Sunday, June 14, 2009
The Walkathon was awesome. It was really an amazing and uplifting experience for us all, and definitely worth the price of admission.
The "fun" started on Friday night, when Grandma decided that she was going to win the "most spirit" contest. A thorough trip to the dollar store and to the party store lead us to decorations for the banner, water bottles with "Team The Boy" on them, and a few pom-poms. Some irritation was passing back and forth in Musical Daddy's household, but I spent the night doing math work and was thus spared most of the irritation. (My observation of, "If you use a long pole to attach to the banner, then how are you going to get it into the car?" was met with outright hostility. Looking back, it's kind of funny.)
The morning dawned overcast, and we were all up at 6:40. We had breakfast, loaded the cars (two cars to bring all of us up), and left at 8:12 - about ten minutes later than expected. Parking was an absolute nightmare, so we just parked on Lakeside Drive, on what we thought was the far end of the park. Turns out, it was the perfect spot! We went to the registration table, and I waited about a half hour on line to get my number. It was well-organized, except for the approximately 250 walk-up runners that showed up for the day. That gummed up the works, but - whatever.
After I got through the line, I changed into my Valerie Fund shirt and had an interview with the weather man from CBS, which was a big sponsor of the event. Cool thing: several people said they saw me on TV! I'm a star. The Wife was supposed to do that talking, but I did it; one of my students works at the station with the weather guy, so that was our contact. The Boy was quite cute.
Anyway, they had lots of tents with coffee, water, soda, pizza, hot dogs, face painting, banner painting, etc. It was really cool. After the interview, it was about 9:20, and the run was delayed until 9:45 to accommodate the extra runners. I recaffinated myself - I was pretty well vibrating from the large cup of coffee I was drinking mixed with the adrenaline of the race, and I wanted to keep that. We got to the starting point, waited another five minutes, and we were off!
My cousins J & K were running, and The Wife's cousin M ran as well. It was awesome. Verona Park is a nice run, and there were a LOT of people running. I got passed pretty roundly during the first mile, as I expected. What I didn't expect was the number of people that I passed at the same time! I concentrated on maintaining my pace and ignoring the people around me who were going faster. The competitive part of me wanted to try to keep up, but the experienced part of me realized that I wasn't going to run 5K in 20 minutes or less.
I wound up running 30 minutes, finishing in the top third-ish of people. When I finished, I caught up with the family, changed my clothes, and chatted with the later arrivals. This was the point where it started to rain.
Over the next hour, before the walk started, the rain got progressively harder. The Boy was having a nice time, walking around and being a major focus of attention by a lot of people. There was a great turnout for this - we won a trophy for "Most Team Members." We were supposed to be one of the ribbon cutters, but there were so many walkers - almost 1,500!!!!!! - that we couldn't find the start in time. The walk got going, and we lost a good chunk of the team for a little while.
The Boy was absolutely asleep at this point, which was cute. except for the pouring rain. We made it a quarter way around the course, and decided that that was enough for The Boy. Frankly, I was getting a little overstimulated as well - LOTS of people, LOTS of noise, LOTS of stuff and tired (emotionally and physically) from the run is a bad combination for me. So, The Boy, Grandma, and I left and went to Grandpa's house to dry off. I showered, we played, and he fell asleep again.
They finished the walk, had the quick awards ceremony, and we all headed back south. the rest of the day was kind of a blur - we all slept about three or four hours, as the whole event was emotionally overwhelming. So many people came out to show their support for us - over 40 in our team!!! So many people came out to show their support for the Valerie Fund - 1,500 walkers and 500 runners, FAR more than they expected.
In a way, I felt like we were at our wedding. What I mean is, so many friends and family came out with us, and I feel like I didn't get to spend time with any of them. I feel kind of bad about that, because I love our friends and family, and we wanted to show our appreciation. I think they understood. I mean, no one could fault me for taking The Boy out of the rain.
It was a great day, and we had a lot of fun. This was a great weekend, and I hope we follow it with a non-hospital week!