Back by popular demand--the email I wrote to friends about a race gone bad. This email was the birth of my actual desire to write a blog.
Hope you enjoy.
The Devil Disguises Himself as a Racing Official
I entered my first race ever. So excited. I tried to remain calm and fold laundry this morning to offset my nervous energy. I have always wanted to enter a race, but I just have never gotten around to doing it. Can't think of why, but it is one of those things you put off doing with the hopes that "some day" will arrive and you will find yourself in a race.
Well, my "some day" arrived when a friend suggested I enter the "Run For the Pumpkin" race. She knew I didn't have a car, and that this race would be starting close to my home. It made sense that this should be my first race.
Fast forward to race day. My oldest daughter has a cold, so I decide to bring only my baby girl with me and the one seat stroller. I think grand thoughts of how I am being a wonderful mother and inspiring my daughter at the tender age of 11 months to make physical activity a part of her life. These thoughts carry me down the sidewalk and to the race location.I arrive early--I don't want to miss my first race. I go to the registration booth and I pick up my number. My own number: 1756! I'm so excited! This number will be scrapbooked and forever saved in my memory.
I settle down on the grass and watch as different running clubs warm up. I watch as everyone stretches. I suddenly start to feel small as all these young college girls go by kicking their legs in front of them as they limber up for the race.I feel my mouth go dry as I watch a group of college guys show off their warrior body paint and their calf stretches. I should go home, i think.
I tell myself I can't do this and what was I thinking-- taking my precious 11 month old out to a place where young men look like savage Bravehearts and young college girls are prancing around in their underwear.
I overhear a girl say that she isn't used to running on uneven ground.
Uneven ground? What is this?
I politely ask her what she means.
"The race is on the grass."
I think to myself "I am so glad I brought the one-seat stroller and not the double stroller. I don't think I could push my double stroller up the hill." I should go home.
I look around at everyone. They all look like racers. The majority have the cool running sunglasses on--I have my plain glasses on. Surreptitiously sneaking up on me is that old "highschool feeling". You know the one, the one where you feel like everyone is looking at you because you don't fit in. I'm thankful for my husband's baseball cap. I pull it low over my eyes and wish that he was here with me.
The race official announces that the race is about to begin. I make my way to the back of the start line. It only makes sense-I'm the only one with a stroller to push. Hey, wait, I am the only one with a stroller--I should go home.
A woman in her twenties smiles at me and asks,"Hey, are you running with your stroller?"
I nod. "Well, probably more like a brisk walk. It's on grass and I don't know how well my stroller will take the hills."
She looks at me, "Wow. Good for you."
I look at her. And the thought slowly enters my mind, "Yeah, good for me. I'm doing something I've always wanted to do, but never made the time commitment to do. I'm not hiding behind any excuse--especially the excuse of :I have kids, I can't do that. I'm trying something new. I feel out of place. I feel like I don't belong but that's all a part of doing something new. Good for me. I should stay.
The gun goes bang. And everyone takes off. I knew I would be last, but I wasn't prepared for how last. I watched as all the runners leave me, kicking up the fallen autumn leaves as they race towards the first corner. I feel every eye stare at me as I venture out my first steps. I keep my eyes forward as I push my stroller with my sleeping daughter inside.
I watch as the runners move quickly up the hill and then down again. I am rounding my first corner, I climb the hill, putting effort into my stroller making sure it gets up the hill. I approach the crest of the hill and I am confused about the flag markers.I'm not sure who is giving directions--don't people wear anything official? I ask someone standing in a group of people where to go. The people tell me down the hill. I start down the hill and then I meet the devil.
The race official who started the race comes running at me with his clipboard and half shouts, "Lady, get off of the course. There's a race happening here!"
"I'm in the race," I reply.
He looks over his shoulder and sees my 1756 number backing up my statement. "You're in the race? You shouldn't be in the race with kids, lady. This is a running race." And he takes off.
My eyes blur over with tears. I should go home.
I head down the hill as parents and teachers and coaches shout out encouragement to the runners coming behind me (Apparently, the directions I was given interfered with the race. I wasn't supposed to go down the hill). I wait on the sidelines as the runners go by. I feel the stares of the coaches, parents and teachers. I wait for a break in the running and I cross the trail.
With everything I have, I try to hold back the tears. And then I spot my friends who are entering the next race. A tear falls--now, I'm publicly humiliated and have to see my friends.
Well, it all unravels rather nicely--the way most situations unfold. My friends, being the wonderful people they are, don't make me feel small and stupid. They vow to kick the "devil's" butt should he try and tell them anything about not running with their kids. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned--especially if that a woman is a mother.
I vent to my friends and then calm down. I go back to demand my money refunded and to give the organizers a piece of my mind. A piece of my humiliated mind which is too emotional to really get the barbs in that I want.
The volunteer, who doesn't deserve a bawling out, gets one because she is the only one at the table. She tries to console me and apologizes. "I'm sure the racing official was stressed out."
Hey lady, I'm sure the guy is a lot of things, I can think of many right now, but there's no excuse for being rude to me.
The lady in charge comes back and apologizes--is it sincere? Who can tell. In these situations, apologizing is what you are supposed to do...and anything else to make a person feel better.
"Did you get a T-shirt?" she asks me.
"Let's get you a T-shirt."
Yeah, let's! That's just what I want. A visual reminder to be worn throughout the coming year that will forever remind me of this most humiliating experience. Yes, do give me a size medium.
My friend, who suggested the race, apologizs for the bad experience. I love her dearly for her optimism and tell her that this is an experience I won't soon forget.
I walk towards home. I suddenly understand the saying, "I'm so mad, I could spit nails." I'm mad. Mad at the racing official devil, but mad at myself. I had just quit my first race. My first race. My first chance to cross the finish line as 1756 will not happen. I let some "official's" comments stop me from finishing my first race.The realization of this was the almost as devastating as crying in front of my friends.
I'm sure I will race again...someday. For now, I've been there, done that and, unfortunately, got the T-shirt.