Family enjoys traditions, shopping at Indy Mini Marathon

Categorized as 05/17/10 Goshen News column

April showers may bring May flowers to your neighborhood, but over here, they bring something else. That “something else” is the annual running, not of the bulls, but of the Indianapolis Mini Marathon.

For some years now, the mini has been a cherished tradition for our family. It started back in 2000 when Mr. Schrock ran his first one with friends. Now, in an act of sheer bravery, that man loads up this lively crowd and takes us along.

For the second time, he managed to snag a spot at our favorite downtown hotel, the Embassy Suites. It’s our favorite for several reasons.

First, the entrance is right on the street where the race begins. This is highly convenient when you’re trying to find your party at the start line. Secondly, we like the luxury of being able to trot over to Circle Center mall via a couple of hallways.

For me, it’s a hair thing and it’s a shoe thing. There are shoes over there, see, and I’m heading over to check ‘em out. I’d prefer not to shop with hair that’s been frizzled, dripped on, or blown to kingdom come by the elements. You can see why it’s important.

For the middles, it’s the glass elevators that ding their bell. Forget about carbon footprints. It’s the fingerprints we left behind that worry me. Fortunately, they don’t have ours on file. It wouldn’t take Sherlock to deduce that the guilty parties are hiding out in room 1402. Thanks to those “guilty parties,” the door – and the lock – between the rooms is their parents’ favorite part.

Over the years, we’ve developed certain traditions for the mini. On the way down, we stop at Target in Kokomo and load up on snacks to be tossed in to the hungry piranhas on the other side of the door at judicious intervals.

After arrival, the runners head over to the Convention Center to grab their packets and browse through the vendors. They revel in the air of excitement that pervades the Center, greeting other runners they know. They slap each others’ backs, shake hands, and stop just short of kicking each other’s proverbial tires in that annual ritual of the Soon To Be Sweaty.

The next stop is Giorgio’s Pizza for some pre-race carbs. Then, because we’re still in the No Fun Zone (“Boys, the fun doesn’t start until after the race”), we head back to the room where the only muscles we’re allowed to use are the ones that get us in our PJs and snap our lids together.

By tradition, the racers are up the next morning before the birds. While the rest of us are still busy not using our muscles, they’re using theirs to get dressed, forage for food, and head for the start line. Then, also by tradition, the rest of us follow to wish them well and grab their jackets.

That’s how it goes in theory. In reality, it’s not that easy, not with 90,000 people clogging the streets.

It was several years in a row of near misses that spawned what I fear will be a new tradition. Remembering his mother’s panic at not being able to find the two needles with consecutively numbered bibs in the haystack, son two declared that this year would be different. If we couldn’t find them, he said, then they would find us. And he packed a bright yellow wig.

Because he has the quickest, wiggliest buns God ever put on a kid, he was elected to wear the hair. Off he dashed to shimmy through the crowd looking exactly – exactly! – like Dr. Seuss’ Thing Two as the toddler and I followed behind, trying not to look like we were related.

This next tradition is especially relaxing for We the Sedentary. While the runners are doing their thing, we trundle back to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast while watching the race on TV. I would never stoop so low as to heckle from the sidelines with a donut, but I’m not above enjoying a made-to-order omelette and coffee while they’re hoofing it.

Afterwards, we head for Military Park where we shout them across the finish line, meet them under the “S” in the family reunion area, and take a couple of pictures. Then it’s on to full-blown collapse with an in-room movie.

Other family traditions include dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Some of us hit the mall, others hit the pool, and two of us run (we don’t walk) to the Starbucks on Monument Circle.

Then there’s the annual Sunday brunch at LePeep’s. Not surprisingly, there’s the yearly dispute over who gets to carry the key card. Someone will get shoved into the hallway (without the card, of course), and there will be a few games of tag with the elevators.

We will briefly consider leaving the lot of them in Indy and tearing for the city limits. Our Christian maturity, however, will prevent us, and we’ll end up taking them home. Oddly enough, we will do it all again next year.

As Oldest Son’s fast-moving feet carried him to a PR (placing in the top 1.25% of runners), his mother expresses a desire to swap legs. She realizes, however, that this would require new shoes and wonders, “Just how is that bad?”

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