Monday, September 28, 2015


Edgehill Running Club
Last year I started a running club for the girls in my neighborhood and their friends.  We meet down at the middle school track every Sunday during the fall and do a quick and easy workout together.  The girls range in age from 8 to 12, so their levels of ability and stamina are all over the map.  And this is totally fine.  Ultimately, what I'm trying to do is teach them to love the sport and all it has to offer physically, socially and emotionally.  I don't want them worried about their pace or what place they are in.  The goal is to build their strength over time while boosting their confidence along the way.  And, of course, to do it while having as much fun as possible.  As these girls start to enter into the middle and high school years, I know from experience that life starts to get significantly more intense and often overwhelming.  Running can be such a positive outlet for them during this time.  It definitely was for me and it's a big reason behind why I wanted to start the club.  My daughter, Grace, who is 8, is one of the younger girls in the group.  Last year, she kind of giggled and shuffled her way through practice each week, not really caring or paying attention.  Unless she was causing a distraction, I just let her do her own thing.  The fact that she was down there with us was enough.  This year is a bit different.  She's a little older, a little more into sports and a little more aware of her ability as an athlete.  She's still silly, often asking to do things like run her final lap karaoke style, but she's finishing the workouts and doing them right, even focusing a little, which is really nice to see.  But, while I know she loves being there with her friends, I can safely say she's not very into the whole running thing.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I signed the whole family up for the Glen Doherty Memorial 5K.  Doherty grew up in Winchester and, among many other things, served in the military as Navy SEAL.  Sadly, he was one of four Americans killed in a terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.  The charity was created to aid in providing current and former special operations professionals, from all branches of the government, the means necessary to transition and succeed in civilian life.  We explained it to our girls and told them it was something we felt good about being a part and that we wanted to do the race together as a family.  Grace grumbled and mumbled about it, telling us she didn't want to do it, that she couldn't run more than a mile, that she didn't even like running.  We nodded and told her we understood and that she was going to do it anyway.  True to our word, Sunday morning, we all headed downtown to the race....together.  Originally, the plan had been for me to run with Rosie and Jeff to walk/run with Grace.  When we got down there and started putting on our bibs, Grace decided she was going to run with me instead.  Really Grace?  You sure you want to do that?  Because if you're going with me, we're going to do the whole thing, no complaining.  Are you game for that?  Yeah, yeah. I'm sure, she claimed.  I didn't believe her, but I decided to roll with it, at least for the beginning.  We lined up at the start, listened to announcements and a very endearing version of the national anthem and then we took off.  Grace grabbed my hand, overwhelmed by the crowd, and started running.  It's definitely a bit tricky to hold hands and run, but shortly after the start, she let go and cruised ahead.  And then she kept cruising.  I didn't have my watch on, but I knew she was going too fast.  She was trying to keep up with Rosie and her friend Carly and they, too, had started off pretty fast.  Girls, I yelled, do you think you can hold this pace for the whole thing?  You might want to ease back a bit.  Not surprisingly, they ignored me and kept running.  Grace started to ask me when we would get to the first water stop.  She probably asked me about 10 times and I continuously told her it was "just up ahead".  I had a feeling that once we stopped for water, we'd be walking.  I was quietly hoping the complaining wouldn't start up at that point, too.   Just after mile 1, she grabbed some water, had a sip and poured the rest on her head and then she raced off again.  I was floored.  Wow, Grace.  You are rocking this.  I think you can run the whole thing.  Maybe you can even place in your age group.  I told her.  Now, I know this goes against what I said above about learning to simply love the sport and not focusing on whether you win or lose.  But this is a kid who admittedly doesn't like running and didn't want to race, so I thought it might be just the motivator she needed to push on to the finish.  She looked up at me with big eyes REALLY?? And then we had the following conversation for the next half mile or so:
Grace: Wait, Mom, have you seen a lot of other 8 yr olds running?
Me: I really haven't, Grace.  You are definitely one of the younger ones in the group.  You might even get a prize.  
Grace: If I win my AG will you buy me a toy giraffe?  
Me: No.  
Grace: Why not?  
Me: Because that is ridiculous.  
But a kid is a kid and I didn't want to completely burst her bubble so I offered her ice cream instead and she was happy with the compromise.  At this point we're almost to mile 2.  We grabbed more water, she took a sip and poured more on her head and then we were off again.  Meanwhile, I was thinking, holy crap, Grace has run 2 miles without stopping except for water.  And I'm trying very hard not to show how stupidly excited I am for her.  This is the home stretch, Grace.  We just have to run around the green and back to the town hall and we're golden.  You ready to finish strong?  To which she replied.  I can't be stronger.  My legs are too tired.  I chuckled.  Ok, Grace.  Let's just finish.  We can do it.  Finally, we rounded the corner and we could see the glittery pom poms of the Winchestser cheerleaders at the finish line.  Grace picked it up and bee lined it in, crossing the line in just under 30 minutes.  It was amazing.  I hugged her and told her, again, how fantastic she'd done and how proud I was of her.  She was tired, but she was smiling and I could tell she was really excited.   Rosie and her friend Carly rolled in shortly after Grace and me and we all grabbed snacks and drinks and then sat and relaxed in the shade, the post-race bagels and granola bars being almost as good as the race itself.  The girls were talking all about the race, how hot it had been and how their feet "felt like they were burning at the end".  My favorite line of the day came from Carly who claimed,  It was so cool.  At the end  of the race I felt like I was flying.  That gave me chills.  We eventually learned that Grace took 2nd in her age group which she was very pleased about.  We stayed until the end so she could grab her award which happened to be a pint glass.  It's a bit of an odd choice for a kid's prize but she didn't care.  She'd earned it.  Later that evening, during dinner, I asked her whether she was psyched to try racing again.  Her response?  No, mom.  It's way too tiring.  That made me smile.  But, as she drank her water from her prize winning pint glass, touching it every once in a while just because, I couldn't help but think that this was just the beginning.

Grace, age 8
Final time: 29:25

Listen to this:
Up Up Up - Waters or listen w/ 

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