We all have our bucket list items. The things we are going to do some day or risk dying with regrets. For those of you in your right minds your bucket lists likely include traveling to beautiful and amazing destinations like Paris or the Maldives. Seeing natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights. But I know there are some of my crazy soul sistas out there whose bucket lists include pushing yourselves to your limit by running the Boston Marathon or climbing Mt. Everest. For years at the top of my bucket list was to run the Ragnar relay race. Ragnar involves a team of twelve (or for those who are certifiable insane, six) souls who spend a little over a day together in a van with very little sleep and run two-hundred(ish) miles. As I’m writing this I’m realizing it doesn’t sound very appealing at all. Nonetheless, I yearned to be one of those brave and fearless few who pushed themselves to their physical limits and lived to tell the tale.
I ran my first Ragnar three years ago and have been hooked like a junkie ever since. I love the insanity and the adventure. But what I’ve come to cherish the most about pushing myself to my outer physical and mental limits is the perspectives about life that come to me when I think I’m about to collapse on the asphalt.
- Cheer for Your Friends. During Ragnar your team regularly pulls over to cheer you on and tell you how great you are doing. When you finish your relay the team comes out to greet you and congratulate you for an awesome run. Such consistent accolades are missing from the lives of us adults! As children our parents, teachers, and coaches told us how great we were (hopefully). As we grow up those pats on the back are fewer and far between. By the time we are full on adulating, gold-stars are mostly a distant memory. No one cheers for you because you weren’t late picking up your children from after-school care once last week, or you actually remembered you were snack mom, or you brought home a paycheck. But my friend, those things are praise worthy! When someone tells you how awesome you are you naturally want to be awesome, rise to meet that expectation, be the best version of yourself. So let a friend know how amazing they are. Try actually saying the words “good job” to your spouse. If your friend does something wonderful let them know it! Say it. Celebrate it. Make someone’s day. Change someone’s life.
- Sometimes It’s Okay to Walk. As you may imagine, sometime during an overnight 200 mile run your body rebels and your mind encourages it. I broke down two miles into my last run which was a total of three miles. It was a small hill that sent me over the edge. And as I slowed down and began to walk this very nasty voice in my head started to tell me what a disaster I was for failing a mile from my finish. “Seriously, one mile? You can’t make it one more mile? Loser.” And I almost let that bitch convince me that the other thirteen miles I had already run were worthless because my running wasn’t “perfect.” Well screw that! I was brave enough to say yes to this adventure. And I was strong enough to run thirteen miles. And I didn’t fall down, pass out, or throw up even though I was operating on slightly under three hours of really bad sleep. So I put on my big girl panties and ran the last three quarters of a mile like a boss.
- Embrace the Chaos. You can train for months (no one in our van did, by the way), you can plan out each exchange point and runner’s time flawlessly (thanks Ragnar), and you can organize the van to be stocked with all the staples you will need to survive on the road for over twenty-four hours (our team captain is amazing, not gonna lie) and still something completely awful will happen. Like Google Maps will fail you and you will end up missing two whole exchange points necessitating your exhausted teammates to run your laps instead of napping and eating. And then they end up kind of hating you. For real. This is a cringe worthy situation that I can assure you is not at all pretty. And who hasn’t found themselves in a cringe worthy situation ever? And as I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by embarrassment and guilt I realized that my downward spiral wasn’t helping. At all. Because I was focusing on the wrong thing. I was wallowing in my own feelings instead of figuring out how to rectify the situation. So next time you start to experience a shame spiral, stop, take a deep breath, and focus on the solution. I promise you it will all work out. Because it always does.