The Yard Apes.

(Yes, Coach…the title is inspired by you…)

“Who’s kid just took off running for the road? ” someone said…

“Must belong to a distance runner…” said another.

“Meg, is that your kid?”

“Jim!!!!”

My husband, not a runner, sprinted after our 2 year old while I held Lo…just born 3 weeks earlier…laughter just filled the barn.  Gallafest I.  Ah…the memories…

Some of the YA's of Gallafest IV
Some of the YA’s of Gallafest IV

For the last four years some of the AU XC/Track alum have reunited at Lake Marie – a beautiful stretch of property with an incredible grass trail loop around it- to run together, swim and ski together, camp together,  bike together, have a huge bonfire (some years dangerouly huge…not mentioning any names…but we all know who we’re talking about…)…and watch all the little yard apes that we now tote with us run around and tire out the dogs all day.  It’s been awesome, to say the least.

For my kids, it’s a camping adventure that they look forward to all year long.  “When are we going to Coach’s?”  all year long.  Like me, when they get over excited, they spaz out.  I talk so fast when I’m excited….this year they wouldn’t even let me read the card for Buzz Word.  Rightfully so, I must admit…rightfully so. This year, as always…my kids were on their best behavior…right.

No-no, my daughters decided clothes were an optional part of the weekend.  Like, pick the most extreme way to embarrass your mom and dive right in.  My 5 year old wants to change into her bathing suit in  front of everyone on the dock…then into her running outfit in front of everyone…then into her jammies in front of everyone…and the 3 year old decided to take it up a notch, dropping her jammies at breakfast.  Diaper and all, with a “Bah ha ha ha.” Seriously?!   And, when you’re kid does something outraegous, everyone looks at you, right?  As if I run around town without clothes on or something.

We always talk about our sides hurting from laughing so much after we all get back together.  Not long after we arrived this summer, Brianne opted to run down the lane to the house rather than hop in the car with me and Lo.  My friend turned to me and said, “She’s just like her mommy…ran the whole way…”  She probably talked the whole time too…the first time someone complains about her one-stepping (having to stay one step ahead of whoever your running with), I’m going to cry of pride.

Since some of us are injured this year, we were less worried about the kids holding up our trail run and took them with us.  We forged so many memories on that trail around the lake back in college.  I remember walking through it when it was still just brush.  Doing workouts there…team bonfires…it felt so cool to be a part of that team. Watching my daughter running down that trail, pumping her arms…clearly inspired by those around her…instructing me not to point out anything that will make people laugh at her.  It was something really special to watch.

That moment brought to mind something that I was once told… that no matter how much of a work in progress you think you are, you’re already leading someone else.photo(190)

Out on a 15 mile bike ride to cap off the weekend ( which I was smartly advised to cut in half from 34 since I decided to join in before I realizing we were talking clip in pedals, seriously lightweight road bikes and 20 mph.),  I felt like part of a pack again, my bike hung with the group better than I thought it would, and Coach gave me an education in road biking along the way.  It was so awesome…could not wipe the smile off my face.  I’m totally hooked… and I want a new bike.  Toto, you’re going to have to find a new ride.

That’s what makes this reunion so special to me.  Just to be around such incredibly inspiring coaches and mentors…Friends and teammates who continue to affect each other’s lives, push each other, and rally around each other.  People who exude such postitivity and joy.  Who bond over being competitive…at anything…we couldn’t even play Buzz Word around the campfire without heckling each other.  It brought back memories of MANY Star Wars Monopoly debates…

Now I coach, and my 3 and 5 year old kids are at every practice.  Brianne has been coming with me since she was 18 month old, and Lo made her first trip to Mohican for dam dams with she was a month old.  It’s sometimes a conflict of interest…there are stickers all over the hurdles, still…and in the middle of my motivational speech at practice Brianne is pulling my shirt off whining about something, and the 3 year old is yelling a constant stream of “I have to poop, mom!  I have to poop!”  Every year, I question whether or not to keep brining them.  I wonder if anyone is benefitting from the experience at all.

photo(189)Then, at the local 5K this summer, I looked over to see Brianne wedged right in with the rest of the high school XC team…picking up empty cups and giving other little kids in the race high fives and water.  When it came time for Bri and Lo to race in the kids run, the XC team members who were out on the course directing runners cheered them on.  All of the sudden, she has 30 grown up mentors of her own- the age I was when I started to run-who, by their own growth as athletes are starting to have a positive impact on my kids.  Too cool.  When Bri finished her race, she  grabbed her ribbon, and ran back out to find her little sister and run her in to the finish.photo(188)

There’s no question I’ve made the right call letting my little yard apes simply witness my life the way it is.  Running transfers to life so well.  Like Bowerman said, “If you can do the kind of running you have to do to be on this team, chances are you’ll learn a lot about another absurd pastime…life.”  It’s just our thing…until they’re old enough for road bikes.  lol  No matter how hard the course seems, stick to it.  Because there’s someone drafting off of you.  Someone staring at the number on your back trying to close the gap.

Happy Inspiring…

Megs

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