We may have picked our way ever so slowly through the actual race, but we totally won the race for parking! The other racers and even half of the set up crew had nothing on our 5:30AM arrival to the parking lot. With our start time near 9AM, and the first wave of some 50,000 participants starting close to 7AM, I was convinced there would be no remaining parking spaces if we did not arrive exceptionally early. I prepped the kids and our race accoutrements the night before and herded our party out the door before sunrise. Turns out, no one needs to arrive at that hour. After sampling several spaces we settled into one of the several thousand available spots.
On the bright side (which arguably did not truly exist at that hour), at least I came prepared for our multi-hour camping excursion in the car. We brought pillows, blankets, drinks, and some pre-loaded movies on my laptop. We parked outside of Panera and once they finally opened, went inside for a leisurely and hearty pre-race breakfast with plenty of time to digest before our start.
At 8 o’clock, we left the comfort of our home away from home and headed for the starting line. I instructed the kids to stretch a little, so as to avoid the various injuries I have previously demonstrated for them. Typically, their stretches are lackluster and halfhearted, but apparently stricken by the pre-race excitement, they became Olympic hopefuls spontaneously executing complicated warm up maneuvers with ease and grace.
I was mesmerized by Gabby’s newfound strength and coordination. Moments later, I was dumbfounded when my usually inflexible son launched into this:
After the race, I made Nathan repeat his yogi master pose for me and confirmed it was not an isolated fluke of nature occurrence.
Anyway, back to the race. Stunning warm up session concluded, we headed to the starting line.
With 30 minutes to go until our start, I handed each of them my pre-race secret weapon. Chocolate. I figured a small sugar high from the sweet stuff would help boost their energy and prime them for a bit more jog time. Unfortunately, I seem to have miscalculated the time required for my littlest munchkin to absorb and thoroughly expend my sure fire rocket fuel. She ran into a classmate while waiting in our starting wave and euphorically bounded about like a crazy kangaroo for the next 20 minutes, leading to a perfectly timed sugar crash just as the pistol sounded our start.
We jogged the first few inches. Realistically, we were packed into the street like sardines at the start so it was virtually impossible to do anything other than move as a unit with the walkers in front of us until the crowd thinned. The sun was hot, and the crowds made it hotter. Gabby was having none of it. Nathan and I tried to point out the amusing costumes and the singing Elvis, but diversional tactics were only marginally successful in affecting her demeanor. A half mile in, I asked her if we should drop out altogether, but surprisingly she said no. On a whim, I offered her an energy gummy from my fuel belt, and it proved to be the pivotal trigger needed to recharge her battery and dropkick the grumpy attitude to the curb.
After that first mile, my kids did great and enjoyed all the fanfare surrounding the race. This year, there was even an extra long trampoline for participants to bounce along as well as a full size above ground pool where runners could hastily submerge before rejoining the race. We passed on both of these attractions, but Nathan could not pass up on the infamous slip-n-slide.
We continued and my kids remained amicable and happy. I fed them energy chews periodically and made sure they drank plenty of water to help combat the heat and further grouchy episodes.
As we headed down Pearl Street, well into our 5th mile, we once again shifted into a faster pace. Whether it was from the knowledge that the finish line was not far in the distance or from the theme song from Chariots of Fire that spurred us onward, we’ll never know.
…Seriously, who doesn’t start to slow run when they hear that song? We moved onward to our grand finale in Folsom stadium. The cheering crowds spurred my offspring into high gear as they remembered their primary goal of finishing before their mother. Both kids sprinted around the final lap on the track and Nathan was first to cross the finish line.
Gabby was next to break into a full fledged sprint, but not before flashing a knowing smile at the cameraman.
I was forced into a run in order to retain possession of my children. Also, a giant beer can was threatening to finish before me.
We regrouped after crossing the finish, triumphant in our quest to make it into the stadium.
Nathan and Gabby did not hesitate to remind me of my promise to buy doughnuts after the race, and they were anxious to claim their just reward. We gathered our post race loot bag and wolfed down some pizza before heading back to our perfectly parked car. I also insisted on quick showers before driving for doughnuts as our collective odor, while proof positive of the day’s effort, was slightly less than appetizing. Five minutes from our home and finally en route to VooDoo Doughnuts in Denver, the undeniable true champion of the day was declared.