Can You Laugh and Run?

A month ago, my nephew brought up the, now, infamous, La Mascota 5K. It all happened over dinner at my sister’s home. We were eating, chatting and, of course laughing. We do that a lot, but when my sister’s best friend joins the mix, we could easily get rich quick with our comedy skits. Funny, Classy, and Jazzy. Guess who’s who? We were all born with the gift of class, piazzas and a phenomenal sense of humor.

My sixteen year old nephew-son was discussing happenings at school, life, etc. when my sister asked him, “… did you ask her about the race?” The “her” was me and I heard “race”, naturally, my ears perked up like my pup’s when she hears her magic words (walk, run, treat, my husband’s name, my son’s name, you get the picture).

My nephew was rudely interrupted by his overly excited aunt as I blurted, “Yes, of course, I’ll-do-it! Yes. If it involves running, Yes!”. Instead of wasting valuable, limited time together discussing specifics of the race (true, running and charity are important, but at that moment, I only had a few hours to be with them and running is not super exciting to non-runners), modern technology chimes in… It can be a positive and a negative, at that moment, it was a plus. Within seconds, my nephew’s forwarded race details stored in my phone for later review, so party continues.

Flash forward to the race. A lot more fun happened in between, but I don’t want to bore you with super-lengthy posts.

La Mascota 5K Morning- 

The sounds of love, music, and sunny sights were in the air early Saturday, March 11, 2017. I was SUPER excited to get to the race location. Location. Location. Lo-ca-tion– Griffith Park, the beauty we see on the way to the #1 beauty in Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium. And… two super -special people were running with me. Are you guessing my husband and son?

Nope. I tried. Both declined. They were working the snack bar to raise money for my son’s travel baseball team’s Cooperstown trip. But, even if our family wasn’t scheduled, my husband would have declined with a HUGE- NO THANKS! I HATE running. You won’t believe who the two running buddies were on that gorgeous, warm, sunny California morning…

My sister! And, her twelve year old son! My nephew-son. I was beaming when I found out both were running the race. Each signed up at different times, hence,  special bursts of love and smiles were emitted  throughout the weeks leading up to the race.

Text to Nephew the morning of the race: Are you ready to par-ty…., ___(his nickname)? Plus, a slew of my new favorite emoji.

Nephew’s response: a slew of teary eyed laughing emojis.

I continued singing and dancing to “Ca-li-fornia Love…” as I got ready for the race.

Finally! I’m Ready!

After pup-fun (she delayed me-long story) trying to get her to do her morning business, “I’m on the road again… Going places that I’ve been. See…ing things that I…’ve see…n, but I can’t wait to get on the road, again…”

Message from Nephew as I drive miles and miles to Griffith Park: Where are you, __(name he calls me)? With the new emoji he observed I use a lot these days. Ha! He thinks I’m a little silly and is one of my biggest fans in life. I adore that boy!

I don’t text, talk on my phone, or do anything distracting when I drive. Safety first. So, I didn’t see their messages until I reach the parking lot. Luckily, my sixteen-year-old nephew’s athletic- leadership club did  a phenomenal job of organizing the race in super-crowded Griffith Park. Th-ree 5k’s were happening. There could have been more, but I only saw three.

How did I know about the other two 5K’s?

  1. The super organized race informed me there would be a second 5K taking place in the vicinity.
  2. I accidentally discovered the third.

The story on how I stumbled upon 5K #3 was the start of the fun run.

Here goes…

I was feeling incredibly proud of myself for a) not getting lost, b)making it with enough time to find a parking spot, and c) outsmarting Griffith Park parking. A-ha! A spot close to the merry-go-round (where I assumed bib-pick up would be)? Y-eah! I’ll take it!

“Where are you guys? I don’t see the lady guiding cars (per our earlier conversation, that’s where my sister and nephew parked).” I began upon hearing my sister’s voice. “What do you mean, you don’t see the lady, she’s right in front of me. Where did you park?! Are you sure you’re at the right lot? There’s another 5k taking place. Where did you turn?”, she asked with an older sister tone imagining I went to the wrong race. “Nope. I’m at the right race. I made sure I followed the giant signs (fantastic job organizing, nephew’s Athletic Council on Leadership Group, there was no way anyone could miss the pretty signs), I respond with an assertive younger sister tone, but at the same time wonder: Could I be in the wrong parking lot? I saw the sign, I even thought of taking a picture, but there was a car behind me. It was a pretty and giant sign- extremely obvious to all drivers.

