This past weekend, seven friends and I ventured east of the city to the Georgia International Horse Park right outside Conyers for a trail relay race called Ragnar. Some of you reading this may have been hassled in the last few years by yours truly about running the road relay series in Tennessee and/or running the trail relay series we just did last weekend. Sorry I’m not sorry because let me be the first to tell you, if you are not familiar, that Ragnar relays are incredibly fulfilling. Ragnar is more than running miles upon miles.
My team and I arrived in staggering times during the afternoon on Friday with packs, hammocks, coolers, chairs, and tents accompanied by feelings of excitement and nerves. We were also anticipating rain and thunderstorms with a side of group huddling sessions underneath an extremely large tarp that Aaron, one of the man Cheesewagons, so thoughtfully brought. To our luck, it sprinkled maybe a total of 22 rain drops. We even got a beautiful double rainbow pictured below!
The double full rainbow Friday after the 22 baby-size rain drops
Our start time was scheduled for 4pm, the third to last start time for the race, and I was runner numero uno for our team. The weather was beautiful and I was ready to rock and run. My first leg was the 3.8 mile loop, known as the green loop. Runner #2, Mike, ran the yellow loop (4.6 miles), runner #3, Aaron, ran the red loop (7 miles), runner #4, Chip, ran the green loop, and therelay continued in thatorder of loops until all eight of us ran all three loops. (The other four runners were Kathryn, Jane, Katherine, and Josh.)
Before I hit the ground with my first step right at 4pm, I proudly thought that our team had a good chance of placing in our division and I proudly thought I would be one of the faster women runners. I naïvely thought I had a good chance of maintaining my average road race pace. But after finishing that green loop, reality hit me in the face. Hard. I had toadjustmyattitude.
“It’s not about winning or setting PRs, Maggie. Not this time.”
I won’t lie. I was EXHAUSTED at the end of my first run. I hadn’t trained on trails at all and boy I wish I had. With switchbacks galore and sudden steep inclines with roots and rocks creeping from every which way on mixed terrain, this green loop, this loop marketed as a lovely and enjoyable jog through beautiful landscape, made me question what the heck I was doing over the next 19 hours. I quickly told myself that I was not going to set any PRs. I told myself to just feel good about myself if I could leave this Ragnar thing without a broken ankle. (Lord knows me and my ankles…)
Once I changed my mindset, my entire outlook on the event itself altered. I began to see the amazing way community formed amongst a huge group of crazy strangers. (Honestly, you have to admit that it is a little crazy that people choose to – and pay to – run through the night on the very dark trails the ‘96 Olympics used for the mountain bike competitions. No light pollution here, folks.) I began to see people re-establishing or perhaps discovering for the first time their individual self-worth. I began to see people take delight in what they love.
So, in all? Ragnar was an amazing experience. Sure, I didn’t run as fast as I had hoped and sure I didn’t get as much sleep as I had hoped. But, those petty and unimportant things aside, I left that place full – full of contentment, full of memories, full of joy, and full of a fire within myself to experience again the organic ways community forms, self-worth is seen, and passions are loved.
I encourage you to seek out that thing that might seem a little crazy but something inside of you cannot deny that it will be worth it. Chances are, if that thing can’t escape you or you can’t escape it, it is something worth seeking. You can even probably recall a time when you did just that and it didn’t turn out too shabby, did it? I say, just do the dang thing because itwill bring you joy. And in our joy, our Creator delights.
Go in peace and live with that fire inside!
Magpie and the Cheesewagons after running +120 miles