My introduction to anything Ragnar was back in February of 2013, when I had just started to become a serious runner. I had just completed my first half marathon and was ready to do my second, two weeks later, with one of my BRF’s, Annie. She invited me to a team meeting for a Ragnar race that she was thinking about doing. I sat down at a table full of strangers and learned all there was to know about doing a Ragnar Relay race. The signs, the vans, the traveling…. All of it way too hard core for me. And although the thought of participating in such a thing scared me away, I met a lot of cool people that day. Flash forward to October, 2014. Again, my running partner in crime, Annie, needed my help. She could not take her place on her Ragnar Trail team and asked me if I’d be interested. The thought of it still scared me, but I was trying to venture my way out of my comfort zone. I was reluctant, but I agreed. Nothing could have prepared me for the hellish hills of the Red Loop (my first leg) in the heat of the day. I don’t even know what my finish time was. All I know is, I was so happy to see Kyle. After that run, I thought, “never again”. I figured that I had had my Ragnar experience and that was that. But I still had two more legs to run. I was nervous about running the trails at night. My second leg, the Yellow Loop, was scheduled around 11pm. I don’t even recall if I had any night running practice at that point. Either way, it was my most favorite run of the weekend. I saw maybe 10 people out on the trail during the time that I was out there, but the majority of the time I was alone. And I wasn’t afraid. I had found a way out of my comfort zone. Leave it to Annie (again) to rope me into yet another adventure. Annie, a Ragnar SoCal veteran, was looking for more people to add to a Ragnar Relay team that she had joined. Even though the Trail and Relay races are vastly different experiences, I felt that I had conquered most of my (unknown Ragnar) fears at Vail Lake. “Sign me up!” I said. I even strung my sister along for the ride. This brings me to the love/hate portion. It’s kind of like pregnancy and childbirth…. There are parts of it, when you’re going through it, that are awesome and fun and rewarding. And then there are the rough, exhausting “why the hell am I doing this?” parts. After my second leg, just like at Vail Lake, I had made it over the hump. The lack of sleep and lack of sleep space was the worst of it. Everything else was THE BEST. The instant camaraderie with my team mates, the YouTube videos in the parking lot in Oceanside, the 3am comedy routine, the compiled list of quotes…. All worth it. And just like at Vail Lake, I made some awesome friends during Ragnar Relay SoCal. And I can’t wait to do it all over again.
Yesterday I challenged myself to do a run with a purpose. My XTerra was in the shop and my husband was out of town. My goal? To run from my house to the Nissan dealership to pick it up. I mapped out a course on Map My Run and found that it was close to 8 miles. Very doable. I decided to plan my route based on the way that I drive every day to take my son to school so I would be really familiar with the streets and wouldn’t have to worry about which direction to go. I had been on these streets hundreds of times. I was excited. I felt challenged. I couldn’t wait for the next day when I could tackle my goal.
Then the next day came and I wondered if my goal was smart. After all, if something happened to my son halfway through my run, I’d be stuck. If I got injured or something I’d be stranded. All of my friends were busy and/or working/not available. I then had a thought that maybe I should just wait for my husband to get home so that he could drive me there to pick it up…. It would only be one more day. I almost chickened out. But then I decided to think of it as a little more than a 10k or a little less than a half marathon, both distances I have tackled before. I just had to get out of my own head.
So, I decided to give it a try.
After work, I filled up my water bottles, strapped on my hydration belt, grabbed my Garmin and headed out the door. It was noon. I had 4 ½ hours until I had to pick up my son from school. Plenty of time. I felt myself stalling. I kept on forgetting things (headphones, visor, sunglasses). Finally I made myself just go.
The first few miles flew by (oh, I just did a 5k!). Then around mile 4 ½ I saw some dude make a beeline to cross the street, in the middle of the street, when he saw me. It looked like he wanted to say something to me but I just picked up the pace and didn’t make eye contact. As soon as he was out of sight I stopped to walk so that I could catch my breath. Then I picked up the pace again for another half a mile until I knew that I was far enough away from him.
A mile later, I stopped at my son’s school to refill my water bottles. I only had 2 ½ more miles to go, but I didn’t want to repeat my urgent care IV experience. A half a mile later, I saw the Tustin Nissan shuttle van stopped at a light! I had thoughts of just running over to him and asking him for a ride! But then I thought “no, you’ve come this far, don’t give up”. I kept going.
The rest of the run was simple. I made it to the dealership, all sweaty and flushed, picked up my truck and headed home. I felt so proud of myself that I went to Provisions and had a celebratory beer. Okay, maybe I had two.
A few notes afterward:
– Even though I had traveled the route dozens of times before, I had never paid attention to the sidewalks and pedestrian routes. There were places that the sidewalk disappeared or wasn’t safe. There were some places where utilities made it difficult to run (meters, utility poles, drains, etc.). If you’re thinking about running a new route, drive it in a car first to make sure that there are safe places to run. Unless you like the adventure of running in the street…… I do not.
– Make sure that you plan your route on well traveled streets. I chose streets that were well traveled but they weren’t very residential. High concrete walls enclosing developments and bridges over freeways made me feel isolated.
– I made sure to text my husband to let him know when I was leaving and told him that I would text him when I got there. I also spoke with the receptionist at my son’s school and told her my plan (she was both impressed and shocked). I wanted to have points of contact in case, heaven forbid, anything happened.
– Always wear your RoadID.
Afterwards, I told my husband that it was totally a mental thing for me to do that run and he asked me why. I told him that I felt completely on my own and that although I had done that short distance many times, it wasn’t a protected route, like on a race course.
I know, I know, sounds like a lame excuse. And maybe it is. But somehow I feel more confident as a runner. Maybe I need to step out of my comfort zone a little more to become better. I now know that I can rely on my running shoes to get me somewhere in a pinch if I need to. And that makes me feel stronger.
The ironic thing about my trip…. As soon as I left the parking lot of the car dealership, the shuttle van was pulling in.