After much commotion, we finally leave. Mission – reach Kearns’ (my racing partner and teammate) house, crash for the night, and continue on early in the morning towards Vermont. With all the evening traffic, the drive can hardly be called relaxing.
As we approach the border, I learn that Leyla Di Cori will not be able to make it to the race, after all, staying home to tend to a sick cat (hugs to Brownie). Our little team is down to two.
“Stick together with Kearns!”, Leyla instructs. “As long as you stick together, you two will be fine.”
It’s late as we finally arrive. Mike still has to work in the morning (more like really late at night). It’s not ideal, but when you work at a nuclear power plant, work comes before hiking in the woods. 🙂
Fuelled by coffee, we are up early for the final gear checks, as we wait for our host to return from work. Mike is all packed up, and his stuff fits into a small backpack and a sports bag.
I don’t even know if I should laugh or cry. My car looks like we are actually moving to Vermont. I packed three pairs of shoes, then added another one right before leaving.
I have four different kinds of shovels of varying degree of usefulness: 1) plastic snow shovel, 2) metal garden shovel, 3) foldable camping shovel, 4) a toy shovel from Walmart, complete with a little bucket. I also have two life jackets – one full size, one children’s. And a first aid kit, so complete, I may actually have stuff for epilepsy and post-partum depression.
Did I mention that we also have a cooler the size of my fridge, the kind you’d see a family of ten bring to a picnic?
I officially feel like a moron.
“I packed all wrong!”, I freak out.
“There is no way everything will fit into my pack”, I exclaim, trying to shove 5 pounds of hay into the pack, using both of my feet.
Italian is pretty used to my last-minute panic mode, so he gently shoves me aside, and rearranges gear neatly. It all fits.
I start getting antsy. The official registration is taking place between 6am and 9am, and we are still hours away from Vermont.
I call Mike. He’s stuck at work. How long? Not sure. “You have to take off without me”, he says heartbroken.
My team loses another member. I am doing this… solo.
Leyla will not be there. Mike will not be there. And I’m late for registration. Great.
Not a single race has ever gone the way it was supposed to. “Embrace the chaos”, I tell to myself. It’s a half-joking, half-serious mantra I invoke whenever things get completely out of hand.
“Embrace the chaos.”
On the drive over, it’s warm. It’s really warm, bordering on hot. “People will drop because of the heat”, I think. Maybe I’ll be a little better off with all of my India travelling and all of my hot yoga teaching.
I recall what I tell my students who struggle with the heated room. “It’s hot. So, it’s hot. Be hot, then.” Deep, right?
While in India, I’d call back home, and my mom would ask: “Isn’t it hot over there?”
It’s June and I’m in New Delhi, with temperatures straddling 50 Celsius.
‘Yes, mom. It’s hot”.
“How do you stand it?”
Well, there isn’t an alternative. So… you just do.
When we finally arrive to Riverside Farm, it’s 2pm. Some say the race has just “officially begun”. Racers are divided into teams, and sent up the mountain.
I spot Andy, and make my way through the crowd. “Did you just get here?”, he’s incredulous. “What the hell happened?”.
“You know how they say Canadians are friendly?”, I respond. “It’s a lie”.
He looks confused.
I continue. “Have you ever tried crossing the border with an axe, some hay, some grass seed, and a baggie of vanilla protein powder that looks indistinguishable from cocaine? No? Well, I have. Arrested at the border. Held over night. Tortured. Made it here anyway.”
This year is the year of the gambler. I have to gamble before I even start.
I breathe out a sigh of relief – thank you, parents (mine and Andy’s), for a sense of humour.
I get a bib, and my first chip. Team Four.