A tribute to my Parents on their 50th Anniversary

Occasionally, something really big happens in my life that causes me to veer completely off track and prattle on about something entirely unrelated to my blog and my running efforts. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of my parents and I can think of no better reason to diverge from my typical fitness woes and use this platform to rave about the two folks responsible for my upbringing for a few minutes. While their big day is still a few weeks away, we celebrated last night at a fabulous party thrown my my sisters and me. This is the toast I gave in their honor.

 

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My parents being so adorable my eyes hurt.

I’m going to tell you a story about love. I wasn’t there for the beginning part, so any and all errors in the early history and sequence of events should be blamed instead on my parents, who were responsible for the retelling of events and who now after 50 years of marriage cannot wholly be trusted to produce accurate, reliable, or truthful information.

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Why hello there, Gene Witherup! Tinkering again I see—surprise, surprise!

This is my dad, Eugene “Gene” Witherup.

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That’s also him on the left, pictured with his brothers Tom, Ron, and Joe. Missing from the photo is their baby sister, Janice.

He was raised in a Catholic family and after high school went to St Mary’s Seminary with the intent to enter the priesthood. Had that worked out, I wouldn’t be here and this would have been an exceptionally short story. Fortunately for me and all of his descendants, he decided that wasn’t the path for him, and he graduated from St Mary’s with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. Afterwards, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in Business Administration, but needed to get a job first and complete a few pre-requisite classes in order to make that happen. He took a job working full time at Polk State School and Hospital for two years, which is where the magic happened.

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This is my mom, Marilyn Frellsen. Looking good Mom!

Mom was working there during her summers and they met during a work related Christmas party in 1964. Mom knew the son of the head of the school and he brought Dad over and introduced them. Now, in asking my parents for information about how they met and while talking about this party, they offered up that neither of them knew how to square dance. So, not only was this a party, but it was a square dancing party.

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OK, so this was taken MUUUCH later, but still during a square dancing phase of their marriage and I’m going with it (…that period of time makes much more sense now).

…While I wasn’t there at the time, I do know my dad, and I know that it usually takes something dramatic to coerce any sort of dance moves out of him. Dad was apparently smitten because he asked my mom to dance. A dance he didn’t know how to do. That speaks volumes right there. And my mother agreed. That also speaks volumes. So I don’t know what sort of moves they pulled off on the dance floor, but it didn’t matter because little heart shaped fireworks were obviously all either of them could see.

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Love is in the air!

So, the little love birds started dating and Dad pursued his master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, my headstrong mother obstinately insisted on pursuing her dream of becoming a physician, even though her parents tried to steer her toward a then more socially acceptable career as a nurse. She graduated from Grove City College and was accepted into the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. For anyone Pennsylvania challenged, this meant a long distance relationship with about a 6 to 8 hour drive between the two sweethearts, which could not have been easy for a young couple.

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Mom getting ready for exams at Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, now part of Drexel University. Don’t stress Mom, you’re going to be a great doctor someday!

This is a photo of my mother that recently surfaced on Facebook, taken sometime during her freshman or sophomore year at med school. To complicate matters, one month before entering med school, my mother was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. At the time there were no disposable syringes for insulin and she had to boil her glass syringe every week. Back then this diagnosis meant a life expectancy of 20 years. She was 22 or 23 in the photo, which means she was expected to live until about the age of 40. Let that sink in for a minute. …This had just happened folks, and they got engaged during that Freshman year anyway.

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Cheers!

They maintained their long distance relationship and my dad drove the 6 to 8 hours to Philadelphia to propose to his sweetheart anyway, and they got married on Aug 19, 1967.

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The beautiful couple on their big day!

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Dad on a boat, on their honeymoon…

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And Mom, who I believe is on the same boat, but I can’t really be sure.

I’m bringing this up for a reason.

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A selfie!

My parents did not know what life had in store for them and as a young couple in love, they faced a slew of tough decisions with a very uncertain future. And it wasn’t just an uncertain future, it was a future that had been condemned by the current medical data available at the time. They got married anyway.

They had not one, not two, not three, but four children, not knowing whether my mother would be around in 20 years to see their children off to college, or married, or to meet her grandchildren.

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My tribe, back when we could all fit on one couch.

This had to be difficult for both of my parents. Perhaps this is why my mother has chosen to lead a life where every opportunity for adventure and play is seized and savored. Whether exploring distant lands, zip-lining through the jungle, indoor sky-diving,

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It’s a bird!…It’s a plane!…It’s Super Mom!

or trying to learn the latest dance craze, she has taught all of her offspring to get off the sidelines and experience all you can while you can, because you can. Dad, who tended to be weighed down by things like common sense and rational thought, and a defibrillator, would often roll his eyes and offer up a “good grief.”

