"We missed you yesterday!!! Are you doing Girls on the Run?"
Joe couldn't possibly have been texting me. Me, the girl who was 7 weeks post-partum and barely running 3 miles. Of course, I was the girl who missed the Memorial Day run because of a fussy baby (and mama) meltdown. The run just happened to be "yesterday."
I told him no. I hadn't planned on returning tot he starting line so soon after Silas but, more pressing, I had both boys on Saturday as Mark was chaperoning a class trip to Cedar Point. I have a BOB Ironman but it's a single, and I plan on keeping it that way.
But that Joe. He told me his daughter, who just finished her freshman year, could entertain Miles, freeing me up to push Silas.
So it was. I was going to run the weekend 5K.
Pre-race: I don't normally include these details because they are usually rather boring and banal but I was rather proud of my ability to physically get to the race. I had to leave by 7:45 a.m. to get to the start, ensuring enough time to hook up with Joe and top off Si if necessary. On Friday night, I laid out two sets of clothes for everyone (we were going to a friend's after) and packed a lunch box of snacks for Miles. I pumped up the tires on the BOB and put it in my hatchback. On Saturday, Silas woke up just after 6 a.m., and he actually had a good feeding. Happy, I put him in the swing and got breakfast for Miles and me. Silas still chill in the swing, I got everyone dressed and bags in the car. The clock read 7:10. Damn. We were rocking. I picked up Si and tried to nurse him a bit more before heading out the door at 7:30. Fifteen minutes ahead of schedule! How does that even happen with two kids and one adult?!?
The race: I was in a sea of pink and green, tiny legs and full hearts. Ponytails full of glitter sparkled in the morning sun and strips of tulle bounced as the excitement built. The race, after all, was really for the girls who spent the spring semester of school preparing for this day.
As for me, I had spent zero time preparing. I had only been running for two weeks and though I'd ran the distance, the outings were not without convenient breaks for traffic and water. My only official goal was to go out and have fun, garnering a time to use as a baseline to see how I improve over the summer. On a dream day, if someone had asked, I thought it would be rad to squeak under 30.
But it wasn't a dream day. And that's OK.
It was hot and humid, with the temperature nearing 70 at 8:30 a.m. The cloudless sky was a relief with rain dominating the forecast but it freed the sun, allowing it to be unrelenting.
I had seeded myself mid-pack, not wanting to get caught up with my friends who had more ambitious goals. The announcer counted down and with a "1 and Go" we were off, a wave of cheers coming from the crowd. The pack began slow and though it would have nice to bolt from the line, I appreciated the more comfortable pace, especially since I was pushing the stroller (with a sleeping Silas! Hooray!), which offers about 50 pounds of resistance.
I managed to find some space by the first mile and pick up the pace but I was by no means flying. The heat was taking its toll – the sweat had began to drip within the first half mile and pour by the first. When the water stop came at the halfway point, I was happy to stop and walk through. I grabbed a cup and then a second.
After the water stop, we headed into a neighborhood and twisted and turned through the maze of streets. I tried my best to run tangents but maneuvering the BOB, which has a fixed front wheel, proved difficult. But it was fine. Why whine about that when I was running a race and Silas was still sleeping?
Note: Later, Joe asked how I managed to get Si to sleep through 3.1 miles. I have no idea. Magic milk or dark magic? All I can say is someone was looking out for me, especially when I factored in his poor sleeping that week.
One of the fun parts about this race was listening to the run buddies and girls. There was so much encouragement and positive talk that I couldn't help but smile and try my best. One of the girls said that when she gets tired, she just tells herself one foot at a time. You just put one in front of the other.
So as I grew more tired at the mile 2 marker (a purple "2" helium balloon), I just made it my mission to put one foot in front of the other. Relentless forward motion, y'all.
As I rounded toward the finish, I tried to pick it up. After all, I used to have a kick. A good one.
Oh, how times have changed ... temporarily.
I was buoyed to see the clock read 31 minutes as I headed toward the balloon arch. I had ran without a watch as my Garmin has been a POS, not finding satellites, and had no idea what my pace had been. I just knew it felt slow.
As I crossed the timing mats, I felt tired. Done. But there were cheers and words of encouragement as I crossed the timing mats. Miles was there with his new friend, as was Joe who finished fifth overall. A Girls on the Run coach, whom I had passed and then passed me, told me I was her mother runner hero.
And I couldn't help but feel 100 percent ecstatic.
Amid sleepless nights and marathon nursing sessions, I had 31 minutes where I rejoined my community and took back myself.