Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lost in an even bigger parking lot

I'm happy to say that I survived another 10 mile race this past weekend. And though I was worried that my excessive gallivanting and lack of running over the past few months would hurt my speed (what little I have), I ran the race only 9 seconds slower than last time. Not bad. And I give my friend Renee, who is running a big race in less than three weeks, 100% of the credit. We decided to run together at the last minute and bless her heart, although she's in marathon shape and I, clearly, am not, she stayed with me the entire time, which motivated me to run faster than I would have.

Because Brad and I both knew that he would finish the race before me, we agreed that he would accomplish our two post-race tasks so that we could meet at our designated spot and join the atrocious line for the metro ASAP:
1. Pick up our belongings at bag check (note: the bag included my metro card, cell phone, money, house keys, etc. and was checked under Brad's number)
2. Obtain water and food for both of us asap

After Renee and I finished the race, I went immediately to the bus stop, my designated meeting place with Brad. I was surprised not to see him because we've never experienced problems finding each other after races. I went with Renee to retrieve her bag, hoping to see Brad standing in line to claim our stuff. No such luck. I checked our meeting place again and didn't see him. I then wondered around the Pentagon parking lot for about 20 minutes, among 25,000+ people, sporadically returning to our meeting spot, growing increasingly nervous at his absence.

Then I started to panic and my mind began to play tricks on me. "Did he tell me to meet him at a different bus stop?" "Where the hell is he?!" "How will I get home without my metro card, phone, or keys?" And finally, with horror, "Was Brad the guy passed out on the 14th Street Bridge with paramedics hovering over him and I didn't even notice??"

I felt like my eight-year-old self again. On a family vacation in 1982, my parents lost me at Opryland in Nashville (back in the good old days when Opryland was an amusement park) for the better part of a day. Like the obedient youngster that I was, I followed the instructions that are often hammered into the heads of children: when lost, ask for help and stay put. I quickly appealed to an employee and I sat and cried in the lost and found office all day long, the only place my parents didn't think to look until the park was closing! In retrospect, was this incident a precursor of future estrangements with my family? Possibly, but I digress.

Brad and I did find each other eventually. We figured out that I must have made it to our meeting place before he did. Brad was busy retrieving our bag and claiming food and he didn't expect his out-of-shape wife to finish the race so quickly. Although we both kept circling back to the bus stop, our paths didn't cross for nearly 20 minutes.

Brad and I both relearned a childhood lesson on Sunday: when lost, ask for help and stay put.

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