Part of my motivation to run more was the hope that I’d inspire the kids to want to join in on the activity. When we registered for the Princess Half Marathon weekend races, we signed Cordy and Mira up for the one mile race for kids. We expected to see Cordy cross the finish line first, with Mira further behind. But we were shocked when Mira was the first one sprinting across the finish line in under eleven and a half minutes, with Cordy following about a minute later. Mira quickly recovered from the dash and declared she wanted to try longer distances.
I went looking for a 5k that would be friendly to kid runners, especially if she couldn’t do the distance and we needed to slow walk a part of it. Mira insisted it had to be a race with a medal – the kid takes after me in her love of runner bling. I found out about a new race called the MommyMile, which encouraged kids to run along with their moms, and decided it would be a good first 5k for her to do in late April. And it had a medal.
Thanks to some bad weather, we didn’t get in as much training as I would have liked for Mira. The day of the race was chilly, which made me worry that she’d decide she didn’t want to do it anymore. Getting up early on the weekend is bad enough, but getting up early to go out into the cold is even less exciting to a seven year old. Surprisingly, she was still ready to go and looking forward to the race.
I had a deliberately slow plan for us: we’d do intervals of 30 seconds of running, followed by one minute of walking. I can run faster intervals than that, but I didn’t want to wear Mira out too quickly.
At the start line, Mira was bouncing with energy, so excited to get started. I reminded her that during our run intervals, she needed to not go at 100% or she’d run out of steam. She agreed that she would run slow and conserve her energy.
Crossing the start line, though, she shot ahead of me, weaving in and out of people with an enormous smile on her face as she glanced back to check where I was. I had to push myself to keep up with her. When my Garmin watch signaled it was time to walk, I called out to her and she slowed, waiting for me to catch up to her. I reminded her to pace herself, and she replied that she was running slow. We repeated this process for several sets of intervals.
But then right before the first mile marker, it caught up to her. She looked out of breath and she told me her side was hurting. “Let’s walk this next run interval and take some deep breaths,” I suggested. She was happy to comply. After she caught her breath, I again suggested running slower, and she finally agreed with me.
Now that she wasn’t huffing and puffing, though, she had enough air to complain:
“This second mile is taking forever!”
“Where is the water station?”
“OMG, we have to run uphill again?”
“I’m SO tired and my feet hurt!”
I can’t blame her – I have many of those same thoughts in the middle of a race, although I usually only say them in my head.
I remained her coach through the entire race, reminding her that she can do anything for 30 seconds, and that she was stronger than she thought she was. I reminded her about the medal at the end, too, and that she had to finish the race to earn the medal.
As we reached the last half mile, the smile returned to her face. “We’re almost there! I can see it!” She had renewed energy and started to run a little bit faster. Seeing people cheering for the runners at the end helped boost her spirits, too. She yelled thank you to those cheering us on as we passed them.
We made the final turn, and with the finish line in sight Mira sprinted towards it as she waved at Aaron and Cordy cheering for us. I could see how proud she was to finish the race and collect her medal. I was proud of her for sticking with it and not giving up.
And – like many runners – despite the complaining during the race, after she had a snack and some water and rested for a bit, Mira asked, “When can I do another 5k?”
Welcome to the club, kid.