This past weekend I did something crazy, insane, and kind of awesome. I ran a Ragnar Relay. If you don’t know much about that – you take a team of twelve people and you run, eat, sleep, and then do it all over again, 3 times. Here is what my weekend looked like: Thursday evening, drive to Las Vegas; Friday morning at 3:30am, wake up, don my running clothes, drive with 5 of my teammates to Lake Meade; Friday 6:30am, cheer off our first runner at the start, then drive and support her and the other two runners; Friday 9:00am, run my first leg, 7.3 miles; Friday (10am-7pm, drive along the route, supporting runners, spending a few hours sleeping on the lawn at a resort outside of Henderson, then drive some more – meanwhile, eat bagels, bananas, peanut butter, and other protein/carb snacks); Friday 7pm, run my second leg, 3.1 miles; Friday 8pm-Saturday 5am, drive, support, drive, sleep in the parking lot at a hotel in Primm, eat, support some more runners; Saturday 6am, start my third leg, 6.8 miles along a dirt road; Saturday 7:30am-10am, support the rest of the runners in my van; Saturday 11am, head to our teammate’s parents’ house in Las Vegas for showers, sandwiches, and some sleep – wait for other van to finish running so we can run through the finish line together.
Sounds crazy, right? It was. And fun.
Despite the fun and craziness, there were a few significant things that I learned from this weekend.
First, nothing is as important as keeping the Sabbath day holy. When we left for the race, I thought that because our team would be finishing on Saturday afternoon, we would leave straight from the race and head home. On the way to Las Vegas on Thursday, our team captain informed me that we would be coming home on Sunday. I was practically in shock. If I had known this I probably wouldn’t have even agreed to the race. I was sure she had told me previous to me joining the team – but I couldn’t be sure. I called my husband and we decided to buy me a plane ticket home after I finished running so that I wouldn’t have to drive home on Sunday. I made it home and we went to our Regional Stake Conference on Sunday where we listened to Elder Bednar. The first thing out of his mouth was a story about how his son chose not to play in a football tournament that was going to be on Sunday. And then how his sons gave up attending a college basketball game they wanted to attend – because it was going to be on a Sunday. Can I tell you how relieved I felt that I wasn’t driving up from Las Vegas during his talk? I don’t even know what those stories had to do with the rest of his talk (wrestling a four year old and two year old during conference might have had something to do with that) so I almost felt like his words were so that I would feel as if the Lord noticed my decision and approved of it.
And of course, as usual on Sunday, we end up talking to our kids about what appropriate activities are for the Sabbath – can you imagine if we were trying to teach our kids what appropriate Sabbath day activities are after I got home from a long drive on the Sabbath? And of course, they wouldn’t understand that I only drove on the Sabbath – they would probably think the whole race happened on Sunday. Actions speak louder than words.
Second, there are bad sacrifices, and there are good sacrifices. Was this a good one or a bad one? I listened to General Conference on my two longer legs. One my first leg, the last talk I listened to was President Uchtdorf’s talk from the General Relief Society Broadcast, and I didn’t quite finish it, so I listened to the rest of it at the beginning of my last leg. I don’t remember if it was at the beginning of the second leg, or at the end of the first leg when he talked about the good sacrifices and foolish sacrifices.
An acceptable sacrifice is when we give up something good for something of far greater worth…
How can we tell the difference for our own situation? We can ask ourselves, “Am I committing my time and energies to the things that matter most?”
This hit me like a brick when I was running. What was I doing? I was sacrificing sleep and general health to run a race. Four out of the six women in our car had mild-moderate stomach issues this past weekend. One had serious knee issues, and our team captain didn’t sleep once the whole weekend. For what? When I thought about what we accomplished on this relay, I figured that we accomplished two things: 1.) built good friendships, and 2.) demonstrated physical fitness by reaching a goal. Then I thought “Did we have to sacrifice what we did for these things?” I thought about the friendships I have built at Young Women camps, at Relief Society retreats, and during girls’ nights out to the movies. Did I need to spend three days not eating or sleeping in order to build those friendships? No. I am sure there are better ways to build friendships that don’t require such a sacrifice. Then I thought about the physical fitness aspect. I ran 17.2 miles total over the weekend. A marathon is 26.2 miles. My leg was one of the longer ones, with the longest leg being around 22 miles. None of us even ran as far as a marathon, which is definitely an accepted demonstration of physical fitness, and we sacrificed our health to do it. It reminded me of this example President Uchtdorf gave, “Giving up a little sleep to help a child who is having a nightmare is a good sacrifice. We all know this. Staying up all night, jeopardizing our own health, to make the perfect accessory for a daughter’s Sunday outfit may not be such a good sacrifice.”
Third, I must be really strange for not listening to inappropriate songs when I run – and listening to conference instead. While we were driving between our legs, we mostly just had the radio on. There was a particular song that came on frequently (we probably heard it 5-6 times this weekend). The words of this song are obscene and mostly talk about sex. The first time it came on I voiced my distaste for the song, and all the other girls were like, “Really? I love this song.” “Yeah, it has a great beat for running.” I realized how strange I must be not to like a song simply because the lyrics are inappropriate. At the beginning of my first leg, I mentioned that I was going to be listening to the General Relief Society broadcast (which would be almost perfect length for my first run). My team was almost all LDS. I was surprised at the responses, “I heard it once, that’s good enough for me.” “I couldn’t run to General Conference, it would be too boring.” etc, etc. I’m not some saint – I don’t profess to be perfect (which, ironically, is why I listen to General Conference – because I’m not perfect and I would like to be, so listening to the words of our prophets and other inspired leaders sounds like the best way to learn how to be perfect) – in fact, I listened to a lot of great 80s dance music on my second leg (which was my shortest) so that I could keep up a fast pace.
In short, I feel like the sacrifices I made for this run this weekend were not worth the return. If I want to make friends, I am sure I can find something equally as team-building without sacrificing health. If I want to accomplish a physical test, I will train for and run a marathon – more miles, less health sacrificing. I don’t think I will be doing a relay like this ever again. It was fun and I really enjoyed myself – but I think (at least for me) it was a foolish sacrifice, and I don’t have time in this life to be making foolish sacrifices. I need to be making good sacrifices.
I hope that we can all evaluate the choices we make, and the sacrifices we make, and apply President Uchtdorf’s test, “Am I committing my time and energies to the things that matter most?”
Have you ever made a sacrifice and later realized that it wasn’t as good of a sacrifice as you thought it might be? Have you ever been “weird” – even among your friends of the same faith? How have you tried to keep the Sabbath day holy?