Seneca 7: Racing outside my comfort zone

The idea sound fun and frightening. Which is why I knew I had to take the opportunity.

My triathlon friend Alison had posted a note asking if anyone was interested in forming a team for the Seneca 7 event, held in Geneva, N.Y. The basic premise of the race: Teams of seven runners run 77.7 miles around Seneca Lake. (If you’ve seen the movie Hood to Coast, it’s the same basic principle.)

The event intrigued me but immediately I was concerned. If Alison wanted to put together a kick-ass speedy team, I was probably not her girl. But Alison assured me this was a fun event. “I just think it would be cool to run around the lake,” she told me. Alright, then. I was in.

Alison went about assembling our team, taking care of registration, planning logistics, renting a vacation home for the weekend and even going so far as to do the grocery shopping. Really, all I have to do is show up and run. I met most of the team a few week ago and took on the role of Runner No. 4. My three legs will total 10.8 miles. My routes are describe on the site as “down and up,” “steep uphill,” and “gentle downhill.” I wasn’t so thrilled with the steep uphill portion of my run, but decided if I was going to do it, I might as well be all in.

The closer Saturday gets, the more nervous I become about the actual running. A race by nature makes me nervous — about my preparation, my diet and my performance along with concern over things not entirely in my control such as the weather and if I’ll get lost on the course. But a new event brings not just excitement but new experiences which push me well outside my comfort zone.

I have never run a relay race before. I have no knowledge base on how one of these things works, other than a viewing of the movie Hood to Coast and being past by relay participants late in triathlons and distance running races. I have no idea what to expect, from the event or the course. And that, well, that’s a bit of an uncomfortable feeling.

I am part of a team for the first time as an actual participant. This means not wanting to let other people down, making sure I’m carrying my own weight and fitting in with the overall personality and ability of the team. Which brings me to my next out-of-comfort zone point …

Of the six other runners on the team, I only know two. That means I’m running with four complete strangers (who won’t be strangers after a weekend of living together in our team van as we travel from exchange point to exchange point). I met them briefly in person and we’ve been messaging on Facebook, but I still have that junior high fear of not fitting in with the group.

This will be new territory for me, physically and mentally. The actually running will be a challenge. The team atmosphere will be new and different. It will be terrifying and thrilling. It will be a chance to play on the fringes of my comfort zone and venture to territory outside of my safe space.

It’s a weekend for adventure and the best ones usually mix fun and fear.

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