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  • Writer's pictureClaudia Spooner

Christmas in the 'Hood

Wow… it's been forever since I have posted and I have so much to catch up on.  But, I just want to start with tonight.  After coaching a swim meet all weekend, I was wiped out by the time I got back to Austin.  I hadn't run in 2 days and I was feeling it.   I was sluggish and my legs needed to move but, my mind was procrastinating and the rain outside wasn't helping matters.  After lots of procrastinating, I finally told myself to go out for just a couple miles to shake the legs out.  It was drizzling, dark,  and there was a chill in the air.  It was  6:20 pm and way later than I ever run anymore.

Within 5 minutes, it started to rain.  I decided to just embrace the cool air and the alone time that I hadn't had in quite a few days.  Turn off my brain and just do what I love,  listening to the rain and the sound of my feet hitting the ground.

I started to run my usual route and saw a bunch of cars lined up on the street, I decided to be nosy (procrastinating again) and run a different direction to "check things out"  well, tonight was the neighborhood Tour of Lights and our neighborhood organizes hay rides and drives families around the neighborhood to see all the beautiful Christmas decorations.  I had totally forgot.

Families were lined up for pictures and festivities, even in the rain.  As I ran around the circle I started to hear my name. First, it was a quiet whisper, "I think that's Claudia." I stayed quiet thinking it was dark and I would go unnoticed.    Then it got louder, "that's Claudia", then I heard a child's voice in a cheering tone "Coach Claudia!" then there was more, parents and children waving and smiling.

I smiled and waved and continued on my run, I let out a sigh, that felt good.

I was running a little faster now, my heavy legs felt just a little lighter and I was embracing my pace.  As I continued to run in the darkness and rain, I reflected on some past moments when I would run in college late at night. I would run into darkness, midnight at times just to stay awake so I could study enough to graduate in 18 months vs 24.  I was running 100+ miles every week, carrying a full college load, working, and doing marketing for Powerbar, that was in the 90's.  Then for a while I reflected on my flying career and how I would run for miles sleeping only on intervals as I flew international and had a crazy schedule, I was a Flight Attendant, with hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Trials.  I was tired and overtraining on a regular basis.  My mind was wandering…

Then, I caught a caravan of cars driving through our neighborhood following a truck pulling a trailer of families, I stayed back enough just to pace myself behind the caravan, that was pretty fun and it took my wandering mind back to being in the moment.

I smiled and rounded back by the festivity area.  This time I snuck through without a notice.  I had a few miles left so I decided to get back to my regular route.  As I was coming up the street, I saw 2 trucks and two trailers full of excited families looking at Christmas lights on a very dreary drizzly evening. They were coming towards me.   This time I heard cheers, loud cheers,  my heart swelled with appreciation, I started to run even faster.  As I ran up the hill, the cheers faded into the distance,  the trucks were going the opposite direction.   I decided to see if the trucks of families were going my direction, when I got to the intersection.  I slowed a bit and saw they were now coming my way.  I decided to slow down  enough to let them  catch up and pass me so I could follow behind at some random pace and see how fast I could go( Fun HUH?) , as I did this I heard more cheers, more voices.  I decided to pace off of those trucks, let those cheers and families carry me through some of my running.  It was just what I needed tonight.

Some of the voices I could recognize, especially the children I have taught to swim, some of the faces I could see, but it was dark and at this point I was running fast.  As the truck got onto a straight away, I was in a full sprint trying to keep up, the voices of those families kept me pushing the pace, harder and harder, my breathing was labored as I remember saying "I am no longer at conversational pace"  I remember thinking at that same moment I am at race pace and I wonder how many MPH this truck is going.  I had one in front and one behind.  As the cheering and clapping continued I continued to push the pace and keep up.  I got a bit of recovery on the turns, thankfully.

We started to get closer to the drop off area,  the cheers of the families got louder and I remember saying "thank you! Y'all made my night" they laughed and smiled and said your almost done, I laughed and said " no, I have 1 more mile" thinking to myself I could never have done this without all those voices and smiles and clapping and I wanted to embrace it just a little longer.  They got to the stopping area and I felt so encouraged as I ran off saying "Thank you and Merry Christmas"  I heard nothing but cheering and clapping…WOW!  That was awesome!

After all the miles I have done, this was one of my favorite runs, one I will cherish. I have been training on our streets and in our neighborhood for over 8 yrs(yes, we have been here since it broke ground) I have trained here for countless marathons, countless triathlons, and 8 full Ironmans (in 3 yrs) while we have lived here and  I have many more races to run.  I know that  when I am hurting as I train and race into the next year,  I will think about this night and smile, I will put that cheering and those voices in my pocket and pull them out when I feel like my legs want to quit.

There was a reason I didn't leave earlier, there was a reason it was dark and raining, and there was a reason I got to share a very special moment with some very special neighbors.  I just want to say Thank you!  Thank you for your support.  Thank you for your precious children and all the cheering.  I felt like I had my own private race. Thank you to that sweet little girl that said to me "you are running fast!"

Thank you!

I was running fast!  You got me to run a 5:40 pace!!!!   Merry Christmas!  That was an unexpected gift a wonderful run and one more reason I love my neighborhood!

Posted 14th December 2014 by iRuniTri Multisport Coaching

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