We awoke at 4:15 a.m. to the sound of a gentle rain and a forecast for thunderstorms across the state. “Do you think we could find another way to honor Mama’s birthday besides driving to Charleston and going across the bridge?” Ann asked, her tone a mixture of hope and doubt. I considered her question about ten seconds before saying, “I vote that we head in that direction and make a final decision as we get closer.” After all, Marjorie Ann didn’t raise her children to be quitters at the first sign of adversity…or that’s what I told myself.
We drove along in darkness until nearly 7:00, by which time we had arrived in Mt. Pleasant. Traffic was already awful, and we had to inch along in traffic until we finally found a spot in a grassy parking area. By now it was 7:20, and there were thousands and thousands of people talking animatedly, posing for pictures, and working their way to the start line. The energy was electrifying, and that’s no exaggeration. Someone was playing the National Anthem on a saxophone…LOVED it. We saw a family dressed as a bunch of bananas, a man sort of sitting in an inflatable horse, several men dressed in red dresses, someone dressed as Superman, two people attired in Batman costumes, and too many other interesting outfits to mention.
Ann and I separated almost right away because she was determined to walk the whole way, and I was just as determined to do a little jogging and a little walking. I couldn’t help but remember the days when I would never allow myself to walk (only jog) until I had reached downtown Charleston. Those days are long gone. Now I just have fun and enjoy the event as I make my way down Coleman Boulevard, over the awesome bridge, and through the streets of historic Charleston.
This year the turnout of encouraging, supportive people seemed extraordinary in number and enthusiasm. There were shouts of “You’re looking good,” and “You can do it,” all along King Street. There was also a lot more music, and I know the other participants enjoyed it as much as we did. There appeared to be many more volunteers offering water and directions, and I later learned there were 2500 of them. I hope they know how much their efforts were appreciated. Oh, and those water sprays were ultra refreshing.
As I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer say that 19,000 people had now completed the 6.2 mile distance, and I felt good to know that I was in the top half…even if it was the bottom of that half! I also recalled that in my first few years of “doing the bridge,” there were only a couple of thousand participants in the entire event. Someone told me that in the first year, there weren’t even 100. This year, there were so many of us crossing together that I didn’t even see my nephew Greg and his fiancée Anna who crossed hearing the same message.
We went on to the park for a feast of apples, oranges, bagels, muffins, and bananas…all compliments of Piggly Wiggly. Oh, and there was water…thousands and thousands of bottles of Dasani. Al Gore would have been pleased to note that the plastic bottles were being recycled. Highlights of the park finish for me have always been the music and the Chick fil-A cows dancing to the band’s tunes. This year was especially tremendous because the cows had apparently learned to line dance, and they were irresistible to watch. Several race participants joined them on the stage.
Ann, Greg, Anna, and I boarded a shuttle that took us back to Mt. Pleasant, all the time chatting about our fun day. It took a lot of effort to get up so early, drive to Charleston, exert the energy, and then drive home, but we all agreed that it was well worth it. By the way, the morning was sunny and warm…a reminder not to let naysayers or weathermen determine your decisions
One more detail is worth mentioning. Remember how I mentioned that Ann and I did this to commemorate our mother’s birthday? Well, get this. After we did a little shopping at TJ Maxx, we decided to grab a bite to eat at Cici’s Pizza. To us, it was no coincidence that a little girl was celebrating her birthday there. When her friends sang “Happy Birthday,” I was thinking of another “girl” born on April 5.
Will you join us next year? You won’t regret it.