Monday, June 2, 2014

Girls on the Run 5K, Mommy/daughter run!

I had the pleasure of running a 5K with my daughter yesterday. Ethel participated in Girls on the Run this spring, and yesterday was one of the program's regional races. Ethel asked me at the beginning of the program if I would be her running buddy, and I jumped at the chance.

Ethel is not one to jump at the chance to do anything physical. This is not to say this child is entirely sedentary, but physical activity is not her forte. I was pleasantly surprised when she agreed to do the GOTR program, but not just because I'm a runner. I want her to be involved with kids outside her tight-knit class, and I want her to see that sports can be fun and rewarding.

There were lessons throughout the program about teamwork, bullying, and nutrition. She asked me several times about whether certain foods are healthy or not, and why we eat certain foods and not others. Don't get all crazy on me here, she still eats less than a baby robin. That's another topic for another day.

I offered a couple times to jog around the block with her to give her some additional practice for her race, but she declined. She was quite firm that she was doing only this 5K, nothing more and nothing less. There will be no other races, no other running. Well, OK then.

There were a couple nights when she would share her thoughts with me about the race. One night she told me that in the race, we'd start out slower and then get faster. One day last week when I proposed an outing, she told me she was resting so she wasn't too tired for her 5K. This was the night before she ran around the field at the college track where I had a track workout. Well played.

Anyway, she's not a morning person by any stretch, so having to be at the school by 6:15AM was really a hit. I thought she might never get out of bed. She argued, yelled, and walked the 1.5 blocks to school with her arms folded, brow furrowed, and lips pursed. This all changed once we got to school and her friends began to arrive, of course.

Feel the excitement
Seeing Ethel with her friends is really a peek into a world that I know nothing of. She is so vibrant, silly, and funny around her friends. Not that she's not these things at home, but, the silly side is entirely different than the silly side at home. I love it! I watched her on the bus as she and her friends chatted and giggled and described the feeling of leaning their heads and faces on the windows as the bus drove along. It's also reassuring to see other children interested in talking to your child, and genuinely enjoying their time together.

Fast forward to race time. Ethel held my hand while we waited in our corral for our start. I was surprised by this because she is not a hand holder. I repeat, not a hand holder. I tried my best not to make anything of it, but I did whisper in her ear that I was happy to be there with her. She forced herself not to grin. It was awesome.

As in any race, that first maybe mile or so is always congested. Try navigating the crowded mile with hundreds of third thru eighth grade girls and their running buddies all running at different paces, many of which, like us, are holding hands. That first mile was actually the most energetic of them all, as one might expect. The kids figure they need to run, and kids don't really have the whole "I should pace myself" mentality, so they go balls out for a while, 'til they lose steam. Then they walk. At 0.4 miles. And the cycle continues for 3.1 miles.

I heard more than once, "If this old lady can do it, so can you!", as mothers tried to coax their daughters to pick up the pace. It was actually very cool to see so many parents, both moms and dads, who aren't runners but who were really giving it their all and supporting their daughters. Ethel and I agreed to walk through the water stops, but I told her, "You can walk through it, but you have to run to it!". And we did. It was a really warm morning, so I made sure that Ethel took plenty of water at the stops. She even dumped a cup of water on her head at one of them!

There were several teams where all the girls and their running buddies wore tutus. It was pretty cute, actually. So at one point, I told Ethel, "You're not going to let a little kid in a tutu finish ahead of you, are you?". Her response? "Really, Mom?" {insert eye roll} I actually think that with all the eye rolling (like, out of their heads style) that morning, it's a wonder nobody stepped on one along the course. Pretty funny, if you ask me, albeit annoying at the same time.

This event is not timed, but I am CompetiMom, and needed to know how we finished. I wore my Garmin. Yes, that was me, hitting the <start> and <stop> buttons at the start and finish, as if it were one of my own races. I am proud to say, though, that Ethel and I finished, HAND-IN-HAND, in 43:31!! For her first 5K, I thought it was awesome!

We were both thrilled to have done this together. Fred and Hot Dad came and watched and cheered us on, and when we saw them just before the finish, cheering for us, I caught a beaming smile flash across Ethel's face. Then disappear. It was beautiful.

Here we are, just before the finish:

Feeling the energy of the crowd
We each got a medal. I gave her a great big hug. She wriggled away and went and sat with her friends. She laughed and celebrated. Then we went to IHOP to eat. It was a beautiful morning.

A before picture
I didn't get any pics of the two of us with my own camera, but, I did take a pic of the girls and some of the running buddies:

Fine looking group!
Best of all, she said she'll do it again next year. Mommy's doing the happy dance!