is a way to make your soul grow.
So do it.”
– Kurt Vonnegut
I snagged that quote from Chad over at Everybody cares, everybody understands.
Today I practiced my favourite art, that of cross country running. It was a performance of sorts, in that I got all excited and nervous beforehand, and it wasn’t just a run on my own – it was in public, with other people to witness and experience it with me.
Even if I am not the runner with the the fastest time or the most attractive form, I raced passionately and experienced it fully. A critic might call what I do a sport, rather than an art. I’ll let you all work that out while I get on with the report.
It was a gorgeous sunny day for November, 10*C/50*F. I could have run with shorts, but this course is kind of treacherous – a little protection for my legs was not a bad thing. Little Runner and I picked up one of our new-to-Calgary runners, Tim, and we made it to the race start with plenty of time to register at Lorna’s little blue car in the parking lot.
I stopped by the clock table and helped Derek sort out the numbered tongue depressors used for timing, and eventually rounded up Little Runner for the kids’ 1k race. Little runner did well and finished with a big smile.
I chatted with Dawn, Carrie, and Nikayla about their race strategies. The plan was for Nikayla (she’s six) to run with me for the first loop (4k), and then I would peel off at the top for a second loop (8k), leaving her to finish on her own. Nikayla ran pretty close to my time at Confederation Park, so we figured we’d be good together.
Nikayla started off with her mom and they stuck together for much of the top, kind of flat part. I started further back, and eventually worked my way up to them. By the time Nikayla was ready to leave her mom behind, I was there and gamely took on the challenge of keeping up with the squirt.
We trotted fearlessly along cliff edges, whipped around 90 and maybe even 45 degree turns with ease, and headed down the increasingly icy north-facing slope with care. At some points I ran just ahead of her, to show her the way, and sometimes I followed her and offered technical footing suggestions. She plowed through prickly bushes, mucked through mud, and only fell once on the ice (on her rear) when she tried to run straight over a big frozen, sloped puddle. It was easy to help her up again with a gentle lift of her wrist, and soon we were back zoom-zooming down the rest of the hill.
We took a little walk break at the bottom for her to catch her breath, and then proceeded to pass a few more people before the skinny-fast elites started passing us on their second loop. Nikayla was great at listening for the big guys and had a knack for moving off the path at just the right time to let them pass. I did not have to slow down at all for her on the way back up the hill. Keeping up to her had me breathing quite hard by the turn-off at the top, and I was almost glad to wave her on towards the finish. There were several other runners going her direction by then, so I didn’t worry about her getting lost.
I merrily bounded down the honkin’ big hill for my second loop, and enjoyed not having to worry about running anyone else over. The nice thing about doing two loops on a technically challenging course is that you can improve your strategy and have a little more confidence on the second loop if you’re paying enough attention the first time.
I was practically flying when caught up and passed Kurt and Dawn at the bottom. Wheeeee! I leap-frogged with Christina and her doberman, Cayenne, and then followed them back up the hill. The second climb felt like a lot more work, but eventually I made it back up and across the dipsy-doodle flagged course at the top. I tried to catch Christina, but she kicked it in faster than I did. We finished to the sound of whistles and applause.
I was pumped with my time of about 55 minutes for the 8k. Nikayla had done an excellent job of pacing me through that first half. I received hugs and high fives from Little Runner and Nikayla. It was still delightfully warm out and I was on a total endorphin high, so I wandered back along the course to wait for Dawn’s finish. Then we all hooted and hollered her in, too.
Off to the hall we all went for soup and brownies and to bond with our buddies. What a great day.