Its been a couple of years since health and fitness became important to me. Out of my 32 years, that means that the first 30 were spent NOT focused on health or fitness. This summer has had its ups and downs. Tough Mudder made me feel like I was going to die, and after the pulled muscle that I brought home from Minnesota with me, I haven’t really been able to push things too hard, but yesterday was my first 5K of the summer. I finished in my worst recorded 5K time, but I did score a really nice Nike dry fit shirt, a Backpocket pint glass filled with BEER and a Scratch cupcake.
This morning was the annual healthy kids event. This was my first 5K run ever last year and I enjoyed running alongside my girls as well. We started the morning with a 5K for Cory, in which he proved that he actually IS a runner. With a time just under 27 minutes, he placed 3rd in his age group.
I try to do a good job of exposing my kids to lots of experiences, and to teach them to push themselves and to their best. There are lots of kids who have grown up with athletic parents. Kids that can beat me in a 5K. My kids aren’t those kids, but today they both made me so proud of them, for being them. Thea ran the 400 meters and I joined her about half way through and held her hand as we pushed through the last 100 meters. You could tell she was struggling, but she did it!
Leila. My Leila can be such a stubborn little thing. It is a blessing and a curse to me as I try to steer her through childhood. Today as we discussed which races each of the girls should do, though Leila doesn’t really do any running, she decided right away that she would run the 1 mile. I knew it would be hard for her, I think it is important to let her try. We explained that it was 4 times around the track and she was certain she wanted to do it. After the first lap Leila was in last place out of the 10 or so kids participating, but sticking with it. Lap two as she neared the corner where Thea and I were waiting to cheer her on, I could tell she was fading. With more than half the distance to go I decided she needed some extra encouragement and I hopped on the track next to her. She wanted to walk and I told her that we could walk, but she needed to pick a point when we would start running again. She stubbornly rejected all of my suggestions, “We can start running at that cone” Leila would quickly respond, “No!”
On her own terms, she decided when to start running and as we started lap three, it was obvious to both of us that the volunteers had lost track of us and assumed we were on lap 4 with the faster kids in front of us. Leila told me she couldn’t do it and wanted to stop, but as we came around the track after lap three and everyone cheered on our finish, my girl kept on going. I can’t even put into words how proud I am of Leila. At a time when she wanted to quit AND everyone around her thought she was done anyway, she kept going. She finished the mile. Last place, and proud of herself.
Unfortunately, the race staff thought that she had finished the shorter race that had started while we were finishing our last lap of the mile and gave her a medal. Because I had left Leila to finish on her own while I ran along with Thea, I wasn’t there to correct the mistake in time. When Leila showed us the medal we talked about what had happened and all agreed that we needed to give back the medal and let them know that some little girl that finished the 400 meter race in second place did not get the medal she deserved. I am not gonna lie, there were some quiet tears from Leila, and I was secretly hoping that they would let her keep the medal, but she gave it back.
As we made our way back to the car you could tell that Leila was really struggling to keep it together. I got down on my knee in front of my big girl and with tears in my own eyes I told her, “I have never been more proud of you then today Leila.” And I meant it. She showed such great persistence, commitment and most of all, character. A weekend full of athletic ups and downs has reminded me that my 36 minute 5K may not make me feel like a winner, but raising kids that are set on doing their own personal best, and participating even when they may not have a competitive advantage or advanced skills does make me feel pretty awesome.