Monday, December 10, 2007

Back of the Swarm

One of the things I now know: I am not a very good cross country runner. I have to say though that I wish I was to justify doing it all the time! Heh. What a blast that was!

Mrp was kind enough to sacrifice a vacation day to go down to Cincinnati with me. I personally think it was less about supporting me and more about checking out all the farms along the way, but that's beside the point. We headed down late in the afternoon on Friday after we dropped off a couple dozen cookies I baked for mrp's dad's 76th (yikes!) birthday. We made it down just in time to meet some of my teammates for dinner. It was nice to see some of my running friends in nonrunning attire and to finally put some faces to the names! I'm not sure what to make of my friend *T* not recognizing me at first--I decided it either meant I look beat when I'm running or I just look a lot different with my hair down.

I have to say I was not really nervous at all about the race. I knew I probably wasn't going to rip stuff up out there. I'm about 5 pounds heavy right now and I haven't trained at all for cross country save for the 5 mile xc race I ran a few weeks ago and have really not done much in the way of speed work in general. Plus, in the company of this race, to be honest I'm not really that fast relatively speaking. Yeah, it is funny how last week's 5k seems like worlds (and probably 2 pounds or so) ago.

Anyway, my race wasn't until 12:45 so mrp and I putzed around all morning. Of course that means we got to the race without enough time to comfortably pick up my packet, warm-up, undress, etc. We were rushing all over the place to find my packet. Once we got it I ended up opening up a cut on my finger (we got new knives for our wedding!) that would not stop bleeding. I took my fingers out of my mitten and it looked like I killed someone! Mrp had to fix my spikes and help me dress and change my shoes. It was pretty pathetic. Anyway, it was a good thing I had a napkin in my car. I wrapped it around my finger inside my mitten while I warmed up. By the time I rejoined my teammates to head to the starting line it had stopped bleeding. Phew!

We all lined up in our box. And before we knew it off we went. All I can say is that it was muddy as hell! Holy cow! Within the first 200 meters we descended into a freezing puddle that went up to my knees! I couldn't get a grip the entire race and was just sliding all over the place. Seriously, my legs were hardly sore after the race but my feet, back, ribs, abs, and shoulders are all sore!

My one goal was to try to come in 5th on my team. In roadracing land I am usually in between our fourth place finisher and the girls I ended up finishing really close to. I went out behind our fourth place finisher and could see her up ahead until the half point or so. Our eventual 7th place finisher pulled ahead of me early on and I stayed right with her and passed her around the 2 mile mark. At 5k I was around 20:20 or so and picked up the pace. I was really trying to push through the finish. The last few meters were up a slight incline and it was so slippery. I was slipping and tripping and as I was floundering one of my teammates eeked by for 5th place and I had to settle for 6th place 1.5 seconds behind her.

At first I was mad, but then I went to congratulate her and she was all geeked out about running a big pr so then I was happy that maybe I motivated her to run a lot faster than she otherwise would have. I mean, pretty much whatever I ran was going to be a pr so it's nice that she managed a very meaningful accomplishment. I suppose if I had a choice to make that sacrifice, I would have anyway. So, it's all good in the end.

But yeah, it was really fun. My teammates are fab and the mud was out of this world. Plus, it was so unbelievably cool to run with that many good female runners. Really! It puts things in perspective, but at the same time it really is an honor just to be able to hang in the big swarm (yes, even at the back of the swarm). So, in the end I am so glad I hung in there and did it and it's a great way to cap off a great year of running!

(By the way, I kept my eye out for Bridget, but I never saw her. Not that I'd necessarily recognize her, since I only know her by a little photo on her blog, but I did look for the record! Oh, and also for the record she kicked butt!)


Mindi said...

Congratulations!! 6th is nothing to scoff at! I am glad you had so much fun. It sounds like a real adventure run!

I laughed when you said someone didn't recognize you. I can't tell you how many times I have taken a triple-take after "meeting" some of my running friends in normal clothes and with hair down.

kenyarunb said...

Sweet run, Salty! I looked for you too, but I had no idea what you looked like (I guess our little web photos aren't very useful in real life).

I loved reading your recap . . . what a crazy experience :)

By the way, awesome 5K PR! You have some speed bullets in those legs.


Quinto Sol said...

Great race!

(old) ManRay said...

So many of the kids I've coached find themselves with no outlet to run in a team environment, in a cross country setting no less after they graduate. Not everyone goes on to run for a college program and many of them did not enjoy track or road racing. They miss cross country! It is really great that you are able to compete in a system like the one you describe. I wish we had something like that here to offer our young athletes. I would like to think we could keep more of them running if we did. Enjoyed your race re-cap. Congrats on the 6th place finish on a challenging course.

Joseph P. Wood said...


This is the kind of race I miss--good days they were back in high school, with the slop, the hills, and the desire I had not to puke up my lunch before the midafternoon races. There's just something about grass and mud that's just so fucking primal, you know?

Anyhow, enough running cliche. I'm glad you got to run against some top line competition. Now, for the love of god, take it easy through the holidays!!!