Tuesday, November 19, 2013
What looks like a tragic murder scene from CSI is merely last year's photo of my two boys at the end of a short half mile race down the gravel drive to the bluebird box beside Oma's garden and then back again to our carport.
Perhaps it was because my oldest insisted on running in his cowboy boots (!!!) instead of the more appropriate tennis shoes. Or maybe it was because he and his siblings had only recently re-entered the world of the un-sick. Whatever the case, Wyatt fell mock-panting at my feet, unable to stop his face from cracking a smile as he gasped out complaints of exhaustion.
A few steps behind him, younger brother watched the theatrics. Even from that distance, I could see Emerson's face brighten with an instant grin that showed he loved the idea. Sure enough, he stopped, dropped, and honed his acting skills as well.
If it isn't obvious, I live in a house full of drama queens....and kings.
Last winter, our family ran in the Louisiana Kids' Marathon wherein we ran together the full 26.2 miles over a nine week period, the same race that the super men and women ran all at once in mid January.
What started as a way to encourage my children to begin (at the young ages of four and six) to enjoy exercise and make healthy choices ended up teaching this mother more life lessons than she thought possible. It was difficult; it seemed impossible at times; and yet, it was also exhilarating.
A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh could have been speaking directly to me and my children when he said, "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
Those statements all proved true over the course of our 26.2 mile journey.
One year later, I still bear the physical scars from last year's final leg of the marathon. I see those dark indentions each time I wash my knees. And yet, by June, I had signed our family up for the 2014 version of the same race.
The children have waited an entire year for this moment when we would once again start training for the big day, when we would run together with several hundred other children and their parents, when we would cross the finish line to the sounds of cheers from people we had never met and likely never would. And of course, they have waited for another chance to earn a medal, a tangible reminder of the value of persistence and hard work.
Now at five and almost seven, my children are stronger. After completing last year's marathon, we had not continued our running, but we had spent the past ten months walking and riding our bicycles up and down the gravel drive. If there weren't a marked path before, there would surely be one now with all the miles and hours we've clocked along the way.
As soon as Wyatt leapt off the school bus, the air was full of too-loud conversations about socks, tennis shoes, and reminders of where the starting line and turn-around points were. Last year's training began with a quarter mile run, then stayed at half a mile for a few weeks before moving up to three-quarters of a mile and finally the whole mile. This time, though, I decided we would start out at the one mile mark.
Two days into this training, I have already noticed how all our attitudes have changed from this same time last year.
Before, I neither believed in their ability or in my own. I feared we would not finish. I feared I couldn't run the entire 1.2 miles without pausing to walk some of it. This time, though, I came out of the starting box believing with my entire being that we could do this. And we did.
Even on this second day when I expected whining about being sore, no one said anything to that effect. Sure, there were the usual exclamations of "I'm tired!" because all three children were having to re-learn the art of pacing themselves versus running in fast "spurts" as children are wont to do. But, there was no real complaining. What's more, Amelia and I have already beat our individual best times from last year, and the boys are already close to their race day best times.
As Amelia rounded the final bend, she held up her hand to wave at us who were already back at the finish line, waiting on her. Without even being told to do so, Wyatt began not taunting her for how slow she was (like he did last year) but, rather, yelling encouragement to her. Those words elicited a bright grin, spurring her to sprint the final few yards.
All together again, we exchanged laughter and high fives.
Success. We could do this. Together. As a family.
at 10:42 PM