This past weekend I decided, along with three other LVs and six other what I will now call brave individuals, to partake in a Ragnar Relay Series from Winona, MN to Minneapolis, MN. Yep, that’s correct, across Minnesota and through Wisconsin. Yes, that’s about 200 miles. No, I am not lying. And no, I am not crazy. I signed up for this race not only as an extension of my new-found love for running (thanks to the LV program), but also to challenge myself in a completely new way, getting the opportunity to bond with the amazing LV women who would run with me. Everyone on our team ran three different legs across the wide expanses of the Midwest, up hills, down hills, across lakes, up more hills, through the night, and through the heat in order to finish the race that would enable us to call ourselves Ragnar champions. What I did not expect was that a race such as this directly translates to my experience as an LV. Here’s what I learned along the dirt and very long country roads of the Midwest as they may or may not pertain to the LV experience:
1. Don’t Give Up. Even when it’s 90 degrees, your leg feels like it could split open at any minute, and your teammates lovingly tell you that you still have 2.7 miles of your 7-mile, third leg left to run, just keep running. It’s okay to walk. Others are walking, too. Even in your toughest moments, someone is always there to walk with you and the benefits of pushing through the hardest parts of your journey lead to learning the most about yourself, feeling pride in your work, and leaving you with a sense of accomplishment that no one else can feel except for those who are on the journey with you.
2. Utilize Your Team for Support. It’s okay to admit when you need help. The journey is tough and the journey is long. When you know that your next hill is over a mile, anticipate this and ask your teammates to meet you at the end of the hill for water, Gatorade, Icy-Hot to dull the pain, a hug, or just a breather. It’s really easy to over-extend yourself, and depending on the people who are there to support you can be the ultimate, dangerous difference between getting hurt or making it successfully to the finish line. Anticipate the difficult parts of your run, knowing they will inevitably be there, and share this with your teammates, because they are the most equipped to help you out when you’re in the middle of a difficult situation.
3.Take a Moment for Yourself. During Ragnar other runners, people cheering you on, and your teammates in your van constantly surround you. While it’s great to constantly be surrounded by other people, sometimes you just need a minute to reflect and run by yourself to focus on what’s coming next. If it’s the second leg and you’re running near Stillwater, WI at five a.m., watching the sun as it creeps over the hills in front of you with no one else in sight, turn off Luke Bryan blasting in your ears and just revel in the moment. Take in the silence and the beauty of nature, being absolutely alone with no one to bother you. These moments are rare, but they are beautiful and necessary. Don’t take these moments for granted.
4.Finally, trust that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. When you sign up for a race that may leave your family and friends questioning your sanity, trust your gut that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Signing up for such a rare race as Ragnar, there are definitely questions that come to mind along the lines of…Am I strong enough to do this? Am I prepared to do this? Am I well equipped to do this? Did I make the right decision in doing this race? The answer is yes. It may not be clear at the time, when you’ve run 10 of your nearly 16 miles and you don’t have much energy left and you haven’t gotten enough rest and people are depending on you to give your fair share and you want to cry and the list goes on. However, a wise Brother once told me that if you’re having doubts about whether or not you made the right decision, all you need to do is look down at your two feet, and trust in God that this is exactly where you are supposed to be, exactly at this moment. Keep looking at those two feet that have run miles in those shoes to prepare you for such a race, and trust that God’s plan for you has led you to the middle of nowhere Wisconsin to finish a race that you never imagined you would partake in in the first place.
I am a Lasallian Volunteer and I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I may not have known it throughout the challenges that I have faced during my time thus far as an LV, but in hind-sight I know for sure that I made the right decision to partake in this wonderful, challenging, and transformational program. A huge shout out to all the LVs, Brothers, staff, friends, and family who have followed me and supported me throughout this crazy journey; I never would have expected to serve as an LV for two years, or sign up for the most challenging race of my life. A special thank you to Megan, Julia, and Kayla for allowing me to do so. See you all at Ragnar 2014!