There were NO guarantees of success this past weekend. In fact, at 5:21am on Friday morning I was lying in my damp sleeping bag and wondering if we could defer our race entry to next year. I was ready to quit before it even began. We hardly slept, the rain and the wind had our tent waving like a flag throughout the night, and we were exhausted before the race even began. But somehow, the second half of our team arrived at 6:30am and we showed up at the start line anyway… Without any guarantee of success… Without any guarantee of anything really. We only knew one thing. We were going to begin. And we were going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. That’s all we knew at 8am Friday morning…
If you’ve never heard of a Ragnar Relay or a Ragnar Trail Relay, it’s an overnight race/event in which you are a team of 4, 8, or 12 (for road runs) and you cover anywhere from 130ish miles (trail) or 200ish miles (road race). It can take teams anywhere from 22-35 hours to complete and there are definitely teams that DNF for one reason or another. This past weekend, our team of 8 women took on the Ragnar Trail Relay at Lake Wawayanda in New Jersey.
The experience is indescribable.
There’s just no way to articulate the fatigue, the vulnerability, and uncertainty as you patiently await your teammates while they are out in the woods. I don’t know how to communicate the intimacy of moments you share when a “friend” is found on the trail and then you realize once you cross the finish line of that loop you have no idea what they look like… but they saw you at your weakest and your strongest. You talked to them deeply about your family and the exhaustion. There’s no way to describe how doubt lingers and taints your moments of courage, or why tears stream down your face. It’s because your bones ache as you physically feel your comfort zone expanding – the stretching of your mind, body, and soul…there’s no way to tell you about any of it. You have to feel it in your gut, your sore tendons and ligaments, your tired muscles that burn and scream at you to stop and sit down because you can’t climb up one more slippery hill. You have to feel in your throat when you turn around in the darkness because you heard something and see nothing but pitch blackness. There’s no way to tell you about the forgiveness and grace you need to gift yourself during this day because each time you collapse and you need to trust that you will rise. It is just. that. hard. There’s just no way to express the stages of exhaustion, relief, and excitement when you enter into the transition area, look into your tired and terrified teammates eyes and tell them “You’re gonna do great.” because you know that in a few moments they’re going to move forward in pain and discomfort, push against their boundaries until they shatter, and find another piece of their New Self on the other side of that lake.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…you must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Our rock, Loretta described it so tenderly and so perfectly in her Facebook post, please read on….
This weekend’s Ragnar Relay was one of those experiences. Although we were a team of 8 women, each of us had to face our individual fears as we entered the trails by ourselves. Whether it was the fear of running in the dark, the constant rain and slippery conditions, the various inclines and declines, the threat of black bears and bow hunters, or the physical and mental fears that comes with running 16.1 miles. We faced our fears and achieved our goal. We never gave up and we believed in each other.
As I unpacked my bags and started my laundry today, my clothes and sneakers were wet, cold, sweaty, and muddy. To anyone else they would have smelled disgusting. To me, it was the smell of accomplishment. And the pain, bruises, and bags under our eyes were the signs of perseverance, commitment, strength, and courage.
There are many times when I dwell on the events or experiences that have eluded my life. Then along comes a weekend like this! I never dreamed of running 128 miles for 32 hours in the woods. Without a doubt, this was an experience of a lifetime! It was truly a joy and honor to be a member of the “Soleful Mamas” team! These 7 women are incredibly strong and inspiring athletes and I am SO proud of them. They have completely changed my life and they motivate me to be a better person. More importantly, they remind me to have fun, enjoy life, and believe in myself. Together, we created memories and friendships that will last forever! I cannot wait for our Disney adventure!
#zerodark30squadproud #isaw3bearsand2bowhunters #mycomfortzoneexpanded #8burpeestohonormyteammates
Loretta’s right. We had the perfect team. Squad ZeroDark30 was sort of prepared for this because we demand a lot of ourselves on a constant basis. We wake up at 4:45/5am to get to CrossFit at 5:30am. Before the sun even rises, we have likely already strength trained, swam, taught class (Coach Loretta), or went for a run on the weekend. We work inside and outside of our homes, we take care of children and our families, we tackle 1,000 duties every day, we create space and time for our friendships, and we attempt to take care of ourselves. Though I doubted myself throughout the hours of my run/walk/slipping, I never once doubted that any of my 7 teammates wouldn’t be able to conquer. Because week in and week out we show up for each other and we GET. IT. DONE. Every single time.
This is the tribe of women that is committed to the promise of a big idea, and will work together to turn it into our reality. This is the tribe of women that is as reliable as the sunrise. This is the tribe of women I will forever call my sole sisters…my family.
– Mama K