6 years ago the little small town where our cabin is started an annual race to honor the memory of a little girl, Carissa, who had passed away. Back then, I thought it would be fun to participate in but I was at my heaviest weight and not a runner. I also had no desire to wake up early to go for a run at 6000′ elevation.
But this year, when I saw the registration forms and information about the run start to appear on the Chamber of Commerce Facebook page, I decided that this year I needed to participate. I really try to protect our time up at our cabin because it is one of the few chunks of time where we can decompress and stop and relax, but I also enjoy trying to participate in the community events of our adopted small town once in a while. I am also already tired of trying to run in the heat or on a treadmill and going for a run outside was appealing. My kids have all been wanting to sign up for a race too, so this was a good opportunity to let them participate. I considered doing the 10K but, to be honest, I am not really in 10K shape right now. I decided to just do the 2 mile fun run with my kids.
The biggest downside of participating in this race is waking up at 5AM on my “vacation” to go. Dragging the kids out of bed was surprisingly easy and they each got up and got dressed in their running clothes really quickly. We had to register at the event since I had not committed to it early enough before they closed pre-registration. It was actually pretty chilly at 5:30AM and the girls wore their jackets. I knew I would heat up fast but it was still cool enough to make me get goose bumps – which is crazy to think just 2 hours south it was 50+ degrees warmer in Phoenix.
We got pretty nice swag bags with our registration filled with tons of small town crap. I think every business stapled some sort of gimmick-y candy or item to their business card to be included in the bag. We also got cotton race t-shirts, which were limited in sizes at this point, but still nice to get. They had 4 different neon colors available. Although this wasn’t a “timed” fun run, we did receive race bibs, just no timing chips.
The 10K race started right at 6AM. There were probably close to 100 runners for that, and 300+ for the fun run. One of the other traditions in this town is the annual “anvil firing” which I knew nothing about, but you can read about it here if you really want to. There were some spectators
that turned out just for that – it was cool, but not cool enough to wake up at 5:30 AM to go watch. It was extremely loud – it reminded us of the cannon blasts in the Hunger Games (which is a little freaky when one is running a race through the woods with a cannon sound going off). Anyway, about 5 minutes later, they started the fun run. Carissa’s mom, the mother of the girl the race was named for, stood in front of the starting line for a moment and said a few words to thank everyone for coming out to support the race in Carissa’s memory.
They fired another anvil (which is loud enough to make you jump!) and we were off. The course was 1 mile out, one mile back. I quickly realized the one mile out was up a mountain. Everyone, including my kids, started out really fast. I just hung back in my slow pace and eventually caught up with everyone walking because they couldn’t keep the pace up the hill. My kids run full speed then walk – as did many other little kids – and I kept nearly running into many of them as they quit to walk right in front of me. It was pretty tough, especially since I don’t run many hills and, especially, since I don’t run at 6600′ elevation very often. My only goal was to run the whole thing and not stop to walk. So I pressed on. The 1 mile marker had a small water station and we turned around then. I knew it was, literally, all downhill from there and the back half was really nice. My girls were still ahead of me, my son was trailing a bit behind me. I caught up with my older daughter but she continued ahead. Erin, the gymnast, crushed the race. I was really impressed, all the conditioning work she does ag gymnastics practice really showed. She has never run much further than the 600m at school, let alone a mile, but at the 1.5 mile mark she was still going strong. She finished the race probably 1/4 mile ahead of me. I ran hard for the last 1/10th mile or so and was pretty winded, and even a bit nauseous, when I finished. It felt good though and was happy I ran the whole thing (except for the turn around water station, which was a bit of a bottle-neck). I finished with an 11:14 average, which is about what I have been running lately (minus the hills and elevation).
We watched the crazy fast 10K winners come in – I think the winner was at 38 minutes. Across the middle school campus where the race was being held, they were setting up a pancake breakfast so we decided to wander over there for some food. We stood in line for a while and the town choir sang some patriotic songs and they raised the flag. We were able to eat pretty quickly since we had gotten in line early.
I had the most embarrassing thing happen after breakfast though. I can’t believe I’m publicly admitting to this but, what the hell. As we were walking back to the car, I went to get my car key out of my running shorts and it wasn’t there. Uh oh. I knew Paul had his key but he was about 10 miles away back at our cabin – and I had our only car. We had been back in the car since the race had ended to put some stuff away so I knew I didn’t lose the key on the race course. But we had walked all the way across and back through the middle school, which was a lot of ground. We went back over to the pancake breakfast area and asked if anyone had turned it in … nope. We looked under the tables where we had been eating … nope. We searched the path we had taken, over and over. I even went back to the car to make sure I hadn’t just left the key in there – although I did remember locking it back up. This is such a small, honest town, I knew if someone found it they would turn it in. Even Carissa’s mom and the race director were searching for it, because we were pretty much stuck without the car key. I finally called Paul to see if he had any ideas on how he could get his key to me. He was about to go talk to our cabin neighbor (who we don’t really know very well) to see if he could drive him down to the school. It was still pretty early though, and we hated to wake anyone up on a holiday weekend. Just when we had decided that was about our only option, I was patting down my shorts while I was talking on the phone and all of a sudden I felt something…hard…like down lower in my shorts. OMG. I started laughing so hard … Paul had no idea what was going on. I told him I found the key…it was IN my shorts – but I guess I had missed the little key pocket (which is up at my waist) the last time I put the key away and they key had slid into the liner between my shorts and my underwear…and had eventually traveled down my butt and was pretty much hanging out in the crotch. It was between two layers and the shorts aren’t super tight down there so I never even felt it! So, I called my kids over, still laughing and told them they could quit looking and that we could leave…but I was going to have to go hide behind something to dig the key out. Walking past Carissa’s mom and other race volunteers, they asked if we found it and I said ‘yep! thank you for looking’… and they did ask where…and I just sort of yelled back, ‘it was in a different pocket in my shorts!’ As you can imagine, my family did not let me forget about that one the rest of the weekend! Every time we were looking for anything the rest of the trip they would ask me if it was in my butt! Nice.