I spend a lot of the year watching kids run, as a high school cross country and track coach. I love passing on my love of running to young adults, in hopes that they will become life-long runners or college athletes. When I knew the baby was coming in February, I decided to take the spring season of track off. Being a great teacher, coach and mom is very difficult...and being a mom comes first.
Typically, my spring flies by and I jump into the summer feeling like a stranger in my home. Duane and Aspen have a regular schedule of time at the Y, working out, childwatch and swimming. This season has been different. I've loved every moment of our Saturdays, finding the next free activity at the library or a local nature center to enjoy. I've also loved watching Aspen run in her first Kokopelli Kids Trail Series.
She is 3 and ran in the preschool 0.5 mile division. I was a little surprised at the distance. She has run some fun 100 meter races, but we actually had to prepare for the 0.5 miles. We went over to the Santa Fe Trail a couple of times and would run her normal push-bike route. I was mainly concerned that she would stop, fall, freak out or all of the above. After she broke her arm, falling off a balance beam, I decided to run the first race with her, just to catch her if she stumbled.
She had a blast during her first race. I loved jogging next to her and watching the pure joy on her face. She took my hand a couple of times for support up the tiny hills. She also stopped for an exaggerated huff-and-puff during the last 0.25 mile. It was lovely, and silly, and so much fun. Instead of crossing the finish line, she stared at it for a bit and then walked over to her papa. Clearly, she needed some work on her finish. She was very proud of her post race water, fruit snacks and purple ribbon.
With each race, I let go a little more. During the second race, I waited at the 0.25 mile turn around, then I snuck behind her for the final stretch. She was not happy about me following her, but I knew she had struggled during the last half. Sure enough, she was fine without me...though she still went right for grandma and papa after the race.
During the last race, I watched her at the start and waited for her at the finish line. With a beaming smile, she watched everyone start around her as she slowly trotted across the line. She took longer, because she was waiting for her new friend throughout the 0.5 mile. She finally made it across the finish, and enjoyed a celebratory slice of pizza and chocolate chip cookie after the event.
It was so enjoyable to watch her. It's not because she is fast (I could honestly care less about her speed), but it is because she is having so much fun just playing and making friends. I love coaching kids to run fast, but I love doing that when they are older. For now, I will foster fun, play, and lots of physical activity for my girl. I will also continue to enjoy springtime with my babies.