I had the day of the Fred off and planned to sleep in, putz with a few little things like packing, and take at least one good nap. So, of course, I was hopelessly wide awake at 6:30 am. My few little errands turned in to laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning up a disaster of a kitchen, and not being able to nap even when I curled up on the couch alone in the house except for a snuggly cat who settled on top of me completely supporting the objective.
But there were some good omens. I lost my sunglasses just that week and I was bummed about it but they turned up that day. And the air temperature improved by about ten degrees cooler (again, just that day). It felt like the universe was supporting me. Do you think the universe does that?
Late afternoon, trying to imagine the appropriate dinner before a one hundred mile relay, we consumed a peanut butter banana smoothie, got in the car and met our teammates in a grade school parking lot in Comstock Park. We populated a rented, 15 passenger van and drove north as the sun began to mellow and cast long shadows.
At starting time, 10:00 pm, we were in our places in a pretty little park that surrounds Lake Cadillac. We fumbled to attach our flashy lights and reflective bands, but, otherwise, everything seemed calm and comfortable.
Our first runner set off as soon as he officially could with a half dozen other Edders and his wife accompanying him on a bike. We headed out to meet them and position the next runner. A paper moon floated just above the horizon, a spot where it is temporarily bigger. You, the reader, would soon be on your way to bed.
I was the last in a six person rotation. It wasn’t my turn until about four. I had a seven mile out and back at Reed City. It’s a piece of the trail that doesn’t continue north or south but that they have us do to get in the full miles for the event. I like the out and back and it got very good and cool that night. I was excited to get my part started.
Just for a quarter mile the trail was lighted with tall street lamps and then they stopped and fell away as if they were moving instead of us, and we left the city streets for the dark fields. My head light was smaller and weaker than I remembered. My world constricted to a small circle of light moving ahead of me down the trail. And then my glasses began to fog up repeatedly.
So I was incredibly grateful for the quiet angel following me on a bike. Her light was much better and she made me feel safe. She rarely spoke except to say something brief like, “Runner coming up behind you.” Every fifteen minutes or so a collection of bouncing lights became another runner and a bike, either passing us or going by in the other direction, and we would jock call to each other, “doing good” or “keep it up” without ever seeing each other’s faces. Occasionally the bike angel fell back and I fought not to panic as I ran out of her light, but she always caught up. The two of us moved along like a bus driver and a solitary passenger trying to get home for Christmas through a storm.
Thank you Lindsay Woodard, for being my angel!
The half way point was sweet. I felt great. Lindsay carried water on the bike and I stopped for a second for a drink. Coming back I kept wondering when I would see those street lights again. They seemed long overdue by the time they came into sight but then we were very close to the end of the spur. I was still doing good and sprinted to the finish, where I got a cheer from a big group including several of my team-mates. My app clocked me at a half a minute faster per mile than my projection.
This had a pleasant familiarity to it. This is what had been happening. Jen follows the training. Jen takes the next step and succeeds. Jen has this sense of triumph over fear and hardship. Jen shares this with people who support her and celebrate her clear victory. Jen believes that she can do new things, hard things, despite cancer and aging.
There is an indoor bathroom with two stalls in Reed City. That was a luxury and I took advantage of it to do a quick clean up. Meanwhile someone grabbed me a sandwich they were giving away. By the time the van was moving again I had reason to ask, “Is it getting a little lighter?” Then we were rolling through big patches of morning sun lit fog. It was Saturday, finishing day, two more runs.
Will things continue to go well?