I like a race with bands, fireworks, and other distractions, but sometimes it’s nice to get back to basics. The Spring Cross Country Classic is an inexpensive, no-frills race. Instead of an event shirt, participants are free to grab leftovers from other races. The post-race food is a potluck (beer is provided, however). Due to park construction, the course seems to change every few years, but hills, gravel, grass, and sand are a constant. This is not a course for PRs.
I was looking forward to seeing my friends who had run Boston and giving them big hugs. Some were running today, and others were there just to support those who were and enjoy this wonderful, crazy community that we’re part of.
The men got to run at 7:30 while the women started at 8:15. I needed to get some warm-up miles in, so I headed to the high school next to the park. There were a bunch of boys in football uniforms getting ready to play, but I got the OK to run around the track. My husband once commented that small children in large helmets look like scrubbing bubbles, and these kids were no exception.
Since it was an all-female field, I lined up at the front. I went out hard and fast to avoid getting bottlenecked during the trail portion. I had learned that lesson the hard way in the past. It paid off, and I was able to run my own pace as we wove through the narrow path. I felt good and hit the first mile at 7:02, which was better than I expected. Next, it was around the soccer fields and where I grabbed a cup at the only water station. Then it was up a sandy hill, and all of the goodness I had been feeling abandoned me.
Back to the dirt road, which was lined cheering male runners.That lifted my spirits a little bit. Thanks, guys! As I naviagted the twists and turns, I was passed by my friend Merry (not in my age group, whew). Two other women also surged ahead, and I later learned the only reason that they were behind me in the first place was because they had gotten off course earlier.
There was some deep dirt and gravel in the second mile, which only compounded the ookiness I was feeling. Merry and the other women had pulled pretty far ahead at this point, and I started having one of those “Why am I doing this?” moments. With what happened in Boston so fresh in my mind, I started thinking about people who had lost limbs* and would give anything to be out running in the sunshine, legs and lungs aflame. I’m doing this because I can. Savor the moment, enjoy the gift. All in. Guts, guts, guts.
With about a half mile to go, I saw a guy in an Enron shirt. I sure hope he wasn’t in charge of the race results… As I rounded the final corner, Tim, who was announcing the race, commented on how well I had been running lately, which made me feel good. The race ened with a slight climb, so my finishing pace wan’t amazing, but I was happy with the effort.
My time of 23:28 was good enough for an age group win. Merry had finished about 20 seconds faster (wow, woman!). I did some cooldown miles, then headed to the potluck. Pickings were slim compared to previous years, but there was a chilled fruit and yogurt salad that tasted divine. All in all, it was a wonderful morning: gorgeous weather, great friends, a satisfying race, and I even got a few compliments on my new running skirt.
Race data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/300562470
*While everyone I knew personally was unharmed in Boston, my friend Amy was not so lucky. Her best friend Roseann lost a leg while cheering the runners on. To read her story or contribute to her recovery, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/roseann.