Being part of a team changes the dynamic of competition. Running with eleven teammates who are encouraging and supporting one another creates an environment where the individual has a greater need to succeed then when competing alone. This past weekend we participated in our second Ragnar Relay. 36 legs, 12 runners, 2 vans and 200-ish miles. We ran from Cobourg to Niagara Falls. It’s far… look at a map!
Many people ask us “Why?”. Why would we run so far, why would we spend 26 1/2 hours in a van, why would we run through the night with very little sleep. I’m sure each of the 12 runners on our team has a different answer to that. My answer – because working together to run 200 miles with these other 11 runners made me push myself harder than I would if I were alone. It made me want their success on their runs even more than I wanted it for myself and because I alone couldn’t run 200 miles but with my team I could (and did)!
I set a goal for myself at the beginning of the year. It didn’t fit the criteria of goal setting as it was neither specific nor measurable but it was important to me. Last year when I ran my first overnight relay I suffered terribly on my third leg. In fact it was the worst run I have ever had. If it had been a training run I would have just quit but I was in the middle of the Adirondacks, by myself and I had no option but to complete my run and get to the next exchange point. I hadn’t fuelled properly and had no energy. I was up all night and I hadn’t eaten since I finished my last run 8 hours prior. The goal that I set this year was to run this Ragnar more prepared. So I adjusted how and when I ate and it worked. My third leg was one of the fastest paces that I have ever run. I used that terrible experience from last year and overcame the issues of lack of sleep and weird eating patterns. I ran my third leg 26 seconds per km faster than the first two legs. So despite my goal not being specific or measurable I certainly accomplished it!
I watched in awe as runner after runner came in under their anticipated pace times. Seeing the determination on their face and knowing that they left nothing on the course. It was truly inspiring and pushed me on each of my runs, as to not let my teammates down. Not all of the runs were perfect though. There were struggles in the middle of the night. There was a strong head wind, it was dark and there were directional signs missing. But rather than these factors causing defeat, they created a stronger bond, with the team stopping on the side of the road for encouragement to get the runner to the next exchange point. The team did what they needed to do so that every runner knew, that while they struggled, they were not alone.
As our final runner came across the finish line I cried. Partly because she was crying but mainly because I was so proud of our team for getting us so far.
And finishing 18th of 209 teams and 1st in the mixed sub masters category was an added bonus!
We even made it into Canadian Running Magazine’s online photos of the event (Second day of Reebok Ragnar Niagara – 3rd last picture with the caption “Finish” that’s us!)
Now that’s its over I am missing my teammates and wondering what’s next?!?
“We believe that being a Ragnarian is more than being a runner; that misery loves company and happiness is “only real when shared”; that there is a badass inside all of us; that everyone deserves to be cheered at the finish line; that tutus make you run faster; that what happens in the van stays in the van; that adventure can only be found if you are looking for it: and that a little sleep deprivation is a small price to pay to watch the sunrise with our friends. Together we ran 200-ish miles. Together we can accomplish anything. WE ARE RAGNARIANS.”