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Ummm, good grief.

But for all those exclamations of “good grief,” he has embraced many phenomenal excursions and experiences just the same, typically with the entire family cheering both of them on.

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Dad, praying he can somehow escape a water entry at XPLOR, Cancun.

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A Machu Picchu selfie!

Fortunately, they persevered and now here we are:  50. Years. Later.

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You made it! And you’re still going strong!

So what do you get when you combine two brilliant minds, one with a penchant for medicine, the other for tinkering with radios, electronics, and computers, with the right amount of love, compassion, humor, tenacity, and drive? They got us: four strong, extraordinary women.

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…IS SHE DONE TALKING YET?

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OK, we’re awake! I see four incredible female powerhouses plus one honorary fiesty little female powerhouse in training (my niece, Madeline, is on the right)!

For starters, Margaret.

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What a cutie!

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#Mag4POTUS2020

Mag is a successful environmental and health care lawyer, a member of the Board of Directors for the Chesapeake chapter of Habitat for Humanity, President of Professional Women in Building Council of Maryland, and a self made scout leader for both her son’s and daughter’s troops. And to round things out, she dabbles in the occasional community musical theater.

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Mag, in her infamous role as a singing couch.

My parents could have stopped there, because they really hit a home run with her, but they kept going so I’m going to keep going.

Next came me.

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But I’ll come back to me.

Kristiann.

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Kristiann also has a flare for the dramatic.

Kristiann is a compassionate social worker who has dedicated her life to helping persons with mental illness.

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Kristiann and one of her babies, Jasper.

She is a dependable part time animal rescuer, and a newly anointed political activist who recently created a local group to support and protect human rights and equality, and her group membership is up from 1 to now approaching 70 people.

Jennine.

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Jennine was an exceptionally serious child.

Jennine is an engineer for Lockheed Martin, a bona fide rocket scientist who has travelled the planet making defense systems that are classified, which works out perfectly because I wouldn’t be able to explain them even if I had blueprints and bar graphs splayed out in front of me to help.

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She’s super smart. I know, I know. I find it hard to believe as well.

Dad, that electronic toy loader thing you gave her as a child totally paid off. She’s a freaking rocket scientist. For real.

And then there is me: Laurilyn.

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Mag called me “Fang Face” for years after a game of catch went very, very wrong.

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Sooooo glad my teeth came back.

I am an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist. I’ve dedicated my life to helping others heal from injury and illness. I’m a part-time writer, author of now two books. I’m a wannabe runner and athletic enthusiast.

We, along with their grandchildren,

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each with enormous potential and brilliant futures in front of them, are my parents’ legacy.  Some say Dad was outnumbered in a house full of girls, but I believe he’s always been a feminist of sorts because he chose Mom: a strong, fearless female who was never one to back down from a challenge or an adventure. And she chose him.

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He has only suffered a few minor tics.

And both of them have always been our most adamant supporters.

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Smooch!

So I raise my glass, and thank God that my parents made each and every one of the decisions they did (except for making me eat lima beans, I didn’t learn anything from that) and I also thank God for the medical advancements that have allowed both of their continued presence in our lives. Cheers to them and 50 wonderful years!

BB10K 2017: Asthma Schmasthma and the rest of us.

Last year’s Bolder Boulder with the kids inadvertently ignited a small running candle inside my previously couch inclined husband. Miraculously and without coercion, he has engaged in regular runs with gradually increasing distance over the last year, apparently in anticipation of his shining moment of glory in this year’s “best 10K on earth.” …Ironic that this newfound healthy habit just happened to coincide with my running hiatus due to injury, and subsequent laziness in recovering from injury, but I digress. He has asthma, so he would be a natural running partner for me if only I could keep him from his inhalers. He vigorously sucks back the magical lung expansion treatments before jauntily producing runs with times I can only dream about.

Today was no different. He had qualified for a start time several hours before the rest of us, so once again we headed down to the race at an exceptionally early hour for a holiday.

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Piled in car at 6:15am for the Memorial Day BB10K 2017! Nathan’s friend, Evelynn is doing her best to prevent any identifiable feature from being in the photo. Gabby is, well, being Gabby.

