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Run Wild and Wash Your Hands

Some years back, more than a decade of them in fact, I discovered a love for running. But I let it fall away and then I let myself put on a lot of weight. In January I started working out; after I’d lost a few pounds, and built up some stamina, I started running again. And convinced my two girls, Casey (24 years old) and Morgen (14), to do a 5k race with me at the Philadelphia Zoo. And then I set up about training for that race. My only goal?
Cross the finish line before my girls!
Things didn’t exactly go as planned. First of all, for the last weekend in April, it was unseasonably cold. Second, I got caught behind a incapacitated mini-van on the expressway literally within eyesight of the fricking zoo. Third, I had a large cup of coffee. Fourth, I forgot my damn earbuds.
I need music when I run – the sound of my labored breathing is demoralizing and distracting.
We line up, the three of us, shivering, and agree to meet at the finish line. The horn sounds and they dart out in front, taking off like cheeky little bats out of hell. I trudge along alone, missing my music, but certain the turtle will take the hares.
I passed Casey inside the first half mile. But near to a mile in, tragedy struck.
I had to pee!!!!  
Now I know serious runners, Olympic athletes and competitive marathoners for example, simply relieve themselves while running without missing a step. But I’m not hard core enough to piss my pants on a 3.1 mile run around the zoo and there was no way my bladder would wait for me to cross the finish line.
I ran off the course and into a restroom that, praise Jesus, wasn’t locked. And because it was cold struggled to get through the several layers of clothes I’d outfitted myself in. After I readjusted my clothing, washed my hands (hygiene is important, damn it) and rejoined the race assuming my children had passed me while I struggled with the lock on the stall door.
Just passed the 1.5 mile mark a woman fell in front of me. A woman that wouldn’t have been in front of me if I hadn’t had to pee when I did but I digress. A woman fell in front of me and she fell HARD. My options were 1) hurdle over her; 2) run around her; or 3) stop to help her. My mam raised me right and I stopped to help her up. Astonishingly, I was the only person who did though one guy did yell “You okay?” as he ran by. At this point, I figure I have no chance of catching up to my children and I’m just going to take the finish with grace and a sense of accomplishment for having finished at all. 
With only a ¼ mile to go (volunteers were set up at intervals shouting how far you had to go and offering encouragement), I see, at the top of a vicious hill by the cougar enclosure, CASEY. And she’s walking. Actually, she’s dicking with her phone possibly taking a picture of the big cats. And I think I’ve got a chance. I’m working hard to get up that hill and close the distance. But shit that was a hard hill to climb.
She glances back over her shoulder when I’m within a few yards of her. Shoots me a cocky grin and bolts. I crossed the finish 37 seconds behind her.
37 funky seconds. Damn my bladder.
She hugged me and laughed and told me I was a good person for stopping to help a stranger and how proud I should be of myself for what I accomplished. Then asked if I saw Morgen on the route. I hadn’t.
We waited, as agreed, at the finish. Thirteen minutes later, Morgen strolls over the finish line, happily chatting with an older woman. She saw me pass her only a quarter mile in and decided, since she knew she wouldn’t win, to just enjoy a nice walk through the zoo. We’re a family of fairly competitive people – Morgen’s lackadaisical view tends to baffle her sister and me.
The morning did not go as planned but we had a great time. We got brunch at a diner, went for much deserved mani-pedis, and were home before one.
Where I promptly took a nap.
My girls and I outside the finish line!


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