Reflection: 200 miles on foot with my Chix

Ragnar Relay Chicago. Nearly 200 miles, on foot, traveling from Madison  to Chicago, via Milwaukee. It is insane. For the third year in a row, the Fit Chix with Quick Stix have run. I ran in 2011 and again this year. I hate running, but the meaningful friendships I have built in the process are priceless.

THE Fit Chix with Quick Stix

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We are women. Ages 30-5osomething. Mothers. Teachers. Business owners. Former military. Former athletes. Ironman finisher. Computer geeks. Analysts. Super Heroes. Friends. Cancer survivor. 100-pound loser. Prancers. Singers. Frolickers.

This year’s team consisted of women I have known for years – some just a few and one for 8 years. One I met Friday afternoon for the first time. Former coworkers. Former clients. My BLPE (best lifting partner ever – sorry everyone else). Woman I have no connection to other than the fact that we know the same person who invited her to run Ragnar.

The experience

The journey is indescribable. I cannot put it into words. Those who were there, know. The bonds you build while working as a team to run 200 miles is one that cannot be broken. While one person runs, the other 11 (or this year 10) sit in the vans – providing runner support, driving to the exchanges, and tormenting one another. We sing. Sometimes we cry (no criers in my van this year). We laugh. We reach delirium. We try to sleep. We eat, drink, and change clothes in the van. We support one another. We build one another up. It is a sort of therapy.

The growth

While you get to know your vanmates well along a 200-mile journey, you also get to know yourself. This event requires courage and heart. Varying degrees of fear are faced with determination while running alone in the middle of the night.

What is your physical endurance after being awake for 24+ hours?

Do you talk more or less when you are overtired?

How do you function when you are off your routine?

Do you place pressure on yourself to do well – even when the team is telling you this is all about fun?

How do you endure the annoyances of others when you are tired?

There are countless opportunities for personal growth. Personally, it is an opportunity for me to form intimate relationships – something that is VERY difficult for me. It is also as opportunity for me to grow physically, improving my endurance. 200 miles also requires a mental strength – requiring you to run when the last thing you want to do is run. For example, we discussed how sometimes when we are running we are tired and want to close our eyes – convinced we will feel better if we could just close them and rest for a bit.

There is no I in team

We had a few blips this year. The day before the race we had a medical emergency eliminate a runner. We sent her our love and prayers and the Chix stepped to the plate to cover the miles. When we heard – all the Chix volunteered to help with the miles. Switching legs, picking up miles – we would do what it took to get the job done.

Partway through, one of our Chix did not feel well – stuffed up, migraine. It looked like she might be out! We rearranged legs. We let her rest. She did come back to life – and she smashed her runs. She even prancersized into the exchange!

The bottomline

I do not have much to say. I am typing this as I ride a bus back to Minneapolis. I have met fellow Ragnarians – each of us with unique stories and experiences to share.

There are no words to describe the amazingness of the experience. I am proud of my self for completing the rewarding event and overcoming obstacles. I am proud of my Chix – each overcoming obstacles, trails, and tribulations of her own. And we have another experience of a lifetime to add to our memory banks!

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Recovery: After a long, hard run

Yesterday was race day – half marathon for me and a full marathon for many of my beloved friends. It was a tough day. It had its bright moments. It also brought many tears. We had trained for months for this day.

Wakeup

I quickly and easily awoke for the 4:30 am alarm. I was excited! Race day was here. After a weeks of anxiety, fear, and doubts, I woke up confident and feeling good. I went about my preparations. There was NO DOUBT in my mind that I would beat 2 hours.

The startline

I felt good. We ALL felt good. The race director led a short, but powerful, time of silence in honor of the recent events in Boston. Knowing my tendency to start out running too fast, I started with the 2:20 pace group. I would rather run too slow mile 1 than too fast. My first mile was about 9:30. The second, 8:45. I had to pull in the reigns. I found my pace at about 9:45 and I felt good. I knew I could maintain this for several miles, if not to the finish. I had trained for this!

Along mile 4, I passed a woman with medics – she was convulsing on the ground. As I was beginning to feel strange and off, something inside me said, slow down. That was a frightening sight. It was not long after this that I had no energy, no drive, and I just wanted to be done.

By mile 6, I had made the decision to walk/run. I considered quitting. I was not going to win, I was not going to achieve my goal time, there was no reason to push it and risk injury or illness. Knowing that my Chix were running twice as far as I was pushed me to at least finish.

At mile 9, I sent a text to the Chix waiting for me at the end – I was 30 minutes behind my goal and they should go find our Chix doing the full before it was too late. Jane replied, “No Chix left behind!”

The finishline

I finished! I just wanted it done! I did not know what my time was and I did not care. I was more concerned with how my eight Chix were doing – four of them en route to Boston qualification. I grabbed my water, chocolate milk, and fruit and connected with my Chix. We hopped on the road bikes and were off to find the runners. This is when I learned that I was not the only one who had struggled.

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Two of our Chix had pulled out – saving their physical bodies for another race and a Boston qualification. One pulled back significantly. One Chix pushed through – dug deep. She gave it her all. We biked the route backwards. We found her along mile 23. Hot. Exhausted. Struggling. It was a hard sight (also knowing in our hearts that we wanted to see 4 strong runners at this point). Two Chix stayed with her, and we continued to go and find the others – we had 5 other chicks out there. We passed a lot of runners – some looked strong. Others shuffled, determined to finish despite the circumstances. A part of me was worried that the others had pulled off – we went quite a distance without seeing any of our Chix. We wanted to find the girls we knew were alone!

Did she need water? A sane mind to tell her it would be okay to stop?

Kami was running strong – we checked in, she was fine. Next, slow and steady Captain Carol looked good. It felt like forever before we saw our next Chix. I was worried. We were about to get to the path along the river – NO bikes on the path. We would have to wait for them to come to us at this point.

We waited.

JILL!! I was elated. She looked good. we were SO relieved that our Chix were running smart! Each had been listening to her body – walking when needed – and getting one step at a time closer to the finishline. We knew the others were at least in company on their journey – so we made the decision to ride back. I needed more water and fuel myself. And I had peace of mind knowing my Chix were safe and running smart.

Not all was bad

We did have a Chix PR!!!!! Cheri killed the half marathon. She felted good. She did it! And I am so proud to be able to call her friend!

AND, we finished. We did something that most individuals do not even consider doing. And we overcame obstacles! We conquered our own minds and spirits.

The aftermath

My heart hurt. Was I disappointed in my run? Yes, but that was not my concern. I had finished. Some of my Chix had made the INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT decision to pull out of the race. I am indescribably proud of their smarts and their courage. My heart ached, knowing how hard this must have been.

Following the race I had a 5-hour drive from Green Bay to Minnesota. I drove in silence. I was recapping the day’s events. I was praying for my Chix. Everyone’s hearts and physical recovery. Stacy’s health and well-being. V and Em’s hearts, souls, and physical bodies. The spirits of the Chix I had yet to hear from. I cried. It was a hard day. Hard decisions were made by all.

And I contemplated whether I will be trying that again. (No decision was made!)

The bottomline

I am truly proud of every one of my Chix who participated in yesterday’s marathon events. Each made THE BEST decision for her. She made tough decisions. We each had big goals for the day – and most of them were left to the wayside.

If you are reading this, my Fit Chix with Quick Stix – know that I am indescribably PROUD of each and every one of you. You were ALL body smart – in situations when it would be ‘easy’ to push through the pain. You were wise. And inspiring. I love you ladies.

I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize… Philippians 3:13

26.2 Bible verses for running & racing