*Update: Our fiasco made the local newspaper! Read the article to see a picture of Chase finishing his race and me looking absolutely miserable (but for the record, I only look like I’m dying because I was screaming at Chase for the last 50 meters).
Quick background: About a month ago, the Chase Man told my mother-in-law, “Mom doesn’t love me as much as dad does.” Pretty self-explanatory.
In an effort to spend more time with my son and simultaneously prove to him that I do in fact love him, I’ve tried to come up with some stuff we can do together that won’t make me want to punch myself in the throat. In other words, I’d like to avoid playing with army men for three hours straight, and I’m not very into smashing mini NFL helmets into each other, either. In the world of a 5-year-old boy, this is entirely too limiting. So, I thought about things I already do that I could just
force him include him in, and I came up with gardening. As I write this, the gardening supplies are still stacked against the house, which is where I placed them three weeks ago. Then, it hit me! Chase never stops moving, and I love to run, so let’s just work out together! I took him with me to the track that I frequent, and after a few visits, he was all about running.
I decided that Chase’s competitive nature combined with his running ability would fare well in a little race, so a couple of weeks ago, I signed us up for a 1-mile fun run in a nearby town. JD and Little Miss (Sienna) came along to cheer for us, and the balmy morning’s weather could not have been more perfect. As we approached the starting line, Chase noticed that a lot of the kids running in the race were older than him, and I explained to him that this was just for fun. Deep down, I was already planning on tripping most of those brats as soon as we got out of the crowd’s view, so I wasn’t concerned about age being a factor.
The gun went off, and we started the race. All of the kids blasted off, and Chase tried to keep up, but I quickly reminded him that we had a full mile to run. Within just a few seconds, those same kids were walking and hobbling down the path. Some had completely quit. Chase and I trotted right past them, as I reassured him, “See, I told you they wouldn’t last long.” Soon, we reached a hill, and my little man pumped his arms, working that incline like nobody’s business. Then, it was the final roundabout. As we turned a corner, the finish line was in the distance, and JD was there with Little Miss, cheering us on. Chase’s momentum picked up, and suddenly his cruise control turned into a full-on sprint. The crowd was rooting for him, and as he crossed the finish, I saw that his official time was 9:30. Immediately, we were approached by the race official, who told us that Chase had won his age group! A few minutes later, they were announcing Chase’s name over a loudspeaker in front of a huge audience, and presenting him with a first place ribbon. People in the crowd high-fived him, and someone took his picture. It was freaking adorable, and I felt like a total badass.
The day had gone so perfectly, and Chase wanted to go enjoy some of the festivities they’d set up for after the race. There was a bounce house, and a face-painting station, so I took his ribbon, placed it in the little cell phone holder on the baby’s stroller, and didn’t think another thing about it. Which turned out to be a huge frigging problem when we got home and realized no one had the ribbon. ”Holy shit, what did you do?” was JD’s initial response. “What did I do?! I didn’t even have pockets! You know, I ran a race, too. I was practically exhausted when I put that ribbon in the stroller, so of course I didn’t notice that it was missing before we got in the car. This is basically your fault,” I replied. Then Chase walked up to us and said, “Did you guys find my ribbon?” ”Oh!” I slapped my head like I’d just remembered something. ”You know what? I bet it’s in the car!” I laughed as I grabbed my keys and wallet, and bolted out to the car. I snuck out of the driveway and headed off to find a new ribbon.
I wish this was the part of the story where I find the ribbon stuck between the front seats of the car, right next to a crushed can of week-old Red Bull. But, instead, this is the part where I tell you, dear Reader, that I drove around for two hours, going from party supply stores to sporting goods places, all to no avail.
I finally had to give up and head home. When I walked in, I told Chase that it wasn’t in the car (thank God little kids have no sense of time), and that I got a call from the people back at the race, that they’d found the ribbon and would be mailing it to us. In the meantime, I jumped onto Ebay and ordered a pack of ribbons so I could replace the one we’d lost. Chase wasn’t the only one who’d won an award that day; I was the proud recipient of the “Shittiest Mother Ever” trophy.
I’m not even going to waste much time on the fact that my mom came up with the idea of just sending me one of my old ribbons from my high school track days to replace the one we’d lost. This was a great idea, until I got it and saw that she’d actually taped back the corners of the ribbon to give it a point like the one Chase had gotten. And that it said “Girls’ Track” on it. And the year was 2004. And there was a female runner on it. Needless to say, we decided to just wait for the Ebay ones.
