Today is the last day of the Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) Senior Games, and that means it is time to walk.
This year, my plan was to accompany my husband on the course and go at his speed. We are celebrating his continuing recovery from his accident and knee surgery.
We arrived at Montgomery County Community College nice and early, about 8:15 AM. The day was cool but sunny, with clouds coming in for the rain tomorrow, but no precipitation today at all.
Montco, as it is nicknamed, is maybe 20 minutes from home and set on a spacious campus. I remember when the school was way out in the middle of nowhere, but 35+ years since I first saw it, it is now surrounded by houses and apartments. The event was taking place at the health sciences building, AKA the gym/fitness center. It’s recently been updated and it is beautiful.
We went inside for a few minutes, where the vendors for the expo were setting up.
Then we went back outside and got our names in for the event. The way things work, a group of contestants assembles at the start.
You take off down the walk, go out a bit (past the guy in the blue jacket to that lady in the green shirt, you’ll see her, just keep going), turn at the orange cone, come back, pass the start, go some more, follow that loop in the back of the building, and come back. Do that three times and the race is done. You went 1.5 miles. Oh, and to get your time, listen as you pass the finish line – the timer will call out the time. Remember that number and tell the scorer.
It’s all pretty casual, but it works. Here is my husband (left) waiting to start as a volunteer explains the deal to a latecomer.
Well, we got started on our way. I took this picture pretty near the beginning.
I am so happy and proud of my husband. All the hard work he has been putting in in therapy and in exercising on his own really shows. He was able to walk at a 17 or 18-minute mile pace, which I think is great. It is hard for me to believe that less than five months ago he was getting around with crutches and a brace, if he was able to move at all. Determination pays off.
Well, we finished. And then…you knew this story did not end here, didn’t you?
I had no intention of doing this, but I got to Montco and my competitive instincts kicked in. I can’t pass up a race. So before we went out on our joint tour of the course, I asked the officials if I could go around with my husband and then do one on my own. Sure, they said.
All right. My husband took these pictures. Here’s a quick commentary.
I went out with Group #2. Right from the start I identified my competition. And I don’t mean, for medals – there is no telling if these ladies are even in my age group. I just mean, right here, on this course. Let’s go. Here at the start it’s Pink Shirt, Blue Shorts, and me, in the black, behind them.
We zipped around the course. In Lap 2 Pink Shirt and I lost Blue Shorts. Here we are in Lap 3.
Well, I felt I could take this race and I planned my strategy. Soon as we came out of the loop, I put on some speed.
The drama builds. I’m ahead, but can I hold on? So much is at stake! The crowd is on its feet (there are only a few benches and they are filled up) and paying rapt attention (to the football throw going on in the next field, to the registration table, to the free shopping bags they picked up at the expo…you get the atmosphere). All right, my husband was paying rapt attention, and really, that’s all I needed.
At the finish, I prevailed. I have to tell you, I felt happy about it out of all proportion to the importance of the event.
Now, last year I practiced for this race. I had done none of that this year. Well, so what? It’s just walking. Now think about that and what a different context “just walking” is for me and for my husband. I have a lot of gratitude for what each of us can do in our individual ways.
Well, that’s the end of this year’s games. I have a lot of enthusiasm for next year, already!
(Take a look here for my other event in 2017, orienteering.)