Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ragnar Relay 2011

Fabulous reflective vest and head lamp. 
I couldn't resist the chance for a fabulous photo!
Here are my thoughts on my ragar race.  It is long, but I had a great experience with it and wanted to write it all down.  If you didn't read the previous post, do that now and it'll explain this race. 

I ran my first leg (7.3 miles) in 1:10, my second (7.4 miles) in 1:09, and my third (4.8miles) in 37:27. On my first run, the sun set and I did probably half of it in the dark. I had a hard time figuring out my borrowed head lamp for the first 10 or so minutes that it got dark. 2.2 miles of it was straight UP HILL, and before that it was up and down like intervals :). My team cheered me on, as did other vans and other runners. I wore a "fuel belt" for the first time that carried water and my phone (since I would be in the dark I wanted to have that to be safe). I realized too far into the run that it was too tight and the water bottles that were pushing against my back were doing harm. I was only passed by men and ran past a few women. It was a challenge, and I am really glad it ended after a downhill and flat surface! I was lifted in the darkness and pushed through my challenges. It was such a rush to finish that first leg.

In between my first and second races, we stopped for the night. The van was parked, but no sleeping was done. It was too loud and too much was going on. I was able to chat with a friend on the phone for awhile, which was very nice considering I couldn’t sleep anyway! It was at this stop that I had another spiritual experience. We only had two men on our team, and as I said before that my team was comprised of all members of my church. Most of us didn’t know each other, but that didn’t matter. Two of the women on my team were feeling really bad and the guys we had were awesome, and really helped them. We were able to have a special prayer for them and it really made a difference for them, and they were able to run their races and feel strong. I am moved and touched when I see men who honor their responsibilities and can be prepared at any time and in any place to be of assistance. Much thanks to them and our whole team. It was a moving and motivating experience for me.

My second run was hard. I felt like I gave everything in my first, and didn’t have enough left. At this point I was wondering what the heck was I doing?? I started in the early hours of the morning so it was still dark. Much of the course was through quiet country roads lined with woods and farms (and still much of it was hilly! I thought I did all the hills the first time!). Could be fine if it wasn’t pitch black! As I started running, I put my music on, but then heard rustling in the woods and decided to keep alert and go without the music, AND run in the middle of the road! Other than being slightly frightened about what might have been tracking me in the woods, I really enjoyed the peaceful solitude of the run. I listened to the crickets chirp, looked at the massive sky full of stars, and did a lot of thinking. Some men passed me, which I was ok with, then a couple of women passed me, which I didn’t like. Then I had to come to the realization—I am running MY race and doing MY best. It didn’t matter what anyone else is doing and I can’t compare myself to anyone here. I enjoyed my moment and was really glad for my time in the dark of night. I found my own light while there. Because I was in some winding country roads, I didn’t actually get to see the gradual sun rise. More like it was dark, then all of the sudden it was light. Really. At some point, when I felt like I was going pretty slow, a woman came up behind me and was going to pass. We started chatting, I ran faster, and we ended up jogging together and supporting each other to the finish. What a great comfort this gave me! To know I could do it alone, but to have someone else there really lifted me and almost carried me to the finish and gave me that extra umph I needed to push through. Oh, and about the fuel belt from the first leg: the bottles bruised my back and I was reminded of my novice mistake for the rest of the race with my back hurting!

A few hours and no sleep later, it was time for my last run. I would cover Virgina, D.C., and Maryland in my last leg.  Initially I thought I would breeze through it. My first two races were over 7 miles; this one was 4 so I would push hard. But I reminded myself it wasn’t actually 4, it was closer to 5 miles and it would probably take me about 45 minutes. That realization apparently didn’t stay with me when I started the race BLAZING through. I passed a woman, was booking it around the streets of Alexandria, VA, then soon realized I was going to fade fast. The woman I passed came up and we chatted a bit. She told me she couldn’t keep up with me but would stay with me as long as she could. I laughed and told her I was going to fade fast and started too strong, and to feel free to pass if she needed to. We seemed to make a good team and together we pushed ourselves. She was amazing and in her 40’s. We were running across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and it was feeling mighty long to me and I was feeling the fatigue. She would speak little motivating things to me, such as, “we’re just going to get to that girl up there. Let’s get there”. So we got to that girl and kept going, and found a new goal to get to. It was such a valuable experience for me. My short little legs were flying, faster than ever I think. With about ½ a mile to go, I really couldn’t keep up with her anymore and thanked her, told her to go ahead and I would come up behind her. I kept pushing and finished STRONG. My team was waiting there for me since I was the last runner and we would all go across the finish line together. It was so AWESOME. One of the guys on my team was a little ahead of me actually, and I even said to him, “let me finish first”. It was such an accomplishment for me to push that hard and I had to finish strong and see it through. I ran faster than I knew was possible for a considerable distance and finished 4.8 miles in 37 minutes. Then to top it off, the finish was in the National Harbor which is the new home to the Awakening Statue, which I have LOVED since I was a teenager.

