Hanging Out with the Boys – Big and Little

Over the past few months, I have felt behind in many, many parts of my life: house-cleaning, groceries, work and, today, running. And, today, I realized that being a little behind in running isn’t all that bad.

This morning, Dave, the boys and I got up at the crack of dawn to head down to our town’s hospital for a fundraiser – The OTMH 5K Classic. I toyed with running this; I wanted a good speed workout before Canada Day (July 1st), but I wasn’t completely committed to it. But Dave wanted to run the 5K, Skipper was set to walk the 3K and Little Ironman wanted to run the 1K for kids. So, I tagged along and registered for the 5K.

Besides, I ran this last year and did well, finishing as the top Female Master. I did want to try to hang onto the title – if local events with only 500 runners even have titles.

The four of us got down at 7:50 for a 9:00 start and my stomach started to spin; the nerves set in and even chewing peppermint gum wasn’t helping. (You did know that peppermint relieves upset stomachs, didn’t you?) There was only one thing left to do: start warming up early.

At 8:05, I headed out for a slow 3K, found the boys and started to prep Little Ironman for the kids’ run. He was ready, and so he should have been. Yesterday, we drove around the course so that he knew where to run and, this morning, we walked the course as soon as we got to the site. Like me, Little Ironman needs to be mentally ready for a race. Despite this, though, at 8:30 – five minutes before the start – he bailed on me. Within minutes, Skipper also bailed on the 3K walk. They decided to just sit tight and wait for me. Little Ironman found a friend of his and, fortunately, his father was happy to keep an eye on my own boys.

A year ago, this would have upset me; today, it didn’t. It simply wasn’t worth arguing about as Little Ironman simply wasn’t ready to run, likely because there was a huge number of kids. Besides, I wanted a longer warm up so I took advantage of the extra time.

I had no idea where my husband was but I found my running mates: Shawn, Renaud and Graham. We ran a few kilometres and headed to the start where we found another buddy, Richard.

For the past year, at every race, I’ve stood at the start and tried to size up my competition. Today, I didn’t. Instead, I was comparing myself to my male buddies. Renaud, we knew, would be fastest, followed by Shawn. Graham and Richard are comparable runners and my goal was to keep them in sight; I wanted to finish within a minute of those two. Yes, I was bound to be the slowest – even with Richard and Renaud both racing yesterday.

So when the gun went off, I stayed behind them – closely behind. And since they broke through the crowd ahead of me, I didn’t have to elbow my way past anyone. I caught sight of three women, hoped to catch at least one of them, and I wondered who was up at the front. At that point, I decided that I should have paid more attention to who was at the starting line.

After going out conservatively so that I wouldn’t bust my quads on the first downhill kilometer, I picked up the pace on the steep incline at 2K and fought to catch Gal #3 over the next 2 kilometres, which were a gradual incline. With 500 metres to go, I was within arm-reach of her, but she pulled slightly ahead, finishing two seconds faster in third place. I crossed the line in 21:31 as fourth gal and top Master. Skipper found me immediately grinning from ear to ear.

Richard and Graham did stay in my sight for most of the race but “staying in my sight” really means “catching a glimpse of Graham’s bright blue and Richard’s red shirts as they turned corners.

But I almost caught Gal #3, though, and this made me happy as, I discovered later, I’ve been trying to catch her in standings for years. And even though my time was a bit slower than I wanted, I had expected that as the course is a deceptively tough one and, for the past week, I’ve been nursing a tender hamstring so I didn’t want to push. With this, I still finished a minute faster than I did on the same course last year.

Hubby? After I finished, I ran back out to run him in but couldn’t find him. I started to worry that he had DNF’d and that bailing on this race had become a male family thing. But he didn’t. Dave was faster than I thought and finished in 28:02. Being his first race since last June, this time is great.

Does finishing behind me bother him? Not at all. During the awards, Dave found his way to the front and grinned as much as Skipper did when he saw me finish. Tonight, as I write this, I feel so lucky that I have such great men in my life – my running buddies who pull me along and encourage me; my sons, who love cheering me on; and, my husband, who is my greatest support of them all.

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