Saturday, September 6, 2014

Processing Ragnar Relay

This post is a little off topic and a little late to the game but the farther out I get from the race, the more I want to process what that weekend was.  Ragnar is a 200 mile relay race with up to 12 people in two vans. You can find a Ragnar Relay just about anywhere but Colorado Ragnar is a special level of crazy. Mostly due to the elevation gains and losses throughout the course along with the altitude most of the runs are done. 

I'm still not sure how I feel about the whole thing. You go into it knowing it's going to be tough but also not wanting to let your team or yourself down. The first couple of runs our team was above pace and you could feel the excitement. When I was finally up to run 4 hours later, I stood at the bottom of the hill, thinking what a horrible idea this whole thing was. But you can't give up at that point- never starting- so off I went. 

I still think about what would have been different had a trained better for that hill. What would have happened if I hadn't hurt my knee on the way up. What if I had worn better sunscreen and drank more water. What if my mind hadn't played so many games on me. 

I made it to the end of my 10.7 mile run but I was done.  I wasn't ready for the emotional toll that "kills" took on me. (Kills are what you call it when you pass someone, I was passed more times than I want to admit on the internet)

About an hour after that I started throwing up. I couldn't keep anything down and I felt horrible. My team started planning what to do about the next runs I had and it just isn't what you want to hear or feel or think about. 

I was saved by a giant bowl of white rice (#teamwhiterice) and a nap inside. Knee taped up I was ready to go and I headed off on my next run- in the dark- on a frontage road- in the middle of no where Colorado. Still getting killed. A lot. 

While I was grateful for the end of a solid six mile run at pace I started dreading my last leg. I think I had stopped having any sort of fun a while back. It was only two miles and I had trained for it. Two quick ones on tired legs. But the tape stopped helping and it was time for me to run and I had to just go- pain or no pain. 

This was one of the most beautiful parts of the run and the moment I missed my family dearly. It's one of our favorite spots to go as a family. I hobbled my way across the finish line at a slow 13 minute mile pace- feeling defeated and frustrated and whiny. My strong finish became a battle of wills and a realization that maybe I actually hate running. 

Our team did finish strong and I really loved the community of women I was with. We had 14 kids between the 5 of us in one van. Different ages and parenting styles and with kids in all kinds of different schools. They made it worth it- thank you ladies. 

Joe is up there right now, racing Tough Mudder. He's about an hour into it and I can't wait to hear how it goes. I'm pretty sure I won't get a call with him sitting on the grass crying because he didn't keep pace. He's out there to push himself and have fun and cross off a new challenge. What I had wanted my Ragnar to be. 

Life really hit hard when I got back. We had an emergency foster placement that drained me more than I realized. She didn't want to leave our home but my hands were tied. It's not easy putting a screaming child into a car and not having any idea where they are going to end up. The kids all dealt with it in different ways. Our homeschool season started full force and I found myself unsure of whether it was the right call this year or not.  Joe had projects finishing with work so I was by myself a lot. Not really where you want to be when life gets crappy. I started realizing how much I wanted to complain and collapse and not press on.  

Ragnar is a little bit like life. Maybe a lot. Maybe that's the beauty of the race. It's a lot of waiting around. A lot of nothing. This is followed by a lot of something you can't avoid. Having a community around you makes it bearable but doesn't negate the hardness of it all. And you never really know why. Why is it hard? Why did I choose this? But you know that it's where you are supposed to be and you keep going. You keep putting one foot in front of the other- hobble or no hobble. 

"Not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 2:18

Thinking about running a Ragnar next year? My tips:
1. put sunscreen on every hour- even if it's two in the morning. 
2. if you feel the need to vomit, just do it. Bonus points if you can make it up the hill out of sight of your team. 
3. You will have to push yourself to your perceived limit. Than you will have to keep going. 
4. Guys will be nicer about kills than girls. Just go with it. 
5. Tutu's aren't all that bad. 
6. If they say "hug the sign" they mean "hug the sign"
7. You will have to prioritize sleep, eating and showering. Choose carefully. Choose very carefully. 
8. Hug those friends- new and old. They have seen you at your worst and at your best. 

Thank you friends for putting up with me and pushing me. I love you guys. 

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