"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

UPDATE FROM XC NATIONALS: Toes on the line, bang! and we’re off

By on December 24, 2018 in Outdoor Fun with 0 Comments

By Marlene Farrell

The national championships, Dec. 8 in Spokane. The cold air was bracing. The sun, which set the course aglow and cast beautiful elongated runner shadows during yesterday’s preview, was nowhere to be seen today.

I can plan all I want for a great race. Most of the time, forces outside myself decide my fate. But I make a plan anyway, writing an optimistic pace time on the palm of my hand.

After a brief warm up, toes were on the line, BANG went the gun, and we lunged. There were over 150 women in my race, but I only had eyes for those in front, setting a fast clip. After a long straightaway we hit the many curves. I aimed for perfect tangents. The stubbly grass gave no resistance to my spikes.

It required so much concentration that the markers were a blur, and I only thought to check one marker (3k time at the halfway point). I was four seconds ahead!

As always, my teammates’ cheers boosted me, even when my limbs started to burn and my throat felt ragged. I worked my way up to 11th place. Then 10th. We were stacked, 9, 10 and 11. I had a choice; I could yield, hold or dare. I chose the latter.

There’s no perfect moment to pass someone, but when I found myself within a couple feet, I surged. Only a very decisive pass can break my opponent’s will.

It worked, but I couldn’t let down my guard. The finish, after a 90-degree turn, was on a slightly uphill straightaway. It was perfect for a kick, with heaving lungs and pumping arms and resisting the urge to look back at my pursuers.

Then, across the line, holding onto 9th place, I smiled between gasps.

Eric Wulfman, my Leavenworth running friend, had a race with an unexpected challenge. Asthma-like symptoms, of which he felt a hint last month, hit him hard during his 10k race. He needed to drop out.

Eric said, “The biggest thing is, you’ve got to know your body. If something comes up (medically), you must make the right decision, not based on ego. I feel bad for not getting to score, but it could have been a bad situation for me.

“In no way would I not go back and do it again. It’s fuel in the furnace for next time. And either way, it’s neat to watch the best people in the country racing.”

Our Seattle Running Club master’s women’s team finished 7th at nationals in Spokane, wrapping up our 2018 season.

After all five races, the three dozen racers and friends commiserated and celebrated, reliving the details of something that made us feel so very alive.

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