My children's elementary school has recently started it's first ever "club". It is an after school club for girls- that encourages girls to exercise, and works on relationships and self-esteem. They are calling it "Pavement Princesses". I went to the evening meeting and there were a surprising number of girls and parents that showed up, but the amazing thing is now that they have gotten started, they have around 42 girls coming every week. My little princess was very excited about a club just for girls. They are planning a big year-end event by running in a local 5K. My daughter is nine and invincible (like her mother). She began to tell me how she could run three miles....it wouldn't be hard. Off and on for several days she talked about it.
As the weekend rolled around the schedule and the time change worked together so that she and I could go running. I no longer go running near our house, but that is a tale for another day.... We started out at the riverwalk in our town. It is a beautiful place, Sarah Margaret and I, and her eleven year old brother all began this adventure. We stopped and stretched a bit. I have found that I do better stretching more after, when my muscles are warm, than trying to stretch cold muscles. But, we stretched, and I showed them where it should pull, and what the technique might be. As we started out, I took the approach that I was feeling the pollen, and needed to take it easy. So, we decided to walk a minute and jog/run/lope for three minutes, and that would be our interval.
The first four minutes looked okay, we made it a bit past the first quarter mile marker. Just after second interval, at the eight minute mark, I knew, that we were in trouble. Sarah Margaret, was trying to race her brother during the three minutes that we were running. No matter how many times I said, "run your own pace," she wanted to be ahead of him, and he wanted to be ahead of her. He was recovering more quickly during the one minute of walking, because he had his breathing pattern down while he was running. She did not, she was gasping for air. As we came to the end of our one minute walk and got ready to run, Sarah Margaret did what so many of us do, either overtly, or internally, when our expectations and our reality clash violently. She started crying. BUT, being a Georgia peach, and a princess, she did it while running. Her brother, being Southern, a boy, and clueless, said... "Is she crying?"
So, I did what any good mother would do,...I lied. I said, that she was probably having trouble breathing because of the pollen, and that we should expand our walk breaks to a minute and a half to let her catch up. Then, I started teaching her how to count every time she puts her foot down and breathe in on 1 and out on three or four whichever felt right. We ran a mile and a quarter that day. But I am most proud of her that she did not give up. The next day, she and I ran a mile and a half. We talked about how she thought it would be easy to run, since I was doing it (Thanks a lot!), and how it looks easy, and how they run in PE. We talked about how once you get disappointed in yourself, how you really want to quit, but, she had not much option to quit, because between her brother and being so far from the car, no matter what, quitting was just lame. We talked about running your race, and how hard it is NOT to compete and burn yourself out like she was doing with Lance.
So, I've written the first entry fees for Sarah Margaret and I to be in some local 5K's and for her to be in the Pavement Princesses. I am so thankful that my mid-life crisis can be a part of her entry into her pre-teen and teenage years. The life-lessons that I learned and was reminded of from running with her a few weeks ago, won't soon be forgotten. I hope that they will stay in her heart as well.
As for Lance, we are grateful (1)that he noticed that his sister was crying, (2) that he showed concern, (3) that he bought my story. At least he did up until now....
It is surprising to me how much this experience touched my heart. How often do we build up something in our mind, and when it doesn't go the way we think, we want to quit. If we had a friend or coach or if we listened to the one we have, how different things might be. No matter how I tried to tell her, she could not hear that running three miles was not easy until she tried it. Upon trying it, it was crushing. I wonder how many times do we play this scene out in other areas of our lives unwittingly making life difficult on ourselves?