This is a new twist.
Our first 10-miler in months and I’m chasing my sister through the woods. She disappears around every curve, only to re-emerge when the path straightens out again.
Two miles this has been going on, and I’m not gaining ground. In the shade I keep thinking I’m about to surge, but then the sun reappears and drains away my motivation.
It’s my own fault. Exuberant at seeing the trail markers for the next day’s Parlor City Trot — the one and only mini-marathon I’ve ever done, but couldn’t squeeze in this year — I’d stopped to snap a cell-phone pic for some inane reason, calling out “Go on! I’ll catch up!” as if it would be the easiest thing in the world.
And then there was a phone call to deal with, arranging for Mom to bring us some water at the White Bridge. The day’s heating up in a hurry and I could tell the humidity was bugging Traci even before the turnaround. I run as we talk, but I can’t make very good time that way, and by the time I make the turn onto Garter Snake Alley, Traci’s almost to the end, ready to disappear into the woods.
Which is a good thing, really. We’ve got a triathlon in less than three weeks, and though we plan to do it together, we both know she’ll beat me in the swim and there’s no sense dawdling in the water any long than necessary. So I’ll need to play catch up, if not in transition, which she’ll be doing for the first time, then in the early stages of the bike race, where my smooth road tires give me an edge over her knobby mountain tread.
It’s kinda fun, actually, to try going faster on this 10 than on previous attempts. Maybe by next year’s Parlor City Trot, I could actually be competitive in my age group, given that this is a fairly small race.
But the reality is right now I can’t even catch my sister, even though she’s only recently started running regularly again and was struggling even before the turnaround.
“What happened to your friend?” asks the gatehouse guard as I come off the park trail and veer off onto another that leads back to the bridge and the River Greenway.
“Oh, she’s up ahead,” I say, as cheerfully as possible. “You must’ve missed her.”
And then a short time I later I spot Traci. Walking. That can’t be good.
“I was getting chills,” she said. “I felt like I was going to puke. You go on ahead.”
I walk with her a ways, make sure she’s ok. It’s not far to the bridge. She can get a ride back with Mom if she needs to.
Then we come around the river bend and suddenly spot Mom’s van, on the near side of the bridge where we weren’t expecting her. Without a word, we both break into a run, as if we don’t want to be caught walking.
“Do you think she saw us?” Traci asks. I guess that means the crisis has passed.
We jog up to the van and chug bottles of water. Mom’s been reading a paperback; if she noticed us walking she didn’t say so.
Just then our old high school gym teacher whizzes by on his bike.
“Hey!” he hollers. “Break time’s over!”
He’s right. We get moving again, finish out our run at a more workable if less exciting pace.
So much for my delusions of grandeur.