Day 3: The race.

Dear friends,

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I did it!

I ran my first race.

I finished my first race.

It was so much more than I expected.

It was more nerve-wracking. (Where-to-go and what-to-do issues worry me. Fortunately, everybody was very helpful and answered every single one of my questions. And my irrational fear of getting off course because I’ve fallen behind and can’t see the runners ahead of me never came to pass, not to mention the course was well marked.)

It was more challenging. (Uphill start, roller-coaster middle, uphill finish tells you everything you need to know.)

It was more taxing. (I started too fast and never really caught my breath, but managed to push through it nevertheless. I think my loud wheezing scared a couple of people, especially when we realized I was breathing too hard to drink the cup of water handed to me by the race volunteers. But, hey, nobody questioned my effort.)

It was more rewarding. (I came in 31st out of 61 runners. Middle of the pack, baby! I had no idea being solidly average could feel so damn good.)

It was more interesting. (I ran with all kinds of folks. Among the people I beat was a 13-year-old boy in his pajamas and robe, and a woman I only know casually but who’s very fit and who I would have wagered could smoke me. Among the people who beat me was a women about my age who confessed at the starting line that she’s a heavy smoker and runs in the hopes it will persuade her to give up nicotine, and a colleague who’s 10 years my senior.)

It was more fun. (Afterwards, race organizers invited runners to the local brew pub, where we all enjoyed a complimentary beer. After that, my regular running buddy and I went to breakfast with two other racers. Corned beef hash, eggs over easy, and biscuits and gravy were a fabulous prize for having conquered my fear.)

It was more surprising. (I placed third in my age group and won a prize. How’s that for positive reinforcement? Yes, there were only five ladies in the 50-59 category, but I was less than three minutes behind the first two.)

It was more alluring. (There’s a local race on Thanksgiving morning and I’ve already persuaded Kate and her college roommate, Kris, to join me. I have a feeling there are many more races in my future.)

It was more more. (Who knew a little weekend competition among souls of all ages and abilities could bring out the athlete in me?)

With gratitude {for unrealized fear turned into inspiration},

Joan, who kindly asks that you hum the Chariots of Fire theme song when you think of her

Butt Nakey.

Dear friends,

This is my boy.

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He has hops.

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Hops is what you say when you want to be urban-cool and you mean “He can jump.” I’m not urban-cool but I want to appear to be in front of my boy so I say hops.

He has big hops.

I am in love with my boy.

I loved him when he was a baby, depriving me of sleep for most of my 30s with his incessant, nocturnal restlessness and fussing.

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I loved him when, at age three, he nightly sang a song called “Butt Nakey.” I’m pretty sure he meant “buck naked” but you have to admit butt nakey is far more lyrical. He always seemed to have an ear for that sort of thing.

He sang his original composition at full volume, not surprisingly while naked, typically after a bath and before pajamas.

Sometimes he sang it while chasing his sister.

She hated the Butt Nakey song.

She also hated his second favorite song, “Here Comes the Penis,” which he often sang immediately following “Butt Nakey.” “Here Comes the Penis” required a special guitar riff, which he played, also while naked, also while chasing his sister.

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I love to remind my boy of how much I love him. I reminded him the other night, while telling the Butt Nakey story in front of company, and his facial expression suggested he doubted the sincerity of my declaration of love.

A couple of days later, he tweeted the following: I saw a unicorn today. Okay, I saw a girl who ate a meal without posting a picture of it on Instagram. Same thing.

I think he was taunting me. I think his Tweet was retaliation for talking about Butt Nakey.

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I won’t hold it against him.

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I’m too much in love to succumb to resentment.

With gratitude {for a son who has made me smile every day of his life and will forgive me for my immense love and the stories it spawns},

Joan, who has been teasing her boy of late for his “No-Shave November” beard but only because that’s her job as his mother and she doesn’t want him to know she secretly loves his beard, too

Old school.

Dear friends,

It was a beautiful day yesterday. Sunny, blue skies, 68 degrees.

SweetPea loves tennis as much as I do.

SweetPea and I spent the afternoon and evening at the tennis courts watching Parker play. No dogs are allowed at the courts. I guess nobody told SweetPea and she couldn’t read the sign.

We had a great time eating the finger sandwiches I made and chatting with the parents and rooting for our team, who lost by the way. But Parker and his partner won their doubles match in a tie-break — the last match and only win of the day. They were heros at the very last moment.

Parker got two “Gatorades.” (It’s a tradition with the team. If you hit an overhead hard enough for it to bounce over the fence, which is kind of humiliating to the opponent, the fans yell “Gatorade!” and the coach owes you a bottle.)

The opposing coach was an interesting fellow. He was, shall we say, a little high strung. A squat man in shorts and a windbreaker, he was fond of screaming at his players about things like scorecards and the number of balls being used during warm-up. He also got a little wound up about how the players were announcing their scores and, at one point, he stormed on the court during Parker’s match to yell at his kid about it. (A real no-no, but our coach was a gentleman.) I was a little annoyed but I kept my cool and simply shouted “Way to keep score Parker!” after every point he won thereafter.

On another point, Parker aced his opponent on a low-skidding serve that flew wide. It was a beautiful first serve, and there was no shame in missing the return, but the coach yelled at his kid “You could have gotten it if you’d lunged!”

It  was so ludicrous it made me laugh out loud. Mr. Mom just called the coach “old school.” I’ll have to get used to that approach, I think, because  Mr. Mom said the same thing about the college tennis coach who’ll be welcoming Kate in the fall.

Until then, here’s to a beautiful spring and summer chock full of afternoons at the tennis court.

With gratitude {for spirited competition and fun all around, win or lose},

Joan, who, at 6-ft. tall, is a monster at the net

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