the weekend that lasted for weeks

and don't be sorry."
-Jack Kerouac

Memorial Day weekend was the kind of weekend that feels like weeks have passed all in the span of three days time. It just kept on going. Truthfully, for me, the long weekend was this cluster of life lessons learned. The good kind of life lessons, not the kind that you have to wait years to figure out. The instant life lessons.
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned from our weekend is that you should never, ever let the rain deter you. I think I will find an eloquent way to phrase that and hang it over our front door.

You see, over the weekend the forecast was allllll rain. Rain, thunder, rain, more rain, sunshine for an hour, then rain. Every single thing we had planned for our kick-off-to-summer weekend could have easily been cancelled due to inclement weather.

I could have woken up on Saturday morning and declared: no way am I racing in a duathlon in this downpour! But I didn’t. I braved the storm. The entire race I kept repeating to myself, this is INSANE! This is Insane. THIS IS INSANE. This. Is. Insane. I ran the first leg quickly with a smile plastered on my face the entire time while it rained buckets. I was still largely ahead in the group when I got to the bike racks, and was still smiling while I pulled on my gloves and snapped the clip to my helmet.

This is insane!

I hopped on my bike and rode off gallantly to brave the eighteen mile ride. The faster I went, the colder I got. Rain poured from the visor on my helmet, falling down my nose and cheeks. I was soaked to the bone. The rain kept pouring and the wind cut cold and crisp. I sped down hills, I climbed up hills. I didn't need to stop for water because I could just open my mouth! Well if that's not convenient. I was passed by cyclists, I passed cyclists, all of us telling one another good job! You’re doing great!, which is my favorite part of this racing business, all of the uplifting people. People are good, I hope I never forget that. I tried not to focus on how sopping wet I was, or how freezing cold I was. I kept on smiling. 

After finishing the bike ride, I jumped off my bike only to find that I couldn’t feel my own fingers, let alone use them to unclip my helmet! I asked a nice man passing by if he could kindly unclip my helmet for me. He said something about my being “hard core”, and while I laughed and smiled at him, I imagined that I must have looked like a woman smiling just after her botox. Just upon overcoming my inability to unclip my own helmet, I found my newest problem was that I couldn’t feel my feet. How in the WORLD am I supposed to run one more leg when I CAN’T FEEL MY FEET? I was truly baffled. Were people still running? Could everyone else feel their feet? Did everyone give up? Is this the most ridiculous thing I've ever done in my entire life?! I did what I could to pick up my waterlogged shoes and put one foot in front of the other. Just keep going. You can do it. THIS. IS. INSANE.

Somehow I finished the race, and somehow I finished first in my division. It was such fun I tell you, such a high-without-the-drugs kind of fun. As I waited for my moment to stand on my first place podium I inhaled a delicious hot blueberry pancake, ripping large pieces apart with my fingers because my hands were shaking so badly that I couldn’t manage using a fork. My teeth chattered and I jumped up and down to keep myself warm, all while I thought about how grand that was and how I couldn’t wait to race another duathlon! I am so forever glad that I didn’t back out because of the weather.

We could have said, no way are we going camping in this rain! Forget it! But we didn’t. We packed up our camper with supplies and lots of blankets and we headed out of town to join family in the mountains. We spent the next two days sloshing around in the most mud I’ve seen all year. When it poured, we all huddled inside our tiny cabin around a warm wood fire. When it wasn’t pouring, we sat around the fire pit or hiked the hills. Our boys slept like angels both nights. Monday morning Beck woke up early, so he and I had a long early morning sunrise hike that was so beautiful. The cool morning air, the greenery filled with chirping birds, the river flowing beneath us and the patches of thick clouds that layered the mountain tops above us. It was the kind of quality time with my sweet baby that made my heart swell. We ate good food and we laughed and told stories and spent much needed time with our family, with each other. I am so forever glad that we didn’t back out because of the weather.

We returned home on Monday afternoon and we could have easily called quits on our last planned event of the weekend because, look at those clouds rolling in! It’s starting to rain again. Let’s just call it good and not take out the kayaks. And we almost did just that. We were THIS close to not going kayaking. It was cool and windy and starting to sprinkle, Beck had just woken up from a long nap and we were slightly exhausted and we had to rush to pack up our things. But somehow we kept with it. For some reason we picked up our kayaks from their racks in the garage and strapped them in the truck, we took the boys to Grandpa’s, we got our life jackets and we found the perfect spot to put in the river, just as it started to rain again.

Of all of the things we did this weekend, and they were all so very wonderful, I can probably say that our run in the kayaks down the river was the best thing of all. It turns out that kayaking in the rain is INSANELY romantic. It was this mighty adrenaline rush to kayak down such a fast moving river. It was a slightly scary lesson learned about paddling out of a debris-filled eddy that is trying to suck your kayak under. It was a massive amount of respect for the strength and beauty of the river. It was sweet tiny baby ducks floating next to us. It was vast jungle of green trees covering us in the most gorgeous scenery I have witnessed in a very long time. It was tears springing to my eyes because of it all. It was heaven, a beautiful, monumental high that I still haven’t come down from. 

I am so forever glad that we didn’t back out because of the weather.

After kayaking we were with family again, eating smoked ribs and having some laughs, when the weekend that lasted for weeks drew to a close. I couldn't ask for a better ending than the warm slice of homemade peach pie with a brown sugar crumble crust that melted in my mouth. We drove home in the dim light of the sunset, Dan and I hand in hand, the boys and pup happy and tired and still covered in dirt, the kayaks strapped in the back. It was as though there should have been credits appearing at this moment while we drove to our home, this stupidly silly fairytale-like ending to the day.

It was a wonderful lesson. When at all possible, in the event that you will still be safe, of course, never ever let the rain deter you. You might lose what would have been some awfully beautiful memories.

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