Running Together

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A year ago, on Thanksgiving, I ran my first 5k. I had only been running for a few months and that first race felt like a huge accomplishment. I never imagined myself running, let alone enjoying it. But there I was, crossing the finishing line in snow and freezing temperatures and having a good time! My sons had watched me train for that race. I had brought them with me to the track and while I ran they would ride their bikes and play. They watched me plod out the miles. They watched me sweat (“Why is your face purple mom?” and they watched my elation when I added more distance and completed a goal. When I approached the finish line of my first 5k my youngest son was sitting on my husbands shoulders, cheering me on, and so of course I got teary eyed and choked up. I was proud of myself and I was happy that my son got to witness my accomplishment and my pride.

Lately my Nathaniel has been training with me. He has wanted to run a race. So as I have been circling the track he has been too. He runs lightly and chatters away the whole time. He’s been talking about how far he wants to run (he decided to start with a 1 mile fun run) and asking me questions about the details of race day.

This morning we got up and walked a block down the road to an annual race here in our own little town. The air was bracing but the sun was shining. It was a gorgeous morning to run. Nathaniel had questions about the start, the finish, how he would know where to go. He kept a close eye on the timer counting down to start time, updating me on our time every few minutes.

We did a group warm up to upbeat Christmas music and then we were in the pack, ready to go. He was insistent, he wanted to run the 1 mile race on his own. Suddenly we were off. As we turned down the main street I watched my little guy take off. He was ready. He was determined. He was having fun.

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(Nathaniel, in red, ahead of me.)

There was some confusion about where he was supposed to turn off for the 1 mile run, so my husband went with him and I continued. It was a great route; down our main street, through the golf course sparkling with frost, back up past the library and courthouse, and my energy was high. There, by the final turn were my boys waiting for me. I waved Nathaniel over and together we raced across the finish line. It was so much fun!

People always say “Your children are watching what you do. They pay more attention to what you do than what you say.” That makes me nervous because I am usually acutely aware of all the ways I am failing. Most of the time I am pretty sure that I don’t want my kids to mimic me.

But not in this case. In this instance I am proud that my kids are watching me. I am glad that they are learning from me that they can work hard to achieve things that they never thought possible. I hope they are learning to take care of their bodies. Maybe they are learning that it is always worth it to take time to do things they enjoy in order to nourish their spirits. I hope they are watching me enjoy the fresh air, being outside, noticing beauty around me. I hope they will remember watching me set goals and push myself to accomplish them.

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(Obligatory post-run selfie.)

Nathaniel finished his first race today. He has his sights set on the 5k next year. I am proud of this guy. He did good. We made good memories today. As for me, I have my sights set on a 10k and am even daring to dream of a half-marathon. Why not?

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