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Neon Vibe Has Both Good and Bad Vibes
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
I rarely have “one of those days” but on this particular Saturday, it all came to a head.
I signed up for the Neon Vibe 5k. Usually road races take place early in the morning, a time when I do not function. But this one was at 9 p.m. I couldn't resist it, even though the price was a little more than I would prefer paying. The Fort Wayne participants would be running for Riley Children's Hospital, so that softened the blow a little. But I'm sure someone had to pay for the stage, the sound system, the people involved, and the packets of neon powder.
The evening got off to a bad start when my tree-hating neighbor knocked on my door right when I was getting ready to leave. She's convinced my trees are going to kill me, then jump over the fence and kill her. She won't be happy until every living plant in my backyard is gone. I managed to leave the house without confronting her.
I parked at Northcrest Shopping Center, because I didn't feel like paying $5 for parking for an event that might last and hour and a half, tops. My phone alerted me to a voicemail, and I checked it to find a co-worker wondering where I was. Uh oh. I had originally requested the entire weekend off (it was my birthday, after all) but was denied. I then thought I requested to work a mid shift, but ended up asking for the day off. I got it (I thought) because my schedule had said “denied,” then “approved.” I guess it wasn't. Oops.
I'd purchased glow bracelets from the dollar store. I don't usually get into the spirit of stuff like this, but I figured a couple packs of bracelets from the dollar store would be way cheaper than buying them at the venue. I opened the packages and activated the bracelets. One of them seemed dead, but I put it in my pocket anyway. I put the other four around my wrists. Then, I placed the other five glow sticks in my hair. I waited in line with everyone else until our heat began. I thought I felt something hit the back of my head. I didn't turn around right away, but I finally did. I saw a 14-year-old boy, and his younger brother, with a shit-eating grin on his face. I felt my hair. Four glow sticks, when there should have been five. I kept counting and counting. I reached for the dead glow stick in my pocket, which was now alive, and stuck it in my hair. I wasn't absolutely sure that kid took one of my glow sticks, but the thought infuriated me anyway. I'd just turned 47 three days before, and I'd had the stupid idea when I was a kid that when I was an adult, I wouldn't have to put up with people being jerks to me anymore, especially 14-year-old boys. Well, maybe all that will change when I get my concealed carry permit.
Finally, the race started. Since I'm not a professional runner, I hung back with the people who were mainly there for the party. It wasn't advertised as an all-ladies event, but from the looks of things, it certainly seemed that way. I guess the guys were at home having World of Warcraft marathons. We were herded into the starting area, and we were off. I don't “run,” but I do jog. It's a slow jog, but it IS a jog. I set my pace, and managed to maintain it until near the end of the race, when I picked it up a bit.
The route was set along a street close to the river. It wasn't very well lit, but that was the point. A couple of coloring stations, with black lights, featured race workers throwing neon powder onto particpants. At the first coloring station I entered, a small girl was about to throw powder on me, but pulled back, saying something that sounded like, “oh, she's too fat.” No shit, kid. I'm working on that.
I kept trotting along, my fellow participants walking. (We were perhaps a quarter mile into the event.) Usually exercising makes me smile, but I had my classic bitchface on. My mistake with thinking my schedule had been cleared, my tree-hating next door neighbor, the kid who clipped me in the head (who possibly stole one of my glow sticks), and the kid who called me fat was pissing me off. I was getting to that point where everything was starting to get on my nerves. I'd woken up sluggish, and didn't really feel like going to this, and I shouldn't have. I was pissed off at the people with strollers. Pets weren't allowed at the event, but strollers were all over the place. One seemed intent on keeping up a good pace while weaving back and forth between runners, nearly cutting me off. When I reached the water station, all the water was gone. And of course, on the way back, the course was littered with water bottles, reminding me that it would be quite a while until I could quench my thirst.
Not everything was bad. The weather was perfect. Being in the back of the pack meant I had plenty of personal space. I didn't feel fatigued, even though it had been years since I'd been in a 5k. And the people who were walking (and one was in a motorized wheelchair; I couldn't decide if she was just keeping her companions company, or if she actually competed) made me feel (as well as look) positively athletic. I increased my pace near the finish line. And I was tempted to tell both the forty-something woman who was urging her foot-dragging daughter to keep going, “Christ Almighty, I'm 47 and I'm in front of BOTH of you. Thanks for making me feel EPIC.”
And then it was over. I crossed the parking lot and felt the glow sticks in my hair … six of them. WTF? I looked down at my wrists. The four from the first package was still there. And I had six in my hair, so there were ten glow sticks total. But how? It didn't make sense. And one of the glow sticks didn't match the others in terms of color, but I don't remember picking up one from the venue before the race began. So did the kid NOT take my glow stick? Did the stick actually fall out without me knowing? Was I blaming the kid for nothing? Was I losing my mind? (ENTIRELY POSSIBLE, by the way.)
Three Komets fans came toward me. “Ma'am,” said one respectfully, “what's going on across the parking lot?” I explained to him it was a 5k, and it was the after party. I told them I didn't have a great time, and my suspicion that a 14-year-old swiped one of my hair ornaments. “I thought once I became an adult, I wouldn't have to put up with that stuff,” I said to the woman. “I guess it never ends,” I said. “No, it doesn't,” she responded. I then asked her how the game turned out. Given the subdued nature of the drivers in the parking lot, I figured the Komets had lost.
But no, they'd won, in overtime. Thank goodness someone had a good night.