Last year – right around Father’s Day – I came up with a new game plan for these weird Hallmark occasions that often serve to highlight that which we don’t have: mothers, fathers, children, significant others, a bunny that delivers eggs. (Okay, Easter is not really a Hallmark holiday at all, though the stores would have you believe it’s the coming together of Halloween and Christmas: gifts plus an absurd amount of candy.)
My new Hallmark-holiday game plan is basically (1) say what you want and/or (2) do it yourself. It’s one I devised after reading a blog or two about the mixed-bag that is these holidays, and listening to more than one mom admit what they actually wanted on ‘their special day’ was often different than what their family delivered, and having had a conversation with the professor in which he admitted he’d prefer to sleep rather than get breakfast in bed on ‘Father’s Day’.
So this year, in addition to picking up some red tulips for myself at the Superstore, what I wanted to do was get up at 7am, eat a baked sweet potato, and run a race with my oldest blond-wonder. (I thought the sweet potato would elevate my time to slightly-above-average level.)
When we picked up our race packets on Saturday (after the Gort informed me ‘please don’t sing in public, it’s embarassing’), I read the accompanying booklet that showed the race starting point and underscored the fact that there would be signs for ‘runners’ and ‘walkers’ and that participants needed to ‘seed’ themselves according to their pace. Meaning, I thought, if you’re a slow runner, stand at the back.
Being a rule-follower-to-the-core, when we got to the race, I passed the ‘walker’ sign and lined up with the 8800 other runners. At the very back of the 8800 runners because I was already nervous we’d come in last, and I did not want to plant myself at the front as though we had a snowball’s chance in Hades of finishing the race in less than 20 minutes.
Finally, the Mayor counted down to the start of our race: ‘5-4-3-2-1!’ Annnnd we were not off. We stood there. And we stood there some more. And we kept standing there, waiting for the throng of people to move past the starting line.
Minutes later, the people in front of us started moving. And minutes after that we finally crossed the starting line. And you know what? People were walking. A lot of people. Like 1 in every 4, at least. Just walking without the intent of ever breaking into a jog.
Rule breakers, all of them!
So the Gort and I essentially played Frogger for the first kilometer. Dragging him by the hand, I darted in between gaps of people, pointing my (not middle!) finger to show him where I was planning on going; desperately trying to bring us up to jogging speed.
Because in addition to being a rule-follower, I’m quietly competitive, and I wanted to post a decent time even if it meant tripping over dogs and gargantuan strollers.
The Gort is much like his mother – both determined and a rule-follower. As the professor said the other day, entirely seriously, about our firstborn who is very much 50% of both of us: ‘it’s like the two of us….made a child.’
Yeah, that is pretty much what happened.
So when I momentarily stepped over the 5K line into 10K race territory just before we crossed the halfway mark, the Gort immediately called me out. ‘Mom, it says 5K race, stay right!’
Because my laptop-sized smartphone doesn’t fit in the tiny pocket in the back of my running pants, and I didn’t feel like running with the free-from-a-hair-dying-kit black timer we’d used on our training runs, we were timeless for the duration of our run. I had no idea how long we’d been running or how much longer we needed to put one foot in front of the other. When we hit the 4km mark on Macleod Trail, around 43rd ave, I told the Gort ‘only 15 more blocks to go.’ Even though I really didn’t know where the race ended. (Turns out it was 18 blocks away.)
We ran and ran and I was kind of desperate to be done when the finish line finally appeared in my blurred-line-of-vision. Notcloseatall. ‘Okay, when we get to the stoplight, start sprinting,’ a dad running beside us told his kid. And those were the words that propelled me onwards: Stoplight. Sprinting.
‘Okay, pick it up,’ I told the Gort when we’d passed the stoplight. ‘Race you to the finish line,’ he dared me and we bolted (for us, anyway) to the end.
We met up with the professor who’d been hanging out with his two sidekicks on the side of the finish line watching runners throw up, and after availing ourselves to all of the snacks and beverages offered to us, we drove home.
So much fun.
Next year, we’re standing near the front of the starting line. Or at least nearer.
[While we did not finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd (the winner ran the race in just under 17 minutes, ahem) the Gort did place 68th out of the 517 in his [boys aged 14-and-under] category. Such a trooper.]