I blame the coffee.
Even though there were a million other calamitous events leading up to this run, like the fact that it was a Wednesday. A hump day. A day to be gotten over in order to enjoy the rest of the week. Or the fact that my fully clothed children and I were at a park, which just happens to be next to a water park, on a day when the water shouldn’t have come on, but it did. Or the fact that both of my kids had pooped during our wet visit to the park and I had wipes enough only for one bum and not the two that were indeed very dirty. Or the fact that my eldest had climbed to the top of the play structure and found fresh warm bird poop to play in and shared it with his younger brother. Or, regrettably, the fact that my children enticed two other playmates into the water when their parents very clearly did not want their children to join mine in frolicking through cold streams of water on an overcast, 15 degree-weather kind of day. Yes, despite all of these hump day events, I blame the coffee.
It was on sale. Nine dollars and eighty-six cents for a 1lb bag, when it’s normally Fifteen. And after my adventures at the park with the twins, I really felt like having a coffee. Scratch that – I felt that I deserved a coffee. But we were fresh out. Fresh out of the only coffee that suits the needs of my twin-chasing, diaper-wrestling, tantrum-refereeing filled days. Kicking Horse, Kick Ass Dark Roasted Coffee. And it was on sale at a local grocery store.
So I packed my now half-naked, muddy-faced and only partially dry children into their stroller and hiked it up to the grocery store to grab a bag of coffee before running home for lunch. A funny thing happens, though, when I see that coffee is on sale. I tend to go a little over-board, get a little too excited at the incredible price, the amazing bargain, the substantial savings that are about to be imparted to my bank account. I couldn’t buy just one bag, and I couldn’t leave the store without a snack and some items for a lunch that was all-too quickly approaching for two now tired and hungry boys.
I bought four bags.
Four bags of coffee – along with our regular lunch groceries. All of which had to be put in the stroller in order to carry them home. Only problem was that after I had put all of our groceries in the stroller, there was no room for my precious coffee. I was already carrying a backpack full of wet clothes and shoes on my back so that option was out of the question. How was I going to transport my beautiful bags of coffee home? I put them on top of the sun shades that pull over the kids’ heads. Precarious at best, but a solution none-the-less.
And so, we were ready to run.
I headed onto the main street, coffee bouncing along on top of the stroller, backpack bouncing along on my lower back, kids happily munching on strawberries as I ran. I turned onto a trail that runs parallel to the main street in front of our subdivision. I ran around a bend in the trail and over several large tree roots, … and that’s when I saw her. An obviously struggling middle-aged runner. She would run about ten feet and then switch to a walk – back and forth, back and forth, trying to motivate herself to just keep going.
Now, I have to tell you that I have surprised people in the past. I’ve accidentally snuck up on a teenager listening to his iPod, and nearly scared him off of the sidewalk and into oncoming traffic when the front wheel of my stroller bounced into his peripheral vision. I’ve run past fellow Mom’s who stare at me wide-eyed, then remember that I can see them, smile at me politely, and then break into peels of hysterical laughter when they think I’m out of earshot. Yes, I know that a mom running with two (sometimes screaming) kids who look pretty much exactly alike, is an unexpected sight to behold on your leisurely stroll in the neighborhood. So when I saw the struggling runner, I knew I had another awkward moment to endure. I really didn’t want to make this peaked looking lady the next unsuspecting victim of our moving circus sideshow act. I had to find a way to warn her I was coming, or scare her into completely giving up on her running aspirations.
I was getting closer, but not close enough to do a casual ‘On your left!’. And she was beginning to suspect that something was approaching. She began to hurry her steps and take quick glances over her left shoulder. The kind of glances that scream the thoughts ‘I think I hear something coming, I should move over. Maybe if I speed up I’ll avoid it.’ The kind of glances that don’t really let you take in what’s really approaching. The kind of glances that just feed your fear of being ‘discovered’ running when you’re feeling awful about yourself. I knew, though, that should would eventually see us, and I knew what she would eventually see – a frantic looking mom with frizzy hair off in all directions, careening along with a stroller of half-naked, barefooted, now strawberry-stained, children – and four bags of coffee bouncing out of the top of the stroller.
I caught a glimpse of the woman through the trees on the next bend. She was running her heart out now, red-faced, and somewhat panic-stricken. I felt like a bull on the streets of Pamplona.
I quickly checked the coffee with one hand and then decided it was secure enough to pick up the pace – if I didn’t pass her now we’d meet at the narrowest point on the path. If we met there, it wouldn’t be that ended up in the bushes. After all, it’s never the bull that gets hurt in Pamplona – and the same applies to Mom’s with strollers, even if the stroller is carrying enough coffee for a large gathering of caffeine addicts.
I sped up, she sped up. I called – ‘I’m coming up on your left.’ She slowed, stepped to the right and obviously exhaled – relieved to be able to slow the pace. She turned as I passed her. I gave her my best winning grin and most encouraging nod – ‘Thank-you!’ She took in the stroller with one wide-eyed stare, giggled, then grinned and returned my nod ‘Noooo problem.’ I could hear her laughing as I ran away.
The kids, the 4lbs of coffee and I all made it home for lunch just fine. And somewhere, there is a very gratified middle-aged runner who will not give up the dream to run, even if it means running with the occasional bull turned coffee mule.