Growing up, I remember family trips, weddings, when special people came to visit. I remember my first bee sting and falling off my bike. I remember swinging so high on my swing set that I thought I'd flip right over the top. I remember sweating through softball games and going out for ice cream afterwards. I remember when I was finally old enough to ride my bike to town and have lunch at the A&W with my friends. As parents, it's up to us to help create childhood memories for our children.
We had originally planned to race in our hometown, but ended up opting for a race in Northern Michigan to coincide with a mini-vacation to the cabin. The only difference? This 5k was a trail run. We had trained on dirt roads and train tracks, but never on trails. I gave a few pointers on watching out for roots and being careful on the downhill portions because everything was so muddy from the rain. We sat in our car until the very last moment, aiming to stay as dry as possible for as long as possible. We were commenting on other runners scrambling around to get ready and Emerson said, "I'm nervous. My tummy feels funny." I assured her that was a normal pre-race feeling and that it would subside as soon as we crossed the start line. And then I said, "Why is everyone looking at us in our car?" Owen's response? "They're looking at champions." Well-said, Owen.
At 8:27am, we bolted from the car to the start line and were greeted by my mom, brother, and the rest of my kids. They were ready to cheer us on, even in the pouring rain! We listened to the National Anthem and Owen turned to us and said, "I'm going to beat you guys." And then we were off. Owen went ahead of us and worked his way through the pack. I stuck with Emerson, as she had requested, and we tackled the course together. A lot of the roots were marked, but there were still quite a few that weren't and I reminded her often to keep her focus and to lift her feet off the ground. Her pace was about a minute faster than she had gone in training runs and she was pleasantly surprised that she felt good at that pace. The rain and the trails made me think of the Barkley Marathons and I told her the story of that race. If you haven't heard of it, look it up on Netflix-it's a true adventure. At the halfway point there was a water break and we stopped for just a few seconds to catch our breath and take a few sips. And then, we headed for the finish. The farther we ran, the heavier the rain came down, but we didn't care. We were soaked and having a blast. At the three mile mark, you could hear people at the finish line cheering. I let Emerson take the lead and she picked up the pace for the final few turns and crossed the finish line with a giant smile on her face. Owen had finished a minute or so ahead of us and was still beaming from the excitement of his race.
Whether they turn into lifelong runners or not, they'll always have this summer to look back on and say that they actually did something.