Posted by: forgingahead | November 6, 2008

My First Cross Country Race

My weight loss and the unveiling of the athlete buried deep inside me began with a transformational swim the Sea of Cortez just about one year ago.

That’s when I rediscovered the joy of trying new things. Attempting activities that would test my physical and mental fortitude. I experienced an amazing glow of happiness from pushing myself past my comfort zone and finding that I’m stronger than I thought.

So I started setting goals. Well, my good friend and Coach Allison *strongly encouraged* me to set goals…like tackling the Santa Barbara Triathlon together…the long course.

In the process of training for that event I found myself constantly trying new things…running, cycling, riding a tandem with Bert and swimming in the ocean. It became kind of addictive.

Once I completed the SB Tri I signed up for a sprint distance event. That was fun too. Then I did my first group bike ride with Sarah who kindly put in her hard 40 mile ride first and then picked me up for a leisurely 25 mile tour through the rolling hills of Sonoma County.

So when Sarah said she was doing a cross country race last weekend I thought about it. Then I emailed her saying, “hey, do you think maybe I could do this race too?” And being her usual positive, encouraging and wonderful self, Sarah said, “Heck ya!”

Then the rains came and I started feeling like it was one thing to run my first race, let alone my first cross country race, but then with the inclement weather I was wimping out which I talked about last Friday.

But then a few of my friends were super encouraging. People like Charisa and Maggs were all like “Get dirty – CC is meant for you to get dirty, so rain is perfect!”

So off I went Saturday morning to a lovely spot in Marin. I can’t believe I grew up in San Francisco and have never been to Miwok Meadows in China Camp State Park. See, this is what I enjoy about each new adventure…so many extra pluses like finding a new spot to explore.

Sure it was drizzling a bit and there was a puddle or two to skirt but the mist made the morning feel kind of magical. The start was so exciting…they shot off a real gun! Yikes. At least I think it was real. And the women just took off.

My goal was to stick with someone – ok anyone.

A pause to reflect on my running history. I started running in March of this year. And I’ve been doing so pretty slowly. And MY pace is about a 12 minute mile.

I was hanging onto one woman by a very long thread and when we passed the first mile marker the timer was flashing 9:30! No wonder I was breathing pretty hard.

Still with her at mile two. Falling behind at mile three. Need to walk for just 5 steps up this switchback. Ok, time to run again. Oh dear, here comes the rain. Better run faster.

Hey, I hear a cowbell! [Note: nice men with cowbells were posted along the route shouting encouragement – a great touch to keep me going mentally.]

The last quarter mile some of the men who were warming up for their race passed me so I worked hard to stay with THEM and before I knew it I could see Sarah at the finish line cheering loudly. How fun is that?! Her cheering carried me across the finish on a cloud. Thanks Sarah!

My goal for next year is to do this race again and really stick with someone this time. I have some training to do!

learning to run,



  1. Congratulations on running your first XC race, that is awesome that you are so willing to try new events!! I know several long time runners who are afraid to try XC, they are really missing out. Keep up the good work.
    – Steve

  2. congrats on NOT wimping out and kicking butt while doing it 🙂 i’m very impressed and excited to hear of your next race!

  3. Awesome – and you had FUN!!! That is all that matters at the end of the day. I love the cowbells too!

  4. I am SOOOOO PROUD OF YOU. You know how many people wimp out on XC races? Whether it’s the weather, the trails, or just pure intimidation at the level of runners that come out, people really tend to shy away from it.

    But as you saw, while there are some really competitive runners at the front, the point for the rest of us is to help our team and really – just have fun and work hard.

    For me, that is one of the best things – I don’t even look at the results when it’s over. I simply don’t have to care, and I just know I went out and tried my best and had fun.

    SO GOOD ON YOU! AND you ran really well! I’m really so impressed with your ability to just jump right into things and try them out with a smile on your face. You truly inspire, Kathleen! 🙂

  5. CONGRATULATIONS! I’m so excited that you finished your first cross country! That’s a major accomplishment. You must have felt incredible crossing the finish line – especially with Sarah cheering you on. You are amazing. 🙂

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