Category Archives: Life in Cleveland

Winning

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Today I ran my slowest 5K ever.  In fact, I hesitate to use the word “ran” because it was more like a slow trot.  I came in last place in my age group.  But none of that matters … because I won.

My boys, ages 4 and 7, have come to quite a few races to cheer on the grown-ups.  They love the races that have kids’ activities, snacks, and prizes.  (Especially prizes!)  Somewhere along the line, they decided that wasn’t enough, and that they should actually RUN in the race — And not just the “fun run” or the kiddie distance, the actual 5K.

Besides running with them, my husband and I also talked a lot about how going to a race is not about beating other people, or winning a medal, but is about doing the best that YOU can do.  (I knew we were getting through to them when I went into their room one night and heard one of them mumbling “personal best” in his sleep.)  Above all, I wanted their first race to be a positive experience.  Something they would always remember, and hopefully would want to do again.

Unfortunately, as we picked up our “Jog Into Spring” race bibs, a snow squall sprang up.  Seriously?!?  We were being pelted with tiny balls of ice and I thought for sure the kids would complain.  But we bundled up and headed to the start line.  Thankfully, it stopped snowing and stuck to being “only” cold and a little windy.

All bundled up and ready to run!

All bundled up and ready to run!

Looking out the car window about 15 minutes before the start ... yikes.

Looking out the car window before we started … yikes.

My husband ran with Boy #1 so that they could go a little faster.  I stuck with Boy #2, who started off at a nice, steady, but sloooooow pace.  Once the 1-mile walkers peeled off at their turn, I realized we were at the very end of the runners — what a strange feeling!  Then we came up to our first mile marker, and we were already getting passed by the race leaders heading in the opposite direction.  I did what I could to keep my boy focused and steady, but by the second mile marker, the wheels were starting to come off.

Bringing up the rear, just in front of the walkers.

Bringing up the rear, just in front of the walkers.

My mom and a friend did their best to make it fun for him, running ahead and letting him catch up to “beat” them.  I bribed him rewarded his efforts with jellybeans.  I even resorted to singing to him.  (I’m sure the complete stranger that had fallen to the back of the pack with us was very amused by my a capella rendition of “Eye of the Tiger.”)  We managed to avoid a full-blown meltdown, but that third mile was tough.  All along the way the race volunteers and police officers cheered for him.  I know they were probably freezing, and since they were basically only waiting for us at that point, I tried extra hard to thank each of them as we passed.

Finally, the finish line came into view.  Pretty much the only people left were our friends, and the family of a woman who I think  accidentally found herself on the course for the 5K instead of the 1-mile walk.  (Poor thing!)  But their cheers were enough to spur Boy #2 on to a strong finish, with a smile on his face.

Crossing the finish line!

Crossing the finish line! (So glad my friend April snagged this shot.)

We met up with my husband and Boy #1, who had also struggled a bit through the last mile, but stuck with it.  He even snagged an age group award for his efforts!  But he was not the only winner today.

Plenty of other people showed up, ignored the weather, and finished the race they started.  Winners.

More people showed up, ignored the weather, and cheered for the participants.  Winners.

Race staff, volunteers, and police officers helped support us and keep us safe.  Winners.

As for me, my moment came during the drive home.  Knowing how much Boy #2 had struggled, I asked him if he would ever want to do another 5K.  “No,” he said, “I want to run a marathon.”

And that, my friends, is WINNING.

So proud of my family!

So proud of my family!

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The author is running the 2013 Rock ‘N’ Roll Cleveland half marathon while raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Please consider making a donation: http://pages.teamintraining.org/noh/rnrclevh13/MileageMama

Team In Training

Follow her journey on Twitter @MileageMama: https://twitter.com/MileageMama

Opening Day

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I should be excited.  Today is the Indians home opener, a day that Clevelanders look forward to every year.  Spring is (mostly) here and the promise of summer is right around the corner.  Baseball season is full of fresh hope and playoff dreams, and the Tribe hasn’t managed to break our hearts … yet.

But this year’s opener is very bittersweet for me.  It brings back memories of a fallen friend, one who was with me through so many moments and memories from seasons past.

As kids we watched the Indians play at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.  It didn’t matter how many games they lost — and trust me, they lost a LOT — piling into the station wagon for a trip to the ballpark was exciting.  We spread out across the deserted rows of general admission, making sure to leave enough empty spaces so that we could bang the empty wooden seats along to the beating of John Adams’ drum.

In the mid-90’s, we were amazed at the glorious new stadium and the crowds it drew.  (I mean, where WERE all of these people for the 1991 season?!?)  But we were excited to have attendance high enough to actually do the wave!  We sat in the bleachers and screamed for Manny Ramirez (her) and Sandy Alomar (me).  We rode the wave of playoff excitement, and consoled each other when our World Series dreams were dashed.

We kept going to the Jake even after the shiny newness wore off, and we kept calling it the Jake even after the name was changed.  (The Prog???  I think not!)  We were older and had jobs but we both worked strange shifts, so we went to some of those great midweek afternoon games together.  The kind where sitting in a baseball stadium at noon on a Thursday feels like playing hooky, and you feel sorry for all of the office stiffs stuck in their 9-5 jobs.  We sat through games where we baked in the sun, froze in the lake breeze, or got drenched in the pouring rain.  And we had fun together every single time.

We went on a road trip to see the Tribe play in Chicago.  We boldly wore our Indians garb into enemy territory, ate their dollar hot dogs, and tried our best to let our team know we were there to support them … even though they lost.  We planned another trip to catch a game in Detroit last summer, but it fell through.  And now it will never happen.

As the players and coaches were heading to Goodyear to start spring training, she lost her battle with leukemia.  There is one less fan in Tribe Town this season, one less voice in the crowd.

Every time I watch a game, I will miss her.  I know that I will still yell and cheer, although my voice will never be loud enough to make up for the loss of hers.  I will hold on to the hope of victory until the last pitch has been thrown, just like she did.

This season’s for you, Mel.

Mel

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The author is running the 2013 Rock ‘N’ Roll Cleveland half marathon while raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Please consider making a donation:  http://pages.teamintraining.org/noh/rnrclevh13/MileageMama

Team In Training

Follow her journey on Twitter @MileageMama: https://twitter.com/MileageMama