Monday, August 16, 2010

Run like you’re 4

DSCF6603 You can learn a lot from your kid’s fun run. More than you might expect.

The thing about kids is that everything just is what it is. They don’t care about times or finishing places, wicking fabrics or fancy watches that can tell you your pace, distance, heart rate and color of your underwear. They’re not concerned with race strategy, weather conditions, or the type of course they’re on. They just run for (dare I say it?) fun. And you can see it by the ear to ear grin on their precious little faces.

My daughter, after cheering me on at a number of races, had been BEGGING me to run one herself. Now she’d done a few tot trots in the past, and even the one mile fun run with the family on Thanksgiving in Detroit a couple of times, which is fast becoming somewhat of a family tradition. But this was different. This was the first time SHE asked to do a race as opposed to me entering her on my own, then convincing her there was fun to be had by running it. This was HER race.

So, I got her some real running shoes, pink and sparkly, (she needed a new pair of sneakers anyway, so why not make them conducive to running?) and a little running outfit. And last week, we even went and practiced at her request (as if the child needed to practice something she pretty much does all day everyday even when we don’t go outside and it’s only in circles around our living room). Saturday was the big race. The Wood Duck Dash 1/2 Mile Fun Run. Her 5 year old cousin would be running too.

And let me tell you, it’s amazing the things these kiddos picked up on from their running parents, without ever anybody really discussing it with them. Over at my nephew’s house, his biggest concerns on race day were that he didn’t have a fuel belt and his shoes would be to heavy or not right for running, so he brought a couple of pairs just in case. While at my house, my daughter opened the refrigerator looking for noodles for breakfast because “that’s what runners eat before they run.” (She doesn’t get up at 4:30AM to see what I actually eat before I run, so her best guess is what I eat the night before). I hadn’t prepped any noodles for breakfast, so I told her eggs had protein, berries antioxidants, and bananas potassium, all things runners needed to run fast. She didn’t know what any of those words were, but it sounded big, grown up and fancy enough to completely satisfy her. She happily ate every bite.

The race was scheduled to start at 9AM (which I knew because I checked AGAIN the night before on the registration form to be sure AND that is also exactly what it said on the big giant sign outside of the park. 9AM. Really. I have witnesses.) So we had planned on being there at 8:30 to get her bib, and let her warm up a little.

But apparently by 9AM start, they meant 8:40 AM because obviously when you set a start time for an event, as everyone knows, you actually mean for it begin 20 minutes earlier which is certainly not a problem at all for an event which involves getting kids ready and all that entails. No. Not all. (Is your computer screen dripping with sarcasm yet?)

So as we neared the park, I get a frantic phone call from my mom. “They are starting in 10 minutes!” A little back up at the park entrance, followed by weaving through the park to get to the right area, and I soon found myself booking to the starting line with my 4 year old right past the announcer who was now down to giving us a 3 minute warning. Honestly, if I had had a little more time and no bib to put on her, I probably would have given that dude an earful about NOT changing the time the day of with no warning on an event for little kids who had their hearts set on running it. But priority one was getting her in that race, no time for a side conversation.

As fast as I could, I pinned that sucker onto my daughter, as the director started lining up the kids to go. (Any idea how difficult it is to pin a bib on a 4 year old under pressure? I would have skipped the bib entirely, but that would NOT have flown with my daughter who knows better and whom I was trying desperately not to stick with a pin and thus scar from racing, bibs, or even just safety pins for the rest of her life.)

“EXCUSE ME SIR?!” she yelled to the man organizing the kids, “I JUST NEED TO GET ONE MORE PIN ON PLEASE.” So polite. We made due with the two pins I managed to get on and stepped up to the starting line still a little out of breath from the run to get there, but we had made it. Just in time.

It wasn’t a long race. In fact, the whole thing was done in less than 5 minutes (I seriously doubt it was actually a 1/2 mile for those of you impressed with my 4 year old’s sub 10 minute per mile pace.) But in those 5 minutes, this is what my daughter taught me or at the very least reminded me about running:

1. It’s fun to run fast. Really. When’s the last time you ran as fast as you could? Try it. It’s ok. Go ahead. If you’re nervous, find a place where no one can see you.

2. When you need a rest, take one. There’s no shame in walking if you need to so you can finish or run really really fast again.

3. Acknowledge your fans. I think my daughter yelled just as loudlyDSCF6617 when she saw her sister as her sister did for her. And why not? The people who come to cheer you on put their life on hold for a little bit to support you and some of them (my 2 year old being one) do not even quite understand why. Why not give them a little cheer, or at least a nod or a wave back to let them know you appreciate their support.

4. Sometimes taking a drink will make you run faster. There is no scientific reason why. It just will.

5. It’s ok if people run faster than you. There’s someone faster than them out there too.

6. It’s ok if your cousin beats you. At about the 1/2 way point, my nephew took the lead so I tried to encourage my daughter to run up and catch him. “It’s ok Mommy. I talked to him about this yesterday and I told him it’s ok if he beats me.” Running is an individual sport. Yes, there’s other people out there to race against. But really, the only person that matters is you. Can you do better than your previous best?

