In 2015, Team WestEnders did a race called Four on the Fourth—which, as the name suggests, covered 4 miles rather than our usual 5K, and took place on Independence Day. Last year we were in Seattle for the holiday, and missed it. But we’ll be in town for July 4th, 2017, so we broached the subject of participating in it again with the kids, as a potential “fun-filled family activity”…or what have you.
And lemme tell ya, the response was LESS than what you’d call…enthusiastic…or even receptive….or anything else that can be construed as “positive”, for that matter. There was immediate backlash from the older son, who made an exasperated noise and huffed, “Really? We’re gonna be THAT family?” Um…that depends…which one are you talking about, dear? “You know, the one that gets up EARLY on a HOLIDAY to go RUN!” Since he’d so eloquently cleared that up, I was able to cheerfully reply, “Oh! Well then YES—yes, we ARE that family!” Riley’s response was a much more succinct and plaintive, “Ugh. Noooo!...do we have to?”
I pointed out to the lazy teenage slugs—I mean “beloved offspring”—that since it’s their Summer break, they have the privilege of sleeping in most days anyway, so it shouldn’t be any kind of a hardship to drag themselves out of bed ONCE. Somehow, they were unmoved by my calm, cool logic, however.
But…then I started thinking about how I’ve been able to keep running these days only with varying degrees of determination…and difficulty. Honestly, my knees grudgingly consent to pound the pavement for 3-ish miles, but would most likely rebel…probably in a verrrry unpleasant fashion…if I demanded more out of them at this point. So the upshot was: I brightened the kids’ day considerably be conceding the issue, and instead began looking around for a substitute (because, you know, “foregoing races completely” is just not an option…)
What I found was a new offering called (wait for it) the VegFest 5K. It was the right length, it was local, and the participant t-shirt they showed on the website depicted a trio of…running vegetables! Say no more, I’m IN! I even got Husband to agree to tag along with me, although you can scarcely imagine the amount of eye-rolling and mockery that the children heaped on us for joining a race that appeared to be entirely supported by eco-friendly, organic, vegan sponsors. (Yes! MY TRIBE….y’all!)
That’s how we found ourselves making the short trip to Southern Village early this past Sunday—with one groggy, silent individual (Guess who? Yeah, that was easy, wasn’t it?) and one annoyingly chatty and chipper dude. (Seriously, Husband is SUCH a morning person—aren’t they awful? I mean, when you can’t have coffee because you’re going to be exercising just a few short minutes after your eyes open? There should be a rule that they have to be quiet and leave us alone! Or is that just me? Whatever….sure, I’m awake NOW…)
Anyway, this was the…first rehearsal, if you will…of this event--and boy, did it show. Mind you, everything LOOKED good—with many vendors setting up their displays with lots of interesting products to peruse after the workout portion of the day was completed. The organizers had encouraged folks to come in costume, and a few took them up on the challenge, which is why we found ourselves mingling with a teenaged pineapple…a tutu-d watermelon…a young carrot…and an eggplant guy who had the further audacity to bring his (plainly dressed, thank goodness) dog along for the festivities.
And things went well….that is, right up until the first turn (um, that would be approximately 30 seconds out of the proverbial gate. Before that, whew, it was smooth sailing!) The volunteer who was supposed to be pointing out the route initially signaled for us to continue down the wrong street, before checking his GPS and correcting himself. (Later, Husband would note that we should have known how things would turn out, based on that inauspicious start…hindsight, man…sigh…)
Then at around 1.5 miles, there was an obstacle—what I can only describe as the Everest of this particular neighborhood: a steeeeep, loooong hill that I initially made a valiant attempt to scale at a jogging pace, but finally had to admit was only realistically conquerable by walking. (In my mind, I rallied my spirit with something along the lines of “I may not have defeated the *&%$ mountain, but I WILL win the war—ahem…”finish the race”!) But wait, it gets worse: because of a lack of support personnel lining the route—or even directional signs, which would have been sufficient and appreciated—there were few people keeping you on track, so I, and the pack of people I happened to be with, made an erroneous turn…and faced that same stupid incline AGAIN! (Yeah, didn’t even try to pretend to run up it the second time…)
Finally, to add (further) insult to (fortunately only metaphorical) injury, there was absolutely no instruction about what to do around mile 2.5, so the whole horde of us went…unintentionally rogue…without even being aware of it. Nope, we just kept plugging along…until I finally looked at my phone’s stopwatch, because my legs felt like lead and I was 100% out of gas, and saw that 33 minutes had passed. Now, even WITH some slow periods, this falls well outside the bounds of when I should have finished…and the end was nowhere in sight…which led me to the irrefutable conclusion that we were collectively lost.
About that time we spotted a police officer who was directing stragglers, and queried him about how to…reacquire…the race HQ. “Do you want to stick to the course?” he politely asked, to which we chorused a resounding, “No, thank you! We’ll take the shortest distance, thankyouverymuch!” (At this point I was so tired and discouraged that my mantra became: I just have to come in ahead of that one woman…wearing a potato outfit. I will NOT lose to a spud! I might have been becoming delirious, you think? Eh, it kept my feet moving…) Thus I hauled myself wearily over the Finish Line without even bothering to check my official time, since I’d obviously traveled beyond the prescribed 3.1 miles. When I caught up with Husband, he commented that he’d experienced virtually the same scenario…but was so irritated by the whole snafu that he’d ignored the Finish Line altogether.
So, not what I’d call an altogether well conceptualized…or well planned…shindig. But there were a few perks to brighten things up, due to the aforementioned businesses who shared their wares with the hot, tired…mildly disgruntled…public. Such as: samples of creamy, delicious cashew-based “ice cream”…giveaways of organic energy bars and gluten-free vegan cupcakes…and some homemade truffles that were quite possibly the BEST little bites of chocolate I’ve ever put in my mouth. When you’ve checked off your physical activity—and racked up your 10,000 steps—for the day by 9 a.m., and you’re rewarded with treats like those? There are definitely worse ways to start a Sunday. Besides…then you’re free to go home, relax, and at long last enjoy your delayed COFFEE…yaaaaay!