This past weekend, I ran my fifth Xterra 10k Trail Run in Richmond, VA. I wrote briefly about this race last year here but this year had even more excitement. I didn't find out about part of that excitement until after I finished, when I learned my race partner Sarah had taken a nasty spill, pulled a hamstring, and suffered a deep cut to her knee.
She still managed to finish before me.
Ahem. But that's ok, because *I* got to finish with these guys:
Those are guys from Team X-T.R.E.M.E., an organization that raises awareness for wounded service members through extreme feats of physical endurance. They always run the Xterra wearing gas masks and often have injured servicemen with them. This year, their pace man in front had lost part of his leg and was running on a prosthesis. So if I had any bit of whining in me about running in the heat early on a Saturday, these guys hushed that right up.
There were several of them this year and as we all lined up at the Start line, Sarah joked that if she passed them during the race, she was pinching their butts.
Turns out, I was the one who ended up running with them. (I guess my pace is what a really in-shape person would run....when their breathing is restricted. Sounds about right.)
Somehow, I got tangled up in their little formation at the beginning and as two of them passed by, breathing like Darth Vader, the third put his hand on my back and gestured for me to get in front of him on the path.
So I pinched his butt.
Ha! No I didn't. I should have, but instead I got all worried that I was in their way so I stammered an "I'm sorry!" and fell in line.
Eventually they all passed me. But I stayed not too far behind and whenever I felt tired, it was nice to look up and see them all. Strong. Consistent. Supportive.
What were we talking about?
Right -- the race. So after I fell behind, I continued along all the obstacles, through rivers, across boulders, etc. without incident until I got to the last bridge about a mile from the finish line. A guy jogged next to me and upon seeing the Team in Training shirt I was wearing, asked me if I was doing a race with them. I told him I had done a marathon with them a couple years ago and we exchanged pleasantries, wished each other luck, and he trotted away.
And I instantly felt nauseous.
Like, stopped me in my tracks, heaving over the side of the bridge nauseous.
That's only happened to me that one other time after I finished my first 1/2 marathon and never during a race. I couldn't believe it. I'd take a few a steps and bend over the railing again. The whole episode lasted so long I'm sure several other runners got to enjoy the sight. I finally felt better and started jogging again and saw the Gas Mask guys up ahead. So I'm thinking how cool it would be to come in right with them.
So I jog faster and do fall in behind them again, settling into their cadence. And it is cool to be near them because everyone along our route starts cheering wildly for what they are doing. Which is inspiring, and helps me get all the way to the finish line. And it's so great to cross the finish line basically with these guys.
So great, that is -
until they get stopped immediately after the line for photo taking and handshaking and what not.
And we are in between ropes.
And I am stuck behind them.
And I get nauseous again....
So in the end, there may be great photos of this awesome team of guys in gas masks --
and a girl behind them losing her Gatoraid.
Finally, a race attendant tells me I can go around them and I find Sarah in time to swap stories and get her knee washed out. And as we are hanging out at First Aid, we get to see Gas Mask boys start doing pullups at their testosterone tent. Because, you know, why wouldn't they have that much energy left after a race that made me vomit? Twice.
Sure made for good inspiration though....
Team member carrying a triple amputee through the tough course. Amazing.