Going the Extra Mile(s)

I thought John might strangle me mid race when we realized what we thought was a 5k turned into an 8k.

The Ronald McDonald road race was on Sunday, and the weather was absolutely perfect. Starting a run when it’s chilly and finishing when it’s just starting to warm up is racing perfection.

My brother and his family joined us for the race, and we all set off at the gun. Tony sprinted ahead while John and I found our groove among the crowd. Maneuvering a jogging stroller in that crowd was tough. As we approached mile three, John turned to me and said, “So, this isn’t finishing at the Ronald McDonald House?” A lady next to us interrupted and said, “It is.” I received a death glare from John because we were almost to mile three and nowhere near where we started.

As we ran beyond the third mile, John called it quits. He had been a great sport and simply said, “That’s what I signed up for. I did it. I’m done.” Elijah and I kept going. Beyond mile four I was honestly starting to worry. I saw people ahead of me turning off towards the right, farther away from where we started. It confirmed what I feared, we were on the half marathon route. Panic. I knew I couldn’t push the jogging stroller for 13.1 miles.

At the next corner, a woman on her phone rerouted me and a few other runners up the steep hill towards Carver Arena. Talk about an arm and leg workout! I rounded the corner towards the finish line and confirmed with my brother that neither of us had run a 5k. It turns out that only the very first runner was routed for the 5k, and everyone else followed the half marathon route.

All things considered, we didn’t do too bad. (Besides the fact that Colin fell out of the stroller while Ashley was pushing it!) Tony ended up being a top finisher, Elijah and I were in the top 12, and even John finished just a couple of minutes behind us.

Thankfully everyone was in good spirits about the mixup. No matter how many miles we ran, it doesn’t come close to the challenges the families face when they need help from the RMHC.

I’ll run the race again next year, but it might take more convincing for John to join me.

Back to the RMHC for Easter

Last year John and I woke up on Easter morning at the Ronald McDonald House. I had a small breakdown when I saw the Easter baskets at the bottom of the stairs, knowing our son was sedated and getting ready to undergo another surgery that day. Instead of going to church on Easter, we sat in a patient waiting room and had lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Even after great news that evening, John and my Easter supper came from the gas station and we crawled in bed at the Ronald McDonald House again late that night.

This year, we spent Easter at the Ronald McDonald House again. But this time, we brought Elijah.

After some serious thought about how we wanted to spend Easter, John and I decided we wanted to give back to the place that gave us a shower and a bed last year on Easter. I contacted the volunteer coordinator and asked if we could serve an Easter meal to the people staying there. The date was available, and we started making arrangements. We decided a menu: traditional Easter ham, mashed potatoes, beans, fruit, rolls, and desserts. We purchased the groceries, and we brought everything with us to Iowa City.

With the help of my parents and my aunt, we spent the day preparing food for 35 people. One of the requirements for serving a meal is that everything must be prepared in the RMHC kitchen. While the ham baked, we prepped the other food. Thankfully my aunt is a master potato peeler and handled 15 lbs to feed all of the guests. In between preparation, we utilized the amazing playground out back and took in the gorgeous weather with Elijah. He was a rockstar all day and contributed his cheesy smile to the guests.

The day was emotional, and hearing people’s stories was inspiring. I can’t say much more because of confidentiality, but I’ll tell you it was the best Easter.