Yes, this is one of those reports that took longer to write than to actually race.
No, you don’t have to read it all.
Friday night I baked chocolate chip squookies (cookie squares) for Saturday’s cross country post-race dessert table. I also packed up all the winter running clothes/gear I thought Little Runner and I might need, so I wouldn’t have to look for it in the morning.
Saturday morning I drove Soccer Boy across town (25 min drive) by 8:30 for a soccer game in the SE at 9. Immediately after the game I found Little Runner (she wanders off) and left to pick up a few pink chicks by 10:30. SB caught a ride home with someone else.
When we arrived at the recreation centre back across town in the NW, I quickly zipped in and tried to register before the pink chicks could pay for my race. It didn’t work. They caught me trying to hand over my money and insisted on paying in thanks for my chauffeur services. Then I found Little Runner again (in the gym downstairs) and we hiked over a kilometer to the start.
We actually got there early (wow), which meant I got to babble on-camera for Gabino before rounding up Little Runner for the kids’ 1 km race at 11:45. LR didn’t want to run; she was busy enjoying a very playful dog and its boy (they also had been carrying on cheerfully in the background throughout my camera interview).
Just before the grown-up’s race started I stripped a couple of my clothing layers, made sure my Yaktrax were secure, double tied my shoes, and hugged a few friends for warmth and merriment. After some instruction from the RD (did he say “no ice”? Really?) we headed out into the Coulee of Snow and Monstrous Hills for a couple of 4k loops.
I was trying to set my darn watch when the RD started us off, and was slow heading out. As the racers stampeded over the first knoll I saw before me the two youngest pink chicks walking stubbornly and reluctantly together. The littlest (she’s 6) was being the stubbornest and cried heart-wrenching tears as she now claimed she didn’t want to participate. I knew what this race meant to her single mom, who is trying for her first Ironperson (perfect attendance) award this season, and stepped in with the little one. I’ve done this before with success, so I confidently sent the mom off on her race and calmly walked a ways with Miss Tears. This day even my efforts failed. Our littlest chick headed back to the start, where we knew some volunteers and parents would keep her safe until her Mom finished.
Well. My start had been a little distracting, but that whole encounter had only taken about three minutes. I took a deep breath, re-set the dial on my self-definition from Pediatric Counselor to Racer, and kicked into gear on a quest for roadkill*. As I caught up to Carrie I filled her in on her daughter’s status as far as I knew, and wished her a good race. I caught a few more 4k’ers as we zipped along the ridge, down (Wheeee!) into the coulee, and on the dipsy-doodling single track through the trees by the frozen creek below.
On the first monster uphill I saw Meaghan and Carla far above, and Meaghan shouted some encouragement back to me as we persistently defied gravity with each heavy step. Once up on the ridge again I met and grunted “good job” to other faster racers already in their second loop, and then descended joyfully and noisily down a deeply sugared chute before more dipsy doodling in the coulee.
Just before the last uphill in the 4k loop, we encountered Little Runner with the dog and boy at his course marshal post. I snagged a high-five and then tried to stay out of the way of the 8k winners (dangit, I got lapped) while busting my lungs big time.
The second loop was faster and freer, now that I was warmed up and all the 4k darlings were out of my way. I had ditched my cap at the 8k turnoff and now ran with my hair flying like a wild woman.
I spotted Kurt’s bright yellow jacket way ahead of me and knew I could catch him if I worked hard, so I flew. I hurled my body along the hillocky ridge, only touching the snow-covered ruts when gravity made me. As I bounded gleefully down the first long descent behind him I whooped so loud that he jumped off the path to let me pass. Now I had to really work to stay ahead of him, because I knew he’d be trying to catch me back. Kurt’s a good technical racer, because he’s also an orienteer and is good at finding efficient routes. I just needed to bring my stair-training into play on the up-hills, which I did.
Photo Courtesy of Kathy Taerum of the Calgary Roadrunners
I was pretty tired by the last uphill, but it was mere meters from the crest to the clock, and I relished a glorious finish. Liesbeth and Sander were even there, having come to see what all our XC craziness is all about. We cheered in Kurt and Clay, exchanged pleasantries, and then I rounded up Little Runner before shipping her back to the hall for lunch.
We ate soup and sweets, visited and found out who won, signed up to bring soup for the next race, and found Little Runner once again before heading home. I topped off my day with an indulgent nap before supper.
* Racer’s Roadkill:
Other participants whom one can catch up to, pass, and mercilessly beat to the finish.