Two years ago, my niece Maggie, who was 8 at the time, ran a 5K with her Mom at a weekend sports festival that our families attended, and I was so impressed that an 8 year old could run that distance. My brother (Maggie's dad) was nonchalant about her accomplishment and had the general idea that kids can do whatever you tell them they can do.
This fall, Grant and Katie had a fundraiser at school. They each had to run around a 1/2 mile track for 30 minutes and raised money for each time they made it around the track. Without training, they both easily ran 5 laps (2.5 miles) in 30 minutes. It got me thinking that they could run a 5K too.
A few weeks ago, a new poster was taped on the door at the gym. It was called "Run B4 the Fun" and was a family 5K fun run, sponsored by a local elementary school, to raise money for Relay for Life. I grabbed a registration sheet and signed up our entire family, even Paige. We had great intentions of "training" with the kids, but the weeks slipped by and all we ever did was talk.
In fact, I was disappointed by the kids lack of enthusiasm. Grant dismally said, "I'm not looking forward to the race tomorrow because I'll want to win. And I know I won't win. And since I won't win, I'll be disappointed. AND I'll have to wait for all the slow pokes like Paige." Talk about glass half-empty thinking here... We talked about how this was a FUN race and a challenge to ourselves, not about winning or losing.
This morning was race day. Not a cloud in the bright blue skies and an anticipated high of 82 degrees. You couldn't ask for a more perfect morning. The elementary school sits nestled in the valley that is Newberg, with foothills sprinkled with vineyards hemming it in and the coastal mountain range shining in the distance, every color illuminated by bright sunlight.
We picked up our matching light blue and brown T-shirts at the registration table and were delighted that there were no timing chips. It truly was a "fun run" and I was happy to eliminate that burden from Grant. The MC counted down, "5-4-3-2-1-GO!" and all the racers dashed out. Grant was practically sprinting, so Curt split the distance between Grant (8 years) and Katie (6 1/2 years) and I manned the stroller with Paigey (3 years) and coached Alli (5 years) on setting a good pace.
Shortly before the first water station, Curt passed Katie off to me. Grant's pace was too fast for Katie and Curt couldn't keep them both in sight. The four Stilp girls continued to the water station and Paige surprised us all by deciding to get out and run.
She is typically very unmotivated, opting to be carried instead of walk, and has been known to throw fits because Mean Mommy makes her walk the 1/2 block to the bus station and won't carry her. But out she got, and she started running as fast as her little legs would carry her (which wasn't fast). Poor Katie had to keep stopping to wait for Alli and Paige to catch up to her, but we continued the leapfrog process for the next mile or so. I kept thinking Paige would give up and get in the stroller, but she decided she wanted to run, and run she did. For at least a mile and half, maybe a little longer.
We saw Grant and Daddy as they were doubling back and heading for the finish line, and we passed Paige off to them (lucky girl - she skipped about a mile of the course). Alli, Katie and I forged ahead, and they were such troopers. Never giving up or losing heart. Just taking it one step at a time and having a ton of fun in the process. Katie's pig-tails bobbed in the distance and she never grumbled, even one time, about having to wait for Alli and Paige.
Grant crossed the finish line in about 33 minutes. Katie in about 39 minutes. Alli and I, hand in hand, at about 40 minutes. We were so proud! They inhaled the free apples and bagels and wore their race shirts (all except Grant) proudly to the van. It was a great way to start a gorgeous Saturday and instead of a Run B4 the Fun, it was a run to start the fun!