Well, with some hesitation, I made the commitment to join my friends and run in the 2019 OC Ragnar. I signed on without knowing the full details. Actually, I don't think any of the other eleven team members knew what they were signing up for. Basically, the OC Ragnar is a 24 hour running relay race starting in Huntington Beach California winding its way through Southern California's coastal cities, finishing in San Diego California. Each team member has a set of 3 legs to run with various miles, terrain, and times of day and night. The team travels together in two vans supporting and cheering on the team member as they run their portion of the course. However, there are times when vans are not allowed to travel the course, leaving the runner to run without support.
Twelve crazy friends of all ages spanning from the mid 20's through the mid 60's, were all willing to explore, bond, laugh, cry, support, and tolerate the journey and each other. The experience was wonderful and I know that I'll have my eleven friends forever.
As time grew closer, I had more questions...Where and when will I sleep? When do I eat? Where and when do I shower? Do I have to run at night in a strange place alone? Who is going to drive the van?
All great questions, that were solved at our Ragnar planning meeting.
Answers: Sleep in the van. Bring your own snacks and special food. Eat as a team at selected restaurants. Shower at Fitness gym with guest pass and or shower at team member's home. Yes, you have to run at night but you will have a headlight, shoe light, and reflective vest with a tail light. Volunteer team members drives the van.
My first leg through Santa Ana California
was hot and not very exciting. There was lots of traffic and traffic signals galore, especially over the freeway passes.
Once all logistics were answered, I had to deal with my fear of my night run.
And, I guess that is what this blog is really about. Me having to face my fears. Running the distance wasn't my problem. What I had to deal with, was my insecurity of running alone at 11:30pm in a unfamiliar, poorly lit, hilly, undeveloped area. Oh! My gosh! I filled my head with so much crap that I even threw up before my leg.
Equipped with my night running gear, I stood by the hand off finish/start line pacing and digging up the courage to go. When I saw Amy hauling ass round the corner, I knew there was no turning back and I had to get my big girl panties on and do my best not only for my team but for myself. I don't know if it was because Amy was running on endorphins or because the hand off area was so dark, but she ran right by me.
People were cheering those running in. Somehow she heard my voice call out her name. Out of breath, she ran back to me and the wrist band exchange was completed.
I was off. I threw my caution to the wind and dug deep. "You got this Cynthia. You can do this. Enjoy the run," I repeated all the way down hill and around the bend.
I've heard may people say, "It's amazing what your body can do when you put your mind to it." Well, this was my test.
Attitude adjustment needed real fast. I focused on the beautiful night sky, the stars that I don't get to see very often, the quietness and serenity. I focused on the rhythmic sound of my breathing breaking the silence and the sounds of each stride striking the ground. Everything was in place and the cool temperature allowed for perfect running weather.
This was a time by myself, mostly for myself. The miles went by and I grew stronger and more confident as I let go of negative stuff holding me back. Visions of Joe the slasher jumping out of the bushes, a coyote attacking me, my X kicking me to the curb, again! Insecure thoughts of not being able to run the distance, were tossed out of my brain to make room for positive thoughts and feelings. Those thoughts of running alone, running in the dark, running in a strange unpopulated area, steep hills, and getting lost, all turned out to be a gift. It was an opportunity to connect with my positive, brave, adventurous self and overcome those fears. I finished strong and my timing was one of my best. I was so high on endorphins that I didn't want to stop running. But, I was at the end of my leg and need to hand off to Neda.
After my last run, I was pumped and excited to run again. Solana Beach is a familiar place to me. This part of the coast line is alway a preferred destination for runners and cyclist. The view is spectacular. The roads are clean and laced with flower gardens. The quaint little town of Solana Beach offers trendy restaurants and fun shopping.
This last leg was my longest and hardest only because of the elevation climb. Around mile 6 my left quad started to cramp because of the steep hill. I contacted my team and they reminded me to just take it easy and walk. When I reached the top, to my joy they were there waiting for me with ice water, cookies and moral support. Stephanie offered to run with me but as I ran across the plateau my cramp lessened and I wanted to finish on my own. Surprisingly, as I ran down the hill my cramp went away and I was able to enjoy the last part of my leg painless. I was so happy and proud to round that last corner. The spectators were cheering and some man shout out to me, "You're awesome! I saw you at the last 2 handoffs. You're awesome!" That unknown person made my finish even better. Thank you, Sir!
OC RAGNAR 2019!!!!! Another Bucket List accomplished. Would I do it again? Yes! And, without hesitations.