Monday, November 9, 2009

A cure for the flu

It wasn't a nice awakening. Scraping in the throat was felt already after opening my eyes. I hesitated moment before I swallowed hard. I felt the bung, which was formed there. That figures - I thought – a flue …

. It was quite early, Sunday March morning only began, but I had a purpose that day. I was going to Cross-country Championships of Warsaw, being held as usual in Podkowa Lesna I started laboriously dragging myself from the bed, feeling almost every bone. What a bummer! - I thought. I had such a great expectations from this race …

In normal conditions I would simply get it over and further "snore" all the way till noon. But these weren't "normal conditions".Coach put us into a state of combat-readiness saying, that “will pull our balls along with lungs” if anybody will fail to show. What was to do? – Reluctantly I got ready to go out. I stuck pieces of cotton wool into my ears and scowling slightly at every swallowing I went to this race

Upon arrival I still had quiet hope that Coach will take pity. Nope... He only rested his hand on my forehead and he stated, "my heater was still too cold for the winter season" I had no strength to fret with him and decided simply to rank it, without any charge. "Just to arrive to the depot”...

It was not too cold, the snow was thawing , but I got dressed to play it safe. Singlet, turtleneck, cotton wool in my ears, and ski hat. Friends dressed race ready, looked at me like I was a nut. I wasn't upset - it was my sickness, not theirs. We still had to conquer 4 kilometers of mud, ice, puddles and everything what winter thaw could offer

The fact I felt powerless was the worst. At the slowest jog I felt faint, dark spots appeared in my eyes. I thought - if I collapse half way, on the forest trail, nobody would find me. The ambulance won't go through – to narrow. Despair. Decent warm-up was all I could do. After some jogging I swung all I had, in every possible direction.

Then I put spikes and I started running strides. After several strides I asked a fellow from another club for heating ointment. I applied a generous amount to legs, forearms and lower back. I gave the ointment back to the Coach of the friend, politely thanking and... wonders! - I was berated with hateful gaze. Did he consider me a threat to his runners?

Right then a command "get ready" was given. I stood up politely at the very end, being afraid of trampling by others. I moved slowly , feeling a bit strange, lightly deafened with cotton wool in ears - just as if in some surrealist dream.

Silhouettes squashed up into the colorful lump. Heads were jumping rhythmically, and I came to the interesting conclusion.Wherever heads stopped jumping,was muddier, and unaware runners were almost jogging in place. Since I ran last, a few meters behind the group, it easy for me to deviate to the left and to the right and before long I was right in the middle of the group.

I grasped the outline of some footpath, by the gravel route, so I could keep the decent rhythm. Meanwhile the entire group went crazy. They thrashed about senselessly on the muddiest stretches of the road, instead of running smart, losing the energy and the rhythm. Before we ran into the forest, the majority was neatly pooped.

So far I bore up enough. This cotton in my ears really helped. And I don’t mean the flue, but my emotions. I couldn't hear this nervous wheezing that is so contagious. We ran now into forest and I was on the third position. Tomek running before me courageously ran through the puddle.

I thought, “ no, this is not for me” and… I was right. Everyone who ran through this puddle slowed down suddenly. I was the only one who went around it, avoiding splashing with cold water. I didn't believe it, but I took the lead!

This situation instead of pleasing me, only made me angry. Damn suckers - I thought. They are too afraid to run fast,hoping for the sprint finish. But what could I do? – I was simply happy to stay alive. Right there was a bend, where I dared to peek back. The entire rate was thinned out and there were no more than four in the lead group.

. Now I felt really edgy. I started suspecting a stratagem. They plotted against me, just for the heck of it. They want to egg me on, exploiting the indisposition, and then “say bye, bye” I got so pissed; I felt a sudden burst of energy. We just entered a zone with “terrain saddles”. I let the gravity to do some work so I could relax. I sped up on the slope. I did it once,again and once more. Each time nobody dared to counter me. Suddenly a thought flashed - they are cooked!

Now was a chance to beat them like kids, leaving far behind. Most likely I would do it if not for that hateful look on the face of the Coach from another team. Now a sly plan came to my mind. Drawn situation - two of us from our club and two of them. I had to do something that Tomek could finish in second. Immediately I slowed down, hiding behind Tomek’s back.

. The footpath narrowed and led through the deep snow. In such conditions it was impossible to pass. Elbows started working sideways, not allowing the charge from the back. Now we ran uphill, and I pretended to be exhausted while slowing down, letting Tomek gain some distance. On the peak of the hill he had about 15 meters. Suddenly I changed gears and with savage sprint I drew level with Tomek. There were some 300 meters from here to the finish but I wanted to look into his face, in order to see whether he would hold our advantage. He had misty eyes, bogeys to the strip and in half lisping stammered out - ruuuun, you will wiiiin.

. I popped to the finish fresh as a cucumber. I did only a little bend and right away I told official my name.Tomek arrived son after.He grabbed me by the neck and smeared me with bogeys. We achieved our purpose - the double whammy.I felt no trace of the flue...

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