Yesterday Ethan and I were signed up to walk the Charleston Distance Walk's 10k. 6.2 miles with a killer hill in mile 3-4 we had dubbed "The Monster."
We woke up 5 a.m. groggy and freezing! A crisp fall-like morning was upon us. We dressed in the clothes we set aside the night before for the race and grabbed jackets that we could strip when we felt it had warmed up enough. I put moleskin on both of our feet and grabbed everything I thought we would need. Putting my contacts in was the last step before we headed out the door for the nearly hour drive to Charleston (and we were only about 10-15 minutes behind schedule!). I stopped at McDonald's for breakfast and coffee (which I didn't drink much of because I was afraid it would make me want to pee throughout the entire race! *lol*) and then headed south. I kept hoping the sun would come up before our 7:30 a.m. start!
We arrived at West Virginia's gold dome, parked, fed the meter (apparently we didn't need to! GRRR!) and went to pick up our race packets. It was still pitch dark outside, but we were excited to be going into the capitol building, which neither of us had ever been in.
Ethan in front of the big, heavy doors of the capitol building.
After picking up our 2 shirts and hat, as well as our numbers, we headed back to the car to finish prep and drop everything off.
A big glass chandelier in the inside of the dome.
Ethan with his hat, in front of the Governor's office.
I put the body glide stuff on both of us and we put our numbers on and headed to potty once more before the start. I barely made it to the start line and stretched for a minute when the cannon went off to start the race. It still took us a little time to get over the starting line as we were back behind most of the runners of the 5k.
We joked and laughed our way through the first mile. Turns out my race pace is much faster than Ethan's so I just slowed down a bit while pushing him just enough to keep up. I told him how important it was that we just weren't last and he tried to up his pace a bit. Still, I resigned myself to just finishing, even if my boy needed a little more time to do that than I did.
He was amused by the water stations and thought it was awesome that he could pitch his cup on the ground if he wanted (though they kept up pretty well with trash bins and trash pickers nearby). He was happy to see the mile 1 marker, but was frustrated with his headphones which wouldn't play his music over a whisper.
i pushed a little bit to keep pace with the people around us, but Ethan suddenly realized he hadn't stretched beforehand. His legs were really starting to feel it! I promised him that once we got to mile marker 2 I would stop and give him the chance to stretch out, and that's just what we did. I tried to let the fact that we were getting passed not affect me...but it did a little. I picked up the pace just after our stop to get back to where we had been before.
All first 3 miles were streets I had walked on lunch breaks over the past 4 months. They were streets I knew very well and I kept pointing out things to Ethan to keep him distracted. I knew he was starting to feel a bit tired already and I worried he wouldn't be able to finish. And then I reminded him that most people would soon be turning off and giving up, but that we were going to set off in a different direction and challenge The Monster. He loved the idea of a challenge and pushed through.
Miles 4 and 5:
It's hard for me to gauge when and where miles 4 and 5 stopped and started. Once we broke off from the 5k pack there were no mile markers or indications of how far we had gone (strike 1 for the race organizers, in my book! Those mile markers are SO important!!). I know there was one water stop where we actually had to refuse water because we'd been given so much already! My tummy was sloshing and it didn't feel very good. So I politely refused and we headed up The Monster.
461 feet. That's what the race course map's elevation chart told me we would have to tackle. And it was all very UPhill! I had to take just a couple tiny breaks to catch my breath, but suddenly Ethan was catching up and having to set his pace back for me! *lol*
Ethan overlooking the freeway below.
We're still in this!
Break 1 looking back at what we'd already done!
And looking up at how much we still had to do!
We reached the top and found the water station before entering the cemetery...and Ethan found a tree! *lol* He had to pee and there were no bathrooms or port-o-johns available along the 6.2 miles anywhere! He found his tree but I could tell he wasn't feeling too hot. (Apparently it wasn't just a pee...and apparently he chose the wrong leaf AGAIN! He likes to pick ferns to wipe with, and those don't feel so great on the bum! OMG - don't tell him I told you about this! *lol*) Still, we headed into a cemetery with a word of ...encouragement?... from the water station girls. It went something like this! "Just go down there. It's all downhill, until it's uphill again!" WTF? We thought we were done with the hill! (Boy, were we wrong!)
We went downhill for like a second before we found more hills. We guessed we were about at mile 4.
No, those aren't gang signs. He thought we should have a mile marker. *lol*
The cemetery was pretty with the morning sun coming over the hill. I tried to let that distract me from the climb, flat, climb more, flat, climb more, more, more of the trek.
I joked with Ethan that they put the cemetery on this course so that if people just keeled over from the climb, they wouldn't even have to take them anywhere to dispose of the bodies. Just dig a hole! *lol* We tried joking a lot for distraction and most times it actually worked.
Look! We beat it! We reached the top and are FINALLY headed downhill!!
