Today was a unique experience in my racing career. I went to a race that I was not competing in. I was there purely to provide a cheering squad. And I say squad because I dragged my 3 kiddos out to the course with me. Granted I bribed them with Dunkin Donuts along the way, but the donuts had long since worn off by the time everyone crossed the finish line.
There was a Triathlon that about 25 of my friends competed in about an hour outside of St. Louis this morning. Although this would have been great prep for the 70.3 I am about to embark upon in 3 short weeks (Oh dear Lord is it really that close? Please be wrong, please be wrong, please be wrong…crap. No, it’s really that close. Deep breath…) Anyway, I was saying, today’s event would have been a great practice race for Racine, but since I had my kids this weekend, I didn’t sign up.
On Thursday at Speedwork, a bunch of peeps were talking about it and I considered for approximately half a second that it might not be too late for me to sign up and I could just have my friend Chad’s daughter, Jasmine, watch my kiddos. But ultimately, I decided I wouldn’t have the time I needed to mentally prepare, in order to have a decent race. So I bagged the notion of trying to compete, and settled on being at the finish line to cheer everyone in. As it turned out, THAT was a fantastic idea.
You see, on Thursday, I was having an awful day. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and proceeded to stay there for most of the day. I didn’t actually stay in bed, I just stayed in my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mood. Even coffee didn’t help. Neither did cleaning. Lindsey quirk #7 (I think I’m on 7)…usually cleaning the whole house top to bottom can burn off my negative energy. It didn’t that day. The reason for my bad mood really isn’t important, but I continued to be Little Miss Crabby Pants. That is, until I got to hang out with some of my running buds at Shalini’s neighborhood pool for a bit. The kids played while we sat, and I vented, and we laughed. Then I went off to Speedwork at the Marquette High School track and really let loose with the emotions to run it out. Nothing makes for some really good speed like a little anger. After running myself to the point of dripping with sweat during a 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1200m, 800m, 400m pyramid workout, I seemed to be a little better. Having my kiddos out at the track was a blast, too. And then we all went off to Dewey’s with the whole crew for some pizza. We ended up with such a huge group that we needed one giant table and a corner booth. We pretty much closed down the joint. As I sat there eating pizza, with Silas snuggled on my lap while my other two played with Chad’s kids, Dennis and I were talking about the importance of the running community and sharing that with my kids. Showing them that working out and being healthy is fun. Not just because exercise is good for the body, but also celebrating that with good people is good for the heart.
And that’s when it hit me. I’ve been enjoying showing my kids what it is that I love so much. And even more, I’ve been enjoying merging my kids with my community. So I decided I would take the cheering section on a field trip out to Innsbrook to support my friends in their athletic endeavor.
On the way out to the course this morning, we had the windows down and the radio turned up. It was a beautiful day, sunny skies with some puffy white clouds, a nice breeze and high in the low 70’s. Perfect race day weather. I kept saying, “Next year I am totally signing up for this race”. Which likely means it will either be pouring rain or a heat index of 105. So, we were cruising along, singing with Christiana Aguilera, and suddenly Ally asks, “Mom, why are so many songs on the radio about dating or being in love? They are almost all about girls and boys.” I said, “You’re right, Al. I guess it’s because people write music about their life experiences. And so many life experiences involve different relationships. Some that grow, some that end, some that last forever, there are so many kinds of relationships and they’re always changing. People sing songs about that because the listeners can relate to them. “
Eventually, we made it to the course, which was interesting, seeing that I am completely navigationally challenged. I pulled over to ask a police officer for directions and he started to ask if I knew where some landmark was, then stopped mid –sentence and said, “Wait, you’re not from around here, are you?” Ummm, no. Once we got parked, we had to hike over to the Finish Line. All 4 of us, single file, trying to avoid being run over by cars and cyclists. We walked up to the Finish and no more than 30 seconds later, I saw my friend Katherine cross the line. About a minute later, she was followed by Nick. Despite my direction mishaps, we made it just in time. Shortly after that, we located my friend Dan and we all watched a straight on view of the Finish to see everyone coming in and our cheering section continued to grow as members of our training group finished. It was a steady stream for the next hour and a half of so many friends. Fellow and former Fleet Feet-ers, social runners, customers, training pals from swimming, Ladies from the Fit and Fab group…they just kept coming. It was amazing. I yelled, I cheered, I high fived and fist bumped. I got several sweaty hugs. And I wouldn’t take back a single one of them.
I watched my friends crash through their own personal obstacles, conquer their fears, bust down old PR’s. I saw some take home medals and some were just glad to cross the line still standing and with a smile on their face.
Karen’s finish made a lasting impression because as she stood there talking to us just seconds after finishing, she had tears in her eyes as she said, “I did it”. Karen, like me, was not a swimmer, but she learned and she got through the open water swim and was so proud of herself that she cried…happy tears of course. Personally, I almost always cry when I cross the finish line. Maybe that’s another Lindsey quirk.
Unfortunately, I missed Kris coming across the line because Silas decided he had to go to the port-o-potty and it had to be right that second. Then he proceeded to check each one and declared, “They’re all flooded!” To which I replied, “Welcome to my World, Kid. They’re port-o-potties! Just pick one!”
Tracy made my day when she said she was disappointed to find out I wasn’t competing today. It’s ok, Tracy and I will have our shot together in Wisconsin in 21 more days. Tracy also said the best part was that she just felt positive the whole way. That’s awesome. I’m gonna need some of that in Racine!
Every few minutes someone else came down the shoot. AJ and Rickster crossed at the same time. Roberto, Chad, Steve, Erin. I didn’t have any idea that Teri and Kristen were going to be there. Tony, Nikki, Chris. A couple friends did the sprint distance, so I never saw Jenn on the course, but I ran into Sarah just as I was heading out with the kids. Sarah placed 3rd today and had a huge 7 minute PR after 5 years off…she did all that with a defibulator. Incredible.
As the kids and I followed Tony’s little red mini Cooper carrying him, Erin, Nikki and all of their bikes, all of us caravanning back to Erin’s parent’s house for brunch, I heard another song come on the radio and these words struck me…
“We come into this world unknown
But know that we are not alone
They try and knock us down
But change is coming, it’s our time now
Hey… everybody loses it,
Everybody wants to throw it all away sometimes
And hey… yeah I know what you’re going through
Don’t let it get the best of you, you’ll make it out alive”
This week begins the final big push to Racine. I’ve got to get in some good swims and long rides and get my body more used to the feeling of running after getting off the bike. It’s going to be hard, but as we always say, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it.” After today, watching my friends, my community, my peeps, I know that I can do this, because I’m going to have so many of them right there with me when I do. Life experiences. Relationships. Getting knocked down and getting back up again. Because no matter where you are on your journey, someone else has been there and it’s your community, your cheering section, your friends, that will always get you through.
So proud of these peeps! Even more proud to call them my friends.