I’m not sure doing a trail relay was ever on my bucket list, but either way, I’ve marked it off any old list of things. I can say with confidence this was the toughest thing I’ve ever done mentally, and physically — I’ve seen worse, but as far as DOING, this is it. The best way I can put it: Ragnar was a really good and humbling experience.
I’m pretty average height but when I hike I feel much shorter than I am. Put me up in elevation and I literally feel like my face is inches from the ground. I get exhausted quickly and sometimes I struggle to even catch my breath. So, that being said, I’m not sure why I originally agreed to take part in the Ragnar Trail Relay, but it’s without regret.
I had a lot of time alone on the trail…four hours…but who’s counting. I like running and being alone with my own thoughts to sort things out — it’s not for everyone, but I do enjoy my alone time. You could say I learned a multitude of things, but the following things stand out the most.
1. I can
I have said over and over that I am not a good runner. It’s true…I’m not. And I don’t really enjoy it much, but I have ALWAYS said it’s important to practice your struggle. So, I run. I run short distances usually, but I get out there and I do it. I did NOT train heavily for this relay, but in the end, it made no difference. I certainly was not in it to win it, and there were times I didn’t think I could finish, but I DID! When I saw the lodge creep over the crest of the hill on my last loop, I cried. Just for a moment, but I did. In that moment I knew this wasn’t something on my bucket list, but I still did it. When I started running a few years ago I said “I want to be able to run the distance from my home to my work”…that’s exactly the distance I ran at Ragnar…so I guess I did cross something off my ACTUAL bucket list.
2. Quality friends are essential to life
I have been told I collect people everywhere I go, and it’s true. I have always made friends easily. There came a time in the last few years when I began to realize how exhausting this is. Trying to keep relationships with so many people??? That is hard. So I’ve whittled my friendship circle down, not to say I don’t still have tons of people who I’ve collected, but my “tribe” is smaller. I have realized the people I hang out with outside of my husband (obvi.) are people I run with and people I work out with, for the most part. Somehow I swindled two of my crossfit friends to do this crazy relay with me and one other crossfit buddy to be “camp mom”. She seriously camp mommed the shit out of it too! That girl ran all three legs just because. Just for moral support. Just because we were afraid of the dark or because we weren’t sure we would make it. She literally came just because. SOLID! My two crossfit friends who joined in with me blew me away with their strength and constant positivity. I got a random text in the midst of a run telling me “you’re almost done, you can do this” and then I was met close to the finish line and they came the rest of the way with me when I wasn’t even sure I could go another step. These are the type of people I want in my corner. Not the ones who want to gossip and spread hate or be selfish — the ones who will say “yes” to adventure and do it with a smile. Who will suffer along side me but also encourage me even when the struggle is real for them. The ones who can lift people up no matter the weather. Those people….I dig the shit out of them.
If you are planning to do a Ragnar Trail Relay I recommend packing in the most organized manner you can. Put an outfit in a plastic bag for each loop. Then put clothes in another bag for between loops. AND FINALLY put comfy sleeping clothes in bags as well. If your outfits are ready your life will be a hundred times easier. Same goes for food. Don’t pack anything you have to put together. PUT IT TOGETHER, then pack it. You don’t want to have to “make” anything. Not even a sandwich. I promise you this. You are welcome in advance.
4. Sleep helps
You don’t NEED sleep, but if you want to make it without getting too sassy, you may want some sleep. I slept 5 hours the night before, and 6 between loops 2-3 and it was THE BEST thing I could have done for myself. BRING HEADPHONES. I put my headphones in and listened to white noise. It was a beautiful thing.
5. Team group texting is CLUTCH
This was about the most genius thing we did. There are TVs you can look at to see approximate times your teammate will return to the transfer tent, but they are not horribly accurate. I promise you will not regret having your phone on you and texting your mates when you’re a mile out. There’s no better feeling than seeing their smiling faces after you just drudged through the doldrums in the heat of the day.
6. Embrace the struggle and Celebrate
This is not going to be the easiest thing you’ve done, you may get hurt, you may be cold, you may feel all the emotions. Embrace all of it. In the end make sure you CELEBRATE! You just did something incredible and hard. This could be your fifth or your first trail race and either way it will feel a little rough but a LOT awesome! Let yourself celebrate no matter where you finished. It’s about the journey after all.
I think that sums up the majority of my lesson with Ragnar. It took about three days for me to say I’d do it again, and I’m already organizing myself for next year. I really loved the experience and the people. If it’s something you’ve considered, just get out there and sign up!