With a sky blue sky
This rotten time
Wouldn’t seem so bad to me now
Oh, I didn’t die
I should be satisfied
That’s good enough for now
— the prophet tweedy
I’m not often smitten with runners. I was smitten with her.
She was the U.S. record holder for 24 hours and had finished second at the world’s championship. That’s pretty good. And she was at the race. And so was I.
I was working the finish line. Hours and hours and hours and hours and hours (ultras are sort of long) went by. And then there she was. First female, of course.
I went down on one knee to remove her timing chip as she crossed the line. My face was precariously close to her crotch. Her legs were twitching the way legs do when they go from 60 to zero. I touched her ankle!!!! After a few seconds, the chip was off, and so was she.
I watched from afar as she chatted with a few people for a short time, and then she was gone. I never saw her again.
It was a cold day. The sun was going down. It was ugly. Finishers would periodically come across, each celebrating their own little victory over the demons. She didn’t see any of it.
The men’s champion, on the other hand, stayed. He came over and took over the medal presentation. Each time someone came across, he would drape the ribbon over their neck, shake their hand, ask about their race. I loved that. I was crushed that the woman I had idolized didn’t hang around to see the other runners finish. Aren’t ultrarunners supposed to be able to withstand a little cold weather? I was smitten no more.
Fast forward. Not quite a year later, I’m at a race. It’s cold and rainy. I’m covered in mud. My legs aren’t that happy to be attached to me. I’ve just finished.
My peeps are out on the course, running much longer distances. I’m guessing they’ll be coming through in a couple of hours. I should stay and cheer for them. A welcome face, a pat on the back, help with their drop bags. They’ve come a long way for this race. It’s the least I can do.
But I don’t.
I go directly from the finish line to the car. I change into dry clothes, turn the heater on 11, and head for civilization.
My friends would periodically come across, each celebrating their own little victory over the demons. I didn’t see any of it.
I get it now, Sabrina. I’m sorry. I hope I get to watch you race again sometime.
Maybe it’ll be warmer …