Nathan had decided to run somewhere in the middle of the race with a friend, Evelynn, while Gabby and I would represent Team Bailey at the back of the race. Lungs expanded to what I can only assume are potentially illegal levels, we walked Dave down to the starting line and wished him luck and retreated to play games on the phone in the car.

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Who’s ready for a race?!?

Dave finished his race before we even left the car for our starting line. He was like one of those balloon race cars, sponsored by Advair, sailing through to the finish in just over an hour.

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That’s his lungs, people. On Advair. Oh, never mind.

He was amazing, and this family has never been one to let a little affliction get in the way of life goals!

Nathan and Evelynn were next to depart. Gabby and I dropped them off in their starting wave and snapped a few obligatory pictures, wanting to record the moment in case we never found them again, what with record breaking crowds and all.

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Left: has trained for half marathon. Right: jumped on trampoline for 3.5 hours yesterday.

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“Pretend to run!” …Seriously, I don’t know how you two finished before me.

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“Jump!” …Just in case you can’t figure out the running thing, just start jumping. You’ll be fine.

They are exceptionally capable teenagers, but the sheer crowd size of 100,000 makes it unnerving for a mom to let them fend for themselves.

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I know you’ve got this buddy. Taken yesterday, by the way. 

I grew a couple extra gray hairs and let them go.  My cat, Gabby, cheered me up with a couple of pre race pictures, and we found our position at the starting line.

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Cool cat and her momma.

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A salute and a dab with a whack to the chest.

After a few minutes, we took off! We jogged a bit here and a bit there, but mostly walked. Gabby was a terrific, non-complaining type of cat and we got along great! She only asked a few times if we were done yet, and she mostly dreamed about the promise of post race celebratory donuts.

We passed this guy:

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Party hat kid. While a wonderfully conceived concept, all hats went flying willy nilly upon the first jostle. Still, hats off for creativity!

And we passed the highest point:

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That hill gets me every time. 

And we plucked our way across the finish line. Well, I plucked and Gabby sprinted into cheetah mode upon entry into the stadium, where her throngs of fans leaned over to high five her as she zig-zagged around human obstacles and emphatically crossed the finish line waaay ahead of me. Well played, little kitty. Well played.

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Whew! We made it! Hooray!!

 

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The “single file” line for post race snack bags. This picture smelled as good as it looks.

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That’s a lot of snacks! And we were near the end of the herd! 

Bound and Rebound

They say once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget the skill. Running is like that too. Unless you have a cardiac history and previously birthed 2 children and you’ve stopped running for, say, 10 months, then there is no hope. In that case it’s like trying to learn a newly discovered tribal dialect that’s all clicks and grunts. While you’re deaf. And blind. All by yourself. In the arctic tundra, because it’s winter and you picked a fine time to start learning a new language.

And so, here I sit feeling deaf and blind, and both physically and mentally subpar to my human counterparts who are able to run without effort or forethought. My dear non-running husband, sensing my weakness no doubt, has stepped up his running game to weekly efforts, tackling increased mileage and speeds I can only dream about. I am unsure if I will ever be able to run again, and not at all sure that I even want to try. My mind has been at war with my body for months anticipating the inevitable defeat any actual attempt to run will bring.  My new normal is to get dressed in my running pants, headband and all, and sit around not even thinking about running anymore until it’s time to get ready for work. Initially I was sidelined by injury and illness, as is typically the case, but lately it is the lack of inertia and mental stamina that continue to keep me sidelined. Also, if I press real hard on my hip I can still make it hurt, so is it REALLY healed? Nope. Nuh uh. No.

Enter the trampoline. Santa brought my kids one for Christmas and I recently hopped on board and gave it a whirl. It was the literal kick in the rear my psyche and posterior required and the fog was jostled from my brain. I was suddenly both buoyant and brilliant! I quickly discovered low impact circular running and I’m pretty sure this will take off.

I had found in trampolining the sure fire transition I need to help restore my faith in my running career. And I fondly recalled my high school days as a cheerleader.

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Whee! …The camera angle helps. And if it makes you feel any better, I was sore for 3 days after this maneuver. 

And then I pulled out the donkey kick:

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A move usually reserved for accomplished trampoline masters. 

The trampoline proved to be a worthy adversary and, truth be told, it was not long before I suffered the consequences of my 10 month hiatus and high altitude activity.

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I’m OK. Just looking at my socks.

Though timid at first, it wasn’t long before I regained full mastery of the underrated seat drop.

Obviously, if there were an Olympic seat drop competition, I’d be a contender. My son, Nathan, decided to offer up some friendly competition.

