I've always said that I won't run a road race if there's a chance I'll be a straggler at the end because I know, I just know, that I'll get lost without a herd to follow.
Turns out that fear was warranted.
Rich found a 5K he wanted to run a few weekends ago and because an attempt by me at a 5K right now would be ludicrous, I said that the girls and I would hang out while he ran. Then Rich mentioned that the race was accepting walkers so I suggested the girls and I do that so we wouldn't have to just sit around. I spend most of my day sitting at work so I welcome physical activity when the opportunity arises.
Half of Team Mini looking excited and ready to go!
As we were waiting at the start, Rich pointed out that left back wheel of the jogging stroller was low. I'll take the glass is half empty stance and say that it was almost flat. So, yes, Anna was riding in the single jogging stroller, which is the only jogging stroller left, because she isn't able to walk 3.1 miles. I told her she could get out and walk whenever she wanted to though.
The race began and the girls and I took off with the other walkers. My first gripe was over the open race course (in other words, the roads weren't closed to traffic) and how we had to walk with the flow of traffic instead of against it. I had to pay constant attention to Emily and Allie and remind them that there were cars driving by us. I was fearful that one of them would forget and dart out into traffic and we weren't always able to be on a sidewalk. We mostly walked but did do some running.
Mile 1 - 16:16
Not too shabby.
The almost flat tire caused the stroller to constantly veer to the left which meant every 15 seconds or so, I had to correct its direction. Anna decided to walk for a few minutes so Allie and Emily were able to take a rest break. We made an attempt at two kids riding in the stroller and while they were still under the recommended weight limit, the bum tire wasn't happy and it made the stroller almost impossible to push.
Shortly after the first mile, we teamed up with a woman and her two little kids, who were in a double jogger. Now this is where I made my mistake. Rich had given me a copy of the race map beforehand. I had glanced at it and said, "Yeah, yeah. I'll look at it later." Why would one need a hand drawn race map? Shouldn't the course be obvious? One would think. I had the map stuffed into the back pocket of the stroller and it showed a big oval loop. There were also pieces of paper with arrows hanging up on telephone poles along the route but with a 10K that began before the 5K, how was one to know which color to follow? Is it yellow or is it blue? Did I miss some sort of announcement??
So we rounded a corner and a race volunteer was sitting there on his phone. I could see runners from the 10K making a loop back and turning down a street but I kept following yellow arrows (or was it the blue?) Either way, this other mom and I walked past where we were supposed to turn, even though I saw other walkers going that way. I thought that they were taking the short cut that Rich had repeatedly pointed out to me on the map. That was the only 90 degree turn that I remember seeing. The 5K route was supposed to be a big loop. So I thought that the group of walkers behind us had decided to walk a shorter distance and we kept on walking on what we thought was the 5K route, right past a water station packed with volunteers.
The map was technically useless on the country road we ended up on. Finally, after much too long, some guy pulled into his driveway (the first sign of life we had seen) and I asked him if he could show us where we were on the map. Yeah, we weren't on the map. Before kids, I prided myself on being so observant. Old Sarah never would have done that. She would have memorized the race course and been ticking off streets as she passed by them. Sarah Now was too busy worrying about traffic to pay attention to much else.
So we ended up turning around and making the correct turn. Thankfully, the weather was on our side. It was a brilliant day with no humidity, sunny but cool in the shade. We had water with us and the water station was still open when we finally made the correct turn. I did panic for about 30 seconds when I realized how far off course we were. Allie and especially Emily were tired. I had my phone with me, along with Rich's phone and the car keys. I told him that we would be finished in under an hour and I knew that he would worry if we weren't back before then.
It took us an hour and ten minutes to cover what I estimate to be 4 miles. And that wasn't an hour and ten minutes of leisurely strolling. That was walking and running and me telling Em and Allie to chop, chop and keep up with me. I think Team Mini may attempt another 5K but only if I know the route ahead of time.