Sitora loves to run with me.
She used to beg and plead and beg some more to puleeeeeeze let her run with me as I walked out the door. At first I always said no because I didn't think it would really work out. But then eventually I figured, why not? She would run half a mile, sometimes a full mile. Sometimes she ran the whole thing, sometimes she walked some. I just let her run at her own pace and stayed by her side down our road by the river.
She also begged and pleaded and begged some more to get the chance to run in the kid's race this summer to raise money for the International Justice Mission. I said yes, of course. She asks about it constantly. "How many more days until my kid's race, Mom?"
I was looking online for local 5k races and I stumbled upon one in Eau Claire (45 minutes away). Proceeds from the race went towards the UW Eau Claire sports department (which is cool) and it didn't seem very competitive (AKA: exactly what I was looking for).
I woke Sitora up at 7:00am Saturday morning and surprised her as we walked downstairs that I was taking her to run a race with me. She blinked, asked for some cereal, and that was that. About 15 minutes later she confided, "Mom, next time you should really think about telling me something like that a while after I've woken up." Ok, thanks for the tip ;) Maybe it was a bit too early...
I expected to see more children at the race as the website stated it was a "family friendly event" and showed pictures of children running last year's race. When we arrived I was grateful to see at least 2 children around 9 years old. Sitora was encouraged to see them too.
We were off. Smile on our faces. Sun shining bright. Crisp spring air whipping through our hair.
Fast forward 2 minutes.
"MoooOOOOOM, I'm done."
"My legs hurt! I don't wanna run anymore."
"Oh sweetie, the race just, um, started. We have a long way to go. Do you want to walk a bit?"
"You are doing great, honey! Keep it up!"
"Mom, this is just too hard."
"When we are all done, where do you want us to go for a fun treat?"
"What do you want to get?"
"Ice cream and a happy meal."
"You got it girl!"
And when she couldn't run or walk anymore, she jumped on my back while I ran for the two of us.
We got a lot of smiles from race workers, fellow racers, and random joggers passing by the race course. We ran alongside people who you wouldn't normally consider a "runner" and my heart beamed with pride for them. I still don't really consider myself a runner. I just, well, try running.
As the finish line came into view, I told Sitora we were almost through. Her eyes opened wide and she mustered up every last bit of courage she had left. She bolted ahead of me and I joined her.
We crossed the finish line together.
The volunteers at the finish line were beaming ear to ear watching Sitora cross the finish line. One of them gladly took our picture with my phone.
"Is that it?" I asked the workers.
"Yep," one man replied.
"Unless you want to stay for the awards ceremony?" another girl added.
Sitora and I were starving so we said no thanks and walked to the van.
"Mom, can I get my ice cream now?"
We picked a booth in the back of the play place. I stuffed salad in my face and guzzled a billion gallons of water. After Sitora finished the majority of her food I let her go play. I looked outside the window and soaked in the warm sunrays on my face. All of a sudden, out of absolutely nowhere, tears started welling up in my eyes. Overwhelming tears. Oh dear. Good thing I was facing the back of the room...
She had finished. I had finished. One of my dreams came true. I finished my first 5k. She finished her first 5k.
We did it.