Sunday, December 11, 2011

"The Battle in Seattle"

I had an exhilarating, exhausting weekend.

I boarded a nearly-empty flight to Seattle on Friday night. After six hours of junk TV (thanks to JetBlue, I now know what the Kardashians are up to these days), movies, and running magazines, I arrived at the Seattle airport. I took the train and finally arrived at the hotel where my team was staying at 12:30 a.m. I threw my stuff on the floor, brushed my teeth, collapsed into bed, and fell asleep immediately. I woke up 7+ uninterrupted hours later and felt fantastic (it was about 10:30 a.m. Boston time). I ate a little breakfast, chugged some water, watched TV, chatted with teammates, and generally enjoyed kid-free relaxation.

Mid-morning, I boarded a bus with my team and we headed over to the cross country course. It was overcast, barely sprinkling, and cold - just what I thought Seattle would be like. During the warmup, I felt soreness in my ankle (rolled it in Friday morning's 30-minute shakeout run!) and was coughing the last few sputters of a cold out; I needed a good warmup and a prayer that I wouldn't feel that crappy during the race. Done and done.

Finally, race-time rolled around and I lined up at the start with my team. Because there were so many teams at the start, only two of my teammates could toe the starting line. Everyone else had to line up behind them in our narrow box at the start. I took my position behind our two fastest girls and sprinted out when the gun went off. I am typically more conservative at the start of a race, but this was Nationals! The course was also narrow and there were 300 other fast women fighting for the front. The first 3/4-mile was fast, but I could not have slowed down if I wanted to: it was like riding a wave, with lots of skinny elbows hitting me.

The course was fairly flat, but soggy from the sprinkling and the previous two races held on it that day. The footing was spongy, but my legs felt remarkably good, the pain in my ankle disappeared, and the wheezing in my chest evaporated. I focused on catching runners ahead of me one by one, and pushing the pace harder every time I felt too comfortable. Only once during the race did my brain start its excuse reel: "you're tired from the flight 12 hours ago." I put excuses out of my mind and reminded myself that I came all this way to run my best.

I achieved my goal: I ran hard during the race, so hard that I had a lousy finishing kick. I finished 84th out of an extremely competitive field, third for my team, with a 21:56 in the 6K. I warmed down, happy to be exhausted, and felt my cough and ankle pain return.After the race and some celebratory chocolate chip cookies, I went out for burritos and hours of chit-chatting with Laura, one of my former BYU XC teammates. I love getting together with my old teammates because no matter how infrequently we contact each other, it seems we always pick up right where we left off. Somehow they never age either?! Despite being 36 weeks pregnant, Laura came and yelled her loudest at the course (I knew it was her when I heard her cheer "GO MAAARRRRS!").

I met up with my team again for the evening, exchanged race stories, managed to get a shower at some point, and headed to the airport for a red-eye back to Beantown. I arrived in Boston at 8, went straight to church and put a skirt on in the bathroom, and soaked up three hours of meetings before coming home and crashing on the couch.

Despite the exhaustion, my trip was fun and rewarding. I love my family, but I also love not having to deal with kids on an airplane and not worrying about diapers and snacks right before I'm supposed to race. It was great to come home to Scott, who installed a pot rack in the kitchen while I was gone; Bruce, who is so excited for my upcoming birthday that he has already written out my breakfast-in-bed menu; and Phoebe, who followed me around saying "What-chu doin?" while I unpacked.

Labels: , ,


Blogger TheKunks said...

Way to go Mars!

10:50 PM  
Blogger JoLee said...

It sounds like you had a great race! Way to push through all the excuses. I'm cheering "Go Marrsss" from across the country.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Always an inspiration!

8:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home