It appears now that I lied to you last week when I told you that Sweaty Saturday wasn’t going to become all about cross country, even though that is where I am spending my Saturdays for the next couple months. I believe our experience at the Mt. Carmel Invitational Cross Country Meet justifies the lie, though, so I hope you’ll forgive me.
I knew it was going to be a tough day when our bus pulled up to Morley Park in San Diego and there were several ambulances and fire trucks blocking the entry. Hold that thought for a moment, and let’s go back a few hours, when we were at the high school, catching the bus to go to our meet.
Not that anything exciting happened on that bus ride, I just want to give you a sense of the whole day. The Mt. Carmel Invitational is a big meet, located right in the heart of San Diego. So many schools attend that they divide the teams into two divisions, big schools and small schools. We are a small school, so this year our division runs in the group starting at 11:55 am (alternating years we run early in the morning). The only good thing about the late start is that we get to sleep in a little. The bus leaves at 7:30.
School bus drivers drive slow. They are supposed to. What would take me about two and a half hours in a car takes three and a half in a bus (including one potty stop). Time spent listening to music, audiobooks (for me), napping, talking, etc. And navigating, making sure the bus driver gets to the right place. Fortunately, one of my cross country moms (who also happens to be a professional baker) sent along these vegan date, almond, chocolate, coconut bites.
So we arrive at the park at about 11:00. We already knew that it was going to be hot, but we were in for a shock (well, we kind of knew already, being in an un-airconditioned bus). San Diego was getting record setting heat and it was about 97 degrees when we arrived, on its way to 104. Those ambulances? They were there because so many of the athletes, unaccustomed to the extreme heat, were dropping like flies.
I admit we were a little cocky. Heck, we live in the desert! We did a workout last Thursday, in 108 degrees, running in the hills (though, in deference to the heat we did not do the Valley of the Champions workout). We were in our element, with a definite advantage over beach kids! So we were a little disappointed to discover that, based on the advice of the emergency personnel, the course had been cut to about 2.1 miles and the hills eliminated. It was a long drive for a two mile race.
Freshman girls were up first (they had their game faces on). The two on the right are twins, who will probably mature into our top runners. Yesterday they finished 12th and 24th (out of about 250 girls). As I saw the second twin cross the finish line, I hurried to the end of the chute, having to take a detour around a roped-off area where the paramedics were set up (that was a first – and they were busy!).
I quickly saw the twin who had finished first, but couldn’t find her sister. There were a lot of people around the finish line, and it was difficult to see any individual. Finally a parent came to me and told me that the sister was with the paramedics. Oh no!
It turned out she had finished the race, then collapsed into the arms of the volunteers working the finish line (an awesome group of men, women, and teenagers who worked so hard in the heat yesterday). They took her to the paramedics, who were checking her vitals and cooling her down. Fortunately, her dad was there (I am always so grateful when a parent is there when something like this happens). Also worrisome was her twin. I’ve had twins on my team before, and they always freak out when their brother or sister is injured. I held her, tried to calm her down, telling her that her sister would be fine.
They ended up transporting her to the hospital, giving her fluids and continuing to cool her down. She is okay. She was released a few hours later. They said she was dehydrated and apparently she hadn’t eaten dinner the night before. I’m happy that she is fine, but I’m also frustrated that no matter how many times you tell the team how important eating and drinking properly is, there are still some that don’t follow instructions.
That started our day off on the wrong foot, but we continued on, not so cocky now and appreciative of that shortened course. We had no more incidents serious enough to warrant medical intervention, but both Alan and I, plus the team members who had finished their races made sure to be right when each athlete finished.
We finally finished up around 3:30. The team did pretty good. I’m proud of them all. As their reward, as we do every year. we took them to the beach after the meet. Fortunately, our strictly by-the-book bus driver cooperated (seriously, he physically demonstrated how to pop the emergency hatches, showed Alan and me how to operate the bus, and would not allow any food on the way home. I know those are the rules, but in all my 11 years of coaching that was the first time I was shown how to shift gears on a bus.). By the time we got to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas (our favorite), it was almost 4:30. With a three hour drive looming, we gave them just an hour to swim, eat, whatever they chose. Cooling off wasn’t really an option, it was still in the 90s at the beach!
Alan and I chose to skip the beach and walk to lunch. I decided to go to Whole Foods and hit up the salad bar, while Alan and a few of the girls went to Subway. I don’t get many opportunities to go to Whole Foods so I enjoyed choosing from the vegan selection. Lentil salad, dolmas, kale, tabouli, and potato salad, all vegan and all delicious. I met the others at Subway and we walked to Starbucks, where we ordered coffees and sat down outside to eat. It was still hot enough to require a shaded table at 5:00 pm!
We finally got back on the road about 5:45, after gathering all the kids and, per the bus driver, making sure we tracked no sand into the bus. The late start was actually helpful because while it was still hot, it wasn’t quite as bad as driving midday would have been. I was as dehydrated as the team, in spite of drinking steadily through the day. So much for the desert advantage! I did manage, during the long ride, to email the newspaper with our results. Thank goodness for smart phones!
We arrived back at the school about 8:30 and by the time the last parent picked up their child and we arrived home it was close to 9:30. Taking a little time to settle down and relax, I didn’t turn off my light until about 11:00. If you know me, your eyes are wide open now, because that is way late for both Alan and me.
Sunday has been spent recovering. Yes, I know, I didn’t race, but I did spend hours in the sun and even more hours on a hard bus bench seat. I happily made it to yoga this morning, but no run for this coach this weekend.
So, how is your weekend going? Any races, adventures, or good eating going on? Do tell!