So even though the race was great, it was actually the easier part of the weekend. The major hurdle to me finishing the race actually occurred on Friday, the day before we ran. We were required to pick up our packet of racing materials sometime on Friday between 12-7pm. If they could have only extended this into the morning hours I would have been able to stop by for a quick and smooth pick-up while the kids were in school. But the gods of certain preschool upheaval were not smiling on me that day and I would either have to pick the packets up at lunchtime or after the kids' afternoon nap. Both really wonderful (insert sarcasm here) times of the day for me and the kids.
I had told Matt that maybe we could all go together in the early evening to pick them up so we would have some semblance of control when we carted all four kids into the massive hallway maze that poses as the Central YMCA. This isn't our regular Y and I was only vaguely familiar with the layout and where we would have to go. However, when I picked up the kids at preschool at lunch time I, for some reason, decided that we would just scoot on over to the Y right then and pick up the packets. Sure the kids were whining and complaining of hunger and thirst, but it would only take a few minutes. Why I laughed in the face of all the red flags being sent my way and decided to embark on a solo reconnaissance mission to obtain the packets, I'll never know. Let's just chalk it up to that runner's high that I always hear people talk about (and have yet to experience myself).
So we make the drive over to the Y and I immediately realize that I have not had an original idea. Apparently everyone who entered this race also decided that 12:13pm would be a perfect time to pick up their own packets as well. I should have turned around then, but, as previously stated, I enjoy ignoring red flags and frequently laugh in the face of danger. After driving around for several
We finally made it inside and the hunt for the gym began (this was where they were handing out the packets). Again, this Y is designed labyrinth style, so we spent at least 10 minutes aimlessly wandering the halls while meeting several dead ends. At one point Luke was missing and I found him in one of the weight rooms tossing medicine balls at the mirror and laughing hysterically. While I was pulling him away from those, the girls decided to mount the elliptical machines while Sam systematically emptied the wall-mounted hand sanitizer ... into his eye. Once I extracted everyone and got Sam to stop screaming, I gave up and asked for directions. Apparently we were on the wrong floor. There were multiple floors? What kind of sicko designed this place anyway?
We finally found the gym and I breathed a sign of relief. There were tons of people there, but I figured I would just wait in my neatly alphabetized line for the packets and we'd be out of there quickly. The line did move fast, but no 2 or 3 year old wants to wait in a line. The kids took turns running around the gym and someone managed to scrounge up a basketball to play with. One of the Y trainers was setting up some sort of obstacle course with cones on the opposite side of the gym and the kids thought it would be HYSTERICAL to knock the cones down with the basketball. The trainer would set up the cones, leave the gym to go get a few more, and while he was gone they would roll the ball around until they knocked all the cones over. Then they'd run away and the poor trainer would come back and find his cones demolished and would have to start again. They did this at least three times. That poor trainer, I don't think he ever figured it out. And I was DYING because I wanted to stop them but I also didn't want to lose my place in line. Going to the end of the line = more time in the hellhole formerly known as race packet pickup. So I let them do it and pretended I didn't know whose kids they were.
Once I finally made it to the start of the line, they asked for my bib number. Huh?? Yes, didn't I know that I was supposed to look up my bib number on the opposing wall before standing in line to pick up my race number and packet? So yes, I had to leave the line, look up the number, and then get back in line again. By this time I had rounded up the kids and had a death grip on them so they could no longer torture clueless cone trainer man. We finally made it to the front, I produced my number, and I had our packets in hand when the inevitable happened. As we were turning to leave, Luke stuck his chubby little hand right into the nicely alphabetized and organized box of race numbers, pulled them all out, and ran across the gym while scattering the papers like pieces of confetti and yelling, "Look! I'm exercising!" I helped the poor workers clean them up, but there was no evidence of any alphabetization left once we had collected them all. I grabbed the kids and we booked it out of there before anyone could memorize my face and run me over at the race the following day. I even wore a hat when I ran the next day in hopes of disusing my identity as the parent of the de-alpabatizing hellion.
So the moral of this story is to always, ALWAYS listen to the red flags. You think you're courageous and admirable, but you are really just plain dumb if you try and defy them. Unless you want to be tagged with the "Mother of the De-Alphabatizer" moniker for the rest of your life, I would advise you heed the warning and stand down.