I was lifted; I was carried; I was illuminated. I was naive and made mistakes. I wore my fuel belt too tight in my first race and had pain for the rest of the time. I compared myself to others and had to remember that it doesn’t matter what anyone else does, because this is MY race. I enjoyed God’s great creations and soaked in some great moments of solitude in nature while only hearing crickets and the sound of my own two feet on the pavement. I started way too strong and was carried when I couldn’t handle it anymore. I accomplished what I set out to do, and thanks to the support of others, was able to surpass my own expectations. It was really a beautiful experience and I would so do it again. I taught a lesson on fasting the next day and could tie so much in. Not focused on the lack of eating, but on the fact that it is individual and we want to do all we can to accomplish our goal. God loves us and wants us to succeed and will give us support when we need it. He only cares about OUR best and doesn’t want us comparing ourselves to others. If we start out something to hard and too fast, he can be there to help us when we fade. Or if we are too na├»ve and don’t quite get the magnitude of what we are doing, He is there.  God wants us to try and to hang in there even when it is tough.

I had a great experience doing this race.  If you are even just a little crazy, it might be the perfect kind of race for you :). A friend on the team took lots of photos and I took very few! If I ever get them, I may post them.  Below is in the hand in "The Awakening" after the finish.

Time Flies

Myrtle Beach 7/2011
I have been pretty bad about keeping up my blog for awhile.  I feel like summer FLEW by.  I know I was there, and I know I LOVED it.  But is it really already gone?? YES, and it is October?!?  I am so glad we have had mostly nice days so far in the fall, but I admit that I dread the winter.  But I do love the change of seasons and can look at the bright side!

Since fall started, we have gotten into the swing of pre-school for Evi.  She is going to the same place she went last year and loves it.  We saw her two teachers all summer since it is in the same department that I work in, and they both worked with the camps and brought kids to the pool.  Evi adores them and was usually pretty excited to see them (because, let's be real, she IS 4 and not always happy).  One day, in June maybe after school was out, we jogged past the building her classroom is in.  Evi asked me if that was going to be her school forever and then told me she couldn't wait to go there again.  So September was a happy time for us, since she got to go back :).  Several of her friends from last year are there with her again, and a friend from church is there also.

I also signed Evi up for a dance class once a week.  She is so energetic and already loves to dance, so I thought it would be a good fit.  She did ask if she could take a dance karate class (where she would do karate WHILE dancing) but I wasn't able to find one of those.  Go figure. :)  So far she is loving that.  Jamie doesn't mind playing on the park outside the building during class either. 

eating only the red blackberries, and loving them!
Jamie is now 17 months and is growing up faster than I expected.  For quite some time she has been comprehending so much more than I thought she would be able to and it's fascinating to watch her.  She has a little grunt she does when answering in the affirmative and will often shake her head to say no.  She recently started folding her arms and bowing her head when we say prayers.  A couple of months ago, right after I finished changing her diaper she got up, took her dirty diaper and took it right to the trash.  She gets her shoes when I tell her we are leaving.  And I am constantly reminded I need to do better with sign language with her, because she is doing some of the few I have taught her.  I could keep going, but the point is I am loving spending time with this girl.

I see the great importance of one on one time with each of my girls.  I adore them both so much and they are in such different stages in their lives.  Evi has been getting homework once a week, and I actually love doing it with her.  She enjoys it and gets a great feeling of accomplishment and I think she likes to show off what she does at school.  They grow up so fast and sometimes I just want to slow down and drink them in.  Love my beauties.

Well, other than working, the big thing I did recently was run a RAGNAR RELAY RACE.  Really, it's an INSANE race, that I think only INSANE people do.  It is a nearly 200 mile relay race on a team of 12 people, and it started in Cumberland, Maryland and ended in Washington DC (actually, that's what they said, but we ended in MARYLAND due to a course change!  But the race was still called the Washington, D.C. Ragnar ;).  HA!).  The crazy part is that it is non-stop for over 24 hours.  And if you are lucky you sleep.  If you are somewhat normal, you don't because it's tough.  The short version: 12 people split in 2 vans.  Each person runs 3 times, all lengths are different.  My 3 race lengths were 1) 7.3 miles 2) 7.4 miles and 3) 4.8 miles.  Although I tried to sleep, I was unsuccessful.  Several times I reminded the other 5 people in my van that we were all nuts for doing this.  It was a BLAST.  But we were still nuts for doing it.  I WOULD do it again.  But I am still nuts for wanting to :).  I had a very spiritual experience doing this race.  I was able to tie in a valuable connection from my race to the lesson I had to teach in Sunday school the next day.  I was lucky to do this race on a team that each person was a member of my own religious faith, so we actually did have some spiritual discussions.  I have a new post just for the race, so I'll list that separately.

Now the race is over and I feel super motivated to run a marathon.  We shall see what is in store.

Oh, and I can't forget that we went camping at Assateague Island over Labor Day weekend with the Heaths.  I was able to leave Jamie home and just went with Evi and it was fantastic.  We had a great time together and it was wonderful to not chase a toddler around the beach and deal with diapers and naps and all of that.  So Evi and I had a fantastic date at the beach with our best friends! 

I am, again having difficulty with pictures, surprise surprise.  But at least this time I got a bunch on before the difficulty started.  I just can't format them well, but at least they are here!