This is a story about my last road trip affiliated with Western State College Athletics- the story of the fifteen-hour journey (that’s only counting one way) from Gunnison, Colorado to the greater L.A. area of California, in pursuit of fast times at the Mt. Sac Relays 2012.
Oh, how I will miss being stuffed in the back of a fifteen passenger van, burying my head underneath my leopard print blanket in order to drown out the annoying sight, sounds, and smells of my various teammates…This especially applies to David Goodman, really knocking it out of the park last weekend with his whole piss in the bottle trick. Fucker.)
All this, while other teams seem to have the money to afford a nice relaxed 2-hour plane ride…
Ahh. But there is nothing quite like the open road, is there?
Roads trips carry a classic sense of freedom, and with that, the ideal excitement of relinquishing to the unknown. And what better destination to traverse to than California- reminiscent of the original American quest to unearth life’s supposed “golden” dreams?
As with any extended journey, the two white child molester-like vans (with “Western State” imprinted on the side for sorry attempts at legitimacy) came across a couple speed bumps, road blocks, detours, and delays along I-70 as we rambled along towards California.
Some notable occurrences:
- Almost sputtering to a fuel-less stop in the middle of bum-fuck Utah. Chettle driving 40 mph and turning off the A/C to try and salvage any sort of gas and fumes we were running on, all while arguing which teammate is most dispensable to offer up for the task of hitchhiking and fetching gas. Sarah and I seemed to be the popular decision; being the only women in the vehicle, it was a chance to make our feminine qualities “useful” for once.
- Getting lost and turned around within ten minutes of our sad departure from L.A., adding an extra hour to the already ass-numbing long trip, and also getting stuck in rush hour, which, I might add, lasts longer than an “hour” in California.
- Driving away with a gas pump still in the tank from a fuel stop in Vegas. Apparently not all that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… The fuel nozzle and hose wanted to come along with… being ripped from its former home of pump station 3, and trailing behind our already sketchy looking vehicle. (Strike two Loren.)
- Pulling up to the last stop of the trip in Small Town, USA, or otherwise known as Montrose, Colorado. (Holy Hell, we may just survive this trip after all!) Low and behold, parked beside us, are two identical Western State creeper vans (What are the chances?), toting behind them a trailer of kayaks. Me, being the river rat I am, exclaiming excitedly, “Maybe I will meet my future husband here!” From there, proceeding to engage in some pushing and shoving, climbing out of the van giddily with high hopes to check out the fresh meat, and instead coming face to face with my ex-boyfriend. Nixay on the whole future husband reference… Dreams broken. Ugh. I will say this again, what are the chances?
Regarding the actual reason for all the road trip crap, personally, I was entered in the elite 5000 meter race at Mt. Sac.
Arguably, the race had me toeing the line with the most talented pool of athletes combined that I have ever raced against in my competitive career, to date. There was talk about potentially breaking the 16 minute barrier. There were aspirations to chase the school record of 15:42, held by Olympian, Elva Dryer. But, speaking of broken dreams, I ran flat, a sub-par 16:10 performance, complete with the asshole comment by an unknown spectator “Hey, at least your hair looks nice!”
But damn fucking right it does!
Following suit with the old adage, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” I found most value in getting away from the prescribed destination of the Mt. Sac track, while wandering “off track” to a little gas station down the road.
Following closely behind was my partner in crime and faithful wing woman, Sarah Lyle, of whom does a fantastic job in fulfilling the ever important duties of answering stupid, girl questions like “Don’t you think he is hot?” and backing me up in my sporadic fits of awkwardness.
Being self described “rebels” of our sport, the two of us happily ditched our teammates behind at the track, and indulged in a five dollar bottle of champagne and some orange juice (mimosa supplies). To seal the deal, the kind gas station attendant offered his charity by providing foam cups for our drinking pleasures. What a guy!
Drinking and thinking, I proceeded to get a hold of a friend living in the area, Eric, to pick our drunk, happy asses up from the side of some road in some neighborhood in some nearby town to take us to some nearby beach. For some reason or another, he arrived in full miraculous form, our rescuer, ignoring the fact we were totally using him for his get-away car, and loyally obeying our commands to take us to the ocean.
We (as in Sarah and I) had a good time. A great time, in fact. Who knows what Eric thought of it all? Who cares? Ha. (Insert lame smiley face symbology to imply “just kidding”.)
One of the most interesting things about our lovely rescuer, Eric, was he is in no means connected or related to me by the sport of running- something that often consumes more of our life than we know, or notice.
Seriously, runners, if you take a look, most of your friends have some sort of connect-the-dot affiliation to the sport you are so passionate about. I, in turn, was captivated by the idea that there are people out there getting by, succeeding, (kicking fucking ass) in this modern day world, all outside the orbit most of my friends and I continuously circle around in… day after day, lap after lap, chasing times and dreams on that oval track. Within the two hour time frame of our little side-trip, I tried to keep myself from staring gawk-eyed at our rescuer, like he was some sort of alien or something, but in all honesty, I kind of considered him to be out of this world…
Anyway. Back on track.
Even considering all the other worlds and orbits and roads and paths and what not out there, I hope the impending end of my collegiate career is not a “dead end”, and rather a jumping point to a larger orbit in the journey of my pursuit in the sport of running. I want to take a road trip to Rio 2016, dammit!
Of course, those Olympic Games are a long, four years away, and of course, there are the inevitable speed bumps, road blocks, detours, and delays I will face along the way. The best I can do is enjoy the ride. (No David Flynn, not that “ride.”)
To my fellow runners, don’t be afraid of the unpredictable. Don’t be afraid to “ramble” off in a different direction every once in a while. There are a lot of roads out there worth exploring once you leave the track.