The first time, Jayden wasn't born yet, and the twins were a dark joke, an unimaginable situation.
The Bolder/Boulder is one of the largest 10Ks in the country, if not the biggest. I can't imagine one being much bigger. There are more than 50,000 runners, as there were this year.
I was one of them for the fifth time today.
In many ways, the race has gotten easier, even as I've managed to knock almost four minutes off my time since I began running it seriously four years ago. This year was by far my best race. I ran 47:37, a PR on the course by a minute over last year. Not only that, but I rarely really suffered for the first time. I finished 3,000th or so out of the 50,000.
I've never felt good on the course. It's a tough, hilly, at times nasty course, with three miles uphill, and it's hard to say what's harder, the steady climbs or the steep, short humps. And the wave I qualified for started at 7:05 a.m., so we'd have to blow out of Greeley by 5 a.m, making it almost impossible to get a good night's sleep.
Yet this year my breathing was controlled and I was relaxed. These races are hard for me. Most of my life I've been an endurance athlete, someone who could go all day on the peaks for several days in a row. I'm still adjusting to the intensity of races, the edgy breathing, the occasional pains in my side, the ever-present slight sick feeling in my gut, the sweat in my eyes. Yet I am adjusting, and this year's race proves it. I have to say, I practically enjoyed it. I definitely see room for improvement - I should have pushed it much harder the last two miles - but I'm pleased with my performance.
If only I could say the same thing for my kids.
Days like today continue to challenge me as a parent, and sometimes I honestly wonder if these races are a good thing for me. Sometimes I honestly wonder why I feel the need to constantly push myself, why I need that ego boost that comes from the feeling of crossing the line after you've given it everything you had. Because it takes a lot out of me to do that, and weariness gnawed at me all day, and when I am that tired, my patience isn't what it needs to be for three young, incredibly active children.
My kids are intelligent and need a lot of attention and are, it seems to me, abnormally active. They push us all the time. Sometimes it's too much, as Jayden has started hitting his sisters, and us. But I prefer this in my children. I can already tell they won't be passive personalities. I want my kids to be a lot of things, but passive isn't one of them. It's no way to live your life.
Still, when I don't have the patience for it, I'm not nearly as good a father as I should be. I try to spend time with them, but I also zone out for scraps of energy or do jobs around the house, like mow the lawn, clean out the toy box or get them juice and fix dinner. All those chores take energy, too, but not patience, and it's my patience that's always in short supply. After a race the tank is nearly always empty.
Sure enough, I yelled at Jayden around 7:15 p.m., when it was gone and I could see the end. The end of a race is always the hardest because at that point, it's impossible for me not to wish it was over. It's a great feeling to be done with a race, but it's an awful feeling five minutes before. I fell into that trap today despite the good race.
Bedtime is the same way for me. I yelled a little too long and a little too loud after he hit his sister yet again.
He's 3, not 4 yet, though he's close, and I wish I could sit him down and explain how angry it makes me. I tried. I'm not sure it sunk in. I doubt it, actually. We left on good terms, but I don't like him looking at me afraid and sad.
There was a lot of joy today too. I hadn't seen the kids in a couple days, and the girls and Jayden both wanted my attention as soon as I got home. I was exhausted, but that felt good. Honestly my biggest frustration is they don't want it enough. I lay on the couch after helping Kate get them lunch, and Andie left the table, came over and started jumping on my belly. I'm pretty sure that's not how to recover from a tough 10K. But it was really fun. Allie did the same a few moments later.
I need to continue to remind myself that there is joy in my kids, just like there is joy in a race. The hard moments are hard, but the feeling you get from it when you cross the finish line and go to bed that night make it all worth it.