Long story short, we agreed to meet at the bib-pick-up station.

As I’m walking , following all the blue arrows and signs (many of them, about a ½ mile, I,  finally, see groups of people in the lot where my sister and 12 year-old nephew parked. I spot parked cars, gear, and hats worn by runners with my nephews’ school logo. I even stopped to snap pictures of this fun sign…

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I’ve walked this area a lot, it’s one of my favorite hiking locations and we visit the area for “Shakespeare in the Park”in summer. It’s a home away from home, but my sharp thinking skills turn to a cluttered desk on race mornings.

I notice a group of runners congregating around tables of  people handing out race shirts. My sister and nephew are not in the vicinity of the tables, I figure I’ll give them a minute or two. After snapping the picture, below, I decide to walk towards the tables and runners receiving t-shirts in a somewhat-disorderly manner.

I wait, patiently, for my turn, while turning back, making sure I don’t miss my sister and nephew. I hear volunteers asking runners, “What size do you need?” That’s o-dd, not typical of most races. Nonetheless, “X-small or small, please.”I take my shirt and look for bib-pick up. That was weird, bib and t-shirts are usually handed out, together,  but since this is a school organized event, it’s probably going to be a little different.

I see groups of people walking towards Independent Shakespeare Company’s  summer stage. Aaaaahhhhh… Deep joyful sigh. I can’t wait for “Shakespeare in the Park”. There they are! I see their gorgeous smiles, pinned bibs and matching Red Hot Chili Pepper’s shirts. Hey, why didn’t I get the memo on the shirt theme. I have a funny story about discussing race outfit, but post would be too long.  

I wave at them with an equally excited expression.“Hi guys!” Hugs and smiles pour like goodies falling from a pinata. “You need to pick up your shirts over there”, I say while pointing down the hill towards the table where I had just picked up the shirt I was showing them.

They both start laughing, loud laughs, followed by, “what do you mean, you picked up the race shirt. That’s not it! We already picked up ours with our bibs and even took them back to my car. Oh…, this is hilarious!” More laughter.” K–, you are hilarious!”

Nephew: laughing , “N—(name he and his brother assigned me when they learned to speak), you are so funny! I can’t believe you went to the wrong race. Now, you have to wear the shirt, it is too funny.”

Seriously, why does my life often feel like I’m the main character in a sitcom? Although I have experience in observing and analyzing human behavior, I can’t see myself like the external world sees me, so if you spot behaviors that can aid in lessening the feeling like I’m in a sitcom on most race days, please, please share your observations and advice. I will not be offended, at all.

The plan was to return the shirt to the wrong 5k table after picking up the right shirt and bib, but, we only had time to listen to course instruction before the clock started ticking.

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See…Even our first race pic was rushed. Also, some of the early race pictures looked blurred becasue I accidentally got sunscreen on the lens. 

Race Pace

This was the first time I’ve run a race with my sister and nephew. Both are people I would LOVE, LOVE to have as regular race buddies, so I asked them to pace our race. My sister had been out and about having a grand ‘ol time at the Red Hot Chili Peppers Concert the night before, so she wasn’t planning on running at all. Her goal was to walk and enjoy the show. My nephew? He wanted to do a combination run-walk, mostly run. Me? Well, you know what I wanted, but I want to have them as race buddies more, so we followed a little of all plans.

The starting line was crossed like all races, crowded, unable to move, needing to move to the right or left to wedge in and run ahead of the masses. We did a tiny bit of that, but the runners and furry friends  in attendance had similar plans- a mostly scenic, leisure hike. It was a beautiful hike on a gorgeous day.

“I once had to stop a runner to ask for clarification on whether I was going the right way…I was late for the race instructions”( I was wearing the shirt from the race- Hollywood Half, but I ran 5k, only), I was telling them. We were discussing how funny it would be if we were going the wrong way.

