(Wow! It's already November; a special month that reminds me of all the good things in my life--my bounteous blessings. What better way to kick of the month than with a guest post from one of those said blessings: My rad dad! Enjoy!)
The Vikings called a warrior of judgment, Ragnar. But here’s the real definition according to your guest blogger and biggest fan of the blogmistress, Aleisha, after I returned from participating in the Las Vegas Ragnar.
A close friend came to me this summer and told me his high school buddies traveled to San Diego this past spring to run a Ragnar. (I can’t believe these guys have stayed in touch with each other over the past 35 years. I’m trying to remember who I went to high school with!) For those of you who don’t know, in a Ragnar Relay there are two vans with 6 runners in each van. After the first 6 legs of the race have been completed by the runners in Van 1, Van 2 takes over with its six runners. The vans "leapfrog" over each other after all participants in the van have run their designated legs of the relay. (Each runner has three legs that range in length from 3 to 10 miles. Total miles run in the race? 188!) My friend asked me if I wanted to join a team he was putting together to run from Lake Mead to Las Vegas. I asked him why anyone would do this and he answered, “Because it will be fun.”
I lovingly caressed the girth that had accumulated around my midsection. “Count me in,” I said, "After all, how hard can it be? I’m only 56 years old!”
The closer it came to the relay date (October 21-22, 2011), the more I started to question the wisdom of the demon friend who kept telling me, “It will be fun.” Then he had the nerve to tell me I owed a $100 entrance fee! What? Pay to be punished? Has everyone lost their mind? Someone should pay me! I looked for any excuse to pull out of the competition. Maybe I could say I had an injury? I mean, that happens all the time to professional athletes, doesn’t it? (And they still get paid!) Maybe I could say I don’t know anyone else in the group besides my ex-friend’s daughter? No, that wouldn’t work. No one has ever accused me of being shy! Oh &%$# – looks like I’m stuck!
Race day. There’s a slight chill in the desert air as the morning sun peaks over the purple mountains and gives Lake Mead new life. I go to my starting position with about 50 other runners. (Starting times are staggered with 480 teams.) Teams are announced and the excitement grows. Our team name is “Geezers and Gals” because the dudes are over 50 years old and the girls are young maidens. I look around me and suddenly it dawns on me that I’m not supposed to be here. I’ve made a huge mistake. There’s no one here that looks like me. No one has gray hair, wrinkles, or is packing any extra weight! I am a meandering manatee amongst a pod of young porpoises frolicking in the vast ocean! This won’t work. I don’t frolic anymore! I’m lucky to find the keys to the car in the morning! Other runners ask me what DNR means, that I have hand-written above the number affixed to my running shorts. (Do Not Resuscitate!) And the gun goes off signaling the start of the relay. Oh &%$# – looks like I’m stuck!
The Ragnar motto is, “Run, Drive, Sleep?, Repeat.” That’s right – Sleep with a question mark. There was no sleeping. (And don’t talk to me about personal hygiene, either. Sure these guys sweat when they run but they add insult to injury by rubbing Tiger Balm all over each other, before and after each turn running! Have you smelled Tiger Balm? It’s a smell that you will never forget. It’s like Ben Gay on steroids. It had to have been extracted from the glands of real tigers. It made my nose run, even in the arid, desert air!) What I needed most was sleep. I crashed and got about 1 ½ to 2 hours of much needed sleep before I was awakened and told it was my time to run AGAIN. The clock flashed 2:30 a.m.! Oh &%$# – looks like I’m stuck!
My last leg was 6.9 miles and classified as VERY HARD – NO VAN SUPPORT. The baton was passed and I gave my teammate a hug, not knowing whether I would ever see her again, and left the exchange running on what I now call the “Trail of Death." It was a trail with big rocks, sandy bars, deep ruts, gravel pits, etc. That’s exactly what I ran on with nothing more than a headlight to show me the way at 3:00 a.m.! It was a path for 4-wheelers and jeeps and not for the faint of heart prancing around in tennis shoes. You’re kidding me right, Coach? You said I would have fun. When does the fun begin?
My soon-to-be-dead friend’s words kept echoing in my mind, “Because it will be fun.” It seemed like I was slowly morphing into Forest Gump. I just kept running and running and running! I was VERY TIRED to say the least but I finished! I had completed what I set out to do and there is definitely a sense of elation in being able to say that. Honestly, I couldn’t have done it without my team.
We ran across the finish line together as a team in our matching yellow shirts to end the relay. It was very cool. Success! I’ve learned in my 56 years that the secret to success is your supporting cast. It’s your family and friends. This relay only strengthened my conviction of that truth. So when it looks like you’re stuck and fearful of not completing a task or of failing, make sure you have the right people on your team to guarantee your success. There are no losers!