It was a 5k, and it would be her first. How could I say no? Really, I couldn't.
Wayne and I went up there the night before, and Tony, Wayne and I drank 2 bottles of red wine. This was clearly a bad idea when our alarms went off at 5am the next day. We piled on some clothes and headed out for a 2.5 hour slog. We complained about the puddles, feeling the effects of the wine, being tired, and as many other things that one can possibly complain about. Wayne forced me to go over a toothpick on a broken bridge over rapids, risking my life (Okay, there were no rapids, but it was a broken bridge, and it was scary). After our feet were thoroughly soaked, we went inside where Julia was eating a massive bowl of corn pops with milk and Allison, Tony's 9-year-old daughter, was eating a dry bowl of Frosted Flakes. They asked me if they could have my running skirt, my top. I changed into a set of clean running clothes and they argued over who could have what part of this next outfit. They seem to covet all my clothes, despite the fact that I am 32 and am bigger than them. They are hilarious.
|Me, Julia (#121), Wayne, Allie (#120)|
We headed to the race, with Jinnette, Tony's wife taking photos. Wayne decided to run up front, Tony ran with Allie, and I ran with Julia. Julia grabbed me at a sprint, "We're gonna win! You're going too slow!" Less than 400 meters later, she panted, "I have a cramp! I have a cramp! Slow down!" Allie told her that you get cramps when you're having a baby (I think Allie was thinking of contractions.), and Julia and I began walking and we watched Tony and Allie and Wayne recede into the distance. Julia clutched my hand and I encouraged her to stretch out her cramp.
We ran again, hit a hill, walked up it. She complained walking up it, and I thought about how tough her Dad is, doing Badwater the past few years. I tried to encourage her to run as much as she could, to walk faster, told her how tough she was, cheered her up, showed her how to stretch out a cramp. She held my hand the entire time.
"I don't want to be in last place! I don't want to be in last place!"
We weren't, but when some older people were catching up as we climbed the final hill, Julia would tug my hand and we'd run faster.
At the finish line, she yelled, "I wanna be first!" She ran her heart out across the finish line while I clapped behind her.
Allie ended up being the first girl in their age group (and 4th overall! Wow!) and Julia was the second girl in their age group. I somehow ended up being 3rd in my age group (on account of it being a small race) and Wayne was 1st in his age group. Tony, Tony simply laughed at me.
It was great. Honestly, it was my slowest 5k ever - BUT the most rewarding. Running a 5k holding a little girl's hand? She's hilarious and fun and great-spirited. Sure, I could have run all out, placed, probably even won overall for the women. But what would I have gotten? A trophy. I think it's more important to give to other people, to give yourself, to help them. I had SO much fun and she ran her first race. It was pretty, it was hilly, and it was a sweet victory for all of us.