Nearly a week ago today the kids and I ran the Bolder Boulder. It was the 33rd anniversary of this 10k footrace, and I think I am just recovered enough to walk without limping. Family-oriented athletic events were something that Chris and I decided to do when Christopher was about eight days old, and we slung him in a front pack for a hike. I just about suffocated the little tyke against my chest, what with the girls being so enormous and all.
We had little patience with the prevailing philosophy of the time that any kind of physical fun comes to a grinding halt with the arrival of a kid. We took ours everywhere. Perhaps some of you have been to a charming ski area in Colorado named Cooper. Not “Copper”, everyone knows Copper Mountain, but “Cooper Mountain”. It’s located near Leadville, and had some of the greatest cross country ski trails you could want. Especially with a bundled up baby on your back.
When Christopher was eight, my dad turned eighty, and my brother turned thirty eight, we decided it was an auspicious time to Ride the Rockies. Some of you are swooning right now, and rightly so. Ride the Rockies is a six day bicycle blowout of over four hundred miles through some of Colorado’s most spectacular territory. It was a riot. I think then Christopher first learned how to be a good sport. We were riding down Fremont Pass during one of the days, and Christopher had come to a standstill. For those of you who have been there, this is an interesting mental picture. Fremont Pass is very steep, and you should be able to coast. The problem was that when Christopher was eight, he weighed about seventy pounds. The headwind was so severe that he couldn’t coast against it, because he was so light! The poor kid actually had to pedal downhill most of the way.
Fremont Pass is often included in the RTR routes. One year after the girls had learned to ride their bikes, Abigail and I rode down the pass single file. We always liked to invest in good gear for the kids, and each had speedometers on their roadbikes. Abi and I hit a good clip for a preteen, somewhere around thirty miles an hour downhill. When we pulled into the Copper parking lot, Abi innocently turned to me and said
“Geez, Mom, I was so tired going down the pass, I almost fell asleep on my bike.”
At thirty miles an hour.
Chris had started chemotherapy in the winter of 2010 when I first took the kids skiing. He just didn’t have it in him even to come to Copper and sit in the lounge
I cried like a baby. It broke my heart that all that positive energy and downright fun was going to go away. You know the rest of the story, so no need to rehash it here. Suffice it to say that one of the long list of insidious things that cancer can do is rob from you the ability to take the long view.
It didn’t occur to me, again, that fun would be possible without Chris. Faith ran the Bolder Boulder last year with some dear friends the Berningers, and had a great time. This year, surprisingly, we all agreed it would be something we would be up for.
So we all signed up, paid our fee, and dragged ourselves out of bed at six am to run with fifty five thousand of our closest friends.
The crowds were so enormous that we were dismissed in waves of what seemed like about 500 people at a time, in two minute intervals. The fun started immediately. Bands were on every corner, and enthusiastic fans lined the streets. I danced past the Army Big band, shrilled back at the belly dancers, and b-boyed (ha!) to a teen metal band.
Weird food was in abundance. A lady was standing at her front lawn with a giant bowl of Doritos. Someone was throwing marshmallows. The doughnut and beer lady was pouring like mad! One kind soul was even passing out Otter Pops to runners around the fourth mile! It was hilarious.
The kids beat me shamefully, and Christopher and Faith just happened to be watching the Jumbotron as I staggered across the finish line. I think their editorializing was the funnest part of that stage.
Christopher- “Mom! We saw you finish! You could have at least finished strong, instead of staggering!”
Faith- “Yeah! Come on! Really.”
I was just dying to pull a “Mom” and say ‘Oh man, just wait until you’ve beaten the crap out of your feet for as long as I have!’ but I kept my mouth shut.
I was amazed at the day. Boulder was actually warm, welcoming and really, really funny. People sprayed us with hoses, provided kiddy pools for our feet and one brave soul set up Slip and Slide in his yard. I couldn’t believe it.
Sometime after the Ward Churchill incident, and around the endless poorly researched Green Initiatives, and definitely every April 20th, Chris and I would reassure ourselves that we would rather send our children to college in the Czech Republic than Boulder. But after days like this one, I’m not quite as sure.