This past weekend, our whole gang entered a 5k race. All five of us. It was a dream come true for me. All of my favorite people running 3.1 miles together. Well, actually, we started together and then found each other again at the finish line, but you get the idea. It was probably not so much a dream come true for Bradley, but he endured and was a good sport about it.
We started the race shoulder to shoulder with 1,300 other racers. Men, women, children, dogs and strollers. There were fast runners, who were there to actually try to win, and there were other runners, like us, who were there to try to give a healthy lifestyle a little nudge.
My kids are pretty fit. They get lots of excercise from all the sports they play and from the playing they do after school. They aren't really video "gamers", because I won't let them be. I think playing outside is good for their body and their brains. So running is not super difficult for them.
Being a jogger myself, I was loving the fact that they were all so excited to run in the 5K. Carter even wanted to run earlier in the week to practice. I headed out the door to run and asked, "Does anybody wanna go run with me?" Carter grabbed his tennis shoes and we headed out the door together. Everything about the practice run that day was perfect. It was at the end of the day, and we had a beautiful view of the sunset. It was spectacular enough that even Carter noticed. He also noticed the cows in the pasture, the houses, the fences, the bats flying overhead and even the grass. He talked absolutely nonstop for the entire two miles we ran. He wasn't tired. He wasn't winded. He didn't complain. He was perfectly content to run. We finished the run and I was certain that I had just discovered my own little 6 year old distance runner. I was beaming with pride that day.
Then race day came. It all changed.
When the race began and we crossed the start line, I saw my two oldest whiz past me and Carter. I clicked a quick photo with my phone and I didn't see them again until the end of the race. They both performed spectacularly. They were proud that they ran the whole 3 miles and finished with fantastic times!
Carter wasn't as confident about running the race without me, so I stayed by his side to cheer him on. I was confident that he could jog at least 2 miles of it, since he had already done that a week before. We set out. The crowd was electric. Everyone jostled for a place closer to the front. Except not Carter. We started out in a good groove. I chatted with Carter about how much fun it was to be running with him. We jogged at a steady pace for about half a mile. Then he stopped.
Whoa. What? A half a mile? "What's wrong, Carter? Why are you stopping?"
"I need a rest."
"Nah, C'mon. You ran much farther than this at home. Let's keep going!" I started to jog again, but Carter continued to just walk. Oh dear. This was going to be a long 3 miles. I wouldn't have really even cared, except that I had two other kids who had blown past us from the beginning and would be finishing the race in a crowd of 1000 other runners. I was counting on Carter not being far behind them. I counted wrong.
He eventually started jogging again, but each time he jogged, he walked again shortly after he started jogging. I tried every motivation tactic possible to try to get him to jog more, but it wasn't working. I was getting a wee bit frustrated at him because he wasn't even trying to run. He could've run more if he had so desired. The mood wasn't striking him one bit to run. And when he walked, it was at a turtle's pace. Carter has had the nickname "Turtle" in our family since he was barely walking. He has always done everthing slow. He dresses slow. Walks slow. Eats slow. Brushes his teeth slow. Everything is slooooooow with him. But to race slow! For the love of Pete!
After about a mile and a half, when he started to walk, I grabbed his hand and tried to get him to jog with me while I was holding his hand. I was always about a step ahead of him and I felt like I was dragging him. Other adults were running all around us. I keep looking at them smiling, wondering if they were thinking, "Awww....what a cute little mommy and son. Holding hands jogging." Or could they tell the truth and were thinking...."Geez. That Mom is trying to force her kid to run! What a loser of a Mother."
At the two mile mark, I had all but given up with the encouragement. I finally figured...what the heck? He obviously isn't gonna run. I might as well go with the flow and walk whenenver he wants. I even had him completely stop during the race at the two mile mark and I took his picture with the mile marker sign.
A fellow runner saw me do this and asked if I wanted to get my picture made with him. By all means. It's not like we are in a RACE! So....we stopped. In the middle of the street. In the middle of a race. And posed for a photo.
I had never run in a race so casually before. I have never really tried to win one, but I am always trying to better my time and finish as fast as possible. Racing without a care in the world was new to me. It made my blood boil at first, but after dragging a 6 year old for 2 miles, the racing mindset ended. It was my favorite race ever. I ran the worst 5k time of my life. I ran it dragging a 6 year old. I finished it alongside my little laid back "turtle". I finished it smiling.