Sunday, November 14, 2010
Oh Lord, AO: Overdeity of the Forgotten Realms
Loviatar: Goddess of pain, hurt, agony, torment, suffering and torture.
Every year I go back to the grit, grass, mud and evilness that is cross-country. After five years of forced cross-country racing, I swore I would never return to this brutal, painful place; yet every year I go back. In snow or sunshine, rain or wind, fit or unfit, I go back. Every year, the gun goes off and I am quickly swallowed in a sea of bodies. No matter how hard I feel I’m pushing I am not getting to where I want to go fast enough. My legs get beaten down, inch by inch, by unrelenting hills and the sinking ground, until I’ve lost all motivation to try and go any faster. Instead, I try to cling on to what strength I still possess, but feel it being usurped from my being with each step (from the Greater Powers no doubt), until I am no longer hunting but am being preyed upon by the wild, hungry, lathanders behind me. It ends in more pain that I can remember, emulated in a disillusioned, wobbly sprint to the finish, at which point all I want is to collapse to the ground, unnoticed. Instead, I walk down the chute lined with spectators, struggling to regain my composure, yet weaving from side to side. Once I have a moment to think a clear thought I immediately exclaim: Why did I want to do that? WHY?! WHY??????
My friends, the answer is the same reason women will have more than one child: PAIN IS FORGOTTEN. Somehow, the intense pain of cross-country gets buried in your brain, likely stored with all the other bits of critical information that if you could only just remember clearly, would really help you make some better decisions in life (like the effects of drinking eight shots of vodka in 12 minutes, or eating an entire carton of ice cream in one sitting - not that I have ever done EITHER of those two things). Instead, we remember the endorphin rush (or sugar rush, or dopamine rush), the fun afterwards (or during), the team camaraderie and support (or the illusion of popularity under the influence), and the satisfaction that comes from suffering through a truly gruelling race (or test of other sorts). Fair enough. But now that I’ve started this blog, I promise to come back and read this post before I run a cross-country race next year, to remind myself of the torture that awaits.
Cyric: God of murder, lies, intrigue, strife, deception, illusion
So this weekend, back I went, blissfully ignorant, stupidly happy about running AOs. Little did I know I was entering the Forgotten Realm of HURT. That being said, the course was significantly better than the course last year, in which I actually caught myself laughing out loud partway through because of how ridiculous the hills were. (It had to be a joke. Who could possibly run up 80 degree inclines and sprint down the other side, over, over and over? I think they confused cross-country with mountain running? I was terrified for my life running down those hills!). It seems someone must have vehemently complained about this, because the course this year wavered on the opposite extreme and was as flat as a pancake. Perhaps this is a slight exaggeration, since there were several of what I would call legitimate ‘slopes’ or rather ‘slanting terrain.’ Still, it rivaled the Notre Dame Invitational in its pancake perfection, an American ‘cross-country’ race that should actually be placed in category of Outdoor-Cross-Track. But as per usual, I digress.
Blissfully ignorant with coach
The race was 6k in 1k, 2k and 3k loops. My strategy was to not go out too hard, but to stay within striking distance of the lead pack. Then at 3k, try to pick people off as much as I could. When the gun went off, I found myself smack in the middle of the pack; however, I felt like I was going at full tilt. This is not an unusual feeling for me in a cross-country race, or short race at that, and I figured I would be able to maintain my pace for longer than those around me so I just tried to stay even. It wasn’t until the middle of the second loop, however, that girls started to fall back and I could really start to pick more off. Van Buskirk, Marchant and Sexton had already gapped the field by a considerable amount, but the second pack was within reach so I tried to focus on catching them. I did start to pass those who were falling off the pack, but was unable to get any closer to 4th-8th place by the end of the second loop (3k). This is when I began to tire and my goal to catch them was starting to seem less and less attainable. When I did catch two girls, another girl passed me, and this went on a few times until before I knew it I was in the last 1000m and in 11th place. I knew Sarah Nagy was in front of me and that I was gaining on her, but when it came down to the final sprint I just couldn’t snagy her (I’m sorry I couldn’t resist). I wasn’t terribly happy with how the race played out and how I placed, but I know that I raced my hardest on the day and that’s all I can really ask from myself.
Post-race! [Endorphins have set in]
On the bright side, our team placed 2nd to Speed River, which is an incredible accomplishment seeing as most of us haven’t raced cross-country all year, in the last 15 years or at all (congrats to Mama K and Meghan on their first cross-country races!). I find that so impressive! Next up we will be making the trip back to Guelph for Nationals in two-weeks for another test from the Circle of Greater Powers. This time, I hope I feel more like the fluid Akadi - goddess of movement, speed, and air - or Ilmater - god of perseverance, endurance and martyrdom - rather than Loviatar.
A video of the race: http://www.runnerspace.com/eprofile.php?do=videos&event_id=4871&video_id=34049&folder_id=-2
God Ilmater Jane - the new G.I. Jane [next time - just practicing]