Monday, September 3, 2012

This one's for Cassidy: Part 3

After a long and grueling 5 mile trek Cassidy and I finally made it to the first of only two aid stations on the course.  I quickly guzzled an entire water bottle, refilled my water, and shoved a few pieces of watermelon into my mouth.  I was about to leave and noticed Cassidy looking semi-bewildered.  I decided to say something, after all she was only 11 yr old.

Me:  "Ready to go?"

Cassidy: "Yeah, I just need to fill my water bottle."

I now felt obligated to wait for her. I waited another 30 seconds and we started jogging again.  The flat terrain soon started climbing once again.  Feeling re-energized I powered up the hill leaving Cassidy behind who had now started walking.  I figured that was the end of Cassidy, it had worked out that we were pacing each other for a few miles but I was still running my own race.

A few minutes later the trail ran through a downhill stretch and pretty soon Cassidy came blazing past me.  Cassidy and I were no longer running side by side, I gained distance on the uphill and Cassidy passed me on the down hill streches.  It seemed rather silly to yo-yo and Cassidy started making small talk again so I slowed my pace on the uphill so she could keep up.  Eventually there was no more down hill, we had started our assent up "Windy Peak". 

We were back to hiking but I was still feeling refreshed and going at a brisk pace...until I felt a little hand grab the back of my arm.

Cassidy: "You're going too fast"

Me: "Oh, uh...sorry?" 

Apparently I had made an unspoken committment?  No big deal, she was pretty much keeping up at this point.  We kept hiking but I could tell Cassidy was getting tired.  She soon asked me if we could stop for a minute.  I'll admit I was not completely thrilled about stopping for a break when I didn't need one but what was an extra 30 seconds at this point.  I stopped.

We started back up but within a few minutes we were stopped again.  I started getting a little frustrated inside, I just want to get this darn race over did I get stuck baby sitting the 11 yr old.  Call me a "softy" but I didn't feel right about ditching an 11year old.  We stopped several more times and hiked at a semi-excruciatingly slow pace being passed by other runners. 

Cassidy was now quite the chatter box telling me about all the other races she had run, what her dad does for a living, where they were staying after the race, etc.  She promptly informed me when I was going too fast and insisting we walk up any sort of incline if only for 7-8 feet.  Cassidy pulled me to slow down and I pushed her to keep up.  At one point Cassidy grabbed my arm and leaned her head on my shoulder as we walked, "I'm sooooooo tired."  I was a little taken back at how comfortable she had become with me and felt a little guilty about wanting to leave her behind in order to save myself 20 minutes on an already crappy race time. 

We soon made it to the top of Windy Peak and I was confident our pace would soon quicken as Cassidy loved barreling down-hill.  Yet I had underestimated just how tired this little girl was.  "Let's keep going, don't stop now, " I tried to encourage.  A lean guy with leathery looking sun tanned skin caught up with us.  " Daddy!" Cassidy screamed.  Yes...I was off the hook now.  "Daddy can I run with you?"  Cassidy asked.  "If you can keep up.  Just focus on running your own race Cass" her father replied.

You have got to be kidding me!!!!  I have been dragging your 11 year old up this mountain for the last 2 hours but you're not willing to run last last 2 miles with her?  What a joke.  I decided to make a dash for it.  I figured if I ran fast enough down the mountain I could leave Cassidy while she was still with her dad, hence not really ditching her.  I would leave the ditching entirely up to her father.  I was handing her off in my mind, and I was totally fine with that. 

I took off down the mountain trying to take advantage of my short window of opportunity.  Perhaps the universe was trying to scold me for my selfish decision because I suddenly caught my foot on a rock.  I was going down!  As if watching myself in slow motion I could see my face and hands were about to become raw hamburger.  Wait, my animal instincts were kicking in, my legs were catching up!  Woah, a little too fast! In order to catch my balance my legs had to catch up with my torso and I was now barrelling out of control down a very steep hill.  This was not going to end well.

Well, it did end well :)  Somehow I was able to regain control.  Cassidy and her dad had watched the whole thing and were applauding me for a 10 out of 10 on my recovery.  In addition I finally started to gain some ground on Cassidy and her dad.  Before I knew it I was completely on my own, not another runner in sight and I was maintaining a pretty good pace too!  Afterall I had to maintain headway on my little compadre. 

I eventually ran into Chris who had stopped to wait up for me. We ran the last mile and a half together and I told him stories of my new little friend.  I was able to cheer Cassidy accross the finish line and my guilty conscious was relieved to see her cross the finish line hand in hand with her dad.  It took me 3 1/2 hours to complete the 12 mile trail run and although I felt tied down by my little compadre at times, she also kept me going.  I enjoyed the distraction and the quicky circumstances made for a good story.