Under duress from Lee Ann Magnus at the Advanced Wellness Centre, I agreed to run the Connect Corporate 4-Miler last night as part of their team.
She caught me in a weak moment. Actually she approached me in the waiting area of the Centre, in front of the office staff and several patients. Talking loudly and with great enthusiasm, she asked me to participate in the race. It was like getting caught on the Kiss-Me-Cam at a sporting event. With everyone’s eyes on me, of course I agreed. I’ve never been able to effectively handle peer pressure. (I hope my kids aren’t reading this. If you are, I expect better from you. Now go read a book or cure cancer or something!)
At home I told my family about my latest endeavor/stupid idea. My son Grant, full of 9-year-old bravado, asked if he could run with me. Full of, I’ve-been-working-out-for-weeks-now-and-I’m-a-rock-star bravado, I replied, “Okay, but I’m really going to run. I don’t want to have to stop and wait for you.”
“Mom,” he said, his eyes rolling skyward, “I’m really fast. I can keep up with YOU.”
Last night, we lined up at the starting gate, full of energy, excitement and anticipation. My fellow teammates included Gina, who was rocking a hot pink fanny pack, striped shirt and electric green shorts. Only she could make that outfit look good.
Dr. Indrani Agarwal, with her sleeves rolled up a la James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, was full of excuses about why she wasn’t going to do well. “I used to run, but I haven’t in a long time. So this is my first time running in a while. I’ll probably collapse on the course.”
Uh-huh, blah blah blah. That’s a good strategy. Set the bar REALLY low so you can impress everyone later with your awesomeness. It’s called sandbagging Dr. Agarwal and I applaud your effort. I’ve used that tactic as well. Nicely done.
Also on the team was the lovely Sarah, who looked a little nervous. Quiet and contemplative, I figured she must’ve been strong-armed by Lee Ann too. I feel your pain honey, I thought.
Rounding out the group of “we’re not really runners, but we’re here anyway,” was Dr. Lowry’s wife Suzanne, two of his children, Luke and Victoria, and Debbie an office staff and fellow In8 member.
Then of course, there were the serious runners, Dr. Lowry, Garry, another In8 participant, and Lee Ann.
Crammed in between 750 fellow racers, we waited. The starting gun exploded through the air and we were off.
Lee Ann, Dr. Lowry and Garry bolted through the crowd like Wal-Mart just opened its doors on Black Friday. Bobbing and weaving through the sea of humanity, they picked their way to the front. I lost sight of them immediately. (Note to self: Give them your Christmas shopping list next year.)
Grant, overzealous and inexperienced, raced after them. “Come on Mom, hurry up,” he shouted back to me.
“It’s a long race buddy,” I called out, “slow down.”
Frustrated, but not willing to ditch me, Grant quickly gave up his quest and settled into a jog beside me. We passed the first mile marker and gave each other a high-five. Just past the one-mile marker, I noticed a security guard walking with Luke, Dr. Lowry’s son. As I stopped to check on him and determine if I could help, Gina’s emerald shorts passed by. My competitive side kicked in. Crap, I thought, if we don’t get moving they’re going to beat us!
“Are you going to be okay?” I asked Luke.
“Yeah, I just really need to find my mom,” he reassured me.
Knowing his mom was somewhere in the crowd behind me, and comfortable that the security guard would stay with him, Grant and I decided to continue.
Grant, now realizing the effort required to complete the race, started to walk, then jog, then walk again. Consistently 50 feet ahead of him, I glanced back, and slowed to a walk. I was now in a full-scale internal debate. Do I leave him, run ahead like I planned and try to catch the green shorts? Or do I stay with him?
My mommy voice overpowered my competitive voice and I stayed with him. One day it’ll be nice to enter a race and just run, to test myself. But not this time. This was about Grant and I doing something together. I jogged in place until he caught up with me.
“Mom, I’ve never done this before. It’s really hard,” he admitted.
“I know. We’ll walk some, then jog, then walk. But we’re going to keep moving. And just for the record, I’m a rock star and you’re weak,” I joked.
“Moooomm! This is my first time,” he wailed.
“I know. I’m just kidding,” I assured him. “But I AM a rock star.”
We pushed on, alternating between running and walking, until we approached the last quarter mile. Climbing a small hill, a race volunteer shouted out, “You’re almost there, a hundred yards to the finish.”
I waited one last time for Grant. “Okay Grant,” I said, “We’re going to cross the finish line together. Let’s run it out and finish strong.”
Side-by-side we jogged, our fellow teammates, completing the race ahead of us, cheered us on as we approached the finish line. With arms raised and an excited “Woo hoo!” we crossed the line together in 54 minutes and 26 seconds. Well behind the serious runners, the sandbaggers, and the emerald shorts. But we did it.
I can’t believe it. I’m turning into an active person and I like it. And more than that, I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the experience with my son.
Next year, Lee Ann won’t have to twist my arm. I’m in.