Well by George I did it!
Yes, me, my very expensive trainers and I got themselves through the 6.2 mile course without stopping, panicking or jumping off any of the bridges we crossed. In one hour, 9 minutes and thirty seconds to be precise. To say I am proud of myself would largely be a mis-representation. I am more or less still in a state of shock, coming out of the training tunnel that was my preparation. Blindly hitting 5 mile runs on countryside courses without stopping to wonder why or how or why again. There you have it. I knew my stubborn streak would surely come in handy one day.
Thursday morning saw all five of us (four from the show one travelling wife-groupie) hopping from foot to foot amongst the mangled crowd of gazelles and wannabe gazelles that are running fanatics. I on the other hand was doing my best impression of a stuffed turkey, in keeping with the thanksgiving theme of course, by wearing my Team Young Frankenstein tshirt over several layers including a thick water proof number. We huddled together for warmth having braved the early morning downpour. Further along inside the inner sanctum of Brown's stadium were the serious panther types, stretching their lithe limbs an extra foot or so this way and that before they glided past us to start at the 6 minute mile post. We, on the other hand, having looked for an 11 minute mile post and failed rallied around the front of the walkers instead, who were placed just in front of the hard core runners with strollers no less. One of our team even spied a family, 3 children one dad, doing the course whilst taking in turns to push the youngest and run. That's dedication for you. Cattle like we herded together at nine o clock slowly inching our way to the starting line, me feeling more 5 ft nothing than ever before surrounded by bodies jiggling with anticipation. And then, we were off.
Pounding conservatively amongst walkers and zip zappers I concentrated utterly on keeping a rhythm and fighting that in bred sprinter mentality to get ahead and do my best at winning. Quickly. Genetically speaking I am more pre disposed to shot put and yet here I was jogging my way into oblivion. Or back to the stadium at least. To my surprise and huge relief there was actually more space between all of us than I had imagined. In my mental run throughs I had envisaged people clambering over one another like wilder-beast at a watering hole. In reality there was a very pleasant, almost laid back feel to our herd. All shapes and sizes. All ages. A myriad of styles. And if there were any chance of flailing spirits there was always the three piece brass band on our first corner, pumping in deep baritone puffs the famous tune from Rent the musical. The song and it's style an unusual choice for the women playing their chosen instruments, somehow making the catchy soft rock theme sound like a marching band anthem. They got a cheer none the less. So did we, when we past on through to Kentucky, by a couple of locals ringing bells and shouting congratulations at us. Pink ladies passed me, gossiping on the way, I am half tempted to join in but think better of it. A lady in her late sixties over takes me as does a man whose feet caress the ground, head barely bobbing up and down. I wonder how his quads will feel after he has completed 6 miles in demi plie. Then I hit the hill of the last mile long bridge at mile 5 and knuckle down and concentrate on finding air. On the last stretch I hear a cheer from some other show folk who have come down to rally us on and my step and spirits perk up just before I pass the ambulance and it's crew tending to a runner prone on the tarmac. That last .8 mile the hardest, especially as the course took us passed the finish line only to double back again in order for us to actually reach it. In between the bodies I spy another luminous shirt and pay attention to catch up with it. Mr. Vargo (of Birmingham tea fame and a swing in the show) and I then neck and neck it to the finish line, trying our best to find our sprint whilst intuitively staying in synch. He teases me later for beating him by 2 seconds. Obviously I gloat. Every. Second. Counts. The boys catch the moment on video, joining me just before the finish line. I look demented. No surprises there then.
What better way to earn yourself a proper slap up thanksgiving feast than doing that 10K? Come five o clock, after a nap, some bucks fizz, much peanut butter and a shower the family and I re spruced up and at em. We head down and join the gang at the Hilton, where the company is hosting a dinner for us all. At the end of the ballroom is a huge table with most of us gaggled about it. The buffet, in the other room has all manner of delights and meats and seafood and deserts. And ice sculptures. And chocolate fountains. And a baby grand with old standards being tinkled on it by a man with a moustache and a toupe. Just like at front desk here at the hotel. The toupe I mean, not the piano.
The other night I had the good fortune to meet all the guests of our place when the fire alarm sounded. I was more terrified of the recorded voice that announced the forthcoming alarm, thinking, as you do, that paranormal forces had turned the radio on in the other room. Scooping boy out of bed and stopping only to pick up our winter coats (it was a freezing night) we were relieved to find it almost a false alarm. Someone had thrown a barely extinguished cigarette into a bin in the alley behind the hotel and the smoke had drifted into the basement here and triggered the alarm. In the lobby we find one of the dancers and her fella, she nursing a kidney stone, and a boyfriend of another actress in the show who holds my coat whilst I carry a confused Sam. A lady sat in the lobby seats is nervously crocheting her nerves away and gives Sam her coat for a duvet. It takes a moment for him to click into party mode and launch into delirious stories from his days, real and imagined. When we get back upstairs it takes a little convincing for us both to relinquish to sleep. Dad comes back all a fluster and wakes me again for a low down. I am drunk with tiredness, and, at the time, pre race nerves for it was the night before the big day.
Now I sit nursing tight calves and sorrowful quads squeaking my way around the place as if I had never done a minute of exercise in my life. A quick visit to the local craft show soon put a stop to that. Austin, head of props, of travelling bar fame, and who had run with us the day before invites me to join a few of them (fellow runners to be precise) on their visit as his ma has her leather goods stall set up. She whisks us in for free and we marvel at the hand made wares (and their price tags!). In truth I was just as interested in the sellers and the vast array of fascinating moustaches on show. Not for sale, but on show nevertheless. Curled, full, pencil. All manner. And gesticulation to match. What a colourful collection of characters. Austin explains that we are walking through his childhood. Happy are his memories of going from stall to stall amongst his mother's artist friends. I can see why. One lady even comments on my felting work (I am wearing a woollen jacket I attacked earlier in the day). It would have put a skip in my step if only my calves could actually stretch enough.
When Cory comes back in between shows today we pack up our hamper together, unusual for it's remarked lack of bickering. Then again we are both in an exceptional frame of mind; my best mate and her husband are in Orlando waiting for us and packing a day earlier than we need to makes us feel closer to being with them. In all intents and purposes they are Sam's second parents. As I type they are returning from shopping spree. We haven't seen them since their wedding in May (flashback to green card quandry) and their trip has been long anticipated. Course our apartment now looks like a mini tornado has torn through it. Hey ho.
The clip clop of Cincinnati's horse drawn carriages below me on the street, the hum of the heaters, Sam's barely audible murmurings during his dreams are the sounds about me. Felt to be put away, swimming costumes to pack and summer clothes to bring back to the top of the case. We're going to the tropical land of magic mice and travel day can't come soon enough.