"Do you remember those shirts I said we should've made?"
I thought back to our jokes over text message about making shirts with just a big poop emoji. It's for running AND babies! we'd lol-ed. Equally adaptable!
"Now would be a good time to have them."
I looked back at E over my right shoulder, huffing away behind her jogging stroller with infant car seat adapter, said car seat and said infant both securely attached. I made a face. "Almost there," I said uselessly.
The night before the race was strange. Even though DH made a big deal about me signing up for a 5 miler as my very first race back, I was way more worried about if BL (baby L) was going to be ok. So what if I hadn't run 5 miles yet? So what if I'd been sick for the whole week before? SO WHAT? 5 miles is nothing. 5 miles is...
"Oh-my-god-I'm-dying," I panted as I pushed the 8 million ton stroller up a steep incline. "I wish I trained more."
"I skipped way too many Sunday runs," E agreed. "I only did like, four?"
I stayed silent as I tallied up the Sunday runs I had done in my head. It didn't take very long because I didn't have far to count. The number was, surprise surprise, zero.
BL saw a seagull for the first time and did her little stiff bodied excited noise. She was suspicious about touching the beach sand. There was no porta potty line. All in all, a good pre-race situation. Once it was time to line up, we ambled over to the start and took some photos in Superman poses. Maybe we should warm up, we said, and did some half-hearted squats. E jogged in place. I took selfies with BL. At the start, the RD had a portable microphone and an air horn. "I hope the air horn works!" she said. "I hope it doesn't," E whispered to me.
I started to feel better at mile 3. It was because I was finally warmed up, NOT because the race turned from north back south, toward the water, downhill. Nope, definitely not that. There were a couple intense looking older guys with double strollers who I ignored as they were clearly superhuman mutants... but there was one regular stroller couple who were taking turns pushing it. Cheating, basically. Their son was older and when he saw E and I draw close at a water stop, he said, "Daddy! Go faster so we win! Don't let them win!" You just sealed your fate, kid, I silently scoffed. Only 50 yards ahead of us with a mile and a half to go, we closed the gap.
Stroller Lady heard me breathing (really hard) behind her left shoulder. She turned to look, startled a little bit, and sprinted ahead for a few steps before slowing back down. Ha! I got you now! Her son peered around the edge of the stroller, fear in his eyes.
The requisite child cheer section appeared around the corner. As we approached, I held my hand out for slaps while saying, "Watch-out-watch-out-watch-out!" There's only so much I would be able to do if excitable Timmy decided to jump out in front of me. They were by in a blur. Then, the last water station and we skipped it, duh. It wasn't going to help now.
I really, really wanted to slow down but I could hear the finish line speakers blaring "Another One Bites the Dust," which was honestly a pretty bad song to be playing at a race finish line. I passed DH taking photos, tried to smile, then made the hairpin turn into the parking lot - which took a lot more muscle than I was expecting - and finally done. Gasping. I high-fived E, who was looking way more composed than I felt. "Great job!" she cheered. "Hrnghurrr," I said.
The stroller immediately became a thing to lean on and catch my breath. DH caught up with us and took over for a bit. "How'd you do?" he asked. I showed him my watch. 5 miles in 49:06, just under a 10 minute pace. "Nice," he said. E came over and said she had to go but she had Fridays off for the next few weeks and did we want to run together next week? "The usual time?" I said. "Sure."