And just like that my exercise routine is on the rebound. With the trampoline, I rediscovered laughter within exercise and remembered that at least some of the time, it should be fun and not just funny. Inspired, I headed out for a walk yesterday bundled up in my winter coat, a scarf and jeans. I did not try to run, did not pretend to be running, and didn’t even bother to dust off my running clothes. I just enjoyed the pleasant day and some quite time with my bubble gum.

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Mom-Walker here.

 

 

Adding Insult to Injury: Flat Pancakes.

Blah. The last 4 months have not been kind to my efforts to become the next greatest thing in the world of running. I’m still nursing a sore hip after an elegant and eloquent tumble down the stairs that I already mentioned here.

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My nasty bruise on a ginormous photo of my hip. I feel really great about posting this picture here. Also, that other thing is either a mole or a small planet around which my bruise is orbiting.

Additionally, I abandoned the gym and heavy weight lifting after a year of battling shoulder and back strains. Frustrated, I went back to my basics. Chocolate and wine. And after resting and munching my way through 20 lbs., I went back to my other basics. Jillian and her ripped in 30 days broken promises grated on my nerves though, so I briefly branched out into the Iron Strength for Runners DVD.

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Stronger, faster, injury-free running?!? YES, YES, and YES, PLEASE!!!

Unfortunately, thanks to its plyometrics, after a week I was left with a swollen and angry knee that could barely make it to a right angle. My knee is slowly on the mend but is not ready to run yet, and I even had to give up my lengthy walks in favor of sleeping in. Well, that could probably be argued, but MAN, I needed sleep. I’ve had minimal energy in the last 6 months or so, and found myself sneaking in “recovery naps” after my previously energizing walk/jog sessions. I also turned 45 this week and chalked my lack of energy up to age as well as probable further deterioration of my cardiac function. Turns out my thyroid is once again out of whack, explaining my current sub zero metabolism, my penchant for weight gain, and my lethargic attitude. True, my cardiac function could still be contributing, but it is a relief to discover an alternative component that can be easily remedied.

In honor of my 45th birthday, I treated myself to my first mammogram.

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Yippee!! Do I know how to party, or what?!?

Technically, I had one shortly after my son was born, but my “suspicious lump” was indiscernible within my then massive milk field. Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing more than a clogged milk duct. Since then, I’ve successfully averted all other attempts by my doctor over the last five years to schedule the test, but finally succumbed to the pressure (Literally. HA!). I haven’t intentionally avoided the procedure, I just figured logistically I’m not equipped with much opportunity for lumps to hide. Also, I tend to be overloaded with tests and visits related to my challenged cardiac function, so other systems tend to fall to the wayside.

The medical intake form was mostly straightforward with questions about cancer and any signs or symptoms I was experiencing, all of which were negative. They really should have rephrased the question, however, when they asked if I had any complaints with my breasts. I thought about asking for another page to expand upon my lengthy list of grievances but settled on “they’ve become sad, droopy pancakes,” and handed my synopsis over to my technician.

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It’s like looking in a mirror.

She was pleasant yet still serious and goal oriented as she led me back to the imaging room. I donned the medical gown as directed and wondered if she actually thought I could be hiding something in my modest, broken-down bosom. I stared and the Xray machine and silently questioned whether I would have sufficient hoist-able material to image on the tray before me, but my technician was undaunted. She expertly commanded my pancakes forward only to be further flattened by the apparatus. My defibrillator briefly presented a challenging obstacle course of sorts, but eventually my technician was able to navigate around the chunky device. It didn’t erroneously misfire and to the best of my knowledge it remains adequately connected to my heart, so I consider the whole ordeal a success. But any remaining perky-prone part of my meager bust was undoubtably obliterated during this procedure, as if to reinforce and commend the havoc wrought from breast-feeding and punctuate the laws of gravity.

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Gabby’s latest drawing of me. She sees how it is.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no comparable imaging procedure for the male counterparts. Any man still reading this far into my blog is absolutely cringing at the thought. Surely an improved imaging technique could be devised in this technologically advanced day and age?!? As none has been invented yet and it remains the gold standard for early breast cancer detection, I will continue my rendezvous with this bust busting, chest compressing device on an annual (or at least semi-annual) basis.

Fortunately, my mammogram was completely normal (Hooray! …No one likes lumpy pancakes!). The lab work that was done simultaneously, however, revealed my wayward thyroid function. Now with my meds adjusted, I optimistically await new, surging levels of energy that will allow me to resume my musings in the running world. In the meantime, I’ve embraced yet another DVD set in the hopes of improving my flexibility and core strength: PiYo.

