Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing

After blogging with ridiculous frequency during my marathon taper and almost as much after the race (kind of like the friend who updates their Facebook status every five minutes), I just realized it's probably been close to two weeks since the last time I posted anything-running related or otherwise. It's a good thing-I've actually been recovering decently from the race, and well, no news is good news. No racing, no speed work, just four runs a week of either the recovery or general aerobic variety. I'd also reached the light at the end of the tunnel on a number of projects and issues, and's just nice sometimes to sit and do absolutely nothing from time to time. So, that's what I did.

While I did not "race" it by any stretch, I did participate with my daughters in the Girls on the Run 5K last Saturday, or as I like to call it, the most dangerous race start in town based on the stampede of sprinting little girls who, no matter how many times they've been told it's a five kilometer event, not the hundred meter dash, charge the first quarter mile like a bunch of mini Usain Bolts.

This year was no exception, although it may have been a bit of a blessing that we were slammed with 1000 (one thousand! only 43,000 people live in this city) runners, wind, and rain. It forced everyone to slow down in the tight quarters and the weather. As far as I know, no children were injured, maimed, killed or dismembered during the start, and my girls had a great time.

Here are a few shots of our oldest coming in toward the finish (and, if you look very closely at the shorts of her coach/teacher, you'll see a certain logo for a certain race, held somewhere in New England):

This is my high-achieving first-born who was at first disappointed in her finish time. She's always had this history of pulling random fast times out of her head for race goals, and this was one of the first times she didn't hit it, or come close. It was a great time, and she ran well, but just not what she'd hoped for.

When the results came out a few days later, though (another story altogether-I suspect there will be some major changes next year to better handle the great "problem" of exponential growth in GOTR here and how to manage the race finish), we learned that she was third out of 190 in her age group! As I scanned through the other results and stopped on names of the usual suspects at area 5K's, I could see that times for everyone were much slower than usual. Oh, and the winner of the race? A kid (this was an event for women AND girls), and not one of the older girls-she came from the 9-year-old age group! So, a few days removed, my daughter realized that a)EVERYONE had a tough time in the conditions, b)she'd actually done very well in the conditions, and c)everyone has days when they don't hit their goal, and it's OKAY. You just have to get back up on that horse, and try again next time.

I was a little further back with my 6-year-old. She and her sister have very little in common, be it appearance, personality or temperament, but they both like to run, each in their own way. While big sis is a bit of a perfectionist who doesn't like to perform poorly at anything, her sister is the ultimate zen, joy-of-running kid. She doesn't know or care who Jeff Galloway is, but she put his run-walk principle to use very early on when she first asked to participate in a 5K last year. Though this is foreign and almost uncomfortable to me-I avoid stops as it's hard for me to get back into a rhythm that way-it's exactly how she stays IN rhythm. So, I just let her take the lead on those intervals and follow along.

This is actually quite the task sometimes-when she decides to get into a burst of speed at the finish of a race, the kid turns her legs over so fast that I literally cannot keep up with her. I always smile at her race photos-it seems that she's always floating in the air with both feet off the ground and legs gently bent, arms loose and relaxed. Meanwhile, it's taken her mama several years to figure out how to have boxing nuns arms only half the time, and not ALL the time.

Besides slowing down a bit to high-five people in the chute, she also ran with thumbs-up much of the race, and kept telling me to do the same "Mooooooom-thumbs up! You forgot thumbs up!" So there we were...just a couple of Fonzies giving everyone the "Ayyy!"

We finished squarely in the middle of the pack, though the big issue of the day was a huge bottleneck in the finisher's chute that actually caused a BIG backup on the course. It took me a minute to realize that we were still on the clock, a mere twenty feet or so from the finish, and that our times, though "unofficial" at this race, would be several minutes off. She didn't notice or care, though, so I didn't draw any attention to it. All she wanted was that medal when we finally made our way through, so we picked it up and said we'd make our own time card for her after waiting for awhile and never seeing the card turn up. (As it turns out, we were two of many people whose results were misplaced or so far off they were not posted, so it wouldn't have mattered if we'd waited all day for her time card.)

We went out for a celebration dinner later that night at Red Robin. As this isn't somewhere we regularly go anymore, and well...yeah, you know how many calories and how much fat is in one of those massive burger-and-fry plates...we decided to walk our river trail after dinner to check out the mama owl and her babies. After finding the nest (and, so cool...the mama owl stared RIGHT AT US as we walked underneath-guess she didn't like the look of us), we started heading back up the trail on a very nice, cool, but comfortable evening. The skies were overcast, but nothing was falling from them.

Well, that didn't last long. We heard this bizarre noise coming from a distance but moving closer-it was a combination between rain and a freight train. Right around this time I felt a sharp pain to my head, realized that a quarter size chunk of hail had hit me, and heard the sound roaring closer-WELL away from the parking area, no shelter in sight.

I hollered at my husband, who had our youngest up on his shoulders, to take her down immediately, protect her head, and RUN, and I was pleased to see that my big girls, as surburban an existence they lead, do in fact have some survival and crisis management skills. They had both heard the sounds and had already pulled their sweatshirts over their heads with hands on top, and had bolted at breakneck speed down the trail, where my husband soon caught up with them, already standing under the awning at Blockbuster by the trailhead.

I was further back with our son, and I didn't try to get him to run all the way to the trailhead, or scoop him up and move very slowly while we got pelted. We took a different path off the main trail to get to a closer business-a PT clinic without an awning, but that did have a small amount of roof overhang to protect us. He was naturally a little freaked out at first, and asked where Daddy and the sisters had gone, thinking that Daddy was leaving us to die or something.

Once I explained that Daddy would come back with the car to get us, though, and that we could just hide under the roof watching the ice chunks fall from the sky, he went totally dude on me, turning to watch the ice, telling me how awesome it was that hard iceballs were falling and making loud crashing sounds. This gave way to a brief science lesson during which I fumbled through "Our Friend, Hail" and tried to explain what it was and what causes it. Thank goodness their were no meteorologists nearby to hear me garble the explanation, and thank goodness five-year-olds just don't know or care if Mom gets it entirely right anyway.

There was also a gorgeous rainbow that appeared just before my husband came down the road with the car. I had a pretty good sized knot on my head, and everyone was sopping wet, but overall we were no worse for the wear. We tried to act like it was nothing, and not a big deal so it wouldn't freak out the kids, but I think this is now the new gold standard for excitement on family walks. From now on, we'll have to bring along bike helmets and hard hats.


Preston said...

What a great write up! It a cool that you and your kids are able to get out there and all run together.

Oz Runner said...

sounds like your oldest is learning some life lessons in these races....and 3rd out of 190? that is great! she'll be placing in marathons like her mom before long... how cool that your 6 year old is running 5Ks already...way to start them out early...
maybe the mama owl thought you were too close to her babies and caused it to hail...sorry about the knot on your head...

btw, thanks for the tip on nuun being on sale at REI, i ordered some last night..

TiredMamaRunning said...

Oh, glad you were able to get the sale Nuun stuff, Oz! Like I said when I commented at your blog, I believe it's been more beneficial to me (that, and the S-Caps/Succeed Caps) in warm or hot weather than any energy gel.

My middle daughter's a little whippersnapper....her big sis doesn't feel competitive toward her but it definitely works the other way around. She wants to do everything her older sister does. It's definitely always fun out there with both of them, regardless of what goes on during the race!

Mir said...

Aw, love the pics of your DDs! Funny story about the hailstorm too. It's crazy how fast those can come up. Glad you weren't out in it for long and they got a science lesson out of the deal. :)