Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ragnar Relays, here I come!

I think it's a pretty universal concept that the best experiences are shared experiences.

Almost all people -- myself included -- strive for companionship in some way, whether it be hanging out with friends or striking up conversation with complete strangers. Life can get pretty lonely by yourself and daily occurrences, both good and bad, become more bearable when you have someone there experiencing them with you.

Above all else, that's the biggest reason why I've always been interested in Ragnar Relays. Unlike the solo road races I've done in the past, it's the ultimate team effort. In the Minnesota version of Ragnar, the race takes place between Winona and St. Paul, where relay teams of 6 or 12 people take turns running segments of the 190-mile course over a period of two days.

Relay races have always had an appeal to me. I love the competitiveness, I love the gradually-building drama, but most of all, I love the teamwork and the camaraderie that comes with a group of people working toward a common goal. 

Needless to say, when a friend of mine described Ragnar as being "a slumber party without sleep...or showers,"  I was immediately hooked and sought out to put my own team together for it. Some of my regular readers may even recall a blog entry I did last year on the topic. I wasn't looking for the challenge of triathlon or the accomplishment of running a marathon; I was looking for a race I could enjoy with others.

However, for a variety for a reasons, the team never materialized. Schedules were too hard to coordinate and many of my friends were uneasy about committing to a race several months in advance. The logistics of Ragnar -- van rentals, ride arrangements, drivers -- was also a lot more to consider than I was used to. Most of the events I've signed up for only require you to show up on time, bring proper equipment and wear some sort of clothes (though that isn't ALWAYS required).

I put my Ragnar ambitions on the back-burner for awhile, declaring it to be one of those races that would be fun to do but might not actually come to fruition. However, out of the blue a couple months back, my coworker Stacy -- someone I had only met in passing at that point -- asked if I was still into running and if I wanted in on a Ragnar team this summer.

My response was a semi-hysterical "yes" and the exuberance I displayed about finally getting on a Ragnar team probably looked something like this.

Admittedly, this isn't exactly how I envisioned getting to do Ragnar. I don't know any of the people on my team (Stacy recently had to drop out due to a toe injury) and with my opposite-from-normal-life work schedule, I likely won't get to know too many of them before the race rolls around on August 17. It would've been nice to have friends on the team to hang out with and possibly do some training runs with.

Despite all that though, I am excited for the race and look forward to getting to know my "Shady Character" teammates over the course of the next few weeks. Besides, I figure if they're doing Ragnar they must be cool, right?

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