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PiYo. Not to be confused with “Pie!! …YO!”

It’s a combination of Pilates and Yoga and there are a dozen or so workouts included in the series of discs. The instructor, Chalene Johnson, is actually encouraging and positive, which is new. She doesn’t yell at me like Jillian used to do. Not that I mean to dis Jillian. We’ve been through a lot together, and she has earned a special place in my heart. But Jillian is more of a tough love, drill sergeant kind of coach and the change is nice, at least for now. As for the workouts, I suck. I’m an inflexible idiot frantically trying in vain to keep up and swing my leg into a standing split while my children and husband gaze on in confused horror, unable to identify what exactly I’m doing, certain I should not be doing it.

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Even the cat is concerned.

But I’m getting better and I haven’t managed to injure myself further as of yet, so there’s that. Then again, the journey has just begun…

 

Bolder Boulder 2016: Mom vs. Kids

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.

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Note the abundance of cars we had to wrestle for a parking spot.

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.

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Gabby: easy peasy jumping lunges.

I was mesmerized by Gabby’s newfound strength and coordination. Moments later, I was dumbfounded when my usually inflexible son launched into this:

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OK. Not exactly this. THIS was after the fact, and all I managed to capture at that moment as I scrambled to reactivate my camera.

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.

 

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Go Time!

 

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.

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THERE’s my girl. Back in the race with cartwheels!

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.

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Strategic sideways approach to the muddy mud pit.

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Double thumbs up! That’s for the slip-n-slide AND the rocker dude in the background.

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.

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4 miles of peaceful sibling camaraderie. I’ve already won.

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.

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The fastest way to finish is through levitation!

Gabby was next to break into a full fledged sprint, but not before flashing a knowing smile at the cameraman.

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“Yeah. I’m adorable. Eat my dust, Mom.”

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“Catch me if you can, Mom. It’s like I’ve trained my whole life for this.”

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.

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Last of Team Bailey to finish.  Not today, Beer Can Man. Not today.

We regrouped after crossing the finish, triumphant in our quest to make it into the stadium.

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Hooray for Team Bailey! …Now get us our doughnuts, Mom.

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.

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Official BB10K 2016 Winner:  Mom!

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Happy boy with his consolation prize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bolder Boulder Baileys

Obviously I cannot be trusted. I said I wouldn’t, but here I am registered once again for this year’s Bolder Boulder 10K. It happened a few weeks ago when my kids were asking if we could partake in our annual tradition of munching on doughnuts while watching the televised version of the Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day. My husband is usually the one they ask, knowing full well he is hardwired to wholeheartedly embrace the rally cry for doughnuts on this occasion. This year, however, Daddy will be conducting research and sipping hot cocoa in northern Alaska (probably with a doughnut, if he can find one), far, far away from the race day festivities. So, the kids were forced to present their case to Mom. Faced with their best wide-eyed, sugar deprived and truly starving melodramatic pleas, I dug in my heels and announced that this year will be different. This year, doughnuts must be earned! I bargained a trip to VooDoo Doughnuts in Denver in exchange for their successful completion of the Memorial day race.

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The quintessential destination for delectable Denver doughnuts. Hold onto those memories, kiddos: this picture is from last year. You’ll need to earn your sweets!

Nathan was easily persuaded to claim his spot in the famous 10K. He has been running intermittently with both me and Dave, and he could probably run the whole thing without too much effort. Gabby was a slightly harder sell. She has a 5K behind her belt, but routinely feigns exhaustion during the 2 mile loop around our neighborhood. She initially abandoned the quest for doughnuts altogether, but eventually conceded and agreed to the race after a bit of tantalizing doughnut imagery by her very hungry big brother.

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Mmmmm. Doughnuts.

