Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Tribute to Team One

It’s easy to get to a finish line when we know that there are many people arriving before and after us. I have discovered that it is not as easy when we are the very last one out on the course. Being the last can be demoralizing and spirit crushing. Moving forward becomes a grind. Quitting seems so much easier when you know that nobody is behind you to care and that there are some who are even hoping you do quit so that they can go home after a harrowing day of volunteering. If I was alone it would have been easy to hang my head down and walk away. But I wasn’t alone. I was with an amazing team and that made all of the difference.

During the Ragnar Wastach Back we were indeed the last team on the course. There was another team that shared that position with us. That team would pass us then we would pass them, but last place we were.

When we found out that we were the last ones on the course we were discouraged. None of us had ever been “last” in all of our lives! We weren’t sure what to do with that information. It was a hard pill to swallow. But our feelings evolved. We went from being downcast and despairing to laughing tears within about 15 minutes. Jenny came up with the brilliant idea to do a top ten list of “how you know you’re the last people in the RAGNAR”. It was recounting all of the ways we should have known that we were far behind the rest. Like when we woke up to complete emptiness in the gym that was once full of sleeping bodies; Like when we would show up to an exchange point and the volunteers would start clearing the area of cones, banners, and chairs.

And after we laughed about it we got to work on getting ahead. And we did.

Working together, laughing together, and living with one another for over 24 hours enabled us to unconsciously and collaboratively pick up the pace and kick some butt. Toward the end with approximately 16 miles to go there was a lightening storm that hit us on the top of the Ragnar, the steepest, muddiest, highest point of the entire race (at 8,900 feet high). We were forced to pick up our runner, Lisa, and we were given the option of driving to the finish line. We could have, but no. We trained for this! We had worked through our discouragement to get to that point. We were NOT going to drive to the finish. Giving up was not an option. So we ran. Through the storm. Pass vans full of people that had given up. Pass people who had lost their steam. And with smiles we met our last runner, Emeliee, at a stadium that was nearly abandoned and ran to the finish line together.

I have never been so proud of once being in last place. I have never been so proud of a team that I was on. I have never been more proud of the unconquerable human spirit.

To Lindsey, Chelle, Emeliee, Lisa, Patti, Jenny, Erin, Sarah, Kelly, Jill, and Kristyn: I love you all and and thank you for the unforgetable and absolutely inspiring experiences! And to you Energizer Runnies... I LOVED getting to know you. You all were so inspiring and fun!


Tall Girl Running said...

I haven't made it back home to Idaho yet but I had to find a way to get online to make sure our Mommies Got Back made it to the finish line last night. We were all so concerned about your well-being knowing you had hit some snags along the way and realizing what you had left to endure. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying how proud and inspired we are to have been affiliated with you amazing ladies. We wish we could have been there to see you cross the fnish line, but be assured you were in our thoughts and prayers every step of the way!

What an incredible adventure in every way. I'm looking forward to sharing together the different experiences and memories of it in the coming weeks.

Kristyn said...

We rocked it ladies! And let's point out again.....we may have been nearly last to check in, but our time ranked as 56th out of 81. Not too bad. :0) I can't wait to hear the entire top 10 list!

TriGirl said...

Amy - I have tears in my eyes! I couldn't have said it better! That's exactly what I've tried to express to my loving husband and friends that have called for updates on the race...we were a team of jokers who laughed when the going got tough and got focused when there was a job to do. I can't express how it felt to say "I'm running my last leg regardless" and having Jenny say "let me out now, I'm doing mine too"...and have a van full of women TOTALLY understand and support our crazy decision. Running through the "Mommies Pyramid" at the finish line was one of the greatest race experiences I've ever had. The big genuine hug and the "you're amazing" from Jill at the end touched me more than I can describe. Running up to Kelly at our final exchange & asking about her ankle...she said "it's going to be a tough 5 miles", but when we drove past her miles later she was cruising and giving it her all. I hope I'm not getting too cheesy with you "strangers", but you all inspire me to be a better runner, racer and person ~ and of course the best "Mommie" I can be!

Kelly(M&M) said...

Wow, it truly was an awesome experience. I too loved the attitude that everyone had, especially at the end, bringing up the "rear" and dealing with all the elements. I loved cheering on both vans and got so excited every time we crossed paths with Van 2. You ladies are all wonderful. I came out of this a better person. Can't wait to see you all again. (and not just on facebook!)
Emeliee, thanks for your kind words. I am grateful I was able to continue on. They did a great job of taping my ankle and it is doing better today. :-)

Polliwog said...

It sounds like you guys really made the most of it! It was so inspiring. We were thinking (and praying) for you.

It looks like the weather was better for your finish than for ours--was it clearing up?

Great work, Em! I'm impressed you did it. If it had been accessible to cars, I think I would have pulled off halfway. The lightning scared me to death.

And even in our position, it felt like everyone was passing us the whole time and that we were surrounded by more elite runners. It wasn't until the third leg that we felt we were starting to see some of the "Everyman" runners. I was shocked to see the final results and realize that we had actually done really well. It didn't always feel that way.

Adventure is the word I use to describe the experience. You had to take the hand you were dealt and run (literally) with it. Nice work girls!!


Suzie Petunia said...

I am so proud of van 2 for continuing on instead of driving to the finish. You guys are amazing! Some day I want to see Mt. Ragnar for myself. Minus the lightning! I had an amazing experience being a part of this team. I even loved that we were so close to "last"! It made it a truly unique running adventure!

LOVE YOU ALL! And I miss you!

Mrs JP Chaos said...

This was an amazing post about such an amazing experience. I think my favorite part of our experience is how INSPIRED I am by all of you wonderful ladies. We are all made of tough stuff.

Emeliee...I totally meant it. :)

Way to go, Ladies!!!