Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays she’s up while most of the house still sleeps. We meet in the kitchen and, half awake, swallow down a bowl of cereal or piece of toast. “Drink lots of water,” I remind her. “You don’t want to be thirsty.” -- and she fills her cup.
While breakfast settles, I get my contacts in and set my GPS watch to searching for satellites. Goldie goes upstairs and puts on her green/gray reversible, running shorts. The ones that I gifted her when I realized she was serious about sticking with this. We meet back in the living room, tie running shoes, and head out the door.
“Which way today?” I ask her. “Over towards the school? Up the steep hill to the canal? Or . . .”
Most days she’ll say, “I don’t know,” and, deferring to me, “you choose.” But some days she’ll ask hopefully, “Can we drive up and run on the dirt road?” and we will.
Her original ten-minute pace for one mile is now a nine-minute pace for three. Her once slightly unpredictable gait – now smooth and fluid. I still remind her occasionally to “take it easy – we still have a long way to go”; but not so much anymore. I can trust her now to find her own pace – one she can keep. When we get to a downhill, I remind her to relax her arms and let the hill carry her. When we get to a climb, she leans into it and lifts her knees the slightest bit higher – just like a good runner should. She doesn’t like to let hills slow or discourage her. She digs in and powers up at a slightly harder pace than what we’d been running. “Goldie!” I call out. “You’re amazing! I think hills are one of your strengths.” And, as usual, my mind starts intertwining running with some larger metaphor for life. Only now, the metaphor includes my nine year old daughter.
This almost didn’t happen.
Initially I answered “no” more often than “yes” to her requests to come running with me. I only had so much time; I’d find other times to train my little girl; I had a loop in mind, and it didn’t lend itself to circling a little person around for a smaller run and dropping her back home; etc.
But as I ran one day (without her) I began asking myself the questions most mothers would have thought to ask much sooner: “Why wouldn’t you want to encourage your daughter to do something good for her that she really wants to do? Why wouldn’t you want the gift of a few moments of time to spend with just her? Why wouldn’t you want her to develop a love for something you love?” And, of course, I knew I absolutely did want all of those things, so . . . we began our little training routine.
And, while this post was primarily about Goldie, it wouldn’t be fair for me to neglect adding a bit about Abe. Somewhat out-of-the-blue (and fairly last minute) Abe decided he wanted to run the 5K with us. He didn’t seem to feel any strong need to train – only running with Goldie and I a handful of times beforehand, but, despite my worries over his lack of preparation, he held his own just fine! And . . . look at that kick he had left at the end!
Bravo, kids! (And 8 months pregnant mom.)
I don’t particularly care if any of my kids interests or talents ever match my own. I love seeing them develop into their own little selves – little selves who are far more than simply something I have made them; still, I will admit that having them take an interest in something I love so much – and getting to do that with them – has been very happy! (And, it was also very happy that Mike showed up –- with one or two other messy-headed, just-out-of-bed children in tow – to make sure Abe and Goldie were met with plenty of cheers as they finished their first race.)