Sunday, December 22, 2013

Club Cross 2013

The 2013 Club Cross Country Championships in Bend, OR lived up to all my expectations in terms of fun, fast running, and Flotrack/RunnerSpace nerd stuff. I drove down to Bend on Thursday with part of our Oiselle team (we had over 20 women racing in the Masters and Open race) and settled in to the Little Wing house with our sweet hosts Mel, Christine, and Betsy. Friday was spent checking out the race course, doing an easy run workout led by Lauren (Fleshman – yup), a team meeting, attending an athlete panel, and good eats in Bend.

My nerves and expectations for this race were relatively low. Cross country is new to me and although, I’ve been running for years, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to this type of training and racing. But that’s part of the reason it was SO cool that I was even AT Club Cross! Oiselle gave me the opportunity to line up against the country’s best teams and top runners and wear our team colors, even if I couldn’t capitalize on my best talents.

Start of the Women's Open Race
Hilarious pic from Runnerspace - rough course
Race morning had a fun vibe. I got there early enough to watch the Masters race and saw my role models like Sally, Kristin, Lesko, Regina, and Allie pump up and down the unrelenting section of hills on the back half of the course. They were so smooth and strong; it made me dream of my 40th birthday and the day I can run “faster as a master.” After a warm up, some drills, and a quick change into my spikes, I made my way to the start line for a few strides and a cheer with my Washington teammates. The gun went off and I held back for the first loop, tried to pick it up the second loop, and ran with anything I had left on the third loop. The course was TOUGH! And I say that not just because I’m new to Cross Country and my time wasn’t great, but because everyone was saying how hard it was. There were hills upon hills, winding descents, and hay bales to hurdle. Regina Joyce (former Olympic marathoner and Oiselle teammate) told me she’s been running cross country for over 40 years and that was definitely the hardest.

KMet, Sally, Gwen Lapham (women's Masters winner from Seattle!)

Me over the hay bales, me toward the finish, some fast guys (photo cred on first 2 pictures: Sarah Boone of Oiselle)

After crossing the finish line, I buckled over, took a giant breath in my oxygen deprived state, and let out a pair of snot rockets. When I looked up my teammate Lauren Fleshman was there to congratulate me with a hug. She and all the Oiselle women were so freaking supportive throughout the whole weekend. Read about the Lesko's journey here and KMet's thoughts here. From the long drives back and forth, the pre-race festivities, hanging out with Little Wing and the PickyBars/Oiselle party (for all you running nerds, Evan Jager was there), even the Sunday hangover, it was all unforgettable. I’m still laughing from all the wonderful memories and thankful for the time spent getting to know my teammates. I can’t say that I ran to my full potential (I know I have faster cross country races in me), but that’s a risk I took in trying something new. I’d love to enter more races next fall and find ways to enhance my running. Club Cross is coming to California in 2015 and I’m hoping to sport the Oiselle bird again there. To all my run family, thank you for a wonderful trip and being part of this wonderful life!


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