One of my daughters finished ten minutes ahead of her sister. Ten minutes! For someone who's always been a fairly competitive runner, ten minutes in a 5k is a lifetime. But as my daughters happily compared their experiences after the 'Girls on the Run 5k' Sunday morning, it barely registered that one had finished significantly ahead of the other. There was no gloating.
As I asked them about the 'race' in the days before, they quickly corrected me. "It's a run, not a race," they'd say.
And so it was. That's the beauty of the 'Girls on the Run' program. It is intended for grade school girls. The main objective is to build the girl's self-esteem and confidence. Whether of not they have ever run before, finishing a 5k is the goal at the outset of the program, and I watched many of the girls grow in ability and confidence as the program went along. Everyone can finish, and everyone is a winner.
Most importantly, they enjoy themselves. From my perspective, it's incredibly important that sports activities be fun for kids. There's plenty of time for pressure later in life. But if they don't enjoy what they're doing, sports may not even be a part of their lives later.
So, when they chose their teachers as their 'running buddies', I was thrilled. They could have chosen mom or dad, who are both fairly experienced runners. But rather than feel slighted, I was really excited that one daughter's current 3rd grade teacher, and the other's third grade teacher from a year ago agreed to run with them. Bri Karmalita and Denise Soling are both outstanding teachers and great role models for my kids. I've been treated to the chance to see them both in the classroom during various volunteer opportunities I've had.
So they both had lots of stories about their experience. And those stories will be with them for years to come. More importantly the experience of accomplishing something you trained for, and sharing it with your mentors, friends and family was priceless. They were all smiles, proud of their accomplishment. But I doubt they were more proud than their father.
There were about 1000 girls and their running buddies in the run. Incidently, I couldn't help but notice my daughter who finished ahead of her sister by ten minutes, also finished about ten minutes behind the first girl to cross the finish line. I felt a twinge of guilt for even noticing that.
I don't expect to incorporate the idea of not caring about finishing times into my own running, but I do believe there are lessons for all of us in watching our children grow and experience things for themselves. I can only hope to share their enthusiasm and enjoyment in my next race, er, run.
See you on the roads...........