Then, this past weekend, I found my chance to redeem myself. There was a mile fun race happening on Saturday at a town just a few minutes away. This little race was actually part of a 5K race (3.1 miles), and would start as the same time as the 5K. JD and Little Miss would tag along. When we woke up that morning, the weather was perfect, and I knew this day was going to erase the trainwreck from the week before. The age group this time was for kids 14 and under, so I told Chase that this race was just for practice and that we weren’t going to wait around for the awards ceremony later. I also explained that it was perfectly okay to lose to a kid who had a beard, and to not lose any sleep over it. So, the plan was: Run the race, finish in about 10 minutes, walk to the car, head home. Easy Peasy.
The officials called everyone up to the starting line, and as the gun sounded the runners took off in a mass. Chase and I weaved our way through the crowd, working to the outside so as not to get split up in the pack. ”We are definitely in last place,” sighed Chase. ”Remember, this is just for practice. Maybe we can beat our time from last week; let’s make that our goal,” I said cheerfully. With that, Chase’s focus was on running a better time, and we pushed through the first hill.
Now, for all of you non-runners out there, typically during a 1-mile race that’s started at the same time as a 5K race, there will be signs about a half-mile into the run, indicating that the 5K runners should go one way, and the 1-milers should turn back and head to the finish line. After a good 5 minutes, there were no “turn around” or detour signs for the 1-milers, and that should have been a sign that something fishy was happening. But, I’m an idiot, and we kept going. Finally, there was a hydration station, where people hand out water to the runners. I asked one of the women at the station if we were going the right way for the 1-mile race and she assured me that we were. Let me inform you, Reader, that this woman was in fact, full of shit.
By the time we reached the next water station, I realized we had somehow ended up in the 5K race. At this point, there was no sense in turning back, because we’d end up running even more than if we just stuck out the race we’d started. I made the executive decision not to tell Chase what was going on, and as he exclaimed, “This is the longest race ever!” I just laughed uncomfortably and said, “What? You’re crazy! I like you, but you’re crazy! This is the same distance as last week’s race, Captain Crazy Ass!”
With only a half-mile to go, Chase started to hold his stomach. I did the math, and realized there was about a 98% chance that Chase was going to vomit everywhere, which meant there was a 100% chance that Child Protective Services would be called on me because there ain’t no way in Hell I’m carrying a puke-covered kid a half-mile…meaning his vomity ass was gonna’ have to walk the rest of the race.
Just when all hope of finishing the race seemed lost, a quick promise to take Chase anywhere and buy him anything he wanted gave him just the motivation he needed to finish strong. We reached the last leg of the race, and Chase took off sprinting as the crowd rooted him forward.
He crossed the line at 31:40 seconds. That means this little badass ran less than 11-minute miles for 3 miles. He was AMAZING.
Now, all this time, poor JD was stuck with Little Miss, just standing at the finish line, waiting for us to come by. After about 15 minutes, he assumed Chase had morphed into a limp noodle mid-race and refused to finish, so I must have been stuck dragging this kid along for the entirety of the 1-mile run. You and I, of course, know this was not the case, and I quickly informed him of that fact as well.
Remember, Reader, how I told Chase that we would just walk to the car after the race was over and head home, since there was no way we were going to win? Well, we didn’t win, so I’ll save you the suspense on that one. But, all of these people came up and told Chase that he was their inspiration, and was amazing, and that they couldn’t believe he made it through that whole race. Some guy told Chase that if you divided his race time by his age, or vice versa (I can’t really remember which, because I don’t know what the hell he was talking about), he would have technically won the entire race. Not sure if that’s true, but it sounded pretty legitimate.
A news reporter even came up and interviewed him, then took his picture! When the woman asked me why we weren’t wearing the traditional race numbers they give to all of the competitors, I explained to her that we weren’t supposed to be competing in the race, but had somehow gotten lost in the mix and ended up running the full 5K instead of the 1-mile. I followed that comment up with an assurance that I would never, ever force my child to run 3 miles, and that I would like to be quoted on that in the article as well.
When I explained the whole situation to JD, he was dumbfounded, but thankful that we hadn’t gotten a ribbon, which we certainly would have lost immediately. He was also somewhat relieved, I assume (though he did not say it), that I was alive and well, and that Chase did not turn into some lazy-ass brat five seconds into the race.
Oh, and as for those Ebay ribbons? They were in the mail, waiting for us when we got home from the race. The fact that they came in a pack of three ended up working out well, because I lied and told Chase he’d won first place at the race we’d just run, and that they’d mailed us that ribbon, too.