Welcome back to SOLO AT SIXTY!
“No matter how prepared you are, something can still go awry.” KLM
For the last 3 years, my kids and I have happily traveled to Chapel Hill in April to run the Tar Heel 4-Miler (there’s also the 10-miler and the 14-mile Double Down Challenge). We enjoy the race so much that while we are picking up our race packets, we go ahead and sign up to run it again the next year. Did so again this past weekend. It’s a fun race that starts at the iconic Bell Tower, winds its way through campus, a couple of lovely historic neighborhoods, back by The Bosh (baseball stadium), before returning to the Bell Tower.
We’ve established a couple of traditions – first is the pre-race dinner at Brixx. It’s close to our hotel, has great pizzas, and holds some special memories for my daughter and son from their time while they were at UNC. Second is turning in early – that 5:15 am wake-up call comes pretty quickly! We met in the lobby to head over to the race together and as we opened the hotel doors, we were met with rain. Not just rain, POURING rain. The first words out of my mouth as we walked outside were, “I am not running in this rain.” And my son-in-law, who trains for this every January-April (then doesn’t run again until the next January) said, “I hate 2 things: running, and running in the rain.” Yet he would never miss this race!
“Rain is just confetti from the sky.”
Driving to the race, we debated what to do and decided to wait it out. Being the “prepared Mom,” I had brought oversized clear trash bags to wear pre-race just in case it rained. My kids laughed at first but all took one! My older daughter, the only one of us running not only the 4-miler, but also the 10-miler (14-mile Double Downer) really wanted her 3 medals for running (plus one you get at the Spring Game!). So we parked in the parking garage behind our Football Tailgate spot, got out, stretched, and put on our trash bags. Since I am still only allowed to walk, I snagged the one true poncho. I looked around and shared my momma’s famous line: “Y’all, I think it is burning off.” This was met with major eye rolls. But guess what?! The rain slacked off as we walked to the starting line (in our fashionable trash bags), then stopped before the race started! And by the afternoon, before the Football Spring Game, the sun came out. Yep, it burned off alright!
“Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine.” Mario Fernandez
So, how did the race go? The one we all “planned” for over a year to run, and (kinda) trained for? My son-in-law, younger daughter, son, his sweet girlfriend, and I all finished the 4-miler happily. I walked it – which was a bit stressful as there was a 15 minute/mile time limit because of the start time for the 10-miler. Sounds simple right? But try it – you have to book it to walk a 15-minute mile. As I do when I run, I spotted someone up ahead at a pace to challenge me and tried to keep up with her. Was doing great until I spied someone I know from Charlottesville who had opened the new Purvelo on Franklin Street. She was cheering on the runners (and walkers) and ran out and hugged me, and I had to hustle to catch back up to my unsuspecting pacer. Hard to do when you can’t run.
“In the race of life, don’t waste your energy and time trying to compare with others. Sometimes you are ahead… Sometimes behind… The race is long and in the end it is only with yourself.”
So that leaves my oldest child, my first born, who is the real runner in our family. The one who goes out to run before the crack of dawn almost daily, and who ran 16 miles the previous weekend just to make sure she could do 14. We never doubted her. It was a foregone conclusion. Right? Well she rocked the 4-miler and was the 7th girl to cross the finish line and 1st in her age group. Then she started the 10-miler and when she ran by her cheering section (family) at the Old Well, my son-in-law mentioned she looked too warm. But she gave the thumbs up. Not to worry, this girl is tough. My son-in-law was tracking her on his phone (via her watch) and as she was coming down by the baseball stadium we all moved to our spot to cheer her on to the finish line and get pictures. As she came towards us, my son said “she looks like she is cramping.” Next thing we know my daughter was collapsing – her legs were wobbling out from under her and she was going down. Luckily a runner behind her realized it and caught her as my son-in-law sprinted to her side with the rest of us following. She was overheated and dehydrated. It was surreal and terrifying to see her like this. Never have I experienced such fear (except 3 weeks ago – later on that). Medics and EMS arrived and gave her oxygen and tried to cool her off. She kept saying she was so hot and wanted her shirt cut off (did not do) and her pants off (did not do that either) as well as her shoes (yep took them off). And she cried that she had not finished – she was only 30 seconds away. My younger daughter took her race bib and ran it across the finish line and collected her 3 medals (4-miler, 10-miler, double-downer) and with that, my older daughter still finished 1st in her age group, even losing those minutes collapsing. (note – the distance my younger daughter ran for her sister was actually the same distance my older daughter had to run from the 4-miler finish line to the 10-miler start, so we figured that counted.)
After my daughter was loaded into an ambulance, the rest of us walked to the ER and sat in the waiting room, nervously waiting. Finally, it was determined that nothing was broken when she went down, only a badly sprained wrist. And instead of IV’s, the doctor had her drinking water, and said if she could keep it down, she could leave. She did, and shakily came out to the waiting room cold, barefooted, looking for her shoes! My son had them for her. I had her new race hat, and my younger daughter had her medals. She had become overheated – was overdressed, the weather had warmed up, and she was pushing it hard running. Her body responded by shutting down. It was so scary. But she was ok.
“Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey.”
We loaded my daughter in the car and headed back to the hotel, another race in the books, one with more excitement than we wanted. After much needed showers, and a good rest for my daughter, we packed up, and headed back to campus for our last tradition, lunch at Top of the Hill (TOPO), our favorite spot. We lucked up on a table for 6 immediately. We were all famished and ready for our favorite seasonal blue/white beer (with blueberries), except for my older daughter, who was still feeling a bit queasy. We kept her drinking water. By the end of the day, after the Spring Game, she was finally hungry and back to herself, except for the wrist. I suggested they go back to TOPO for dinner, but instead they opted for Chick-fil-A on their way home. Even her voice was back to normal. So thankful.
“Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.” Brad Henry
Oh and what happened three weeks ago? It was Friday night and my younger daughter called me and said, “Mom are you still at work?” “No, why?” I asked nervously holding my breath… “I think I just totaled my car!” After finding out where she was, I grabbed my keys and anxiously raced to the popular intersection where her car was blocking traffic on a busy Friday night. She was ok, but her car was totaled. Luckily, the lady who had hit her was also ok. And the story ends well – my Subaru-loving daughter who had been looking at a new, bigger Subaru, ended up with one, just a bit earlier than planned, but it all worked out. Funny thing, she was without a car for the weekend since her rental car would not be available until Monday, so I drove her to her soccer game (she plays in a women’s soccer league) and picked her up. I have not been to a soccer field since my son graduated from high school 10 years ago and here I was driving my 31-year old! Brought back many memories.
“Life is what happens to you as you are busy making other plans.” John Lennon
Things don’t always go as we plan. Obviously. Life surprises us in both good, and not so good ways. We learn something from everything that happens in our lives. Could be “don’t take today or anyone for granted,” or “don’t drive through standing water.” (Blog: “Riders on the Storm” Sept 19, 2018) But there is always a lesson to be learned. My older daughter realized she is human, and vulnerable. We all realized that things we never thought would happen, might. Life can change in an instant. Even with lots of planning.
So never take anyone or anything for granted. We never know what surprises tomorrow, much less today, might bring. Spend as much time as you can with those you love, and learn to adapt to life’s surprises, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.
PS Can’t end without mentioning that this Sunday is Easter, a time of renewal with blessings of hope, love, and happiness. I get to be a Moravian again with all of my family and cannot wait. I hope y’all get to spend the day with loved ones as well. HOPPY EASTER!