It’s not often that a 13 year-old kid gets to run a 5K with his… uh… grandfather. (Yes, that’s what I said.) It’s even less often that a kid has the chance to go to a rave with said grandfather.
Stop right there and let that sink in for a moment. Imagine yourself at a RAVE with your GRANDFATHER! The bass coming out of the speakers is so deep and loud that it’s making your chest vibrate. There are lights, lasers, and neon colors everywhere. The DJ is pumping out his mixes. The music is building… building… buiLDING! Then BOOM! THE DROP! (Yes, this grandpa knows what the drop is.)
Here, watch this video. Picture your grandfather in the middle of it. Think of him enjoying it. (By the way, your grandfather knows that’s the White Stripes.)
Damn! You’re grandfather is cool, yo!
When my grandson sent me a text to tell me there was a race he REALLY wanted to do, how could I refuse? If any one of my descendants asks to run a race with me, I will always say yes! Yet, the idea of a “rave race” felt a little out of my comfort zone. Usually, it’s other aspects of a race that would challenge my comfort zone, especially the distance involved. When I ran my first 10K after several 5Ks it was a challenge. When I trained for and ran my first half marathon I definitely ventured outside my comfort zone. But a race with dancing involved? I wasn’t so sure about that. The race was in Chester, Pa, which was a two-hour drive for us. That did’t matter. I agreed to sign us up because it was a good opportunity to go on an adventure with this young man.
Our journey began with lunch at Toby’s Cup in Phillipsburg, NJ. If you’re going to run you need to fuel up, right? Even more so if you’re going to dance. I don’t usually eat a cheeseburger on a hard roll with ketchup and onions pre-race, but this adventure was different. Plus, how could we drive right past Toby’s and resist stopping for a cheeseburger? A Toby’s cheeseburger is truly something to RAVE about! Toby’s is a Phillipsburg landmark. That building is older than I am. And I’m a grandfather! That’s old.
The Night Nation event was held at the Philadelphia Union Stadium in Chester, PA. It was a long drive to get there and it rained most of the way. The event was rain or shine so we journeyed on and hoped for a break in the weather. The pre-party started at 7PM and the race started at 8. The location was next to the Delaware River and the winds were uncomfortable. We picked up our t-shirts and then sat in the car to stay dry.
By 6:30, the sky was starting to clear and the sun was peaking through the clouds. We left the car and mingled with the growing crowd. We were impressed with how many people were arriving. It was turning out to be quite a crowd. My grandson’s excitement was growing by the minute.
At 7, when the music got going, it was as hard to resist as a Toby’s cheeseburger. We moved closer to the stage. The Night Nation crew certainly knew how to pump up the excitement. They were tossing out loads of free rave jazz. Light up glasses, glow sticks, t-shirts. Damn, I wanted a pair of those glasses to be like the cool kids! They weren’t tossing any hats out to the crowd. That was what my grandson really wanted. So, being a proper grandpa, I shelled out the 20 bucks for a hat with a neon pink brim. The gloves with the light-up fingertips that I pre-ordered weren’t cool enough for the grandson’s standards. So, I’m stuck with those. (I bet your grandfather doesn’t own gloves with light-up fingertips.)
Realizing this race report is getting lengthy and I haven’t even gotten to the running part yet, I think we all need to take a break to listen to some tunes. We’ve all been sitting too long. Time to dance along with this video.
Now do some speed work…
At 7:55, the DJ announced, “5 minutes to race time!” Some in the crowd began to make their way to the start line. A young guy with a beer in his hand standing behind me said to his buddy, “There go all the runners.” That surprised me a little. I’m used to being in large crowds of people that are excited to run when it’s 5 minutes before start time. I thought maybe these guys got talked into coming by their running friends that were truly pumped about running.
There were a few thousand people or more crammed into the start area. A DJ was at the start line. Runners were being released in waves. The music was pumping and I was truly excited to run. I assumed most of the people around me were… except for maybe that one guy who pulled a big bottle of rum out of a backpack, followed by a bottle of Coke, and began to mix drinks with some friends.
And where was the timing clock?
Our wave finally started and we tried to take off. Within 50 yards we pretty much ran into a wall of people that were walking or running around in circles or in random directions. It was kind of a free for all. It was then that I realized that in this “rave run” the emphasis was on rave for most of the attendees. It was all a big party with a 5K in the middle. The party continued along the course with several DJs and speakers pumping music most of the way. There were also selfie booths with lines of people waiting to take photos. The true give away that this was more of a party than a race was the DJ at the halfway point who was yelling, “I hate running! That’s why I’m up here as a DJ! Don’t run! Stay here and party!”
When I hit the first wall of people, I decided this race would be an obstacle course for me with thousands of techno-addled humans as moving obstacles. Thank God for all the trail running I’d been doing lately. I had to run through grass, weeds, rocks, and puddles to get around the reveling crowd. I was running at a good pace. My form was good. All systems were functioning well. I hit the two mile mark and knew by glancing at my RunKeeper app that I would finish the 5K well within 30 minutes, probably close to 28. The course wrapped around the other side of the stadium with a few twists and turns. Then suddenly… THE FINISH LINE? At 2.14 miles? NO! NO! NO! No timing clock?? Nooooooooo!
When crossing the finish line, I encountered what I deduced to be a happily intoxicated young man giving high fives to people. He looked at me and said, “Whoa! Duuuuuude! You’re like…. 48! And you just won the race!”
“Duuuuuuuude! 48? Nah! I’m FIFTY-THREE!”
I don’t think his brain was capable of comprehending such a large number. Imagine if I told him… building… building… buiLDING! BOOM! DROP! “I’M A GRANDPA!”
Immediately after running, we were right back to the stage area. My grandson loved it! He was fascinated by the scene, especially now that it was dark out and the lights had an even stronger effect. The music was louder. The crowd was bigger. Everyone was sweaty. And I was still a grandfather… right in the middle of a crowd of dancing bouncing youngsters. It was when I got a good strong whiff of marijuana smoke that I knew the party was over for the kid and me. I’m cool and all that, but I’m not into the weed and I certainly didn’t want a 13 year-old exposed to it. I was wondering how I was going to convince him to leave when he turned to me and shouted over the music, “I’M HUNGRY!” Can you get the munchies from secondhand pot smoke??
We left, found a Wawa, got two Italian subs, and got on the PA Turnpike to get home. A few miles down the road, the grandkid was looking at his phone and saying, “Hey, Pappy. There’s another rave run on June 3 in Brooklyn. We should go!”
DJ (Dear Jesus), help me!
I leave you with one last video.