Late October 2014, one of my MBA colleagues asked me if I wanted to run the Ragnar Relay Race ? “Ragnar Race? What is that?” I asked. “Mmmm, it’s just a normal relay race where you have to run few miles. It will be fun, you should do it” he replied. I think I only heard the word “fun” and said “yes, of course, I will do it”. Little did I realize what mess I am getting into. In next few days I realized the word ‘fun’ meant running with a group of 12 runners for 2 days covering a total distance of 216 miles. Each runner was supposed to run about 18 miles in 3 batches of about 6 miles each. If I remember correctly, the last time I ran was during my undergraduate days when I accompanied my friends for early morning run. All I could do was four laps around a soccer field and drop dead, a very respectable distance by my standards. My initial enthusiasm turned into nervousness and regret for I was sure that I was going to fail my colleagues. I got mixed response from friends when I shared this news. Some genuinely encouraged me and some called me a fool. The latter part made things worse. A night before the race I could not eat and sleep properly. Negative thoughts were overflowing from my mind.
Early morning on the D day, I was greeted by colleagues who were all excited, smiling, laughing and brimming with confidence. In their company, my mind got distracted from all negative thoughts and I started feeling better. We started off the race with our best runners. At a time only one runner was running and the rest of the team was following and cheering him/her in two vans. After few hours my turn was up. With a deep breath I took the baton and started running. To shut off all negative thoughts I plugged my earphones and started listening to music. Slowly, I could sense a change in myself at subconscious level. Running in the countryside I started enjoying the view. Negative thoughts had totally vanished and my mind was in full control of my body. Overcoming small gradients on the way gave me confidence to take on steeper gradients. On the way I met runners of different age groups, gender, ethnicity etc. They all had their own reasons for running. Throughout the race the whole team ate, slept and enjoyed together and everyone was emitting positive energy. After running continuously for straight 30 hours we finally finished the race with everyone running the last 50 yards together.
When I reflect back on this race, I see wonderful life lessons:-
- Always let your mind rule your body.
- Take decisions from your mind and not heart, since heart can be weak at times. Mind does not have any handicap of fear.
- Surround yourself with people who emit positive energy. Negativity lowers life expectancy and brings nothing but self-misery.
- Life will have ups and downs and your speed will never be constant. Adapt your life speed according to circumstances.
- Friends are important in life. They act like anti-depressants whenever you are down and provide motivation when you are afraid of unknown.
- Take out time for yourself. Be alone and try to meditate. Only when you are alone and calm you can listen to what your heart has to stay. Otherwise you will always hear what other people say or want you to do.
- Decide what legacy you want to leave and quickly start working on it for we are on a borrowed time on earth.
- Sometimes circumstances make people friends. Don’t share your fears with them. Given an opportunity they will leave no stone unturned to shatter your confidence. They can be often unreasonable. But still – give everyone your best. Earn good karma. For in the end, it is between you and God. Never between you and them.
This experience was a big turning point in my life. It changed my attitude and forced me to rethink the way I have been approaching my life. I rediscovered a lost part of myself – my love for sports, positive aggression and a bit of care free attitude that I earlier had. This race gave me a kick full of confidence, self-discipline and fired in me a strong urge to keep improving. I became more focused on my studies, started paying more attention to my health, opened up to my peers and became comfortable taking unknown challenges. It is this kick which makes me get up in the morning and approach each day with a new determination. We all get many such kicks in life. We just have to spot our right kick at the right time.