As a mother of military kiddos, I often marvel at the idea of living in a small town, putting down roots, and having them grow up from kindergarten through 12th grade in the same school district. Does anyone do that anymore? It seems like it would be idyllic in some ways, a nice idea, but hardly a possibility given our active duty status.
I always thought I’d grown up in a small town. That was until I met my husband and he showed me where he grew up! No locking doors, everyone know everyone else. Friendly midwestern peeps who are genuinely interested in the answer when they ask, “How are you?” These travels have been repeated encounters of small town life.
While in some random bathroom in Wyoming, I sneezed and heard a random “bless you” from out of no where! (It actually quite startled me as I thought I was the only one in there!) Usually not a chatty kathy in the stall, I had to laugh to myself and offer my thanks in return.
While visiting my husband’s family in Minnesota, I jumped at the chance to run a 5k with my niece! (You can read her awesome blog here!)
When we headed out for the run, I asked her, “I don’t need to lock my car, do I?” She shook her head no, it wasn’t a big deal. I tossed the keys in and off we went to the starting line. The race was fun, humid and she ran a PR! (I on the other hand ran with my hands clutching my chest due to starting out way too fast (as usual) and couldn’t breathe in the humidity! I felt like a beginner all over again!) After the race and pancake feed at the local fire department, we returned to discover my keys are in fact locked inside. It’s an auto-pilot habit. Crap! What do we do? I can’t call the hubby because the phone is locked ever so securely in the car.
“Let’s go find Ralph!” she suggests.
Huh?! Who’s Ralph?
Of course. Ralph is the chief of police. Apparently unlocking car doors is something they do for free! Who knew?! Where I grew up, I locked my keys in the car on a fairly regular basis, but the cops didn’t come to help you but would instead would refer you to a locksmith. (My particular locksmith and I were on a first name basis. Yes, it happened that often.) After Ralph finished his pancakes at the firehouse, he popped by to help me out of my predicament! While regaling us with stories from the job, his cell phone rang. It was the theme from the show COPS. Seriously. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
In addition to my niece being on a first name basis with the chief of police, we discovered that she is also neighbors (literally) with the in-laws of a milspouse friend of mine from Washington! Talk about a small world!
While I was doing all of this, the hubby (who was one of those kids that went to the same school from K-12th grade) took the minions fishing where he went as a kid. We attempted to fish during the salmon run in Washington, but we didn’t catch anything. Luckily the fish were biting in Minnesota! They caught 17 sunfish – and they were delicious!
I often think a small(er) town life would be great. Then, I think about how much I would miss Target. And Starbucks. And museums with the kids. And giant grocery stores, And, and, and…
I suppose there are pros and cons to both like anything. I often vacillate between being a hermit in a tiny town, living off the grid, shutting out all social media, being completely isolated, and living a more anonymous urban life in some bustling city. I’m not sure one is better than the other, but as a hermit with social butterfly tendencies, I need regular down time like I need oxygen.
Perhaps that’s the beauty of this military life – for a while anyway, we get to experience all different parts of the world, in 2-3 year doses. As hard as it is in some ways, it’s also pretty dang cool, and we get to meet all sorts of people and expose our minions to opportunities that they otherwise would not experience.
What about you? Small town or bustling city? Knowing everyone or complete anonymity? Friendly chat in the bathroom with strangers?
I think I may always be a private pee-er. The sneeze blessing was nice, but it’s just weird chatting about randomness while taking care of business. But, that’s just me.
Running this year’s half marathon was awesome for a couple of reasons. First off, hubby was home so he was able to be with the kids AND cheer me on. It was also the 3rd in a series of 3 – so all of my race medals match! (It really is all about the race jewelry, right?!) And finally – the weather was FANTASTIC! We just don’t get stunners like this out here very often. We could see snow-capped Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainer off in the distance, as well as the majestic olympics! Simply breathtaking.
Eating breakfast, I looked out our back door and was greeted by a perfect sunrise!
I rolled my ankle along the way which stinks, because not only did it slow my pace, it hurt! But DNF (Did Not Finish) is not in my vocabulary. The result – I walk/ran the remainder of the race, and attempted to sprint/hobble through the finish!
Collecting the medal, grabbing some grub and meeting up with hubby and the kiddos he says, “I have a story to tell you!” Meanwhile Jake is dancing around hollering, “I RAN WITH THE RUNNERS!!! I RAN WITH THE RUNNERS IN THE RACE!” Eric is grinning.
