Friday, September 18, 2009

My little girls first race.

I am on my leash in the car waiting for hubby to finish a quick 6 mile run… wishing I could run the Salmon Creek trail with him. Since I am still on the injured list and not running this week, I will reminisce about my little girl’s first race.

Last month Avery, one of my 5 year old twin girls (four when she ran the race), wanted to run a 5K race with me. At first I brushed it off and said “no, mommy will run the 5k and be back in 24 minutes.” I said this because, to be honest, my legs were tired and I didn’t want to run hard. Heck, I didn’t want to run a race at all but we were there because the kids love doing the kids’ races. So I find myself signing up for races that have kids’ races that do not start five minutes after the adult race starts. These are harder to find than you might think.

Having brushed off her repeated requests, I went back to warming up and talking with a friend. Then I starting thinking about it. Why not let her try the 5K? My mom was with me, she was watching the kids anyway. My friend encouraged me, suggesting that it would be a great way to spend some “Mother
-Daughter Time” with her. Just her. Why not? I picture my little girl pouting in the car. She was so disheartened when I said that she couldn’t run it. Why crush her dream of running this race? She’s been asking for sometime now. I initially told her when she was 6 years old she could run a 5k with me. The great thing about being a mom is that I can change my mind. I headed straight to the car and told her “mommy thought about it and you can run the 5K with me,” but that she had to finish it. She was so happy. The problem was poor Ayden (the three year old) wanted to run it, too. Sorry honey I know I’d be carrying you the whole way. At least with Avery she would walk/run it in little bursts. So, with a beaming little girl in tow, I was off to the starting line.

This was a small 5K and perfect for her first race. At .15 miles into it she asked me to carry her. Ugh, I think, what have I gotten myself into? “Let’s just walk to that tree and then I’ll carry you if you are still tired,” I offered. We made it to the tree and she decided to run for a little bit longer. Then the great fiasco of walk/run/carry began. I would carry her (and run) for about three minutes then she would walk for two minutes and then run for two minutes. At the one mile mark she asked, “Are we done yet?”
“No honey, we are only 1/3 of the way there.”
At this point I talked to her about how proud I was that she had undertaken such a hard task. I explained when you start something you must see it through to completion. That is what builds character (something severely lacking in our culture today). The more I talked to her about how proud I was of her, the more she talked about how she was not going to give up.

I enjoyed watching her gain confidence that she could finish something she started. I work very hard not to push my kids into running. I want to encourage them to be active and complete whatever it is they start. That they can do just about anything, once they take the first step. I don’t want to me the mom pushing her kids to do what she never could, but I also want to be the mom who helps her children try new things. Whether it’s a bite of a new dish (which we call our “no thank you” bite), a new sport, writing a book, or trying a new art style; I want them to try new endeavors.

Therein lies the tricky part. How do I encourage them to try new things without pushing them too hard? Each one of my kids needs to be encouraged differently. Avery needs encouragement to finish something she starts, or even to just try something new. She doesn’t like to try new things unless she is sure she can do them. Alexis is competitive, and likes to compare herself to others. She has to be the fastest runner out of the kids. Getting her motivated to try new things is easy. Getting her to stick with them is hard. Ayden, well, you can’t trick or motivate that child to do anything he doesn’t want to do. Very stubborn, but also very motivated. His thing is one-on-one time with me. He walked/ran a mile during the last track practice I took him to. He just wanted to do whatever I was doing. Then there is Zander. He thinks he is just as big as his sisters and brother. He just wants to join in with us. If we are doing something, he wants to be right in the center of it.

I digress. I’m happy that my kids want to run like mom and dad. I am so happy that my husband runs, too. It’s wonderful to have a healthy hobby (some use the word “addiction“) for our children to want to emulate. I highly recommend getting your family involved in your running.

So get out there and run! Show your kids how to stick with something even when they don’t feel like it. It will transfer over to other areas in their lives and your own. Be the role model you want your kids to look up to instead of those cartoons or people on T.V. You are your kids’ biggest hero! Show them how it is done! Laugh and run on, my friends.

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