I need to blog about this quickly so I don't forget all the details of it. And because I tend to put off getting around to blogging about big events in my life.
I wasn't originally going to run this race. Last year's (that I didn't run because I was running a half marathon the same day in Portland) apparently did not go well. The weather was insanely hot for May and the aid stations all ran out of water way too soon. Sign-ups definitely declined this year because of that debacle. But after the bombings and the Boston race last month, I felt like I had to run. And I was really struggling to be diligent about staying in shape even though it was warming up.
I was going to register for the two-person relay with my friend Todd, and his wife Alicia and our friend Amy were also going to relay it. I decided I wanted to be paired with Todd because he's even faster than I am at short distances, whereas the women are slower than us. At our speeds, Todd and I actually had a chance (albeit a small one) to place for one of the cash prizes. Then we found out the per-person price was the same whether you ran the whole 13.1 or just half the course. As an accountant, I understand that your costs incurred are mostly per-person, but there is a perceived loss of value in paying the same price to run 6-7 miles instead of 13.1, and they lost three registrations because the three of them weren't interested in paying that price. So I registered for the half solo.
I went to the expo on Thursday for packet-pickup. I'm always a little letdown at Fresno's race expos. I've been spoiled by the elaborate Rock 'n' Roll expos with so many booths and sponsors you actually get lost in the convention centers. But there were some fun moments. I walked up to a booth selling solar energy equipment, genuinely curious, and asked the rep to give me his spiel. He smiled, stood up, took a deep breath, and started off with "How much is your monthly electric bill?" I gave him the number range, and then corrected myself saying that was total PG&E, that just electric would be less than that. His face fell the slightest bit, and he replied, "Then my spiel is, have a nice day." He was very nice about it. I explained that I have a swamp cooler and that my house is pretty well insulated. He sighed, saying, "Those swamp coolers are killing us." Apparently I couldn't get per-month cost savings to justify the installation costs. That made me unbelievably happy.
I bypassed the free massage booth. I historically haven't found them good enough to be worth the wait in line, so I decided not to bother this time. I was specifically looking for the Trail of Two Cities (Fresno/Clovis' November half marathon) booth. They were offering two free gear items from past years' races if you signed up for this year's race at the expo. I didn't know yet whether I'd want to run the half or the full, but you can change that at that expo and just pay the price difference. Since the price difference doesn't increase, I decided to save the $15 now, because it won't be refunded if I drop from the full to the half.
Then I saw the Wascally Rabbit (Fresno's September half marathon) booth. This will be the second year for this race. This race benefits kids aging out of the foster care system. Many of these kids can qualify for full-tuition financial aid, but have no resources for housing, books, etc., and as a result, pass on the chance to go to college and just enter the minimum wage work force and/or often end up homeless. I couldn't run this last year because it was on our company's fiscal year-end, so I was counting inventory, but it's a week earlier this year. And there was a ten-dollar discount for signing up at this expo. They were also giving away shirts and medals from last year's race. The shirt has a female version of Bugs Bunny leaning forward in a provocative fashion, so that went in the goodwill bag when I got home. At first I thought it was cool to get last year's inaugural medal, but when I got home, I was saddened that they were giving them away to people who didn't run. I feel like it cheapens it for the people who ran and earned these medals last year.
A key element of this race story is what happened the night before. Last night, I went to Joshua's 7th birthday party. I had Joshua in my Kindergarten Sunday School class. I plan on taking him and his older brother Kyle (9, who I had in my VBS group when he was in first grade) on the CBC father/son campout in July, so I skipped our monthly Spades night to go to the party. The party was at a place called 2extreme, a playplace with dozens of trampolines. You can bounce by the hour or have birthday parties hosted there.
I was a little nervous about going to the party knowing I had the race the next morning. I've never been huge on trampolines because I get headaches from jumping too high on the big ones, but I was really more concerned about twisting an ankle this time. Thankfully none of the individual trampolines were that huge, there were just four large arrays of them. There were padded mats in between each one, and carpet separating the four areas. One of the areas had an adjacent pit filled with 1-cubic-foot foam blocks. Ryan & Elika, Kyle & Josh's dad and stepmom were there already, but their mom Tiffany was running behind. I signed the waiver, got a wristband, took off my shoes and started jumping. I was the only adult jumping to start. But after about fifteen minutes, Ryan started jumping too. Tiffany, Elika, and the other kids' mom stayed on picture duty. At first I was getting the lay of the land, and then got more confident in sprinting across. I eventually ditched my socks too. I was glad I had learned from previous parties and brought a hand towel along, because I was sweating like crazy.
I launched the boys into the foam block pit several times, and later games of tag broke out. Somewhere in there, Kyle was chasing after me and I misjudged distance and landed on the carpet area instead of another trampoline. I fell forward and scrapped a half-dollar-sized piece of skin off each knee in rug burns. Man those HURT! I knew band-aids weren't worth the effort yet since we were still jumping, so I just got kept a wet paper towel in my pocket and kept dabbing it periodically. When our hour of jump time was up, I asked for band-aids and Neosporin. They only had the standard-size band-aids but no Neosporin. I was shocked but tried to keep my "You idiots run a playplace for children and don't stock Neosporin?" face and voice at bay.
We then got the kids into the party room and handed out chips and capri-suns while we waited for the cake. The staff brought it in, Josh blew out his candles, and they took it away to cut and plate with ice cream. It was going pathetically slow, so I stepped into help by delivering some plates and ultimately cutting the cake. I was really surprised that they were this inexperienced in flow of events. But Josh had fun and that's what mattered.