I recently went to the doctor to discuss my “blood pressure issue” (read = I have high blood pressure). My regular physician recently had a baby, so her husband (with whom she shares a practice) was seeing her patients. We discussed some lifestyle issues. I told him I had lost about 30 pounds over the last 2 years by eating less and exercising more. He asked what kind of exercise I was doing. I told him that I had done a Couch to 5K program. After a few more questions, he said he thought I had done what I could on the lifestyle front and that we should probably consider medication to bring my blood pressure down. Then he asked how much running I did a week. I shrugged and said, “Well, probably 20 miles a week. Maybe 25.” He looked surprised and said, “Oh, so you’re a runner.”
Then I laughed too loud (like this: “HA!”). He stared at me blankly. It was awkward.
I said, “No, no, no. I’m not a runner. But I do run.”
He looked at me quizzically again and said, “Well, 20-25 miles a week is a lot. I think maybe you’re . . . a runner.”
I laughed awkwardly again and we moved on.
I don’t feel like a runner. I don’t do hard things with my body (except for those darn kids I grew). I feel like someone who occasionally jogs. In July 2010, I couldn’t run around the block (not exaggerating). So I started a Couch to 5K plan, completed that, then did a local 5K, then a 10K, and then ran a team ½ marathon (I ran 8 and my friend Dayna ran 5.1). And since then I’ve been training to run on a Ragnar team.
I will turn 39 on Thursday and the race is Friday and Saturday. I’m in better shape at 39 than I’ve ever been, which doesn’t say a whole lot about my lifestyle during the first few decades of my life.
I am nervous. There are 12 people on my team. I met all of these people save one (my brother-in-law, who stepped in at the 11th hour when one of our team members dropped out unexpectedly) via the online Mormon world. I have met ½ of them in real life (after only knowing them virtually first). The others are “virtual” strangers.
We will meet up on Thursday afternoon. Then, in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, six of us will pile into a van and drive to the start-up line (the rest will join up later). We will run a combined 198 miles, around the clock, until we finish at some point on Saturday afternoon. Each of us runs three legs. I am Runner 2. My legs are one of the easiest. I have to do 7.6 “very hard” miles (ouch), then two other legs of approximately 3 miles each. My kids have made me a playlist that they called “Mom’s Beast Mode.”
I am nervous (I already said that, huh?). I am nervous about the altitude (hello! I run at sea level). I am nervous about the frequency with which pot-o-golds will be placed along the route. I am nervous about running in the dark, with a reflective vest and a head lamp strapped onto my head, in unfamiliar territory. I am nervous about getting lost. It’s never cool to be lost, but to be lost while running? Not cool.
And I am excited. I have never done anything like this. I’ve never run this far. I’ve never spent 36 hours with a group of virtual strangers, crammed into a van, sleeping on the side of the road (or wherever we end up) whenever the other half of our team is running.
My friend at work who has run several half marathons and one full marathon has told me numerous times to remember that I’m in this race to complete, not compete (and boy, that’s for sure, since I’m not speedy). And today, he reminded me that these kinds of races are supposed to be fun.
A shout-out to my fellow Ragnar team members. They are legitimate runners—not posers like me—and they’re still letting me tag along on their fun. They’ve even tolerated a year of comments and questions and complaints from me regarding running, training, etc. They are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met (umm, virtually).
So I’ll see you on the back end of this adventure. I’ll be the one hobbling along the side of the road—hopefully grinning.