by Tami Allen
I remember exactly where I was standing when I got Emily’s email. It read, “Southern California Ragnar, April 2012!” My extended family, husband and daughter have ran the Phoenix Del Sol Ragnar many times. I knew exactly what was involved…or so I thought. A 200 mile race, 36 hours, no sleep, 3 legs each, day and night runs, and vans full of memories. No thank you. I enjoy my sleep.
But as I thought about it for a week, and got the support of Dave, surprisingly I found myself replying to Emily that yes, I would indeed participate. I had six months to prepare. I could do this. I set my goal and leaned on friends and family and the beginner training schedule. I kept thinking, every run, “…if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear!” I was actually preparing for a huge goal. Yes, I got easy legs, but for me, they were monumental. I had run a slow half marathon, 10K and 5K, but nothing like Ragnar.
My adventure was about to begin. I found myself feeling very inadequate. I was surrounded by fantastic athletes and women, whom I felt I couldn’t compare. Their constant encouragement meant more than they will know. Time really didn’t matter in Ragnar. It was the camaraderie that most impressed me. My preparation came in small and simple steps around the block, then a jog to the baseball fields, the canals and a very few hills. I didn’t enjoy running, and I could easily find a reason not to run that day. I found that music was my motivation. If I kept it loud and fast then I could keep moving. By small and simple steps, great things are possible.
Jane and Julynn kept me very focused on our runs around the neighborhood. I was the runner who would recommend “let’s walk at the next light”. It seemed that during training, after two miles, I was about done. My first leg at Ragnar was 4.6 miles, and I am proud to say that I ran the whole thing! I knew that Van One would be waiting and cheering at the next exchange and our other Van Two was also depending on me to finish. These thoughts and watching amazing determined moms/friends, helped keep me calm as I would panic about what was ahead.
My night run was the most difficult for me. I was all alone, and tried listening to quiet piano music. That did not work. I needed Michael Jackson to help me up the hills filled with avocado farms. In the dark, I ran through a hilly golf course, puddles of water, dirt roads and random sprinklers. As I reached the top the of mountain pass, (yes I walked some) I felt the most amazing breeze blowing and I thought “I am not alone!" I struggled the next few miles, as the sleep deprivation grew and the fun had worn off. It was now 1:00 a.m. and I did not prepare for a run that early in the morning. In addition, I had not trained enough hills. That was very evident. My time was slow and I was exhausted, but I finished. Slow and steady seemed to be my motto!
We tried to sleep in a dark, quiet Burger King parking lot -- NOT! There was not going to be any showers for our van. But my last leg was a blast! I had just a few miles to complete my portion, and it felt like I sprinted the whole thing! I was so happy afterwards, that I fell backwards into a planter full of purple flowers! I was content. I was satisfied and I was LOCO!
Crossing the finish line as a team is a must! I will always treasure that afternoon on the beach, celebrating with great ladies. I was thrilled to get the medal and car sticker! I had completed a Ragnar. My legs were still tight, and I was beginning to be exhausted. I slept really good that night at the beach house. When I arose, I discovered that my thighs, glutes and hamstrings were sorer than they had ever been. I found that sitting and standing were a struggle. It felt so good to rub the sides of my thighs. Getting in and out of the van was an intense chore. Complaining didn’t help! I didn’t have any room to murmur. We were all in the same boat, and all walking a little differently. In fact, I think we are all a little different now that we completed the Southern California Ragnar -- for the better!