard long runs and/or pushing themselves to run the farthest they had ever run before… I’m utterly impressed. Thank you for embracing this challenge and being total badasses!! Thank you all for putting the fire back in this girl! I miss all your faces already.
I am constantly reminded that running is not always an easy feat. Whether it’s a laborious run or a victorious sprint to the finish, running has always seemed to elicit this uplifting response from others, and in turn, in myself. Each time I go out for a run and each race I line up for, I remember this. There are people who wish they could do the things that we are doing. I am thankful for a body that allows me to to the things I love, although there may be times of discomfort, that temporary discomfort is nothing compared to the lifetime of pain some live in, There is joy & happiness in this world and I happen to find it and spread it through running. I never know who I’m going to positively influence with my efforts or who will inspire me to search for a stronger, better me – but I know it will happen, so I keep on running to both inspire and be inspired by this beautiful sport.