I took second place for the second week in a row: a 5K last week and a 10K this week. Not too shabby for an old lady. Nothing hurts too much, though it probably will tomorrow. It was a long, long ride to get to this venue. Two hours and country away.
Today’s race was my first on an Indian reservation. I’ve driven on interstates that bisect their territories, but never stopped, much less participated in anything there. This time, it was different. An eyes-wide-open-with-fear ride across part of Alligator Alley/I-75 (dark, very dark, no lights other than the cars around you) and then an 18-mile two-lane road to the reservation. That 18 miles felt like 180. Rough paved road, no streetlights, bugs, fog, armadillos, no other cars around until I was about halfway through the journey (and at that point, I assumed an ax-wielding murderer was driving behind me), and finally, the blessed flashing lights of the tribal police and the bright lights of the rodeo venue where the race began.
You know a race is going to be an adventure when the race director starts out with, “Attention runners! If you see or hear anything that hisses, growls or roars, run faster.” I neither saw nor heard anything like that. Then again, the half-marathoners went out ahead of us 10K folks. I am assuming a head count was done and all were accounted for.
Post race, I followed the advice of a friend and drove a long way to find the best friend chicken in the state. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall, neat square building of a place called Dixie Chicken in Belle Glade, FL. I ordered, waited maybe 10 minutes and that box and bag came out hot with a smell that could restore energy and optimism to the dead. I ordered too much (I took some home to The Husband), and I could not eat fast enough. Chicken with that thin, crispy, seasoned coating that compliments but does not hide the bird beneath it. My favorite type of coleslaw (mayonnaise-based with a slight bit of sugar and pepper). Corn nuggets (think hush puppies with freshly shucked corn), French fries done right (double-fried crispy) and collard greens that shame everyone else who makes them. And sweet tea, which I normally hate, but actually works with this food because it is made fresh.
I texted my friend and told him he was a very bad man (in the very best way) for sending me there. I could eat there every day, and apparently, some of the people who came in while I was there are frequent customers. There was a lot of chatter and story-swapping, and the counter ladies never missed an opportunity to chime in with their opinions while calling out orders and dishing up banana pudding.
It was a good day after what’s been a hard week. My first time on a reservation, first time drinking (and liking) sweet tea, and first time seeing a rural swath of my own state I’d neverknown. Competitions will be tougher and more frequent this year and there will be some other life changes coming soon. Fried chicken and valued friends help you get through everything.