Monday, November 19, 2007

Night and day

The race I ran Saturday morning was about as different from the art auction I found myself at Saturday night as could be.

Saturday morning was so amazing I'm still thinking about it, two full days later.

After considerable debate (read: self-doubt), I finally decided to run this race billed as the world's largest cross country race. It's called Living History Farms and it's just outside of Des Moines. Nearly 7 miles of trail running.

Cara and I were lucky enough to go with someone who had run the race four times before. Bryan drove us straight there, took us on a warm up, patiently explained the course to us and didn't even seem mad when my wait in the porta-potty line beforehand caused us to be way too far back in the starting area. We also stayed for free at his friend's house the night before.

I had no idea beforehand how 6,800 runners -- some more serious than others - would translate on a hilly, muddy course. Turns out it doesn't work all that well. The race started, and we didn't move for at least five minutes. When we did, we shuffled and then jogged and then came to a halt again. This went on for a while, and finally we got going, only to find we were stopped again while the large crowd of runners narrowed to fit into a tunnel under a bridge.

Cara and I spent much of the race weaving in and out of people, many in costume and others who were just running much slower than we wanted to go.

When we came to the first creek, about two miles in, everyone stopped again, apparently trying to figure out the best strategy. Cara and I forged straight ahead, jumping into the chilly knee-deep water. I slipped trying to climb up the muddy embankment, and someone pushed me up from behind. Someone else was lending a hand from up above.

We ran on, plunging through more creeks, jumping over logs and piles of mulch, climbing hills and flying down them. Cara and I took turns leading until the last mile when she pushed ahead of me, up a long gradual hill. I watched her up ahead and tried to focus on catching her again throughout the last half mile or so. I couldn't quite do it, but I didn't care at all. I felt so much like I belonged at this race. And really I didn't want it to be over.

Afterward, Bryan was there waiting as I came through the finish chute. He'd had time to go to the car to fetch our jackets. We found Cara, I ditched the wet, muddy knit gloves, and we asked a stranger to take our picture. Then we ate glazed donuts without an ounce of guilt and finally decided to head for the car.

I was ready to go but not really. Like with anything I really look forward to, I couldn't believe it was already over. Running this race Saturday, feeling a part of something, was really, really cool.

Saturday night, I went with Dane to a place that I could tell he thought was really, really cool. The Bemis, an art gallery where I'd never even been, was having an auction, and this was obviously quite the social event. Waitresses carried hors deuvres on trays, and just about everyone seemed to know everyone else. Girls were wearing leopard-print dresses with gold shoes and tiny black dresses with dark eyeliner and all sorts of things in between. The men, too, were wearing all sorts of clothes. One, who people call Jesus, had the tightest jeans anybody's ever seen. There was actually a discussion about the missing bulge.

To me, most of these people seemed to be trying a little too hard. But what do I know?

Regardless, Dane was having a great time. He's way more into art than I am - just like I'm way more into running than he is -- and it was cool to see him having fun.

Here's to more days like Saturday, ones that fit like a wet, muddy glove or a pair of tight, bulgeless jeans.


bryan said...

I still can't believe you guys went over the mulch hills ...

I'll take the muddy glove over tight, bulgeless (yikes) jeans any day.

Veronica said...

I know. You should have seen those jeans. Nobody could figure out how it was possible. I'll also take the muddy glove -- over the leopard-print dresses -- any day.

We wouldn't have had to go over the mulch hills, but I remember thinking, why not?

Jeannine said...

Clever title. Both experiences sound like a great time in their own right. Your impressive missy! Sounds like you have some good friends. That makes my heart smile.

bryan said...

hmm ... maybe that's why you were muddy and I wasn't? I ran around everything like that, though I did make it a point to hop a log on the long downhill in the last mile.

Jeff said...

You've been quite the dedicated runner lately. Staying on your training. Taking on Des Moines. A 5K in the cold in Kearney (or so I'm told). Nice job.

Veronica said...

For the record, it was a five-mile in the cold in Kearney. And it was a nice way to start Thanksgiving Day.

I'm excited about the forecast tomorrow -- 47 degrees and sunshine. Perfect for running. Now, if I only had a running partner...

bryan said...

I'll bite ... when are you running?

Veronica said...

Wow. This afternoon, maybe around 1 or 1:30? But realize, Bryan, I do not run 6:30 pace. I was thinking more like 9-minute pace. So I'll understand if you want to reconsider.

bryan said...

I didn't reconsider ... I just went on a 3.5-hour bike ride. And then ate a Qdoba burrito. And it looks like I missed you. Crud.

Veronica said...

No problem. You probably didn't want to run seven miles after a 3.5 hour bike ride anyway, I'm sure.

I ran, though. It was a nice day for it.

How was your bike ride?

bryan said...

No, actually, I did want to run. Saturdays probably work better for me, though. We'll do it sometime.

The ride was good, though very cold at the start. I think it was around 22 or 23.