Getting out of the comfort zone

I eat a rotation of similar meals, I buy the same clothes over and over again, I do specific workouts on specific days, I order the same meal from the same small group of restaurants I frequent, I run the same roads and trails, and while I like to challenge myself and try a new thing here and there, I am very much a fan of staying in the comfort zone. 

When some friends were talking about forming a team of eight to run the Ragnar Trail race outside of Richmond, VA, it didn't even cross my mind to join them. It's a relay race where each runner completes about 15 miles of trail running broken into three segments, coming to a total of 120 miles over 24 loops and 24-ish hours, while camping out to complete the feat. The running trails part sounded great, but the camping part? Not so much. I have never slept outdoors in my 40 years, and I saw no reason to start. Plus the group is a tight clique of friends with their own vocabulary of inside jokes, and I'm somewhat on the outside

So yeah, outside my comfort zone.  

At one point months ago, I offered to be an alternate if anyone dropped, figuring no one would drop. 

And then someone dropped, and to my own surprise, I didn't hesitate to say YES when I was asked to fill in. 

The race was this past weekend. Holy smoke was I outside my comfort zone, and damned if I didn't have a great time. While the group was generally laid back, we had good leadership and we planned well in the weeks leading up. We had a few camping pros in the group who made sure we'd have the right equipment. We made new inside jokes. We ate ALL THE CARBS and endured a damp, cold, mostly sleepless night together. The trails themselves were fun--well-marked and very runnable, but with big muddy patches providing their own source of challenge. We were each other's best cheerleaders in completing each loop, and we celebrated wildly as our final runner came through. 

The comfort zone is a great place to be, but the occasional trek outside the zone--under the right circumstances--is an awesome place, too. (Just to be clear, though, I am NOT lining up my next camping trip!)

  Photo: Mud Not Blood

Photo: Mud Not Blood