The Treasure Valley YMCA Christmas run is one of my favorite holiday traditions. It is held annually the last Saturday before Christmas, and it heralds the nearing end of the holiday madness. Many of the participants dress up in costumes ranging from wild to outrageous, and equally well-appointed dogs rival the costumes of their human handlers for ingenuity and spirit.
I have run the race almost every year since the kids were born, save for an ear infection one year (kids) and bronchitis another (mine). For the first time this year I had decided that we would participate in the race with no stroller back-up. From the early days of pushing Annabelle alone in the jogger, to later years with both kids in the double stroller, and more recently taking the stroller along “just in case,” we had never gone to the run without a wheeled companion. After Annabelle’s successful conquering of the hilly 3.2 mile Wine Run a few months ago, I was certain that both kids could easily handle a flat 2 mile stroll, especially considering all of the fun things to look at along the way.
Desperate Hubby is suffering from what I can only guess is the flu, and he has been in bed for the better part of six days. We are generally a pretty healthy set of parental units, so DH’s illness has been rather concerning for the children. Batman asks me on a daily basis if this is the day that daddy is going to heaven, a question he poses solemnly and with all sincerity. The deaths of Uncle Lonnie and Papa Bill, not to mention his beloved lab Toby have affected my sensitive little son deeply.
Because of daddy’s incapacitation we have also been forced to cancel several holiday engagements we had been looking forward to, which has also been disappointing for the kids.
A little break from the house would clearly be a good thing.
The kids and I drove to Boise pick up our race packets Friday afternoon straight from school. They snacked on Lunchables in the back seat as we made the forty minute drive downtown, and were reasonably patient as we stood in line for the thirty or more minutes it took us to retrieve our numbers, shirts, gloves and complimentary jingle bells.
As we began the drive home snow started to fall, lightly at first and more heavily as we neared our end of the valley. It was beautiful, and the added Christmas atmosphere created by the white flakes only served to make me more excited about the exuberance of the festivities ahead of us.
Desperate Hubby had made dire predictions of the road conditions Saturday morning, voicing his doubt that we would be able to drive to the race. In addition, Batman had developed a slight cough, and his daddy tried to talk him into staying home for the day to rest. Batman was having none of that, and when we awoke yesterday morning to highway-cam shots of clear roads I knew our adventure was meant to be.
Getting out of the house in a timely manner with both kids properly dressed and ready to go was a challenge, and my nerves were frayed by the time we were finally in the truck and driving. A stop by McDonald’s for a breakfast of champions (pancakes for Annabelle, Egg McMuffin (hold the egg) for Batman, and a big cup of coffee for me) and we were on our way.
Three or four inches of snow had fallen in the valley overnight, and though the freeway was mainly wet we did pass a couple of minor accidents on our way to Boise. The surface streets of town had not been plowed, and a gray slush covered every driving surface. The clock on my dashboard read a chilly 19 degrees when we parked.
The kids were both being good sports, though, and as we strolled the three blocks to the starting area Batman made the most of the new snowfall, kicking his way through every drift we passed.
We arrived just in time to watch the costume contest, which was very entertaining for the children, and right after that Santa arrived for photos.
Oh what fun.
Despite my warnings about his lack of waterproof gloves (he insisted on wearing the race gloves over his own little pair of cotton gloves), and his lack of waterproof footwear (Nike running shoes not generally the most moisture resistant), Batman continued to attack the piles of snow energetically.
Annabelle wandered around, petting every dog that got within reach and enjoying watching all the funny people.
This was going well! I congratulated myself on putting forth the effort to keep our nice Christmas tradition going.
Things got even more fun when we discovered that there was a real live reindeer at the start line, available for pictures too.
We even got a nice lady in the reindeer line to take a picture of the three of us. I am proud to show you that even though the children refused to re-wear their hats from the parade last week, I recycled one of them for another go.
Ah, this was the life.
Batman was getting a little antsy after waiting around all this while, so we wandered over toward the back of the starting line. The race was about to start.
With the traditional “HO HO HO! Merry Christmas!” we were off.
We were having fun now!
About halfway through the first block Batman started whining. “Moooommmmmm! I am thirsty. I need a drink!” I hadn’t considered that in sub-freezing weather, walk-running through three-inch deep slush, that we would need water. But then again, this was Batman.
“You’re just going to have to wait, Buddy. We don’t have anything to drink right now.”
This I delivered in my cheerful “public” voice, as opposed to my “private” voice, which tends to be more strident and often considerably less patient (not to mention louder) than my public voice. I’m sure all of you moms know what I mean by that. It is not dissimilar to the difference between the “inside” and “outside” voice of a toddler.
The calmness of my public voice did not deter Batman from stepping it up a notch. “I SAID I CAN’T WAIT! I NEED A DRINK RIGHT NOW!” We were still in heavy foot traffic at that point, surrounded by parents pushing strollers filled with snacks and thermos’s of hot cocoa, who were glaring at me as though they had just recognized me from the pictures on their local post office wall.
I stooped closely to Batman and spoke into his ear with just enough of my private voice to regain control. “Be quiet. We don’t have anything to drink here and quit making that hideous moaning noise. Please buddy. We still have a long ways to go.”
“Oooohhhhhh, mom. I am just so thirsty. Are we almost done now?”
This actually brought a few snickers from a few of the families who hadn’t actually passed us when my son sat down abruptly in the middle of the road to make his point. I walked over to a bush in the median, covered with three inches of pristine white snow and scooped a small amount up with my glove. Then I walked back over to Batman and offered it to him to eat. He sucked on the snow thirstily and resumed walking with a spring in his step.
For about ten feet. Then we went through the exact same conversation and motions as before.
For the next two miles.
About halfway through the race my right arm was aching with a tunnel carpel-like intensity and my hand was cramping from gripping the race-gloved appendage of my youngest child in an effort to keep him moving. I had to switch sides and pull with my left hand instead.
Just before we finally made it to the finish line, when I was sure it couldn’t get any more excruciating, Batman actually found it within his tiny soul to step it up yet again.
His footsteps slowed to nearly a stop. He started moaning hideously and loudly, making a noise I can only liken to the incessant turn-over sound of a car with a nearly dead battery. This was interspersed by a constant diatribe of “I can’t go on any further. I am thirsty. I am tired,” over and over again for the last six blocks or so. If it hadn’t been so slick on the street, or even if I had thought for a moment I could carry a more than fully clothed 55 pound screaming kindergartener for that distance I would have given it a try. But he just had to walk.
With about two blocks left to go I leaned down to Batman and said “Look buddy. We are about to get to the finish line. You should be proud of yourself and happy that you made it! Aren’t you happy?” This prompted a vigorous shake of the head and a mumbled statement about hating races and never wanting to do another one. Ever.
Right before we entered the finish line chute, we passed another family. It looked like a dad with four kids, walking slowly along. The eldest daughter of about fifteen was holding the hand of the youngest, who was probably four or five. The little girl was crying loudly about being cold and not being able to walk any more.
I felt a little better knowing I was not alone.
Our pass through the chute was unremarkable. We were all happy to discover that the Y was giving medals this year for completion, and the kids hung their symbols proudly around their neck. Batman grabbed thirstily for the water bottle from the volunteer at the end, and drank almost the whole thing as I tried to take their finish-line photos.
Apparently he really had been thirsty.
I do feel a sense of satisfaction about completing the race, and I am happy the kids made it through unscathed.
I am even happier that it doesn’t come around again for another year.