Every year around this time, I find myself confronted by a Situation. It is not a Situation I like. In fact, it is a Situation I would really rather avoid. It involves candles and wishes and the changing of numbers. Ahem.
Last year, when the Situation appeared, I had a plan. Because you see, you can’t run and hide from this Situation. It is just there whether you try to ignore it or not. Although you can’t outrun it, my plan last year was to run through it. I registered for a race nearby: it would be my second 10K and Alana’s first. So, the Situation could not take over. It had no choice but to take a back seat to the many other situations that present themselves on race day. Like Alana locking herself in a bathroom until I could talk her down off the ledge (or, as the case may be, out of the stall). Like lining up in our matching outfits with our kids cheering us on. Like hauling my butt through a double out-and-back course in a million degrees of humidity. Like running through the finish line and getting my first ever race medal. Like cheering Alana in and being interviewed by a local reporter. All of these situations made my own Situation less traumatizing.
Yes, it was my birthday (cue the horror music), but I had finished a 10K race in blazing heat with my BRF and our families on hand. How bad could the day be? The answer: not bad at all. In fact, pretty good. I had outsmarted the Situation!
Fast forward a year and here we are. I am not any happier about the Situation. And I was not interested in running the same 10K with the same double out-and-back course for the same medal. However, I was still desperate to find a way to deal with my Situation in a manner that would not leave me in the fetal position. So this year, we returned to the stomping grounds and, instead of running the 10K, we ran together in the Family 2K Run. Brilliant! I found a way to make it even less about me and my Situation. Spotlight on the kids! Doing something healthy! Together! Me and my girls + Alana + running = the best defenses I have against the Situation.
We arrived bright and early to the race site, dressed in sparkle and ready to run! The Sydenham Lakeside Race Weekend is unique because there is so much going on – running, triathlon, duathlon. As we picked up our race kits, runners were pounding by in warm-up. Swimmers were in the lake. Bikers were whizzing past. Alana said it felt like a return to our roots because this race last year was our first 10K together. Maybe it was the first time our crazy little idea of training to run like princesses started to feel real. It was a milestone on our journey to the Castle and being back there just felt right.
The best thing about this weekend is that there are so many races going on with multiple starting areas and times. Just so much action. All healthy. All inspiring. Beginners. Elite. Everything in between. All together, across disciplines. We lined up with our girls and soon enough, we were off on a 2K run that took us through the village and onto the trails by the water. We went out a little faster than we should have with the kids’ excitement almost palpable. Paige (9 years) quickly settled into a rhythm and held it for the duration. She has been participating in her School Run Club this year and is a good little endurance runner – not speedy, but steady and able to go the distance.
Presley (6 years), on the other hand, has also been running at school and has proven herself to be quite the little track star, sweeping her track and field meet in the running events. She likes to go fast and hard, so this race was a change of pace for her. She was plagued by a side stitch early on and needed to slow down a little, so we let Paige run ahead. We never lost sight of her, but were able to find a better pace for Presley. Soon enough, we hit the turn-around and got to high-5 Alana and Luisa on our way back to the village. One more loop and the last part of the course took us onto the track to the finish line. We could see Paige up ahead, almost there. As soon as we hit the track, Presley turned on a kick like I have never seen and began her sprint to the finish. Those little legs can run like the wind! I was running as fast as I could and could barely keep up to her!
She managed to close the gap somewhat between her and Paige so that we could clearly hear the announcer and see Paige as she crossed the finish. Only seconds later, Presley and I crossed. In the finisher’s chute, the girls were out of breath and flushed from exertion and the heat of the day. But their smiles! Paige was so proud of her race and excited to see what I thought of her run. Almost immediately after our hugs and high-5’s, she wanted to know her chip time. Ahem. Yes, she is her mother’s daughter. Presley was tickled that she outran me into the finish line. I wonder where she gets that competitive streak? They dove into the bagels, bananas and water and collected their medals, tired but so very proud.
We put on our cheerleader hats for Alana and Luisa (4 years) who had taken a little tumble on the trail and flew through the finish line and straight to First Aid! She came away from the race with a little wound as a souvenir to match her medal. Her visit to the medic tent had her feeling like a VIP superstar in no time, and the girls were excited to reunite and celebrate their great accomplishment!
Being kids, they quickly found some sand to make castles in and became completely immersed in their new task. Alana and I sat and took in some of the other races. The 5K and the 10K were in full swing, and the duathlon and triathlons were in progress. And as we sat there, we decided that this race weekend is going to be one of only a very special few that we do every year. We may try different events each year as there are so many to choose from, but we hope we’ll always be there, doing something. Pushing ourselves, celebrating our kids, making memories.
Oh yeah…and totally outsmarting the Situation. After all, the most empowering numbers are race numbers!
From the mouth of babes:
Paige: I liked seeing all the swimmers in the lake while I was running. I also liked seeing all of the bikers start their race. I liked looking back and seeing that I was ahead of Mommy at the end! I loved my medal and getting a snack when I finished. I am proud that I did so well.
Presley: I felt happy when I was running. I felt like I was in first place when I was sprinting to the finish line and running faster than Mommy! When I was sprinting, I looked down and just saw a blur of colour. I knew I was going really fast. My favourite part was getting my medal.
Luisa: I remember falling at the really rocky part, but my best part was when I didn’t quit and I got my medal.
***If you like reading about running and racing with kids, you might enjoy our race recap of the first kids race we did together, as well as Paige’s guest blog about the runDisney Kids Races and Luisa’s Q & A as she trained for this 2K Family Run.