I have three children, a daughter and two sons. The sports in which they participate have always been their decisions with the only requirement being that they finish what they begin. Between all three they have been involved in soccer, swimming, dance, golf, baseball, karate and basketball. Running has never been brought up by any of them as a sport of interest. My daughter would say, "Running is your thing mom, I like swimming." I was cool with that and respected her view. (The only 5K races my kids were ever in was when my husband and I would push them in the baby joggers. I guess they do not remember that!)
As my children went back to school last fall my daughter, an 8th grader, announced that she would like to be on the cross-country team. I tried to stay calm as the excitement inside me wanted to burst out. I asked her if she was sure she wanted to do this. She said, “Yes.” Later that day my son, a 6th grader, said that he, too, wanted to give cross-country a try! (Heart be still!) I guess my free choice and not pushing my kids into the sports I like paid off.
Cross-country was so much fun to watch. I never ran cross-country so this was a new experience for me. When I watched the meets I would sometimes hide behind a tree so I could cheer quietly as I watched the competition. I would watch my kids running form and would try to figure out if they went out too fast. I would wait and watch to see if they were going to make their big move and pass the person in front of them. I was more nervous and excited than as if I was going to race. I LOVED it.
The hardest part was after the races. I wanted to support them but not act like their coach. I knew I had hated it when my dad would correct me after my tennis matches. I was just happy they were interested and running. I did not want to ruin a fun thing. I was able to share with them how to keep track of their times and see how each of them can feel a sense of accomplishment when you improved.
The last meet of the season will always be a special to me. It was hot and my son had finished his race. He was happy and he ran his last race the fastest of the season. As I was talking with the other parents, I looked and I saw my son running across the field. I was wondering what he was doing. He was running toward his friend who was walking and limping a little. He friend was last and his head was down and he was walking. It looked like Tyler was giving him a talk. He had his hand on his friend’s shoulder. The next time I looked up he was running with Tyler and smiling as they ran around the corner. Tyler stopped at the final stretch and told his friend to sprint it in and he did. I saw my son jumping up and down as he yelled RUN FAST!!! I was in tears. I could not believe it. Was this really my son? That was one of the proudest moments I have of my son. That night he received a call from the parent of the boy my son ran in. She called to thank him for being a good friend.
The season ended and my son said he does not want to run cross-country again next year. He wants to try volleyball!
My daughter joined the track team this spring and has really enjoyed it. She has asked me if she can do a running camp this summer. Now, as she starts high school, she wants to do swimming in the fall and track in the spring. When I was watching a track meet a few weeks ago I was cheering for the girls in a 400-meter race. One of the parents asked me if that was my daughter running. I said. “No, I just really enjoy watching runners compete.” (They must think I am nuts!)
I am so happy my kids gave running a try. I did not start long distance running till 5 years ago. I have learned that you can start running at any point in your life.