Last weekend I ran Ragnar New England from New Haven, CT to Boston, MA – That’s 194 miles. Luckily, I didn’t do it alone – 11 people helped me. We were Ragnar Team 4: Rolling Like Stones. (Photos courtesy of Lindsay).
Some of my friends consider running a race like this a religious or spiritual experience. I tend to agree, as I try to seek spirituality in every day life. I also see a 194 mile foot journey as a great time to reflect on where you are in life, where you are going, how you’re getting there and who you are taking with you. I’m starting to see how these four elements come together in the now to define who you are – which is really the main purpose of my blog. I certainly learned a few things about myself on this Epic relay race.
First off, I realized how much I value my independence. I want to hold the keys to my own map – somewhere convenient (like on the sweaty underside of my forearm). I’m not always like this – but when I have a destination to get to, I don’t want to stop and ask for directions or take a wrong turn. When I have an end point, it’s about getting there as soon as possible, when I don’t have a real destination, it’s all about the journey.
Even when I think I’m waiting patiently for something to begin, my body language communicates my internal frustration with being still. I like to be in motion – standing still and waiting for something to happen stresses me out. Try as I might, I can’t hide it.
Accepting the torch and moving onward was not the time for me to look back. As I reached for the baton from my teammate, my whole body was already in motion forwards. This isn’t because of any need to win a race or the competitive urge to not lose a second transferring between runners, but it was because I knew that there was nothing behind me. I had to look forward – there would be time later to catch up and hear what wonders I might have missed, but I had put all that aside and was focused on only the steps ahead of me. I don’t like to waste time looking back when it’s my turn to move forward.
When I start, I don’t stop. I don’t look back. I don’t pause to think, to ask questions, to collect my thoughts, to drink water, to talk, to stretch out, to walk…..I go and I don’t stop until I hit the finish line.
I make funny faces when I run. Especially if I am listening to music….
And, when put in front of the camera, I tend to show off and ham it up….
Still hamming it up…
I like to end on a positive note – dripping with sweat, tired, shaky, about to fall over – I’m going to be smiling. I strive to be a good sport – even if I was passed by 30 people (which I pretty much was….). It’s not that I’m happy the run is over, as much as I’m happy to have done it. This is a challenging attitude to apply to the rest of life – it means you don’t regret things. You just keep looking forwards and smiling – smiling for what is ahead of you and smiling because you made it through everything behind you. Why is that so much easier to apply to a race course than the emotional course of events in your life? I don’t know.
Attitude is everything.
And the ultimate take-away for me remains the fact that I can’t do this alone. I know that and constantly remind myself not to take my teammates for granted, to cheer for them, support them and love them because they are the ones that rush to me with a first aid kit for a skinned knee or a broken heart. We were not designed to be alone. We were designed to be a team.