Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ragnar: I can do hard things

The past two days I participated in an event called Ragnar. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a 198 relay race from Logan, UT to Park City, UT. I was on a 12 man team where we each take 3 turns running. I ran about 21 of those 198 miles.

I have never been much of an avid runner in my life and this was basically my first big event running. In fact the farthest I had ever run at once was 7 miles and two of my legs were longer than that. So suffice it to say, it wasn't easy. It was one of the more physically and mentally difficult things I've done in my life but yet it's one of the most memorable and exciting things I've done.

On my team of 12, I only knew one other person who was my coworker. He was the one who invited me to the team. It took some persuasion by him to get me to join and eventually I conceded, partly due to the fact that there would be 2 single girls my age in my group. I got to know the people in my group decently well in the space of 48 hours and shared good moments with them. I've slapped their calves, seen them without makeup, seen them groggily wake up at 2:30 in the morning and go running 5 miles immediately thereafter, and shared some laughs. I was surrounded by 17,000 other people going through the same difficult thing. It was kind of exhilarating. Everyone was friendly and courteous and I never once saw someone be mad or frown. Yes, I saw a lot of pain on peoples faces as they struggled up their run but yet everyone enjoyed it (at least from my view) It's interesting how something obviously difficult can be such a catalyst for the positive. Relationships improved and friendships were made. Random strangers would give words of encouragement. When someone kills you (passes you) or you're killing someone, people say "good job" and "keep it up". Everyone is going through the same experience and building each other up for a collective accomplish something difficult. Yes, some people are in it to win it but most are there to just complete the course as best and as fast as they can, whether they "win" or not. It's like an instant community forms overnight all working to achieve a common goal.

As I think back on the experiences I am most fond and proud of it's not the ones where I am getting a massage or lying on a beach, it's the ones where I am exhausted from hiking and rapelling down miles of a slot canyon with my friends on a scout camp, when I get a high score on a test that I studied really hard for, when I reach the top of a mountain, and when I run 5 miles in the middle of the night and have my team slap my calf at the end of it. It's that realization that you can do hard things that brings that sense of accomplishment in life. It's in the midst of your most difficult hour that happiness can be found. It brings painful but yet more powerfully positive memories. Experiences like those have powerful impacts in building relationships and improving morale.

Just like in life sometimes the hardest parts are the most rewarding. I wouldn't have done Ragnar if my coworker hadn't convinced in devious ways to do it. Frankly the thought of paying more than a $100 to run lots of miles at ridiculous hours does not quite sound appealing. But now that I've done it, I want to do it again and do more similar adventures. I've spent a lot of my life preventing myself from accomplishing great goals simply because it sounded hard and I doubted whether I could do it. I've ended up missing out on so much. Due to fear and laziness I have limited myself not only to running races but also to happiness. When we don't push ourselves to accomplish something hard or that we're afraid of, (whether it be going to college, asking someone on a date, running a marathon, forgiving a relative, and etc) we limit our happiness.

So take sometime to think of the things you've always wanted to do but yet haven't done just because it seemed too hard. You won't regret it.