[Update – Somebody asked if I knew where to find the official results online for the race. I didn’t wear the chip to get an official time – would be too depressing! – but I did find where the results are supposedly going to be if they were online yet. Go to Active.com and search for the race.]
Well, we finished! Don’t ask the time. Honestly, I don’t even know. It was well over 30 minutes even adjusting for the massive, human traffic jam at the start line and on for about the first half-mile. That’s a good thing though as it meant they raised a lot of money. It was pretty hairy at first though with runners and big strollers going every which way. I hadn’t been downtown in probably three years so I had no idea about the course layout and was content to take it easy the first half for fear there was some giant hill I didn’t know about. (There was…. right at the half-way turnaround.)
I tried to ignore how out-of-shape and generally creaky my body is and have some fun with it. My hat and shirt certainly got a few looks. (See below.) We got a wonderful speech moment from J-Man at the start line. He thought my hat was hi-larious and reached for it and said “hah!” (hat!) Made my day, I tell ya.
J-Man entertained anybody who would pay attention to him, and anyone who didn’t too. He clapped for everybody as we waited for the race to start. Once we got out of the start-line stampede, he mostly chilled out in the stroller until he saw something or somebody interesting, at which time he’d do his flying arms and laugh. Since we were in the really slow group, no one really got too far ahead or behind and we saw the same people a lot. J-Man would suddenly cackle hysterically and all the near-death runners would perk up and smile. He was like a little cheerleader on wheels. We even meet other stroller parents with arm-flapping kids and had a great time with it.
He wasn’t too jazzed about getting out and walking across the finish line with me. He was quite comfy in the stroller and didn’t particularly want to be out amongst the hoard of runners and fans. I don’t blame him much, but we finished together anyway – with a lot of coaxing.
[I am the Cat Daddy In The Hat!]
[J-Man not quite into it yet.]
[The hat made me easy to find.]
[Here J-Man requires some help to make it toward the line. Clearly, wind and sweat made my hat flop.]
[Almost! Yes we did make it.]
[Post-race father/son/hat picture.]
There were plenty of poignant moments throughout the 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk. Most of the teams (including most of J-Man’s preschool class and teachers) did the fun run, which essentially turned into a parade. People even made floats. There were probably three dozen people wearing “Team Declan” shirts, which of course made us all very interested to meet Declan. The shirts had varying messages depending on who was wearing it (“I’m his friend!”, “I’m his Daddy!”, “I’m his Mommy!”, etc.), and then this little red-haired, elementary school-aged flash went whirling by with the one-of-a-kind “I’m Declan!” shirt on. Simultaneously a bunch of people said, “Hey! There goes Declan!” adorable as could be. People cheered like it was the Olympics.
Numerous autistic kids and older ones up through teenagers and adults ran in the event and to a person seemed to have a great time. A few of them got overloaded by all the people and noise at the finish and just sat down in the middle of the road, but no one thought twice about it. We all understood, but had a hard time containing our cheers, which were always the loudest for them. Perhaps the race planners could have toned down the speaker volume and done away with the rock band (though they were really good) for the sake of sensory overload, but it was a really upbeat crowd.
Mary said one of the runners who finished in the top handful overall crossed the line, went through the finish chute, and then turned back around to run up the street and applauded non-stop for all the parents and kids and other runners who straggled by. It was a sweet gesture that meant a lot.
There was another team running in honor of a child, but when I got near one of the adults and could read his shirt, I saw that it was instead an “in memory of”. I don’t know their story, but even imagining what it might be was almost unbearable. The boy they ran for died recently, at age 6. I don’t know what you can do with something as devastating as that. There just aren’t words for it.
Thankfully, there was an almost complete absence of the “autism is the apocalypse” vocal minority of people who seem to show up at most every autism event, rain on everybody’s parade, and apparently think my kid is the canary in some coal mine signaling the end of the world or something. There was one “Autism steals one child every 20 seconds” sign, which really chapped my already sore butt. I’m sorry; my child isn’t stolen. He’s sitting in this freakin’ stroller I’ve been pushing for the last half hour! And dangit he’s perfect how he is, thank you very freakin’ much!
Yeah, I realize there’s some controversy on causation and all that, but geez, there’s a small minority of people who seriously need to back off the rhetoric a bit. There were a LOT of pre-teen and teenage autistic kids there, and don’t these people stop and think that at least some of these kids will hear and see these messages and maybe, you know, think they’re damaged goods and not understand all the debates and nuances of all this stuff? People of good will can disagree on these issues, but when somebody acts like my kid is broken, they can go get bent as far as I’m concerned. OK, enough sandbox.
All in all, it was mostly an event of celebration and determination. We certainly had a lot of fun! I think events like these get the parent mojo going again and renew our determination for our kids. Still, my body will appreciate a couple days of non-exercise! I feel inspired to keep running as it felt good to be out there again with a number pinned on my shirt, even if that was the slowest 5K I’ve ever run, by a LOT. Today, it was all about the fun, and there was plenty of that!