By Bruce Overstreet
In less than a week, I’ll be in a bus heading back from the U.S. National Masters’ Cross Country Championships. I’ll probably be tired. Not from the racing, but from the post-race celebration I plan on having at Bend’s Deschutes Brewery. I’ve made some big sacrifices the past six weeks in preparation for this race. So I plan to enjoy the accomplishment with my new teammates Saturday night.
Yes, not only am I racing in the nationally-recognized, distinctive orange Club Northwest singlet (along with probably about three layers of clothing in frigid Bend), but I am also reluctantly on CNW’s 50-59 “B Team.” Teams in cross country are made up of five runners scoring; I’m #5 of only five on our team.
To say I am a little nervous knowing that my team’s score is dependent on my crossing the line of the 10,000 meters race is an understatement. I haven’t been on any kind of team in over thirty years so it will be interesting to see how I handle the expectations.
The pressure may be just what I need to force me to step my game up. Or it may have the opposite effect. Suffice it to say that I kind of feel like a champagne cork on New Years’ Eve since last week’s announcement of the team rosters.
Part of my concern is that my training for this meet the past couple of weeks has been a little spotty. The cold has a way of discouraging people from venturing outdoors in the late hours of the day. I’m no different.
So when I went down to the Everett Memorial Stadium last Tuesday to do my first real interval workout in over thirty years, it was a gutless effort. I used the same excuse some freshman kid would use to get out of a tough high school practice; my nagging hamstring injury started to flare up. And that’s the last thing I want to give out on me now.
Of course, the fact that I felt as if I was sucking bilge water out of the bottom of a purse seiner after only 4 sprints of about 200 meters and 3 sets of two times around the track (that’s 800 meters or half a mile per set) with a two minute recovery in between each set was also a factor in cutting the workout short.
I’m going back Tuesday to give it another try. I need it. I’ve got the equivalent of 25 laps around the track to race in a couple of days.
The magnitude of what I have committed to is starting to weigh heavily on me. In fact, Santa’s sleigh may have less baggage than what I’m carrying into this race. And I’m not talking just about my weight. There are some psychological issues at work here; I’m in way over my head, especially now that four other guys are counting on my performance for a team score. Since it came up, my weight is also on my mind. I’m barely under two bills. Most of these guys in the race weigh between 140-160 pounds, or 40-60 pounds less than me. And the extra weight is a huge difference that adds up almost exponentially over 6.2 miles.
I know I shouldn’t be doing it, but every morning for the past two weeks since I signed up for the race, I have checked my weight. And every morning, the digital scale shows a number between 195.2-198.6—- not that I’m obsessed or anything.
I guess I may not be sacrificing as much as I could or I probably would have dropped at least five pounds in the last six weeks. Maybe I should be forced to enjoy the Saturday night post-race celebration at the Deschutes Brewery while sipping on only water as my ultimate penance. Or maybe we’ll let the results be a factor in my decision.
Better yet, we could do the ol’ Clydsdale handicapping where results are based on time relative to one’s weight. Then I could be holding my head high and being feted as one of the best runners in the race. But that’s for another blog post. I’m just in it to finish it. And to score the critical fifth spot for my team.