This summer was a lot for my family. In late April/early May, I received a job offer, and my family and I decided we were moving to North Carolina. We lived in 5 places in 2 months, and we finally settled into our new house in Durham, NC, just in time for me to start my new job (our furniture arrived the day I started at Duke Talent Identification Program - Duke TIP). Through it all, my kids were troopers. They had very positive attitudes, were great helpers, and were nothing short of resilient.
My mileage dropped off after the Flying Pig Marathon Relay that I ran with my running big sisters Laura and Sandy and running big brother Tim. It was overwhelming all that had to be done for the move, and it was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Once we got settled into our 6-week temporary housing, I started to pick up running a bit more. There was a convenient greenway right by the apartment complex we were staying in, and I could go get a run in before the kids got up for summer camp. Although my miles weren't consistent or high, I kept up enough running to continue my streak of running at least one race a month.
My July race was Four on the Fourth. Zoe was especially excited because she turned 4 on the 4th, and there was a kids' race following the 4 miler. She and I picked out matching outfits, and we were ready to start her birthday with a race!
I ran my 4 miler. It wasn't my best race, it wasn't my worst. It felt good to be out there running steady. I did come in 3rd in my group and get a cool locally-made award. But that wasn't what the best part of the race day was. By far, the best part was yet to come.
First up was the 3-year-old race. Zoe was excited that for the first time she wasn't in that race. Several parents ran with their children. One man standing near me with a 4-year-old was judging them. I politely informed him that some kids like running and like the idea of running but aren't ready to do do it independently and that it's great there is an option for them to enjoy the sport at their comfort level.
Next up was the 4-year-old 100 meter. Zoe and Caleb had not run a race in several months. Zoe was excited and said she was going to run on her own. She went to the start line. There was a large crowd of children. The person yelled, "On your mark! Get set! Go!" And with that, Zoe became distraught. The excitement of the start was too much for her. So I calmly and kindly went over and offered her a hand. She clearly wasn't excited, but she grabbed my hand and ran. I offered to let her stop, but she wanted to run her race. So the two of us ran her race. Although it wasn't the race she wanted to run, she was proud to get her ribbon at the end.
LESSON LEARNED: Sometimes, we go to the start line with high expectations. We want to run strong, we want to be fast. However, it's not always our day, and sometimes we change our minds. It's okay to change your mind. It's okay to change how you approach the race. And however you cross that finish line, you should be proud because you crossed it!
Next up, was Caleb's race. His was a 200-meter race. This was the longest race he had done solo, and with our move, neither kid had been running much since March. He was excited and he is a competitive kid, so we talked a little bit about expectations before his race (for as much as an excited, competitive 6-year-old can take in that information and adjust expectations just before a race). My husband went to the start with him, and I was around the corner about 125 meters in. In typical racing fashion, Caleb went out a little fast, and then he started to drop back. By time he hit where I was, he was clearly in last place with no chance of catching up. I was worried about how he was doing. But as the photos clearly showed, he was determined and was racing his little heart out. I cheered loudly for him, and he spotted me on the sidelines. My boy gave me the biggest grin, a little wave, and just kept running forward. He was have a blast. As he approached the finish line, I saw him put on the burst of speed we always talk about - he made sure to finish strong.
I was SO proud in that moment. I couldn't have been prouder if he had come in first in the race. My boy has so much heart. After the race, he was excited to talk about the race with me. He talked about keeping the people in front of me in his sights, and even at the end trying to catch up with his strong finish. He never once gave up, and he never despaired that he was in last. He ran his race and was proud of what he did. Even now, months later, writing about it, my heart swells with pride with how he ran and about his attitude during and after his race. For a very competitive kid, one who didn't want to do cross country team because he didn't want to compete (and lose) against other kids, he sure displayed the best attitude I've seen at a kids' race.
LESSON LEARNED: Racing is about doing our best in the moment. We run with heart and we run with determination, regardless of whether we're in the lead or in last. The goal is the finish line, not always how many people we pass or stay ahead of. What makes a runner strong is being able to keep running, keep pushing, stay determined no matter what other runners are doing - to run OUR race to the best of our ability. That determination on his face as he ran, and especially that smile when he saw me, showed his heart and reminded me of the kind of runner I want to be. And of course, the lesson I strive to live, to pass on to those I mentor and to my children, is to finish strong! Even when the race may be tough, dig down and grab whatever is left in the tank for a strong finish. It feels great to have that final burst of adrenaline and to know you gave it everything you had through those final steps!
Both kids were so proud of their Four on the Fourth ribbons, as they should be. This was not a race about speed for Caleb or independence for Zoe. This was a race about heart, and they both showed they have a LOT of heart!
The day would not be complete without a photo of all three of the Adelson runners with their ribbons and medal from the day!
