you know that day before you start high school, where you go to get your schedule and get acquainted with campus and are exposed to all the clubs you can join? for some reason i came home that day ready to join the cross-country team. i had previously participated in field days and various track events like hurdles and high jump… but distance? this was new territory.
i wasn’t anything amazing my freshman year. but by sophomore year i had improved significantly. our boys and girls teams trained together. our coach, mr. cheney, wore silk shirts unbuttoned enough to expose a hairy chest and gold chain, cargo shorts and leather loafers with no socks. he was also our civics teacher. at least once a week we were educated through film with such classics as all the president’s men and then random ones like black belt jones.
training is the bulk of the season. after school mr. cheney would drive us all in a big white cargo van while the radio blasted melissa ethridge or ace of base. we’d get dumped in the hilly neighborhoods near squaw peak in 3 o’clock arizona heat. or we’d run our home course of grenada park. mostly, we’d jump out on central ave, running on the bridal trail, we’d each choose our distance and turn around on our own. other times we’d take off from the football field and run through the neighborhoods surrounding north.
despite the immature upper classmen guys who’d strategically sit behind me and crack dirty jokes to see how red i’d turn, i loved practice. i soon figured out it was actually the only thing i liked about cross-country. i liked being part of a team. but i also enjoyed the individuality of running and improving my time or abilities.
meets soon consumed me with stress. it’d start the night before. i’d be sick to my stomach. the day of i’d watch the clock every period and dread the early hour when we’d leave. i wouldn’t eat lunch. it wasn’t the entire race i hated. it was just the start. in a bigger race you get lined up by school and then in order of best runners. i hated the pack of girls and the shoving and elbowing.
christian likes to remind me that i am not very competitive. and i was reminded of that again a few weekends ago.
i went with some friends to watch seattle’s roller derby girls. two of my friends want to be roller derby girls. both of these friends are girls who do crazy things like move their entire house and three children in one week to a new home while the husband is out of the country, or they run the longest legs of a ragnar race six-weeks post delivering a baby.
roller derby is rough. plenty of hips and elbows are thrown. girls are rammed and tripped. after watching two games i still wasn’t quite sure how the game worked, but i was positive if i met any of those beefy girls on the street i would be dead. check them out! and then read their names. these are not girls to be messed with.
i was much more excited to go eat thai food so we walked our way to a spot on queen anne. as we were seated the babyo did some kind of crazy karate chops and made me jump. the cute asian waitress was very concerned and asked if i was okay. i smiled and told her that i was just pregnant. she asked when i was due. september 24th, i said. the look of shock mixed with horror on her face made us all die laughing and then she said, oh that is very close! with the biggest bug eyes i’d ever seen. you would have thought i was in danger of delivering my baby with the curry.
and with five weeks to go, the same dreaded pre-meet stomach ache is sneaking back up on me.