Bless me, it has been two years since my last real race. GREAT! Let’s go back to Nationals Cross Country at altitude! Absolutely.
And here’s why. There is simply no other race that hurts so much, checks your ego so hard, and runs the clock into no man’s land. It’s an epic battle between your nerves, your ego, and your lungs. Nothing else matters. Except the team.
And that’s the best part. To be truly supported and part of a team. Injuries have been haunting, but Oiselle lifted me up though the help of Monica & Joe DeVereese at Santa Barbara Running Company. My leg got put back together with the help of Mike Swan, Ernie Ferrel, and Dave and Deanna Odell. The team welcomed me back to training for this national event, and that always feels like gold.
The actual race was quite a challenge. I could not handle high mileage due to my leg and incorporated cross training and cryotherapy into my routine. My race plan was established with care and I executed it perfectly. Meaning, go out slow and just hang ON!
The beauty was in the reality. Welcomed by team Oiselle, I experienced an entirely new cheering quad yelling my name with enthusiastic smiles at each lap. This included Oiselle founder Sally Bergesen, team leader Kristin Metcalfe, and pro super star athlete Lauren Fleshman.
I literally looped the marshmallow surface course sucking oxygen through a straw up my nose while Lauren cheered “Go Drea, Great job Drea.” This is a woman who I personally watched complete the NYC Marathon suffering to the bitter end. I also witnessed her cling way off the back at the Olympic trials 5K in Eugene. Why did she do that? She had earned the right to be there, suffered through injury, worked out on an ElliptiGo with literally 12 miles of running a week….BUT STILL SHOWED UP and FINISHED the OT in the 5K at Hayward Field in front of a thousand fans. I met Lauren the next morning after her OT at breakfast- I sat gushing like a teenager- and she graciously took a photo with me and answered all my questions.
And here I was. At Nationals again on one leg, from sea level, feeling old, and yet… a part of something great. To me, this is what running is. It’s putting yourself out there- wide and raw. When you rock it you glow and fist pump, when you fail you cry and weep, when you do your best you accept what you did and feel an amazing admiration for those that fly so much beyond your capacity.
I’m proud that I once again put myself out there. I’m humbled by the race. I’m thankful by the enormous support. I’m pleased that I had yet another chance to suffer.
And suffer I did. However, not stupidly. Coming from sea level, I ran the smartest and most controlled race I could have done. I finished 61st ranking very close to my St. Louis performances and finished with a only your mother will be watching sweet kick. It was a good day. A blessing.
Thank you to those that got me there.