Saturday was one of those domino days – the kind of day where you can’t help but think of how the seemingly random events of your life line up just so and interact with one another in a way that makes you go “wow, that is really cool”. As with many of our running adventures this year, this one owes its genesis to Lil Sis’ “12 Running Goals of 2012” odyssey. And if you want to get really specific, we have to thank our cousin Serena, who suggested that she add “crash a high school cross country race”. We howled with laughter and added it to the other pieces of paper in the hat. When sissy pulled it 10 months later, we realized that we could not actually crash one, since we’d probably get our favorite Cougars in trouble, so instead we reached out to our old XC coach, Mr. P., to see if we could run with his harriers one day.
We opened the run up to any alumni and had a few takers – Ryck, Jake and Rochelle were all in (Rochelle probably not what you would call willingly, but its amazing how well high school peer pressure still works! And in our defense, she did actually love it!). We also had some cheerleaders – Mom and Dad Kisiel (thanks to Dad who took so many of the awesome following shots!), Mrs. Fisher and Aisha joined our ranks. Finally, we had Melissa and baby Bailey, who was quite amenable to mom resuming her old role as “student trainer” (Melis was going to run until an unfortunate incident with Chinese delivery spelled disaster for her ankle. For real.):
We quickly fell into old patterns of chatting and laughing before a run. This is classic Mr. P – keep everyone smiling so they forget any nerves, anxiety or fears and just start having fun.
We all had different strategies for warming up before the run. Some choose the more traditional stretching:
While others choose to just bundle up and hope for the best:
We did finally decide to do some running. P’s kids had run hard the day before, so this was a cooldown of sorts for them. Too bad, because I had my eye on the multiple sub-17:00 milers on the team. There’s always next year! To get beat by more than ten minutes, that is, lol.
On P’s “bang”, off we went!
What happened next was a moment (well, moments, considering it lasted 3.1 miles) that will not soon leave my heart. Imagine being 14 years old, completely inexperienced in athletics of any kind and feeling all the insecurities and angst that comes with that period of your life (this is probably not hard, since it is such a common story, esp among XC runners). Then a colorful, exuberant coach asks you to join his XC team. Your first real running steps are trod on the grounds of a little school in the middle of a corn field and with every step, things within you start to change – you feel strong and beautiful and believe in yourself. You stop caring what the mean boys say, because you can run faster and further than they can. On your runs, you start to dream of what your life could be like outside this little town and your confidence builds with every mile.
Then imagine you are 35. You are that adult you were just starting to become, but you are on that same field with that same coach. You run 3.1 miles with him, talking about the things runners do – family, work, life. You have to pinch yourself because you can’t quite wrap your brain around the fact that 21 YEARS have gone by and yet it feels like none at all. The intervening two decades have been very good to you and you are certain the 14 year old would be pleased with what you have done with her dreams. You thank this man, Mr. P, for giving you the gift of running and for helping shape the person you are. It is a mind bending moment, and you will cherish it forever.
Elsewhere on the course…
The run was over far before I was ready for it to be, but luckily our ability to chat it up lasted for the post-race cool down and bled into lunch at The New Dodge’s Market, where we chowed on some fantastic eats and laughed for another 2 hours.
By the end of the lunch (which Mr. P. picked up the tab for – class act all the way!!), we had made a few decisions. The first was that a group of us are going to do the Marine Corps Marathon next fall – this will be a Cape Island Runners fest, so start thinking about if you want to join (registration opens 27 March, Ryck informs us. On my calendar!). The second was a bigger decision – we all agreed this needs to go from one of Lil Sis’ running goals to a real deal Alumni 5k. The whole enchilada – Green (alums) VS Gold (HS kids), a scholarship fund and good feelings all around. We have already picked a date 10 August 2013, so save it!!!! If this run was any indication, it’s not something you will want to miss!
I’m going to continue the Schalick theme on Friday with a Cape Island Spotlight interview of Mr. P so stay tuned because it’s a goodie!
Have you ever run on your high school cross country course post graduation?
When was the last time you were back at your alma mater?