Superman's first race


ChAoS in MOtiOn
Super Man’s first Race

            This past Saturday I had the pleasure of joining my 9 year old in his first 5k race.  When the Sheyenne Shuffle was announced I asked my son if he would like to run a 5k with me. “How far is that?” I told him it was 3.1 miles and he was excited to do so.  A friend asked me if he was training for the 5k, which caused me to pause for a moment and think, “Should he be?” but I just responded using the only rationale that seemed logical to me, “No. He’s 9.”
            The second children can ambulate, they move. They run. I watch my 3 year old run to his room to get a tractor, run back to the living room to get it’s trailer. He runs to the car. He runs in the opposite direction from me down the church aisle. He runs and he runs. Children know no better than to move.  As they age, they slow a bit, and I wonder why that is.  But, they still move, always, and especially at the least opportune times… like when you’re paying a photographer.  I knew given my son’s activity level, and enthusiasm, he would be able to handle 3 miles.
            I have been know to run in a Wonder Woman getup for races, and since it was Halloween season, I asked him if he would like to be Super Man. He was more than willing to don his cape and Super Man tank to run. He was instructed that flying was not permitted on the route, and using only his feet not super powers were allowed.  We all gathered at Lokken field at VCSU, huddling under the stands to stay warm. The United Way did a wonderful job of taking over this event and the turn out was great for such a chilly morning.  It was still dark out when we arrived and as we lined up at the start in the street the sun was just starting to peek out to warm us.
            The air horn blared to announce our start and my son blazed out ahead of me, like I suspected he would.  He ran a great half-mile at a full sprint and then started to walk. I caught up to him and we talked.  “Easy does it honey” I told him as he caught his breath and we more slowly started to run again.  At times I thought I was running with a T-Rex… the child already has a size 9 (men’s ) shoe and sometimes the coordination as a black lab puppy. But my pride in his determination overwhelmed me.  “Can we take a short cut Mom?” “No Bud, it’s a race, we need to stay on the route.” “Oh, OK!” and he would break into a few skips before running again.  We walked when we needed to and then I’d give him a point in the not to far distance we needed to get to and he would do it every time.  I worried the cold air and wind that morning may irritate his asthma, but he did great.  Eventually, in true mother fashion, I was running as his personal Sherpa, carrying the hat, gloves and jacket he had shed along the way.
            In the last half mile, I noticed he was struggling a little bit. I had a light bulb moment and said, “How many pickaxes are there in Minecraft?” This lead to the next 5 minutes of being told how many, which were the best, what they were used for and which ones he liked the best. He forgot he was running and when he was done telling me about the pickaxes were in front of Lokken field.  We just had to round the field from the west and come in on the track, finishing in front of the stands. I’ve done this enough to know that physiologically, we were at the point it was going to start to feel easy for him. That’s the funny thing about running. The first two miles stink… FOR EVERYONE. That was the best piece of advice I got from a couple experienced runners years ago.  It physiologically takes about that long for your body to figure out what it is doing. Unfortunately, it is in this first time period that it is the easiest to quit.
            As we entered the track, amongst the smashed pumpkins, my son kicked ‘er down, so to speak.  I said, “Just like on track nights, it’s just like at track,” referring to the rec track he had participated in this past summer.  I watched with pride as he inched away from me, giving it more and more as he rounded the last corner.  He crossed the finish line with his arms up in joy, to collapse in relief on the turf.  I finished behind him, overwhelmed with pride and happiness. 
            Part of why I run is so my kids grow up thinking being active is a normal part of everyone’s life, not just something done in youth.  I look forward to being active with them, and not being able to keep up with them.  The simple fact is that children model their parent’s behavior. So, it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise when I asked him to do something that afternoon, and his reply was, “Uh Mom, I already ran a 3.1 marathon this morning. “