Today was both my son’s first 5K - the Las Vegas Running Team's Annual "Policeman/Fireman 5K" To see them with their shirts and their bibs was thrilling to see . They trained hard and most importantly, smart. They selected this race to be their first 5K many months ago, using their own allowance money to pay for the registration.
Since this was their first 5K race, I planned to run along side of them for pacing, form & breathing monitoring. This was not race time for me, I was in Coach Mode.
We arrived at the Las Vegas Premium Outlet Mall parking lot about 45 minutes pre-start. The 10K had just started. By the time we settled into our place, did the warm up with the boys – the first 10K finishers were coming through. We always enjoy cheering the runners in. This time, we had cow bells too. The boys got a kick out of that.
Here are my boys joking around at the Finish Line, pre race -
The gun goes off and we are running. I had to hold my Garmin in my hand, due to my accident from my run the day before. In many ways it was easier to read, than sitting on my wrist. I was determined to keep them at a 10:00 min pace. Any faster, and they would boink on me before we hit Mile 1 and certainly not have the energy to keep going. Their safety was my number 1 concern, at all times.
We reach Mile 1 and there was suppose to be a water station, but there wasn’t – so I gave my boys my water bottles to sip on. My oldest (who has Autism) was having some difficulty breathing, so I slowed them down to 11:00 and told the youngest he could run ahead of me, if he wanted.
As we turned the corner to the street, the oldest son (12 yrs old) took a nasty, nasty trip and skinned forward on his knees on the asphalt. (Like Mother like Son???) He stood up and was crying. As I bent down to examine his knees, I saw lots of BLACK marks on his knees, but very difficult to see if he actually skinned himself. However, because he never, ever cries from pain and he was crying, I knew he was hurting.
I told him he could quit the race if he wanted, no one is making him finish. My little 12 yr old, took a deep breath and said, “I am finishing, momma – you finished your race when you were hurt, so am I! Getting hurt is a part of racing!”
I didn’t know how to feel - humbled or ashamed. After he saw me hobble into the finish line injured, had I given him the wrong impression of how to face pain and injury? Or had I taught him to rise above it?
Either way, my heart sunk into my stomach. I put my arms around his shoulder and said, “okay then – let’s go, it’s you and me” He wiped off his tears and we kept running (aka lightly jogging).
As we turned the corner, I heard him say to himself, “I am strong, I got this! I am STRONG!”
Talk about tugging at the momma heart strings!
It took everything I had not to hoist him up on my shoulders and carry him to the finish, but I could see he wanted this and he didn’t appear to be in any physical danger.
As we went to the water station, we walked through it – all the while the youngest son was still very close in front of me.
As we did the turn around and around Mile 2.25 I could see he had a nasty skinning on his knee, but by now, he was smiling and chatting away.
As we turned another corner at 2.75 I instructed him to walk and keep walking until I came back to get him.
I ran to my youngest son and we gave a mighty push to the Finish. I had him at a 7:32 pace for the last 1/10 of a mile. To see his smile as he crossed the finish line, was priceless! He finished around the 34 minute mark and received 2nd in his Age Group!
I did a quick turn around and ran back for the oldest son. I met back up with him around 3 miles and I could see he was in pain & exhausted. I said again, ‘you don’t have to run this to the Finish, we can walk’ He said, “nope! I am running as fast as I can!”
So, off we went and coming into the Finish Line, I had him at a 9:00 min pace until the end with the crowd cheering him on. He finished around the 39 minutes mark. Talk about a second wind!
We immediately got his knee looked at and bandaged. His father and I gave them medals to commemorate their finishing (you can see his black knee and bandaged knee in this picture).
All the while, neither stopped smiling. They truly pushed themselves, more so than I ever could. Their ultimate desire to finish strong was so apparent. They inspired me.
Their Bibs and “Finisher” Medal now hangs on the wall.
Their first 5K is in the history books, and I couldn’t be more proud of the both them.
I think we will have Pizza and Ice Cream tonight...
(c) C. Ragsdale 2011
Celebrate Your Finish,
Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
Certified Sports Nutritionist, Running Coach & Public Speaker
~My Facebook Fan Page ~Follow Me on Twitter