This was written three years ago after participating in one of the larger annual winter races here in southeastern South Dakota. The race is a blast--fun people, music, food, a good shirt. Since one of the gang was back for the 2016 race, the "Team Beef incident" came up. I certainly don't think everyone on Team Beef would have agreed with that specific individual's statement. Also, I'd like to say that people have become more accepting, but anyone who following our legislative session knows that isn't the case: Transphobia is the new homophobia.
I ran in one of those really fun small town road races last weekend. I grew up in a small town and spent a lot of time wanting to be anywhere else, which may have been a symptom of youth since the city in which I currently live isn't huge, but not the point here. The point here was the race. It was a hoot. There was even a chili feed at the golf course afterwards and all of those things happen in a matter of small town blocks, where you can see "Way over there," easily.
I hadn't heard about this race until a couple of weeks ago, when my friend, Formerly Known by Three Initials (FKTI), was in for lunch at the restaurant where I work and mentioned she was running it with our friend, Currently Known by Three Initials (CKTI). Both of these ladies are serious runners. They talk about things like speed work and go swimming at 5 AM to cross train. I admire that, really, I do. I think I should learn to be more like them, so I would get better times. But if I'm being honest with myself, I must admit that I have way more fun with the bitches, dodging geese and carrying bags of dog shit.
I was intrigued enough by the Initial Girls and February road race to sign up. The day I signed up was one of those weirdo, gloriously warm days in which the sun shines, the ice melts, and everyone's high on Vitamin D.
Then the Alberta Clippers moved through and we went into a sub-zero deep freeze the week of the race. Schools were called off due to wind chill temps -30 degrees and below.
I got scared.
I knew I would show up and suffer through it no matter what.
I also know that wool socks and tights only do so much.
Thankfully, it was 16 degrees when I pulled into town the morning of the race and the wind wasn't too bad at all. I pounded a Red Bull on my way down and was jamming out to some Otis Redding, so I drove a bit faster than I should have and had plenty of time to spare before the race. This also gave me plenty of time to observe one of my favorite aspects of small town life, the Less Than A Degree of Separation aspect. Everybody knows everybody knows everybody. It's a comforting thing, really. Lots of hi and how are you-types of greetings. Talk about the last basketball game. It's pretty superficial. Nothing controversial, after all, this was a fundraiser for the school's booster club.
It was a four mile race, so we loaded up onto school buses to be driven out of town--no quitting if you gotta run back to town. The Initial Girls and I piled on to the first bus. People were scattered all over, with an open seat here and there. We just went straight to the back of the bus and I plopped down in the single seat by the emergency door while they sat kitty corner from me.
A pack of dudes in matching red TEAM BEEF t-shirts marched down the isle towards us. The stance and attire of the group screamed of a frat stereotype, but I tried to be open-minded. I tried.
Sometimes when I try, I fail.
They got to the back of the bus and the nice guy in the seat across from me scooted towards the window and said, "You can sit here, man."
He replied loudly, "I'm WAY too homophobic for that," with a machine gun laugh.
You know that laugh. That stupid, jockish, 1950s, I don't have to read books because I work for my dad laugh.
Nice guy shrugged like nice guys do.
It was out of my mouth before I even realized what I said..
"I'm not, so if any ladies wanna sit on my lap, get here!'