Tuesday, June 9, 2015
A friend from my running group shared this on my Facebook, and it is perfect.
Shane and I try not to push our interests on our kids. Both boys play baseball, like Shane did all the way through high school, but they both love it. If they didn't, we wouldn't push it. Luke is in taekwondo and Tommy will be soon--this is something neither Shane nor I have done. Last year, Luke started expressing an interest in running 5ks with me. Like a typical runner, he discovered that he hated the actual running part but couldn't wait to sign up for another race. In his first 5k, he finished in 30:37 and came in 5th in his age group--beaten only by 9 and 10 year olds. In his second 5k, it was a trail race and we finished in 35 minutes--earning him 2nd in his age group.
When a local 5k in support of an abused dog caught my eye, I asked Luke if he wanted to run it with me. He said, yes, of course. I told him that I could get him under 30 minutes if he stuck with me, but he was skeptical. The only running he does is at baseball, so it's not like he's been training. Still, I told him that I knew he could do it.
Race day was perfect--overcast and 60s. Luke was nervous beforehand, but I reminded him to channel those nerves. When we started off, Luke pulled ahead of me, and I reminded him to pace himself, but he remained ahead of me by about 1/4 mile. Although he didn't have a watch, I was running just over 9 mi/mi, so I knew he was hitting sub-9 miles. I was worried about him, but I loved watching his natural, bouncing stride from behind, and I really loved hearing the race volunteers cheer him on. Kids always get more cheers, I think, and it was awesome to hear those cheers for my child. Because this was an out and back course, he turned past me at the halfway point, and I got to cheer for him. The man next to me who told me originally that his 7 year old dog doesn't know how to pace herself (she kept up the whole race!) said, "Man, he is still going strong." At the two mile mark, he slowed to get a cup of water and dumped it over his head. I could see he was struggling a bit, and I caught up with him at 2.1. He started telling me he couldn't do it and he wanted to walk, but I reminded him that we just had a mile left and he could do this. At the last turn with a volunteer, I said, "He's struggling!" and the man started clapping and cheering and saying how amazing Luke was. This got him through a little bit more, then he started to walk. From past experience running with him, I know that if I run ahead, he will use me as a rabbit, but if I run next to him, he'll walk and whine, so I said, "There's no walking--I can see the tunnel to the finish line," and I pulled ahead of him. I kept about 1/4 mile ahead of him but continued to look over my shoulder. At one point, I could tell he was crying, but he was still running, so I kept going and shouted, "Come on, buddy. You can't let anyone pass you!" At which point, he picked it up. I also told him that if he was crying and yelling at me, he wasn't running hard enough. I'm such a nice mom.
The end of the race went through a tunnel on the bike path, and I knew that would be a good place to stop for him. I also knew from looking at my watch that if I kept going, I would get a PR. That thought flickered so briefly in my mind, but it wasn't even an option because getting Luke across the finish line meant more--so much more. I stopped and said, "Come on, come, you're going to cross the finish line ahead of me!" He caught up to me, still crying and yelling at me that he couldn't, but I reminded him that he could and he was. I pushed ahead and he kept even with me, then we got out of the tunnel, and there the finish line was. I dropped back a step so he could cross ahead of me, and then we were done. And the tears really started in earnest because he said his stomach hurt, but they dried up pretty soon when the two adults behind us came up to him and asked what his name was, then told him how he got them through the end because they were focused on him. The one man even brought his daughter over, probably about 12 years old, and asked her to tell Luke what hurts when she runs. She told him his chest, and I said, See? We all have something that hurts when we finish. We went over to the food and water table, where I knew all the workers and they all congratulated him. Some cold water perked him up and then he was all smiles and so proud of himself.
Because it was a charity 5k, the timing was donated so our results haven't yet been posted, and I was so caught up in the moment that I didn't stop my watch (THE HORROR), but Luke thinks he crossed at around 27:27. I know it was somewhere in the 27-minute range, which is quite frankly, so incredible to me for an 8 year old who doesn't really run. When it came time for awards, I knew he had finished in front of the other boys in his age group (yes, I definitely scoped out the competition!), so I was pretty sure he had the first place in his age group. They did females first, and I was surprised that I got 2nd in my age group because it was a ten year split. I won a hat, a $10 g/c to Fleet Feet and a key chain bottle opener (SCORE). Then they got to the males and after overall male winner, Luke's age group was first, and he won! The smile on his face was hard to beat. The man behind us who crossed just after Luke started cheering his name, as did my friends who were working the event, so it was pretty cool to listen to him have his own cheering squad.
(Tommy was jealous because no one was congratulating him for doing a fine job spectating.)
I have a feeling that if he continues running, I'll be seeing more and more of the back of his head, but it is right now so cool to share this common interest, to be able to cross a finish line together. It's something I never imagined when I held this little guy in my arms, but seeing him do this is the coolest thing ever. Mostly what impresses me is how he pushes through the mental part of it, which is honestly the toughest part of running for me. He wanted to stop. He was hurting. He was yelling that he couldn't do it, but aside from five steps walking, he ran the whole thing. I can't wait to see where this takes him.