7. When you cross the finish line you win. My nephew, my daughter and some poor little boy who sobbed the entire way as his father dragged him along were the last three finishers in that order. Pretty far behind the rest of the kids too. “I won!” My nephew shouted excitedly when he crossed the finish with nobody in sight. A few seconds behind, my daughter shouted “I won too!” She’s right. Everybody who crosses the finish line wins. After all, it’s rarely ever the race that’s the big accomplishment, it’s everything you go through to get there that makes you a winner.

8. Post race snacks are almost as cool as the medal. Depending on the race and the snacks of course.

9. Celebrate your accomplishment. Ice cream and juice boxes for our winners.

10. Wear your medal proudly. You’ve earned it. And my girlie wore hers nearly all day.

But ultimately, what she reminded me of is that in the grand scheme of things, finishing times don’t matter. Sometimes, it’s more important to just put the watch away and be thankful I even CAN run. Savor every step. That’s what I watched my daughter do out there Saturday. Run for the sake of running. And in many ways, I sincerely hope she never ever loses that.

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'Til next time...

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23 comments:

Evhen said...

I love this post! A truly awesome and heartwarming look at a sport we love through the eyes of a child. Thank you for sharing!!

Heather said...

This was a great post! I love that she said, "I won too!" it's true, she did! the pictures are great too. Thanks for sharing.

Laurie said...

Great post and great job to your daughter! With an exception of the earlier than expected start time (I would've been freaking out, glad you made it!) it sounds like a great day!

Kelly said...

Great post. I often marvel at how my 4 year-old literally runs everywhere. It's like interval training all day long!! Run to the kitchen. stop and eat. Run to the bathroom. Stop to pee. Run to the playroom. Stop and play. Run back to the kitchen. Run outside. Run, Run, Run!!!

Zaneta said...

I seriously love love LOVE this post!! I love that instead of just watching her run, you learned something from it and put it down in your blog for all of us to learn! Great lesson in life!! Thank you so much for sharing!! :D And, your daughter is precious!

Cynthia O'H said...

Awesome job! I'm so glad you made it there on time. We had one race when we had a minute to start and my little guy announced he had to go to the bathroom. We started later than every one else and he was just as happy.

Such a great picture of the three of you. Enjoy many more races together.

Maria@HuffandBuff said...

What a great read! Thanks for sharing your daughters race experience with us!

Maria

misszippy said...

Great lessons indeed! So glad she enjoyed the experience--I see many more in her future!

TLS said...

This is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing it. I could just see her running and skipping ( you didnt mention skipping, but I picture her doing some of that along the way) through her run. The picture of you three is so nice, you all look so good! Are those flowers you and Ollie are holding picked by the little runner? Too cute!

track coach and adorable wife said...

That post is stellar. Two thumbs up for reminding us of all that. They are great lessons and so cute that your daughter helped you learn them. Glad you all had a great time. And do enjoy the fact that she can run. I think it would be so cute for my son to run one, but I am afraid with his autism he will run off instead! I think we may give it a try someday though.

mommaof3ontherun said...

Nice story! And yes, many lessons to be learned from our children.

ann said...

what a fun race! my 3 year old wants to do a race....but just haven't found the right one for him yet. Love learning from kids!

*~* *~* *~* *~* *~* Tracy said...

That is so sweet! I love how they both shouted that they won. Yes, they did! and they did a great job!

Laura said...

So great! And did you ever give the race organizers your 'feedback' on changing the start time?

Michelle said...

So many great lessons! I volunteer at my son's school fun run every year and love watching the kids run with such joy! Always a great reminder!!

Runners Fuel said...

So Cute! I love watching the kids' fun run.

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite runfastmommy post EVER! We all need to be reminded to keep the kid inside us sheltered from the world. Love the lessons!

RunMom said...

Wow guys! I am shocked that you all liked this post so much. I honestly almost didn't post it. I re-wrote it about three times thinking maybe it really only meant so much to me because it was my daughter running. But I guess in our hearts there's a kid in all of us and that kid is a runner!

And @Laura, nope. Never had the conversation. I was so angry about it as I dashed to the start with my daughter, but all that melted away when she crossed the finish line and I forgot. I probably should still write them though eh? That way no aspiring runners miss the race in the future.

RunMom said...

@TLS. Yep. My daughter picked little flowers after the race for her entire "support crew".

runningwithababyonboard said...

What a great post. Thanks! It makes me happy to know that kids really do notice their parents' good habits. I hope my son someday enjoys running-- right now he just enjoys the ride in the jogging stroller, which is alright by me. :)

Kiesha said...

Luv the 10 ways to run like your 4. Thanks for making me smile! Would love to add your post to my Friday Fav's if that's okay.

RunMom said...

Absolutely Kiesha! Feel free to include away! Leave us a link if you remember so we can check out the rest of your Fav's

Cassi said...

I LOVE this post!