And now, almost 4 months later, my kids are getting ready to go to their last day of Kids' Run Club. They've had 5 weeks of run club. Each week is formatted like a mini track meet, with multiple waves of the 100-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and mile run.
Zoe and Caleb both run in the 100-meter race. Caleb loves being able to just run as fast as he wants without worrying about running out of energy from going out too fast. He's also at the upper end of the age limit for that race (the only one with an age limit), so he has a chance to be up towards the front of his heat. He always has so much fun running the 100m race.
Zoe is still working on her confidence running. Although I don't hold her hand, I do run along the path near her and cheer her on. She usually does pretty well until we get near the finish where there is a large gathering of parents cheering, and then her emotions get the best of her. I always give her the option not to run, and when she gets upset while running, I give her the option to stop. However, she loves running, and she loves the idea of racing. She is determined to make it through her 100-meters. After the fourth week of Run Club, she had yet to finish strong and happy, but she was working very hard at it. Regardless of how emotional she is at the end, she's always proud of having run and talks about running again the next week.
Caleb runs in the 400-meter race as well. This is pushing him to work on his pacing, especially on not going out too fast. This can be challenging for him because he is not the fastest one out there and sometimes gets a little swept up in the excitement of the start and then finds himself struggling to keep running. No matter how the first 375 meters go though, he has finished STRONG every time. When he comes around to the finish and hears me cheering for him, his face becomes determined, and he puts everything left into the final stretch. I LOVE to see him finish!
Luckily, I had not posted this yet, and now my kids had their fifth, and final, Kids' Run Club session of the season. To say I'm a proud mama is to put it mildly.
First up, the 100-meter race. As we walked to the start, Zoe talked about finishing by running all the way to the end. She lined up at the start with her brother, looking anxiously to be sure I was over on the side ready to run with her. When the kids started running, she ran her hardest yet, and I let her run slightly ahead of me ("I'm going to catch you! Hey, you're too fast!"). She was doing great. As we neared the crowd of parents at the finish, I saw her hesitate and the emotions on her face, but then she sped up and pushed on. She ran all the way through the finish! The guy who works the finish line was so excited to see her running through. After the finish line, she let her emotions out, and through tears she said to me, "I finished fast like you and Caleb!" This nearly brought me to tears. Once she calmed down, she said to me, "I"m so proud of me!" And I couldn't have been prouder of her, either! The improvement she had made in 5 weeks was incredible - not physical improvement but emotional and mental. This was a challenge for her, and she didn't give up. She tried each week. She had a goal, and she was determined to finish strong. I love that my kids have that goal - to finish strong - and I especially love that she pushed through to do it and that she recognized what she had done and was proud of it.
After she calmed down, Zoe asked if I had a picture of her run, which of course I didn't since I was running with her. So I had her run a little so I could take a photo. When she ran the Run Club races, her arms were always stiff, she didn't swing them, and sometimes she kept them in her pocket. However, after that race, she ran with such joy, arms swinging and smile on her face! This girl - this girl overcame so much more than 100 meters, and she knew she had done it!
After the Halloween parade, it was time for the 400-meter race. Caleb had walked most of the parade, so I wasn't sure what his performance would be like. As Zoe and I watched for him, looking down the bridge to where the kids turn the corner to come towards the finish, we saw him running strong. It was the strongest I had seem him at that part of the race. He had a look of determination, and when he saw me, he smiled. He turned on his final kick a little earlier than usual and finished very strong. When he was done, he came over to me, proudly telling me that he ran the entire way.
My kids have requested to do Run Club next season. Of course, I love that they're interested in the sport that I love. What I really have loved this season though is watching them grow and learning from them. It's helped me think about why I love to run, abut the challenges I'm having this season and what it means to keep pushing even when you have to change your goals - and when those goals have nothing to do with speed or time. These two set goals completely unrelated to time. At the beginning of the season, Jon and I were curious if their times would improved and talked about having them practice - but that is not what this season was about for them. They set goals about personal improvement, completely unrelated to speed or time, and they worked hard and with determination to do them. Caleb often ran with joy, although some days that 400-meter race was more than he wanted to do, and Zoe continued to love running and the idea of racing even if it was emotionally challenging for her. They looked forward to Run Club each week, and they would talk about what went well and what they wanted to do differently the next week. And they both finished proud of how far they had come in the season.
Before I just start (or perhaps continue) rambling, I'm going to end this blog post. I'm going to end it with one of my favorite photos of the season. For the first day of Run Club, the kids chose, on their own, to wear their "Mama is a Runner" shirts. Zoe also chose to wear her Fleet Feet Sports Ponyaband. And when it was time to take a photo of them, they had to do their running pose.
It's true: #ZoeisaRunner #CalebisaRunner. And I am #OneProudMama because they have the heart and determination that makes for a good runner who enjoys the sport.