By: Barbara Matousek
I’m not sure what I was thinking. Maybe I wasn’t actually thinking. Mostly now I think “midlife crisis.” Why else would a 45-year-old single mother of two children under five commit to something as time consuming and crazy as a Ragnar relay? For anyone who doesn’t know what these are, they are running relays in which you hop in a van with a bunch of other people and take turns running legs of 3-8 miles for roughly 200 miles. It’s a 2-day undertaking, if not more when you count recovery time. Two days of riding in a cramped van filled with sweaty runners and funky smelling gym bags. Running alone at night along country roads. Running uphill through city streets in the heat of the afternoon sun. Running, God help me, in funny costumes or women’s lingerie or t-shirts that say “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle” near your ass.
After I finished my first half marathon in May, a half marathon that I said I was glad to have behind me because I simply didn’t have time for all the training, I rested a few weeks and then looked for my next running goal, something to keep me going to the gym so I could continue to eat cheeseburgers well in to my 50’s. A woman I work with did Ragnar last year and she was going back for more, so it seemed like a good idea.
At the time.
That was months ago. Before school let out for the summer and tee ball started and I began using lunch hours for pre-school swimming lessons. That was before the heat and humidity arrived making me crave air conditioning and naps on the couch rather than treadmills and bike paths. That was before my 1-year-old started eating everything in sight making daily trips to the grocery store necessary. That was before it dawned on me that my car had 180,000 miles on it and it’s not terribly convenient to bring children in car seats along when you test drive a mini-van. Simply put, that was before I realized how little free time I actually have. Ever.
And so here I am 3 weeks away from getting in a smelly van with a bunch of strangers. (Did I mention that I don’t know anyone on my team?) I’ve been kind of lax in my training so I’m panicking about whether or not I did enough hill training (did I mention that one of my legs is 3 miles uphill without a break?) and whether I’ll be trapped in a van with a bunch of passionate conservatives (please, please no) and whether or not my old body that hates temperatures over 70 will stay upright during my final leg in St. Paul during the peak of the afternoon. (Why am I doing this again?)
The good news is that, thanks to my amazing friend Jamie, my children will be well cared for and enjoying the air-conditioning while their crazy mother dips her toe in the pool of the none-mommy adult world for a few days. And if I make it back in one piece I might not even care that my ass says “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle” on it.