Santa Cruz. Back when the girls were little, my first husband, Geof, and I used to stay here for a magical week every summer. Like wisps of clouds, memories trailed through my mind of those far-away days when we played in the sand, dined on fish and chips and lifted our arms to the sky as we plummeted downwards on the roller coaster. When looked through the lens of days-gone-by, it was hard not to feel nostalgic - even a bit melancholy.
But in the here and now, Sue and I were set to participate in this event - this run - along with 15,998 people.
I wonder what Geof would have thought to see me holding my race number. I think he would have been surprised but delighted. And then he'd probably have made a joke about me being in a police line-up or something. I say this because this is what I think we look like (aside from the proud little smiles).
Sue and I were not in the first corral which is where the elite runners reigned. Way back were we stood, we never even saw them, but later online photographs showed them; whipcord thin Olympic caliber athletes in peak racing form. They wore teeny-tiny briefs and brightly colored shoes that were like elf slippers.
We were not in the second corral either -- serious runners who worked out and looked buff.
We were not in even in the third corral -- all the people who were obviously not Olympic or even all that buff, but who did not want to be at the back of the pack.
We were in the fourth corral. The group placed at the very end of the line -- the older, more out-of-shape, heftier bunch. We wore hats and some of us had fanny packs around our middles because we knew that a couple extra pounds of weight would make not the slightest difference in our times. Because we were walking -- as quickly as we could make our legs go, but it was still walking (although, I must add for the record, that I jogged down the hills).
|The mile 2 marker|
From the back, Corral 4 looked like this. I admired every one of my fellow corral members, but my humble mission was to pass as many of them as I could so as to be as far away from last place as possible. It was a fun game to play.
|The Bagpipers on the Hill|
One of the best parts of this event is that there is a crowd cheering you on the entire way. It's hard not to feel silly and proud when the bands are playing and neighbors sit in front of their houses to shout encouragement. They could not have been any more enthusiastic for Corrals 1-3 than for those of us in 4.
|I don't remember their music, but I do recall their smiles when I passed|
It's amazing how music can motivate your feet to step more quickly. Bagpipes did it the best, but the Japanese drumming, hard rock, brass band, ukulele ensemble and folk group did a pretty good job too. Even kids pounding on pots helped move us along. I suppose that the elite Corral 1 runners were going to fast to hear much of this.
I found it touching that they stayed to play on for all of the corrals. Hopefully the music continued until the last one of Corral 4 passed. I'll never know if they did because I was too obsessed with hustling past as many of them as possible. My new goal was to pass as many Corral 3 people as I could.
I'll never know how successful I was at this because by now I was too tired to look at people's bibs to see what corral they were in. But I'll bet that I left one or two of them in the dust. Just saying.
|Sue and I at the end of the race|