Nope. My mission involved finding a large Badger decked out in a red and white striped sweater and snap a picture with him. Because really. How can I call myself Badgergirl if I don't even have photographic evidence of me standing next to Bucky Badger?
Oh yeah. There was that whole Fox Firecracker 5K that I was supposed to be running on the Fourth of July too.
Race day dawned bright and early. And hot and humid. I think the thermometer at my parents' house was reading 80 degrees at 6:45 a.m. when we left for the race site. Knowing it was going to be a scorcher, I took my handheld water bottle along, not knowing if I was actually going to take it with my during the run or just rely on the water stations.
We got to the race site and had about an hour to kill before the race started. My parents and I met up with my brother, his wife and their three kids. My brother, sister-in-law and I were running while my Dad was going to be walking (his second 5K!). Mom was serving as our personal race photographer and watcher of The Rugrats.
There were supposed to be skydivers, but the race director said he got a call early that morning tell him there would be no people jumping out of planes that day - too windy - but he assured us they were already confirmed for the Firecracker 5K 2011 edition.
But it was OK there weren't skydivers. Because out of the corner of my eye I saw him.
Strolling down the street with Fuzzy Fox (the triathlon club mascot). And behind the two furry mascots came a part of the UW marching band, who were set to give us a mini-Fifth Quarter before the starting gun went off. While I did have my Mom's camera in hand, I knew there wasn't going to be a chance for me to get the photo I desperately wanted. He had some mascot duties to fulfill before the race started.
After the band played the national anthem the gun sounded and we were off.
The first mile was pretty congested. While it's great this is a family-friendly race, I really wish some folks would learn that walkers should start towards the back. Not right at the front. And especially not at the front if they're going to walk 5 across with their best friends. Needless to say there was a lot of weaving in the first half-mile or so.
Soon I settled into a walker-free zone and just started running. Right up the first hill (unfortunately the hills didn't disappear during the last year in Kaukauna). Shortly after reaching the top of the hill I glanced to my right and discovered I was running right next to my brother. I hit him in the shoulder, said hi and we actually ran together for a few blocks. Then his long legs left me in the dust.
Kept running. Walked through the water stop. Drank about three-quarters of the water and dumped the rest of it on my head. Started running again, made sure to run through the sprinklers some people had set up.Still had a pretty decent time going through 2 miles.
But that last mile? Brutal. All of a sudden the heat was starting to get to me. And as much as I didn't want to, I ended up taking two short walk breaks (which actually turned into three since I didn't realize there was a second water station). But I ran along the bridge past the veterans, ran up the hill and was making my way back to the finish line. The Badger band was set up and playing on the very last bridge and of course I got a little extra speed when I went passed them.
Near the final turn I saw my Mom and the Rugrats standing on the curb. I gave the Rugrats high-fives as I ran by, turned the corner and kicked it into a sprint to the finish line. Felt pretty strong at the end.
The race was done. Finished the 5K in 32 minutes, 55 seconds. Not a PR, but I'll take it considering the heat and humidity that I ran in.
I grabbed some water and bagel bites from the food tent and headed out to watch my Dad and sister-in-law come across the finish line.
Now the 5K was done. On to the day's most important mission: Finding Bucky.
We headed over to a picnic table in the park area and waited for the Badger Band. After the race they were going to be doing a Fifth Quarter performance. Anyone who's ever been to a football game at Camp Randall Stadium knows what a Fifth Quarter is, but for those that don't, it's the magic that happens on the field after the football game has finished. At most stadiums, people leave immediately. At Camp Randall? We stick around for the band to take the field and entertain us. So much fun. Read more here.
So we were waiting. And all of a sudden the band starts showing up. Right in front of our table. Oh boy. A band? Means Bucky's nearby.This was going to be good.
I kid you not. Thirty seconds later I turn and there, standing right behind my brother, is Bucky. JACKPOT!
I grabbed the camera and stood next to Bucky while Dad snapped the pictures. My niece didn't want her picture taken, but the two boys did. And the Middle Rugrat? Apparently he loved Bucky and told his Mom he wants to be in that band. YES! A future Badger in the making :)