For a while now I've been feeling the strangest sensation. It started as a bit of curiosity, but slowly has grown into a real desire. To run. Not the "away from it all" variety of running, either (although from time to time I feel that, too), but the real life, tie on some shoes and hit the pavement type. I think it stems from a desire to reconnect to life in a physical way or maybe to reinstate my mind's authority over my matter, but for whatever reason, I've felt drawn to running. What I've been lacking is a catalyst to begin.
So when my husband informed me his work was having a 5K race, asking which kids I thought would like to participate, I answered that it sounded like a fun for the entire family. "Why don't we all go?"
Famous last words.
After a rather rainy, windy, cold week, Saturday morning was gloriously pleasant. We managed to rummage up exercise clothes for all eight of us and didn't have a single missing tennis shoe. We drove over, registered and waited out an hour break. Although Peter initially volunteered to stay back with the younger two kids, in the end I chickened out and took that job, letting him keep up with the older four.
One minute before the race began, poor Matthew mistook our friend's leg for Peter's and freaked out when the wrong face peered down at him. So the race began just as my three year old decided being attached to the hip of a parent was safer than taking his chances among the throng of bare adult legs.
But I knew I couldn't carry him, so instead I herded a reluctant, whimpering child for the first several minutes.
At 5 minutes into the race ... I finally convinced him to run with me a few yards. But when he fell flat on his face, he decided he'd rather not. The two minutes I spent comforting him (while trying to keep the five year old in my sights) was the only time I carried either child.
About 10 minutes into the race ... the first runner passed on the other side, already on the home stretch.
At 1 mile into the race ... we were passed by a 500 pound man (and can I tell you how impressed I was with this guy? He was going our pace the whole time, but eventually we slowed down. I'm sure walking 3.5 miles could not be easy, but he was doing it).
At 1 1/4 miles ... we were passed by a woman breast feeding her newborn baby as she walked, her empty hand pushing the stroller .
1.5 miles ... a 75 year old couple shuffled past.
2 miles ... the 9 month pregnant lady waddled by.
Just as we crested 2.5 miles ... I saw the police car cruising the route. When he reached us, he turned around. We were officially bringing up the rear of the pack.
The 3 mile marker was about the last time we had any other participants in our site.
And still we walked. And walked. And walked.
We had at least 5 people stop and ask if we were okay, if we needed a lift to the finish line. I would smile and decline the offer.
The last half mile my two little ones lost their steam, but luckily we could see the stop light that marked the finish line. (Or at least I hoped so, as I knew both children didn't have much left to give to the effort).
We crossed the finish line 1 hour, 27 minutes after we began.
But they crossed the finish line, my two little ones.
I don't know if they were listening when I encouraged them at the end, telling them they were stronger than they realized, that they were going to make it, but I was listening to my own advice. Tomorrow I am going to start running.
(If for no other reason than so next time I'll have an excuse to stay with the older kids and let my husband take the younger two).
P.S. In case your wondering, my older two boys made it in 44 minutes, the girls and Peter in 48. Not bad for a family that has been doing little to no physical exertion for the last few months.
My husband would like to point out two things:
1) He did walk back and catch us at the end with some hydration for the kids and to make sure I wasn't piggybacking both of the kids for the whole race.
2) It is pouring rain today so my dreams of running might be put on hold till tomorrow (unless the rain clears up).