Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Running on empty

Yesterday the Kiddos and I put on our school colors, gathered up signs and trekked over to cheer the cross country team Husband coaches on in a big meet.  The girls did great and the Kiddos were excellent little cheerleaders.  Their favorite chant was to encourage passing runners to “Work it!  Work it!  Work it!”  as The Boy added a jaunty little hip toss to the cheer.  It was classic. 

(I’d make a Pretty Woman reference, but as Toddlers & Tiaras  has that market cornered, I’ll hold back.  OK seriously, though – a woman dresses her toddler as Julia Roberts’ character for the ‘outfit of choice’ portion of the competition.  You know the one, the blue/white dress from the first scene of the movie?  Complete with the thigh-high patent leather boots.  And the woman’s response to the [wholly appropriate and warranted] uproar?  That the dress covered her daughter more than most of the bathing suits in the competition.  Um…..OK, but that’s not as much the issue as the fact that you dressed your toddler up like a hooker.  But thanks for playing.  Have fun making the beehive wig for the next competition when you tart your kid up like Amy Winehouse.  You’re right, completely appropriate, because she was a great singer and all.)

Overall, the Kiddos did great yesterday for what amounted to 90 minutes of hanging around with sporadic bursts of cheering.   The same cannot be said, however, for the last time we went to support Husband in this whole running thing.

Husband belongs to that special group of insane individuals who think it’s perfectly reasonable and acceptable to run 26.2 miles at a spurt.  Insanity aside, he’s actually quite good at it.  He ran the NY Marathon as his first and, just two marathons later, qualified for Boston.

Because I’m nothing if not supportive (Husband: snort), the Kiddos and I made the trip up to Beantown to cheer Husband on.  At the time, Girl #1 was 9, Girl #2 was 6 and The Boy was 4.  Yeah, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking either.

The day started off great.  Husband left us heartwarming sappy notes about how we’d all be with him on every mile, blah blah blah, and we watched the start of the race on TV.  Husband projected his finish to be at a bit over 3 hours (insane!), so the time came for us to head a few blocks over to the race route and stake out a viewing spot.  The four of us headed out, psyched to see Husband in action.

Now, the Boston Marathon is run on Patriot’s Day every year.  (Great when you live in Boston, because many places give the day off.)  Patriot’s Day falls in mid-April.  Which, for those of you that may not have lived in that great city, just grazes the tail end of winter. 

I remembered this, but my layering skills were not what they were when we actually lived in Mass.  One pair of gloves just wasn’t enough.  Windbreakers and sweatshirts were rendered useless in about 20 minutes.  We had a good 90 minutes to wait and already the Kiddos were complaining about the cold.

We had a nice spot about 2 blocks from the finish and right up against the railing.  But the Kiddos failed to appreciate the prime location.  Nor did they really care when the elite male and female runners came by. 

Girl #2 gave up and started full-on meltdown mode after about 45 minutes.  Her coping strategy became crouching on the sidewalk and gripping the bars of the cattle-chute barrier, staring forlornly across the street and whimpering for her father.  She eventually started inching her way into her jacket, to conserve her warmth.

Girl #1 tried for some height.  She stood on a lamppost pedestal and refused to come down.  Ducky.  But at this point, I was in survival mode.  I could reach her and she wasn’t screaming, so I let the kid check out the world from a different perspective for a while. 

The Boy lasted the longest but also melted down in spectacular fashion.  You see, Husband didn’t come by in the 3 hours he anticipated.  He didn’t come by in 3:15.  Nope, the Boston course kicked Husband’s butt so bad that it added an extra 30 minutes to his usual time.  And, in so doing, an extra 30 minutes to my own personal Hell.

Those last 60 minutes were sheer torture.  Girl #1 up on a lamppost, thinking every guy that runs by in a white jersey is Husband.  (“There he is!!!  Wait, no…..THERE HE IS!!!!  Wait, no.  THERE!!!  Wait, no.”  For an entire hour.)  Girl #2 is huddled on the concrete with her head turtled into her coat, looking like an oddly little homeless woman. 

The Boy decided to make up in volume what he lacked in stature.  He spent the final hour crumpled on the ground, shrieking for his father.  I still owe apologies to the good people around us who endured “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDYYYYYYYYYYYY…. I WAANTTTTT DAAAAAAADDDDYYYYYY!!!!” for an hour straight. 

The good people around us did what they could.  They asked what Husband was wearing and started scanning the passing runners for the white jersey with our alma mater, Lehigh, on the front.  Honestly, I think they just wanted to get rid of us.

Husband had quite the welcoming committee.  When he passed, not only did the clouds lift and the trumpets sound, but a good 20 people started yelling “LEHIGH!! LEHIGH!!! THERE! THERE! LEHIIIIGH!!!” 

The Kiddos calmed, we waved…..and he was gone.  A good 2 hours of meltdowns for 5 seconds of a blur of white jersey.

In the end, I think my 2 hours in Dante’s seventh layer of Hell washes with his 26.2 miles. 

Either way, Husband got to drive home.

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