November 7, 2013

Awesome 80's 5k Race Recap ('13)

My son, D, and I had the best time last weekend running in the 2nd annual Awesome 80's 5k.  I did this run solo last year, although last year I did the 10k (it was my first-ever 10k).  This year they did not offer the 10k option, only the 5k, which was fine with me.  The reason I did this race last year was for the medal. I'm not the type of runner who usually runs races for the actual medal at the end, but for this one I did--last year's was designed to look like a cassette tape. I had to have it!  This year was no different.  They announced a Darth Vader medal----and I immediately signed myself and my 9 year old. I knew it would be a fun race, as everyone dresses up, and I knew D would adore the medal (he loves Star Wars).

Last year my friend Ingrid and I dressed up in neon. This year I wanted to do something different, so after polling my friends on Facebook for costume ideas, I settled on the classic 80's preppy look.  D wore sweat pants and a polo shirt (collar up, of course), a sweatband around his head and a wristband on either wrist.  I wore my pink running skirt, and ordered a mint green polo shirt to go with it.  A mint green and pink argyle headband, pink argyle socks, and pearls completed my look. (Since we're playing golf now I know I'll wear my new polo shirt again).   I decided to go in character, and for the morning our new names were Chip and Buffy. 

Introducing "Buffy"
Like last year, the race started at 7 so we had to leave really early.  Ingrid picked me and D up at 5:30 and we easily got down to Fiesta Island and parked. We sat in the car until the last minute at it was very cold.  I had gone down to pick up my packet the day before, which was good because we didn't need to get our stuff and backtrack to the car to put the race shirts and goody bags away.  Finally we got out of the car. I let Daniel wear his jacket, as I knew he would be cold. I brought along one of those little backpacks I got at some half marathon. I never run with those things on, but I knew that once D warmed up he'd want to shed  the jacket....and since there was no gear check I had to act as his personal valet.  Ah, motherhood.

I saw my friend Andrea in the crowd and said hi, but unfortunately didn't get to see her again as he headed to the bathroom and had a really long wait (we opted to use an actual bathroom versus the port-a-potties, but they were cleaning the bathrooms so we had to wait).  By the time we were able to use the bathroom, we only had time for some quick pictures before the race started.

Sadly, my phone was broken (I accidentally dropped it in the washing  machine on Halloween) so I wasn't able to take pictures during the race.  But just like last year, there were people dressed up in the craziest 80's costumes.  Lots of neons, lots of Madonna wanna-bes.  I saw people dressed like Run DMC, Strawberry Shortcake, the Blues Brothers, the Ghostbusters Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man....very much like last year, but just as fun.  It was D's first time in this race, and he had a great time looking at the costumes.

The run itself wasn't that great. I was pretty much pain-free, but my son had stomach cramps that made us walk a lot more than we normally would.  I let him set the pace and walk when he needed.  I was so proud of him, he was a champ and sucked up the discomfort and finished strong.  At the end, he sprinted way ahead of me to cross the finish line. I trotted in behind him and was happy to see my friend Steve waiting at the finish.  D and I got our coveted Darth Vader medals.

A fun medal for any Star Wars fan

All in all, a very fun time. The best part of this race, for me, is seeing all the costumes. Along with the music, it brings me back to my teenage years.  Awesome!

November 1, 2013

Halloween Musings

Last night was one of the best Halloweens I've ever had.

I love Halloween so much.  I always have. There's something about the excitement in the air, the silliness, the fun.  I love the houses that go all-out and decorate.  I am always amazed by how creative people, children and adults alike, can be with their costumes.  I think handing out candy is so much fun, and it's even more fun going door-to-door with my children.  Back in my early 20's when I used to dabble in witchcraft, it was celebrated as the new year...and in truth, this time of year always seems like a new beginning with the holiday season upon us.

I also have had cause to celebrate on Halloween. In 1999, my husband, J, proposed to me on that night.  And on Halloween morning 2005, with my then-one-year-old son, D, at my side, I looked at pregnancy test stick and saw the "+" mark. I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, A, and excitedly (and somewhat fearfully) told D he was going to be a big brother.  Yes, Halloween has always been fun for me.

