Simon said he was going to run the 5K at this year’s Miles for Midwives. He’s done a 1K, he’s done a 1 mile, he’s killed the peewee race. He was ready for the real deal. Or so he thought. We knew he could do it, but we also knew it would be harder than he thought it would be. If he was willing to try it, however, we were willing to get him through to the end.
The plan was for Micah to actually run the race because he had a better shot than I did of doing well. I would run with Simon and push Oliver and Elsa in the stroller. Micah would come meet up with us after he finished and make sure we were doing okay. I expected Micah to catch up to us around the halfway point, but we were well into mile 2 before we saw him coming our way. He was feeling good with a 4th place finish and a 19:17 time. (Rock on!)
Meanwhile, Simon was realizing that running races can be hard. He’d cruised through the first (downhill) half mile, like I knew he would, and then reality set in. He wanted to slow down, so we did. He wanted to walk, so we did . . . for a little bit. After that, I coached him through one run-walk cycle about every quarter mile. He was willing to go with my plan, even though by mile 1 he was griping about how I’d neglected his training. He could have lost trust in me as a coach, but he didn’t. Instead he would say things like, “We have one more INCH!” or, “We’ll stop at the next lamppost!” and the do whatever I told him he could do.
I knew he was just fine when we were running up the hill and he noticed two airplane exhaust tracks had crossed in the sky to make an X. He was suddenly cheerful and chipper as can be and imagining that they were playing a giant game of tic-tac-toe in the sky, and that the board was so big he couldn’t even see it. He didn’t even notice that we were running up the hill.
Once Micah caught up to us and reminded me that I should have been giving Simon water throughout the race, the boy did great. He ran the last half mile without any walk breaks. And he even got a little competitive and decided to beat a couple of 10-year-old girls that were ahead of him. As we neared the finish line Micah ran ahead of us again, this time with the camera, so we could document the moment. It was pretty awesome, not only because a 43-minute 5K is nothing to sneeze at (especially when you are 5 years old), but because Simon ran straight into the tape that was marking the finish line corral thinking he was “breaking the tape.” We didn’t catch that bit on camera, but it is etched on my heart.
We stuck around afterward for the awards ceremony so that Micah could get his medal (he placed in his age group even though he was just off the podium in the men’s race), and the boys got their faces painted. Would you believe it if I told you that Simon’s first choice for how he wanted his face painted was the Queen of England? Believe it. After the face-painter tried to figure out how to do that for a bit, he changed his mind and went with Spiderman instead. Which was too bad because I knew he didn’t really want Spiderman and he probably knows more about the Queen of England than he does about Spiderman, but whatever. Oliver went with the tiger, which suited him nicely.
In sum: perfect day, perfect race, my kid is awesome. The end.