While last week’s storm was blasting rain, wind and tornadoes across the U.S., my classmates and I were navigating a low-ropes challenge course on a little known mountain-top in Western North Carolina. I can’t count how many times my instructors have told us, “There is no bad weather, only bad gear.”
Stephan assures us our skin is impervious to rain, but my body is not impervious to sick. When I went to bed Tuesday night, I was sporting a sore throat and a stuffy nose.
Life does not stop for colds…. and neither does race day.
The Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon has been on my race calendar for a few weeks. Admittedly, it was a substitute race since a marathon before the end of the year became a scheduling disaster.
Our race-day routine is well rehearsed, but this race day was not so routine. My heart was not in it.
My head hurt. My nose was like an old faucet that wouldn’t quite turn off… everything ached.
There was no warm-up or stretching. No pre-race anything. My husband ushered me to the starting line, took my jacket (and my picture), gave me a kiss on the cheek, and said, “I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”
I had worked out a plan that would get me back to the finish line in two hours. When I felt good, I stuck to the plan and when I felt bad… I stuck to the plan.
We ran through the little town of Cherokee and down beautiful, quiet streets. We ran along the river and past a group from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians that were playing a large drum on the side of the road. It was a really pleasant surprise that lifted our spirits just as the race grew long.
I had really gotten hungry around mile 9 and tried to remember whether it’s starve a cold, feed a fever, or just the opposite. It didn’t matter, I was starving.
The finish line came after one lap around the track at the old high school and I had finally made it there. I finished in 1:58:55.
Everyone was the recipient of an indulgent meal served up by Harrah’s Casino. There was homemade vegetable soup, grilled corn on the cobb with garlic butter, fresh strawberries, apples, bananas and pears, granola with dried cranberries and nuts, blackberry protein smoothies with spinach, and the most amazing chocolate brownies, which we discovered afterwards were made with black beans… the most fabulous post-race meal I have ever seen.
My stomach was pleasantly full when we made our way back home. It had been a good day. I organized myself in the family room and we treated ourselves to an afternoon of “Blacklist: Season One” – a marathon of a different variety.
PostScript: There had been problems with the new chip timing system and there were no award presentations at the end of the race. It was not until last night that we would learn the official race results: a first place finish in my age group in the last race of the year in the last race of the 50-54 age group. Hello 55!!