Miles 5 and 6:
Still no mile markers. Most of this was back down The Monster. I jogged a bit to make up some time, but my right ankle was bugging me after all that uphill climbing. Still, I jogged because it was easier than trying to balance a walk downhill. We made it out of the cemetery and I started to realize there were only 2 people behind us. We tried to shake them but we couldn't. And these weren't just any two people. They were wearing jeans and tie-dyed shirts. They looked like they were out for a Sunday morning stroll and thought it would be fun to put a number on and follow a group struggling up the hill. It looked like they were having no trouble at all, and that irked the heck out of me as I struggled! I was reaching that point where I wanted the finish line...and Ethan was faring much worse. At one point down the hill I actually said, "OMG! I'm done." but we kept walking anyhow.
Ethan kept saying, "Mom, we can't turn back now. The only way out of this is forward." and he was right. So we kept going. I jogged when I could and we brought back some laughter and jokes by trying to shake the people behind us...and by chanting "really big cheeseburgers!" *lol* I had promised him on the way up The Monster that when it was all over I would take him to a good restaurant and we would both order huge cheeseburgers to celebrate finishing the race. (Don't get on me about cheeseburgers after a workout. I didn't care then and I don't care now. I've been basically avoiding the things for months but this day called for cheeseburgers and french fries...and the thought of that got us through the next 2.2 miles!)
As we headed down The Monster I pointed out the stadium where the finish line was. "Look! We're SOO close!" so we sped up and made it off the hill and around the corner, with 15 mile runners flanking us on either side, passing us up but cheering on my boy as we passed. The whole race people cheered for my son. Told him he was doing a great job. Told him he was awesome. And that felt better than any praise anyone could have given me! (I actually enjoyed them clapping for him instead of my pity claps I usually get!)
All we had to do now was walk straight and then head around the track to finish. I kept telling Ethan that as he slowed to almost a crawl. He was exhausted and I knew it. Once we got in the stadium I took his hand and pulled him ahead of me. "We've got this, baby. The finish is right around this corner!" Suddenly we were greeted by crowds of people cheering for the 15 mile finishers, who were distracted by my son...and they clapped for him and cheered for him, and suddenly his pace increased and I struggled just to keep up! *lol* (He did it all for the glory!!) I told him to look up and see that the finish line was right there. He was a little disappointed that it said 2:08.something, but I reminded him that we hadn't crossed the start right at second 1 and that we could still finish under 2:10 if we hurried. An we hurried and walked across the finish line together.
"We did it!" I told him...and he was tired, but proud. That was until he saw all of the 15-mile runners receiving a finisher's medal and he realized he wasn't going to get one. No one was there to welcome the walkers. No one seemed to care that we had done this amazing thing. And my wonderful son looked up at me and said, "Mom? Where's my medal?" And my heart broke. We were told to get off the track and while he cooled down in the water sprayer, I tried to reason myself away from that same thought that plagues me -- walking isn't all that amazing at all. Running is much harder. We suck!
But you know what? We deserve respect for what we just did! We deserve clapping and cheers and a finisher's medal. We paid for this race just like those runners did. We finished it. We put in the effort. We nearly tore holes in our feet walking up a 461 foot Monster of a hill. And that's what I plan on telling the race organizers when I call them on Tuesday. Because I want my son to have a medal for what he did. And that's that.
Finally, those really big cheeseburgers I had promised. We each only ate 1/2 of ours, had a couple onion rings and some fries and were stuffed. We headed home proud, but still a little angry (at least I was!).
But medal or no medal. Respect or no respect. This little boy deserves a huge amount of credit for what he did yesterday. While I had trained for this race for weeks and worked my way up to 5-mile walks, this boy used only what endurance he gained through football practices and games to make his way through 6.2 miles, a 461-foot climb up the Monster, a grueling jog back down, and a strong finish.
You guys tell me all the time how amazing I am for what I've done. But I have a secret to tell...I'm just trying to live up to the fire this boy and his brother put in my heart every day. I want them to be proud of their mom, and these races are a way for me to show them that I can put my mind to something and succeed...to show them that it's possible so they know that they can do it too.
I am only half as amazing as that boy is right there.
In other news: Weigh in today has me down another 2.2 pounds (to 356.2), for a total of 60 lost since April 18th!
EDIT: Official results for Ethan and I:
3091 Esther 29 F Sandyville WV 2:09:01.72
3092 Ethan 8 M Sandyville WV 2:09:01.20
There were two 70+ year olds behind us at 2:12. *lol* Ah-well, we weren't dead last at least.
EDIT 2: The response I got from the race director regarding the lack of finisher medals:
"I am sorry to report that due to money, we did not offer medals to walkers. This is an issue that I will be happy to take up at the next committee meeting on September 27 and I will be sure to mention your son's feelings. I hope other than the lack of finishing medals, you and your son had a great time. It is quite an accomplishment on the part of your 8 year old son."
So, there was enough money for the runners to get medals but not the walkers? Hrm...interesting. AND WRONG!