Last weekend I ran the HTI 50 miler, and bagged the Mohican 50 miler so I could run with my oldest daughter on her very first 5k race. There were about 50 kids from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades who have been running twice a week at school and the whole program culminated with a 5k race finishing in the local baseball stadium.
Since school ended, I signed her up to run a beginner trail running series (as the youngest participant - 9yrs old) and she has been knocking out a 3mi run every week. I pace/teach/coach/egg on/push/encourage her on every mile. She may not know what it all means yet, but it is extremely meaningful for me as her father. We don't worry about pace, time, or speed....just enjoying the process and putting forth the effort. When she tried to walk too long I say "We didnt come here to walk, you know how to do that!" she probably wants to smack me....
The race: so, we start the run....a bunch of her friends are there, some other runners from Team OUTRUN are there and I am ready with my camera, as usual. Mile 1 is done in about 12 mins, she is smiling, having fun, pacing well, looking fantastic, doing the utlra shuffle....about 1/4mi later, she is cramping in her stomach. Walk, take your time I say.....dont worry about the pace, walk a minute, run a bit. Cramps get worse, water is good, food was good.....(except for the huge amount of candy from the festival last night.). I ask the volunteers on the course where a porto is....NO Portolets on the course......not good. We go off course about 1/2 mile, find an automotive shop that is open, use the facilities....now the race has passed us. We run to catch up, get past the cop car, cramps are still bad (abdominal, not legs). I tell her we can walk the rest of the course. She says she doesn't want to be last and I tell her no matter what she will not be last, I will. I will finish behind her.
The officer asks "hey, you wanna ride back to the finish in style?"...I look at her and say, "you can ride back with the officer or you can finish....what do you want to do?..........I want to finish", she says. Pride boils up in my chest, and I tell her she can run it in or walk it....we decide to walk it in.
So, there we are with a atv next to us, cop behind us, 10 cars behind the cop, walking down the road, crossing an 8 lane intersection with traffic stopped in all lanes, we walk hand-in-hand across, smiling...not a care in the world. I was so happy to be with her for those moments, so happy. We walked it all the way in, into the stadium where they were calling out her name, she kicked the last 50 feet...I stayed a couple seconds behind her and proudly took last place. Her friends showered her with hugs and water, my wife was able to make it to the race, it was truly amazing. She was proud of herself and said it was the hardest thing she had ever done. I asked her later if she would have finished if I wasn't there. She said no and I told her how incredibly proud I was to do that with her. I don't know how she will remember it, but it was a very proud moment for me. She never gave up, never gave up, and I know she was hurting.....she was hurting pretty well but never gave up, looks I might have a little ultra runner on my hands. Or, just a little girl who doesn't give up, so much more proud of the latter.
She felt fine afterwards, seems to have been too much candy the night before, ate too close to the race start and just a tough effort overall.
you just can't top running moments like that.