With both kids committed to the race, I secured our registrations in the walking/jogging category. Then we embarked on our (albeit meager) training plan.  Obviously, times are irrelevant and we are just in it to finish. Still, I wanted Gabby’s little legs to be used to the distance in the hopes of averting a meltdown at the halfway point. As family-friendly as the Bolder Boulder is with all its hoopla and entertainment along the entire route, I’ve witnessed many a child in full tantrum mode around the 4th mile mark, and I’d prefer to avoid any such public proclamations of child abuse. Two weeks ago, we managed one 4 mile walk without any major incidents. Last weekend’s effort was more noteworthy.  We increased our mileage to 5 miles, and Gabby magnificently melted shortly before finishing the first mile. Once she realized my intended route, there were tears, arguments, and a prompt refusal to move. She sat down on the dirt trail, arms folded and pouty lower lip thrust outward at me in resolute defiance. To her brother’s horror she swore off doughnuts altogether, along with the race. Delirium from training in a high alpine environment took hold and she complained of hunger and thirst, oblivious to the pre-walk snack she had consumed not more than 10 minutes prior. Had we been running, I’d have plopped down beside her and echoed her cries for mercy. I offered up a hug and my “welcome to the club” fist-bump of solidarity, knowing she was my child.  I prattled on with some helpful advice about our picture worthy surroundings and how at least she didn’t need a bathroom, but I’m fairly certain it was her brother’s empathetic doughnut depiction that finally spurred her onward. It was a grand display and with a resigned and hopeless demeanor she eventually resumed her “quality time with Mom and Nathan” walk.

She remained in this state until 2.5 miles when an adorably small, 2 or 3 month old golden lab puppy came tearing down the trail at breakneck speed. His eyes were huge with excitement and he was undeniably thrilled to have found us, his long-lost best friends who he’s never met.  His owner was frantically trailing some distance behind him, shouting futile attempts to retrieve his pooch and apologies for the off leash time. Meanwhile the joyful creature misjudged the time required to stop and crashed head first into Nathan’s legs, dissolving into a wiggly mass of wagging tail and tongue, slathering my son with sloppy wet puppy kisses. The puppy then noticed Gabby and myself and hurriedly wiggled his way over to spread the love, leaving no spot unlicked.  While I did not manage to capture a photo or a video of the incident, I did film a slow-mo of Gabby’s reenactment.

Gabby found this haphazard encounter both hilarious and uplifting, and with her jovial demeanor restored, she proceeded to recount it incessantly throughout the remainder of our hike (Exhibit A. Her prompt restoration to a happy, care-free 7 year old for the remainder of our trek offers irrefutable evidence as to why we should get a puppy).

While we were eventually successful in completing the planned 5 mile distance, the entire excursion lasted over 2 hours. That included pouty meltdown time, puppy petting, and some playground reward time for happy Gabby.

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Tired? Who’s tired?

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Perhaps I should have signed them up for an obstacle course race.

To be fair, there was also a bit of generalized laziness and lack of inertia. If it takes that long for us to finish the 10K, we will not make it into the stadium at the end of the race and we will find ourselves barred from the finish line.

This morning, Nathan decided to exercise his developing skills as a teenager and could not be pried from his bed to accompany Gabby and I on our final training session. I let this slide because, teenagers, and because he’s not the one I’m worried about finishing. I settled on a girls’ only day and set out with Gabby equipped with a small water bottle, tunes, and tissues. Gabby was full of positive energy and started out strong, joking about her guaranteed success today. She enthusiastically made it to the end of the driveway before she had to pause for a drink.

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Better make sure the water bottle works.

Gabby remained perfectly positive as she slugged back her water like a pro, each time noting how refreshing the water felt. She happily jogged and walked intermittently as we started around our neighborhood lake and entered into our 2nd mile. The wind picked up slightly and she asked me for a tissue. I smiled and reluctantly passed her one of my treasured stash, unable to refuse my adorable mini-me.

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Like mother, like daughter.

I realized quickly I had not planned appropriately in terms of tissue reserve for both of us, and it was likely to get messy in another 3 or 4 miles. Gabby also continued to cheerfully chug her water bottle every few feet making me fret she would be completely out by the time she was starting to feel the heat of the day. I warned her to slow down her water usage and we adopted a policy of extreme tissue preservation and rationing throughout the remainder of our route.

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Twinsies.

My cautionary tales fell on deaf ears and by mile 4, Gabby’s water supply was spent and suddenly the remaining distance could have just as easily been the Sahara.

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So. Far. Must. Rest.

Did I mention my daughter is somewhat theatrical? Though she required a little more prompting and encouragement for the last 2 miles, she still managed to spring to life and dash ahead of me on occasion as well as periodically throw in a few cartwheels. Because cartwheels!

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5.5 mile level of exhaustion.

All said and done, we finished in well under 2 hours and I no longer fear being unable to finish with my kiddos next weekend. In all likelihood, both kids will be overcome with race day exuberance and I will struggle just to keep up with them throughout the event. In any case, we are as ready as ever and there is nothing to do now but rest up and tackle the distance the best we can next week! See you at the start!