Guess what, Friends! I won Mother’s Day!

But it wasn’t easy. I almost puked!

Flashback to last year: On May 14, 2017, I wrote, “Note to self: Next year plan a better Mother’s Day!”

On Mother’s Day last year, my daughter was sick, I was grumpily awaiting certain bad news, and I ruined the day with a less-than-enthusiastic response to Nina’s last-minute pitch to make triple-chocolate chocolatey chocolate-chip cupcakes.


(The kind who doesn’t like cleaning up the kitchen after baking projects that yield dozens of triple-chocolate chocolatey chocolate-chip cupcakes. For a household of two.)

Remember the arts-and-crafts Mother’s Day years? This goes back to 2014. Sniff!

Nina spent last year’s Mother’s Day sulking on the couch watching TV; I made dinner. No one was happy. I vowed to Do Better this year.

Flash forward to March 2018: I realized this was the first spring in many years in which I did not have a Major Race on the calendar (like Boston or Two Oceans or the Philadelphia Love Run Half). Huh.

I’d been running enough to finish a half-marathon, so I scrolled around for a race within driving distance on a weekend not already booked with a swim meet, recital, or congregational obligation. That’s tricky calculus.

I found a half-marathon in Brooklyn on Mother’s Day.

“I can’t do that,” I thought. “That’s Mother’s Day.”

And then, “Wait a minute! It’s Mother’s Day! I can do a half-marathon if I want to.”

The Brooklyn Half-Marathon, you say? Isn’t that the largest half-marathon in the country, with some 27,000 finishers in 2017? Didn’t that sell out in like two seconds once registration opened?

Well NO. And YES.

The former Airbnb Brooklyn Half-Marathon IS the largest in the country. It has been renamed—I am not joking—the Popular Brooklyn Half-Marathon. It is on Saturday, May 19, and you can’t register for it at the last minute unless you can run a 1:15 half-marathon. (FALL OVER LAUGHING.)

The Brooklyn Mother’s Day Half Marathon, by contrast, had fewer than 350 participants. Someone mean might be tempted to call it the Unpopular Half-Marathon. But it was perfect for my needs.

Mother's Day Half-Marathon

At a small race in Brooklyn, you can pose under the finish line. Where are all the other runners? Not here! :)

Getting Nina, now 13, on board was easy: the promise of a post-race visit to Smorgasburg, an artisanal open-air foodie market conveniently open on Sundays in Prospect Park, where the race was held.

My friend Rick proved what a good man he is by not only paying for my race entry but agreeing to give up his day to drive to Brooklyn, get to the race 1.5 hours early (who me, obsessive?), stand with Nina in the cold drizzle for two-ish hours it would take me to run, and then wait around after for the post-race age-group award ceremony.

Because guess what? If you get old and you show up and you pick a tiny race the week before a Popular race and the day is rainy and cold and Normal People are sensibly celebrating the holiday indoors with brunch, YOU MIGHT WIN YOUR AGE GROUP!

Mother's Day Half-Marathon

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I didn’t see many older women here,” Rick said. “I think you might have won your age group.”

We stood in full-on-rain afterward at Smorgasburg eating hand-cut French fries with curry ketchup, hand-made pork dumplings with scallions, barbecue chicken banh buns, chocolate-nib chocolate-frosted doughnut (NINA not ME), and drinking beer (Rick) and to-die-for “dirty” chai tea-espresso latte. (I drove home). Yum. Hungry yet?

I am going to brag about my time here because it was a Major Accomplishment, and also, I know you’re nice, and you’ll forgive me.

When I ran the 2017 Philadelphia Half in 1:56, I learned that if I could get under 1:54, I could nab a “guaranteed entry” to the New York City Marathon. I suspected I was in good enough running shape to break 2 hours, but 1:54 was going to be tight, if not impossible.

I ran as hard as I could sustain. I kept my eye on the watch every mile. I tried to stay Deena Kastor positive (possibly my hardest task). I nearly lost my cookies at the finish! No joke! I staggered across with my hand over my mouth. But I did it! 1:53:13. True to my historic form, I squeaked in!

I WON MOTHER’S DAY! Or okay, my age group in a half-marathon. And delicious food with the people I love.

Mother's Day Half-Marathon

Rick bought the bib number, Nina tolerated the wait. Thank you!

But just so we don’t fall into a rosy FB-fiction trap: After the race, I came home, let the dogs out, closed myself in a carpeted closet so I could call my mother, who is 90 and can’t hear very well, TO SHOUT ON THE PHONE. Pardon? Pardon? And then I came downstairs. And you know those rug tiles I spent all Saturday taking outside, vacuuming, powerwashing, and cleaning the wood floors beneath before replacing? The dogs had peed and pooped on them. That, my friends, is what we call Real Life.

Mother's Day Half-Marathon

Our athletic superpower is a stubborn determination to keep showing up: My mother, age 89 at the time, taking a silver medal in the Senior Games 5K.

This year was a very good Mother’s Day. I hope you had some measure of happiness in yours, too.