Last year I mentioned that I had some exciting news on the horizon and I thought I would finally share what is going on.
In August, I wrote about finding a blog called Runs For Cookies, and the story of how the creator of that blog, Katie Foster, and 11 other 100+ pound weight losers came together through the internet to form a Ragnar Key West team that ran from Miami to Key West, FL one year ago. The name of their team was called “From Fat to Finish Line” and you can learn more about them here. Katie also discusses the race and her experiences in her blog. They were featured on the Today show and a documentary film crew was with them to capture their story. At this time, I was just settling into weight maintenance after losing 100 pounds and getting started in running – I was SO incredibly motivated by this story. It was one of the few times I took my iPad to my husband and had him read or watch something related to running or this weight loss journey. He thought it was pretty cool too. I told him that I would LOVE to be a part of something like that some day. At this point, however, I was barely running 2-3 miles at a time.
I added Katie’s blog to my blog list since it was fun to read and she shared lots of helpful tips related to both running and weight maintenance. Just a few weeks later, she mentioned in her blog that she and John, “Runner #12” from the Fat to Finish team, were putting together a new team to run Ragnar SoCal (southern California) in April 2014. Without even thinking, I posted a comment within her blog inquiring about joining the team. I then realized that she has thousands of followers, many of them with impressive weight loss stories and running careers. So, imagine my surprise when I noticed a response to my comment asking me to email her some more information. Within days, I had been invited to join this team! I was so incredibly excited!!
Here is a description of Ragnar SoCal from Ragnar’s website:
Yes, the Ragnar Relay So Cal is one of our most popular races in the series for a big reason – the course is spectacular! Running under the stars at night, seeing your team at three beach exchange points and finishing under the sun is a great way to celebrate with your friends. Huntington Beach, the pacific coast and a big party at the finish line await you and your fellow runners. … The ocean breeze in your hair, the sun on your shoulders, and your friends at your side at the finish line. What could be better?
Ragnar Relays are generally 12-person relay teams that cover a typical distance of about 200 miles. There are a dozen or so of these held throughout the country every year. There is actually one through Arizona/Phoenix/Scottsdale next month but I am waiting to run my first one in California. The teams divide up into 2 passenger vans of 6 runners each. Starting early the first morning, each runner completes one running stretch of varying distance and difficulty, passes off a “baton” – in this case it is a slap bracelet, and the next runner continues the journey. The first van tails behind the first 6 runners while the other van can go off and rest, eat, whatever until runners 7-12 are ready to begin (then, obviously, the first van takes a break). After all 12 runners go, it starts all over again – twice…until each runner has run 3 legs of the relay. The race continues through the night and that is when it gets crazy – lack of sleep, running in the dark … and with complete strangers in this case! Remember when I said I was trying to say “Yes” to new experiences – well how about this one?!
You know, when you come to the end of your weight loss journey and have a lifetime of maintaining it staring you in the face, it is a bit of a let down. The excitement of dropping a bunch of clothing sizes has started to wear off and the reality of embracing a healthy lifestyle for forever starts to lose its sparkle. I am the type of person that always needs something to look forward to. A project. A goal. Running has provided that for me. Do I love it? Not especially – I don’t know if too many people do. But most runners will probably tell you that they love what it does for them – heart pounding, head clearing exercise, a great way to maintain weight loss, an activity that they can do on their own terms, and, for many, it opens new doors to friendships, connections, and possibly travel. Running can be a very hard sport to get started with. It took me months to get enough stamina to cover much distance. Often an injury or illness can create a setback and make it difficult to find the motivation to restart. I have been lucky that as I near my half marathon training I am over the hump, so to speak. I am also glad that when my half marathon is over on the afternoon of January 19th, I will have a new adventure to start training for with this Ragnar commitment.
Shortly after the team was formed (it only took about a week), we set up a private Facebook group and we have all been getting to know each other. The weight loss stories are incredible and the running achievements are amazing. I am probably one of the greenest “newbies” when it comes to running so I will learn a lot! I can’t wait to meet everyone in person. Everyone seems really cool and fun and I just know we are going to have a blast!