While I was running and hobbling and enjoying my views along the course, Eric was on minion management patrol. He proceeded to tell me that while chasing Hannah, Eric lost sight of Jacob. As in, could. not. find. him. This is my worst nightmare come to life. Turns out he caught some racing fever, dropped his coat, and took off with some random racers! He raced all the way around the park, and through to the finish line. Meanwhile, Eric spots Jake’s coat and starts looking for Jake. He happily runs up to Eric after his “finish” and informs him that he ran the race with the runners. (Non-racers are never allowed on the course, and definitely not minions racing through the finish line!) Leave it to ours to do just that!
We had a serious talk about how it’s his job to ALWAYS stay with us, and we HAVE to know where he is! I think this may be payback for the time I was separated from my parents at a wax museum. My parents were a hot mess of emotions when they finally caught up with me, mostly relief and anger. I had no idea I was “lost”. I was happily posing for a picture with a random wax figure. Yes, mom. I have been paid back.
At the finish line with my friend Jaye! She shaved 8 minutes of her race time for a new PR! Let me tell you, that’s not easy feat on this crazy hilly course!
Despite temporarily losing our kid, it was an awesome way to round out the races in Washington!
Last year we ran the St. Patrick’s day fun run out on base. We did the 1 mile run, knowing the kiddos wouldn’t be able to do much more than that. We also had the benefit of the stroller while Eric was deployed, so worst case scenario, they could take turns taking breaks.
It’s amazing how much changes in just one year.
Today’s event did not have a 1 mile option as they did last year, but we did not know this until we showed up at the event. I asked Jake probably a half dozen times if he was sure he really wanted to do this race. He didn’t have to, I wasn’t going to make him do it if it wasn’t his thing. If he decided he was going to do it, however, we finish what we start – exactly like last year. Hannah opted to cheer with Daddy on the sidelines!
This was us at the start line!
Eric snapped a few pics right about mile 2, and Jake was definitely “not so fired up anymore”. He kept commenting on how we were last. I reminded him that it never matters if you are last, middle of the pack, or first. (Yes, first is awesome.)
What matters is that you do your best.
We are always striving to improve, but we are racing ourselves. We race against the voice in our head that says we aren’t good enough, that we ‘can’t’. We keep going until we finish what we start.
I found it funny that right about that time, we talked about running. I told him that if running wasn’t something he liked, he never had to do it again. (He heartily agreed to stick to t-ball!) PSo often as runners we think “Why the heck do I sign up for this?!” Yet, many of us have stacks of bib numbers and race medals to prove that that thought quickly subsides.
The joy on his face as he crossed the finish line to high five Eric and I was magic. He was tired, to be sure! No doubt in my mind he was proud of himself.
But probably not quite as proud as I am. PRs are great, but coming in last with my son was the biggest win to date.
The gym at NAS Whidbey Island periodically has fun runs, a 1.5 mile, a 5k and a 10k. I ran one of the 10ks last year and thought that perhaps Jake would like to run the short race, while we push Hannah in the stroller. I would be over the moon if at least one of the kiddos falls in love with running. No biggie if not, but I do hope they each find something active that they can be passionate about. (Of course secretly, I hope it is running!)
After blowing some St. Patty’s day bubbles in our festive green, we head to our race!
“C’mon, cmon! Let’s go!”
Before we left, Jake decided that he didn’t want to run, but would rather ride in the stroller. Hannah then decided she would like to run the race with mommy. Okay – off we go!
Baby girl all signed up and ready to run!
We get about 10 yards past the start line, and Hannah and Jake switch. Hannah is tired, and Jake wants to race, now that he sees all the other runners. Okay – let’s chinese fire drill it baby!
After just a bit, Jake starts whining and says he doesn’t want to do it anymore. (Inside, I want to scream, knowing this would probably happen.) He’s 4 years old. It probably is a lot to ask of him, but thought I’d give it a try. Like the saying goes, “Total failure is better than never trying”.
After counting to 10 and taking a breath, I told him that when he decided he wanted to run the race, he needed to finish it. “We don’t quit. We can walk when you need to catch your breath and go at your pace, but we finish what we start.” What a metaphor for life, huh?! Then I realized how this principle has played out over and over in not only my fitness journey, but in parenting as well. I used to be a quitter. I quit when things got too difficult, or just didn’t try if I wasn’t sure I would succeed. I want better for these little ones. I’m glad they won’t know the old me.
I walked on slowly, letting him take a moment to realize that we weren’t going to quit, make up his mind and catch up. And he did. We walked at first, then he saw other runners and said, “I’m ready to run, now mom! Let’s go fast!”