Yep. We were! Uh- huh, really. No joke. About 55 seconds after laughing about the thought, we hear a young woman holler, “ … guys, you’re going the wrong way! You need to turn back and go this way.” We burst into unison laughter. “N—, you were right,…” said my nephew. I was. I had said as we passed the correct path, “maybe we’re supposed to go that way and we’re all going the wrong way.” It was pretty funny. We weren’t the only people running the wrong way, about 40 others did the same thing. Ha! Maybe it was the heat. High 70’s-low 80’s after having days of cold and rain confused our minds.

Too much fun and anecdotes to share on one post, but I must say I’ve NEVER laughed so much during  a race. If it wasn’t my sister, it was my nephew making it impossible to run, walk, or pause without laughing. Not sure my sister is eager to embark on another race anytime soon, but I saw glimmer in my nephew… I think he caught a whiff of why I love running and racing so much. “See… running is fun, right?! It would be so fun to race together, you could be my racing buddy! We can run the Disney races… like: Star Wars Half, Tinker Bell…” I think I might have overdone my excitement by saying the word “marathon” when he had enjoyed his first 5k… Woops! I can’t help it, I love running and racing, and doing it with my family? Well, that’s a beautiful dream.

Auuurgg, Karina, why can’t you control your excitement? Hopefully, you didn’t scare him away from running.

Anyway, we bonded, laughed, exercised our mind and body, and, most important, we helped raise money for La Mascota, the first pediatric cancer hospital in Nicaragua. Another, win-win day and race.

I hope I can run LA Marathon without any pre or during race antics. Post, I don’t care, bring on the antics. But, even if marathon morning doesn’t go smoothly…

I…’m g-onna… soak up the sun…  I’m gonna tell every…one  to… ligh…ten… up… Yes, Sheryl, I’m going to soak it all up! And, my family will have my 70 at pit stops , so… I…can rock… on…

Epilogue

In today’s epilogue, I’ll share a few snapshots we took while on our run-laughter-walk-laughter-hike-laughter-pause-REPEAT! filled race.

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Ha! We didn’t need the sign, we were already doing just that when we saw the sign. There was some dirt dust smoke from more than a few runners going down this hill.
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Not one…
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But, TWO, hydration stops- H2O and refreshingly tasty Gatorade. Stopping to drink at both “water stops” made me re-think LA Marathon hydration plan. It was pretty warm and I wasn’t doing much running.

 

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See, the arm to the left, there were many people running, walking, hiking, and a lot snapping pictures of the views. Not sure if the person on the left in my pic was participating in our race or simply out enjoying a nice, leisure hike in beautiful Griffith Park.
Griffith Park Only
Taking in the beautiful views. My sister and nephew were to the left. Can you see my sister’s arm? That’s the infamous “Wrong 5K shirt” she draped on her left arm. See it? It’s white with a smidgen of black.
Golf Course Only
One of many parking lots in Griffith Park. You can see glimpses of the golf course.
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Sister and nephew sprinting to the mid-point water station. They wanted my nephew (16 yr old) to see us working up a sweat when we reached his volunteer station. Mostly, we were thirsty and excited to see him.

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We had a little slip ‘n slide fun on earlier steep hills, so I said, “Come on ____, let’s trudge, trudge, trudge. We can trudge, trudge, trudge… ” He looked at me with his there she goes, again, look. “Don’t you remember from the Backyardigans?!” I sang it again for him. He remembered Backyardigans, but not the song. Pft. Clearly, he wasn’t a real fan. He, my son, and younger nephews sigh a lot, but its more of a: yes, she’s a little strange, but she’s funny, fun, and LOVES us, than an annoyed sigh. I think. I hope!

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Finally, we are on flat surface. The rain created a lot of slip ‘n slide spots, so this flat spot on a warm morning was refreshing. As you can see, we weren’t trudging anymore, we were on a nice , leisure, stroll, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of spring… Ahhhh, I love being an aunt, and, mom, of course!
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Our first, EVER, pre-race sneaker picture! I hope this is the first of many…
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Ok, look at both shirts. Isn’t it understandable how I got the races mixed up? Both had similar font on the shirt, and “Wrong shirt 5K” had NO signs at all to show where their race was taking place. I saw several people wearing the “Wrong Race Shirt” while on the course who were supposed to be running La Mascota. Good thing they made a lot of extra shirts. By the way, the “Wrong 5k Shirt” is getting donated. I know I won’t wear it. It has odd karma, I’m thinking it will bring me odd luck, no?

 

 

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