Monday, January 14, 2008

"And They're off!"

Yesterday was race day at Samford University. I took the kids and met my sister in law with her two children as well as my mother in law, father in law (who was runing) and grandma at the track. Ernie was warming up when we arrived. The kids decided that they did want to run, so while Ernie warmed up I signed the children up for the 50 meter and the 100 meter. Then the meet was called to order. It began with the children and worked up to the adults. Sledge came in third in her race, the 50 meter. She opted not to run again, siting "ankle problems". J Smooth ran in his age group and won first place in the 50 and third in the 100. In the 100 he ran against an older group and I thought he did great to come in third out of about 6 boys.
Then came Ernie's group. He was the only one in his age group. I guess most 80 year old's do not find themselves out on a track wanting to race. "Anyone", "Anyone?" The field attendant was asking if anyone wanted to race against Ernie. I walked over to my sister in law, "I don't want Ernie to run alone. I will run with him. I just want his moment to shine. Are you in?" "Sure", said Mida. We told my mother in law that we would run. So we began to walk down towards the starting line when I noticed a young whipper snapper of a gentleman, lean and fit looking, approximately 36 years of age, was going to run with Ernie. "Oh, there's someone Mida. I am not going to get out there in that case." "Me either!" and so we turned around. The race began and they were off. The young man came out like a bullet, Ernie paced himself.....and he came in second. (Smile) He did really good. I mentioned before that he inspires me to be a better me. He amazes me with his determination and willingness not to allow his age to become a crutch for not being fit and involved.
But then it happened, "OK, we are calling for the women's race. Leigh? Mida? Come down and line up on your marks." I looked at Mida confused and with dread. What the....what was happening? Shear panic ran through me. I flashed back to 1981, a young girl being picked last for kick ball because I was "small" and couldn't "run fast". Certainly I hadn't improved with age. And then another panic went through my brain....I am a mother of three children. A mother of three who has already spoken to her doctor about a bladder tuck in the very near future. "It" happens when I laugh, when I sneeze (unless I am prepared and go for the cross legged stance to hold it in), if I jump, when I dance...though I didn't know it as factual, I was quite certain that "it" would happen if I ran. "Leigh? Mida?" the announcer said again.
"Mida, I cannot do it!!" I went on to explain in 15 seconds all the 100 reasons why I could not. I looked back. I was one of 5 women there, four belonging to our family. Certainly folks could guess that grandma wasn't one who was running. I could feel eyes beginning to focus on me. The only running I wanted to do was to the car. "Oh, no. I am not going to run. I was going to against Ernie because I didn't want him to run alone, but not now." I explained aloud to both the small crowd and to the man with the timer in hand. "Oh, go on..." He cheered me on. Then before I knew it my mother in law was dragging me over to the start. Mida followed. My mother in law had a baby in her hand, quickly I came up with something, "I am NOT running unless you are!". Now that was a good line. She couldn't run with a baby in hand. "OK", she agreed. Someone, I don't know who at this point, took the baby. I was caught up in the terror of what was about to take place. I was going to make a fool of myself. Sure, I dance in public, sing in public, go on and on about my bodily functions and mid life womanly woes! Heck! I have signed up to be on the roller derby team for goodness sakes...for some reason those things did not seem ridiculous to me. THIS seemed ridiculous. I explained to the track attendant my situation of incontinence and the three kids and gestured over to the individuals responsible. He looked at me with little sympathy. I would later learn why. "On your mark, Get set..." "OH, have mercy I am going to pee!", I screamed loudly. "GO". And off we went, myself, my sister in law-who is younger than me, and my mother in law (a dedicated athlete that plays tennis every single day!) I ran for my life, I ran to get it over with, I ran because I saw an end in sight... the finish line. Before I knew it, I had passed over it. "I WON! I WON! I WON!" I jumped with glee, unable to hold in what should be controlled in a "purse" called bladder. I didn't care. I had won!
Soon after the attendant walked over to me and shared with me his own personal story. He had recently had prostate surgery and when running wears a pad. In one of the races, he was winning, when his pad fell out of his pants. He stopped to pick it up, losing the race...and some pride. I laughed and told him I appreciated the story. He also slipped it in that I was going to be running the relay. I didn't know how my name got on the list. I really didn;t know how to do a relay. But I was feeling so proud of myself. I couldn't turn it down. I was introduced to my teammates. Jack, a brawny little 4 year old, Mary of about 10 in age and her brother, possibly 12? LOL! I felt like Kramer on Seinfeld when he touts his physical strength and toughness in his karate class then the others find out he is challenging children and beating them up. I had to laugh. I was competing against 3 other small children and the whipper snapper-the guy that beat Ernie. I was told where to stand to wait for my baton. I looked over at the boy on the other team. He looked to be about 9. "Hey kid", I touted, "Yer going down!" " No you are!" He talked smack right back. "You know I am going to trip you!" I teased. "Whatever, I can take you!", he threatened back.
The relay was off, I could see the other team leading. Jack the four year old gave it all his might and soon passed off to me. We were far behind but I passed onto Mary. We ended up losing but it was alot of fun. The kid I teased with came up from behind me and tried to tackle me, then he said, "You did good!".
We all had our pictures made together with our medals. I actually enjoyed my day running. I was so proud of Ernie for his determination and his goals. He is a true inspiration! And me- And I couldn't wait to get home and show Big Daddy my medal! We went out afterwards for a celebratory supper (Big Daddy met us) at Olive Garden. I gleefully told of my win and of my pride in Ernie for being the inspiration. Soon after eating Big Daddy took the kids home and I brought Granny Peg home to her retirement facility. I was putting her pj's on her when she said, "Leigh...We have such a great little family. I am glad I am part of it. I had a lovely day!" "We do, Peg, we do." And I left thinking how me, a 37 year old woman receives inspiration from the elders in my life. I am the lucky one to have them in my life. What a fun day!

(See a Photo montage of your day below under Jan. 13)


SouthernBell said...

Thanks for the post on my blog and encouragment.

For the Love... said...

Sounds like y'all had a big time!!!

I will have to call my friend and see if she was there. She is a big runner and I can't imagine that she would have missed it.

BTW I went to high school right across the street from Samford..Homewood High.

Thanks for all of the comments on my friday post. I am going to the store today and plan to make one of them for dinner tonight!

Jessica said...

You have such a beautiful family!