When I became a parent, Halloween took on new meaning. It wasn't about me, it was about my son. I recall those first few Halloweens with D....picking out his costume, taking him around a few houses.  Usually my husband would join us for a few houses and then return home to hand out candy while I did a few more with my baby, and in subsequent years, toddler.  The older he got, the more houses he would be able to go to (and the heavier his trick-or-treat bag would get!)  When A was born, we would take her out to a few houses and then J would take her home and hand out candy, again with me walking around with D.  I cherish those memories. I can still feel his little 2- and 3-year old hand in mine, hearing him exclaim over people's carved pumpkins on their doorsteps, his shyness in saying "trick-or-treat", coaxing him to go up to some particularly scary houses.  I remember one year when he was dressed like Spiderman. He must have been 4.  People would open their doors and say "hello, Spiderman!" and he would pout, "I'm not Spiderman, I'm D!"  Ah, out of the mouths of babes.

When D became 5, and was in kindergarten, he finally had friends in the neighborhood (before that, we didn't know anyone with kids his age around us; turns out, the street was crawling with kids!)  From that point on, every Halloween involved meeting up with a particular group of friends and running around the neighborhood. Typically J goes with him and that group, while I would do a few houses with A then return home to hand out candy.

I love to decorate for Halloween as well.  In my house, decorating doesn't mean making the house look spooky. It means dragging out my box of "decorations", the majority of which are artwork that my kids have done, mostly in school, over the years. I get so much pleasure hanging up their orange finger-painted pumpkins and other such artwork.

Which brings me to yesterday.

Yesterday started out good. I took the kids to school, and stayed for their costume parade (D was dressed like a ninja, and A was dressed like a cat).  The 4th and 5th grade students did a flash mob, so I got to see D dance with the group to Michael Jackson's "Thriller".  I then helped out with A's 1st grade Halloween party, then went up to D's 4th grade class to do the same. It was so fun!  I came home, did a quick 50 minute workout (biked on the trainer for 40 minutes, then ran for 10 minutes), showered, and had to leave to pick the kids up from school. I hurriedly threw laundry in the washing machine, and too late I realize I had accidentally tossed my phone in too.  By the time I realized it, it was already wet, and not turning on.

I spent all afternoon brooding. I was afraid to tell J, as we have had so many unexpected expenses this year (we had to replace our washing machine, air conditioner/furnace, and garage door opener, to name just a few) and I knew he would not be happy about this. When D saw how upset I was, he said some wise words: "Mama, it's just a phone." I realized he was right.  It was just a "thing" and it was just money.

This time last year, A had JUST gotten home from two weeks in the hospital, having broken her neck. She had the halo screwed to her head, and I pushed her in a wheelchair to a few houses, so that she would have a token trick-or-treat experience.  I recalled her first Halloween, in 2006 when she was just 4 months old, having spent the first 3 months of her life in the NICU.  She was not breathing well at all that night as I carried her to a few houses in her cute pea-in-a-pod costume, and in fact was a few days away from being back inpatient for month while she got a tracheomstomy.  Hey, just a few months ago I was dealing with my husband's stroke.  This Halloween, everyone was home, everyone was healthy, and that was the most important thing in the world.  There is no amount of money that can buy that.

I was also grateful that just this week, J had uploaded all my photos from my phone onto the computer, so I didn't lose them.  THAT would have been devastating.

So at trick-or-treat last night, I shook off my bad mood.  The kids dressed in their cute costumes, and off we went.  D went with my husband with his usual crowd of friends and hit in the neighborhood.  As for A? Well for the first time SHE had a group of friends to go around with too.  Like my son, she didn't have neighborhood friends until she started kindergarten last year.  Before that, all of her friends were from other sources (preschool, kids of my own friends, etc) and none were in our specific neighborhood. And although last year, in kindergarten, she had made some local friends, her neck break prevented her from really going out; as I wrote earlier, I just pushed her in her wheelchair (she was using a wheelchair at the time because of the halo on her head) for a few houses.  Last night, however, she joined up with four other friends and had the best time.

I felt so good, knowing that D was happy with his friends, A was happy with her friends, and that both had a nice group of parents that I trusted and felt comfortable with.  We were all healthy, we were all safe, and our family has come such a long way this past year.  It was the best Halloween ever, mostly due to being able to simply be grateful for what we have and not stressing about the rest.