I had my proudest moment as a runner this past weekend and it had nothing to do with my running performance.
Every year at the end of April my local running club puts on the Pike’s Peak 10k. They close down the Rockville Pike and several thousand people run down the fast, flat course. Because it is fast, and has a pretty good purse, it draws some very fast runners (East Africans and other sub-30 minute runners). There is also a huge festival with pizza, bagels, doughnuts, music, kids’ games and fun runs. I have run this race every years since I started running and had already paid the entry fee, so when I woke up on Sunday with a head cold I decided to just suck it up and do the best I could. I ran from our house to the start (about 5 or 6 miles), did some light stretching and lined-up for the race. I felt horrible from the start and had a real hard time breathing with my congested sinuses. I knew the 5:15 pace was too fast, so I slowed down and pushed through. I ended up running in about 35 minutes flat, which looks better than how I felt.
Afterwards, I met Anne and the boys at the Festival, where Logan had signed up to do the kid’s run. We had quite a bit of time to wait and Gavin (the 2 year-old) started getting cranky, so we walked across the street to the brand new Rockville Whole Foods. I could spend all day at Whole Foods. After some shopping and “samples” tasting, Logan and I headed back to the Festival to get ready for his run. He had the choice of running the 50 meter sprint or the 1K. Wanting to be like dad, he chose the longer distance. This meant we had about 30 minutes to wait while they did “heats” for the 50 meter runners. Logan, in true Ultrarunner fashion, took this opportunity to down a slice of Potomac Pizza!
After polishing off some pizza, Logan went through a string of active stretching (or close to it), which I am assuming he learned from watching me get ready for a race. We lined up at the start with a bunch of other 4-8 year-old's and a good mix of parents, who would serve as pacers and ensure that the kids don’t run over each other. They started the race and we were off. I ran next to Logan as he sprinted through the crowd. I tried offering some advice: “save some energy for the final kick” but I don’t think he really understood or cared. He was simply running and having fun. We reached the turn around and his little face was bright red. I asked if he was OK and needed to slow down and he said “no, this is fun.” As we approached the finish line he went into an all-out-sprint and gave me a big “high-five” as he crossed the finish line in just over 6 minutes (not too bad for a 4 year-old). Afterward, he had me grab another slice of pizza, but this one he would eat later because he was too exhausted:)
Seeing my son run made me very proud. It was very exciting to run with him and see the look on his face as he crossed the finish line. He didn’t care about splits, heart rate, or pacing. He simply enjoyed running. There is something very wholesome about it, and it reminded me of why I started running to begin with. It is very freeing and one of the most natural things we can do. Just go outside, run and enjoy it. It is not that I do not enjoy competition, and I am interested in all the stats and science that comes with the sport. However, when you strip everything out, I am just the little kid out there with a beat-red face - running, living in the moment and enjoying life. That is what my son reminded me of and it was special to see that spirit in him – that is what I would call my proudest moment as a runner!