Saturday Little Runner and I headed over to the Silver Springs hall to run the cross country race in Bowmont Park. We arrived a little later than usual, but still with plenty of time to register and decide what accessories to wear. I was wearing a garish pair of santa-hatted-penguin-printed boxer shorts over my leggings, and was feeling particularly festive. Little Runner wore her santa hat.
Immediately upon walking into the hall we found three pink-clad red heads in a tizzy. I plunked down my gear next to them and headed off to register Little Runner and I. When I returned the emotional storm had not abated, but it was soon time to head out to the race start, so I jumped into the fray to see if I could help. Apparently something worked, because within five minutes we were all out at the race start, clowning around and trying to keep warm.
Some of the clowning around involved me trying to apply my Yaktrax to my shoes while standing up. This had me hopping in silly, off-balance one-legged circles, wrestling the strong, snapping, stringy rubber things that didn’t want to stay on my feet. Les let me lean up against him for the first foot, and he and Dawn had some fun with the camera while I bent over to fasten the velcro. Gabino held me steady for the second foot and I was ready to run.
Close-up of the penguin-printed shorts below.
Little Runner raced in the Kid’s 1k first, with one other girl. LR told me later that she went dowwwwn a very BIG hill and then all the way back uuuup another one. She followed the flags, and the race “rabbit” (grown-up who helps them along) waited for her.
While the kids raced, Derek finished his race early. He’d gone out and done a pre-race check of the course, so he could help with the timing table and take some photos for the rest of us. We cheered him in.
By the time the kids finished, the grown-ups were itching to get moving. I pressed to the front of the crowd to hear the race director mention some ice on the hilly trail. “But don’t worry about it,” he consoled, “if you’re going fast enough you’ll be over it before you even see it.”
As we started, I fell in with Nancy and Les, as in the previous race at Okotoks. They left me behind sooner this time, and I leap-frogged with Julie up and down the steep hills.
Once we got past the 4k turn-off, something inside me hunkered down. I started running from the inside. It’s hard to describe. I was aware of my immediate surroundings, but totally unconcerned about anything but moving along the path. A loudspeaker from the other side of the river sent some old hymns wafting up our side of the valley, and though the sound was faint, I recognized one of my grandma’s favourites, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”. I hummed along in my head and incorporated the march rhythm into my stride.
Shortly after that passed Julie for good on one of the big crazy downhills. I was sure she would catch me later in the race because there were still lots of uphills left, but she didn’t. I looped through the woods and tripped on the same root that I’m positive I tripped on last year, and probably the year before that. I recovered without a belly-flop, and kept going. I was glad for Barry and Ron, the volunteers way out at that end of the course. I could get so totally lost out there.
Eventually I made it back up out of a valley and saw Clay ahead of me along the ridge by the river. I saw him run up past Kathy (club photographer and XC organizer extraordinaire) and Gabino, and hunkered down some more to see if I could catch him. I didn’t, but the effort helped keep my momentum going.
I kept on running through the final ravine towards the finish and heard friends above cheering me in. I completely forgot to look at my time as Lindsay handed me my placement popsicle stick and Clay and I shook hands. We cheered in Julie and headed in to the hall for soup, brownies, and that cool post-race bonding that happens between racers who have conquered the elements together yet again. I was sorry to have to leave immediately after the awards, as I had some shopping and mom-taxi duties to fit in.
I must have raced hard, because I was achy and tired the rest of the day. I took some zinc and extra vitamin C and I think I might not catch the cold I’m fighting after all.