Peapod entered her first official race last weekend and it was ridiculously fun. I suppose it was technically The Edge's first race as well, since he was an official entrant, but it's hard to give the guy credit since he spent the entire race slumping in a jogging stroller, eating Peanut Butter Bumpers out of a snack trap.
(I'm breaking my "no pictures" rule because I like this one so much)
It was The Esposo's idea. Sometimes he has bad ideas. Like the potato that is currently growing as a science experiment in what used to be a really nice water carafe. But when he has good ideas, he really hits them out of the park. He got it in his head that he wanted to celebrate our dog's 16th birthday by taking her to an off-leash dog beach on Saturday and then running the "Dog Mile" in Santa Barbara's annual "State Street Mile" race on Sunday. So he built a weekend around it and sooner than you can jam a dog bed, a step stool, two kids, some sunscreen, an old dog, and two strollers into a Highlander, we were off.
The beach was fun, but the race was just about perfect. I got to pin a number on my daughter's shirt for the very first time, which was surreal and magical for this washed-up, aging former athlete. Then we got in line with a bunch of other Dads and Moms and kids and dogs. There were dogs everywhere. Fat ones and shaggy ones, hot dogs and costume-wearing dogs. Most were barking or howling except ours, because she is mostly deaf. Did I mention that she is 16?
Then the whistle blew and everyone took off like bats out of hell. Including Peapod, which took me by complete surprise and left me lurching behind the Baby Jogger to catch up. The Esposo is a former track athlete who ran this same race a few years back in 4:56. Yes sports fans, that's a sub-five-minute mile. I, myself, am not quite as fast (stop laughing, Big Brother). Fortunately for me, Peapod could not keep up the pace of insanity for long and ended up riding another two-tenths-of-a mile on The Esposo's shoulders while she caught her breath.
Around the half mile mark, our aging dog became an anvil on a leash. My pace in comparison became quite perky. But then at about 6-tenths-of-a-mile, when we had dropped to exactly dead last, something truly magical happened. People on the sidelines had begun to clap and cheer for Peapod as if she had just set a new land speed record. Back on her feet by then, she had picked up the pace and was proudly waving back to her new fans and yelling "Hello!" and "Hi guys!"
When I was about 10, I won the Class III (that's old gymnastics-speak for "mediocre level") State Beam Championships. I was not a fraction as proud then as I was watching my 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter soak in the applause of complete strangers as she ran a mile in 12:05 to finish in last place.
After the finish line, there were the requisite race sponsors handing out their freebie samples and giveaways. The Esposo explained to Peapod that the water bottle she got there was her prize for not giving up and for finishing the whole race. She fell asleep holding onto it in her car seat during the drive home, and an athlete was born. Well, at least, two aging, washed up former athlete parents can hope so.