And fast we went!! It will definitely go down as one of my favorite races! Watching my little guy cross that finish line was so great and seeing his huge grin at the end as other racers were high-fiving him was priceless! So proud of him!
Yeah. Hannah fell asleep! Poor thing! It was a long 1.5 mile!
Later we hit the St. Patrick’s Day parade in town – bundled up of course, because it was rainy and cold. (What else would the weather be like in Washington?!)
When I asked them what their favorite part of the parade was (thinking the pirate ship, the bagpipes, or the cool old cars) they both screamed “THE CANDY!”
In light of my husband’s family tragedy, it seems so insignificant to post my little race report on the memorial run I did Saturday morning. When things of this nature occur – it brings perspective.
Over the last few days I have been looking at my kids differently. When Jacob asks to push him on the swing (for the 5000th time), I find I really don’t mind. I’m definitely hugging my kids a bit tighter and thinking a bit more about what REALLY matters. Do the dishes really need to be done THIS minute? No, let’s go read a book or play outside!
I had found out about the accident on my way to the race. I kept thinking about the family and the shock of the whole situation. I just ran. And I ran faster than I ever have while pushing 70+ lbs of kid and stroller. I ran for Eric’s family. My goal was to do it in under 35 minutes and I did it in 31:19. While proud of the physical achievement, it was definitely a heavy hearted run….
Today was the last race before Eric’s departure. Kind of bittersweet, but I really didn’t have time to dwell too much on it because I was SO completely unprepared for today in every way that I just had to muddle through.
Flying by the seat of my pants, I snoozed longer than I should have (after staying up the night before longer than I should have), tried to get some breakfast and get dressed before Hannah woke up…no luck. She woke up so I was stuck nursing while watching the clock tick down the minutes before we needed to leave! Ugh. Normally, I am a person that plans and prepares and sets out the race gear/number/water bottles/breakfast the night before so I don’t have to think too much! Not so much this morning….
Then it dawns on me – hmmmm…. there was no race packet pick up. I don’t have a race number. I never got an email about one. Crap! But then Eric wondered aloud if I’d registered for this race way before I’d gotten hacked and changed it….Crap! Crap! I quickly got online and found there wasn’t a packet pickup – just a number pick up at the start line. Okay cool. Now – where the heck did I put my armband for the gps/iphone for my tunes?? Crap! Crap! Crap! (Perhaps the title should be renamed CRAP!) Ha!
And of course by this time, Jacob is throwing a fit about something or other (there has been a few lately so it’s hard to keep track of them!) I then look outside to see it POURING buckets. Permeating, drenching, soaking wet rain. By the way – I got a sunburn yesterday from sitting in my yard. What?! I think I could deal with the weather better if there was some kind of consistency, but man! Is there something wrong with 2 days of sun in a row?! But, I digress……
Finally we make it – I have all my gear and I’m ready to go. Kiss Eric and the kids goodbye and I’m off. There is no chip timer. No gun start. Just a loud “3….2…..1….GO!” And there were maybe 75-100 people. TOTAL. Talk about a small race. And many runners seemed to be on the elite side because about 5-10 of us were bringing up the rear of the pack and I was running a 9-10 minute mile. Usually that pace puts me in the middle of the pack. Not a ton of beginners in this neck of the woods! Part of going from a city to a small town I guess….maybe that will help me get faster! Ha!
I did pretty good coming in at 2:21. The EXACT same time as the last half I did a few months ago. There was a definite difference this time in that with the lack of preparation – it just seemed to make the whole race that much harder because I felt like I was 3 steps behind before I’d even started! Mentally I kept hearing Christina (my Hawaii trainer) SCREAM at me…..”What?! You are stopping to walk?!!! You aren’t even breathing hard! GOOOO!!!!!!”
It’s a miracle we made it out the door! And I was totally sporting my Dumbell-Fit shirt! Gotta represent yo! 808 Baby!
Then there was the rain. Whoa. You know you are a “real runner” when even this soggy mess of a day doesn’t deter you! Whew. Even with a hat on, the water poured through the bill and my face was SOAKED. Afterwards I was getting the chills (Yeah, in June-uary!) So when we made it home I took a HOT bath! Felt great!
So moral of the story…..(or rather note to self) – PREPARATION IS KEY. Diet, sleep, rest, recover, run, cross train, hydrate – it’s all preparation. It’s all needed. And I will never again schedule a race in the last two weeks before a deployment!! Silly me!
Speaking of races…I better start looking for some to fill up the summer!!