This past month I have been training my not so little anymore girl. She is coming back from a knee injury during last year’s soccer season.
I have run many races and have had a lot of fun in the past by myself. Running with my daughter dwarfs all of them. Whether it was my marathon in St Louis, or running a Half-Marathon in South Korea, the ability to run with her is a greater feeling.
This past month we have run three 5Ks together. Her first one with a 95 degree heat index she hit the finish line at 34 minutes and was mad. How many people actually get mad finishing a “fun run”? Probably more than a few, but this is my daughter and my story.
It is said that sometimes to get a good story across you have to flash back to the beginning, hit the middle and sometimes go back and forth in order to get the point across. Do not worry I will not do that. When she was the ripe old age of 9 she ran her first 5K and hit a sub 30 minute race. This opened our eyes to a talent neither of us had as a child. She has gone on to run many 5Ks since then. She is 15 now and has a PR of 26 which she stopped to walk in Korea because she was “bored”. This of course made me mad but I did not crush her so she would hate running. Instead I used the reverse psychology of telling her she could have won if she did not walk. This was working until she got hurt playing soccer last year. Then the rehab of a knee came. I never had to deal with a leg rehab so did not know how to help her.
She helped herself and started using her tool box of parachute runs, ladders, box jumps and cones. Her dedication inspires me to do better. I asked her if she wanted to try a 5K again and with a little apprehension she said yes. Now she is overly motivated and wants to keep getting better.
As we went to the starting line today for Ellie’s Run For Africa she was focused and nervous. I could see it in her eyes. Just four weeks ago she ran a 34 and was angry. Now she was focused and had a pretty tough course ahead of her. As we lined up we thought of an afternoon 5K a couple weeks ago the Queen City Road Race in Clarksville. We ran that one in pretty hot temps as entire family and she hit ran to the 30 minute mark. (again she was angry)
We stood there and were waiting for the start. She was not smiling at all just determined.
We listened as the pre-race speeches were made and the race was blessed with a prayer. Then the gun went off. Oh wait it was an accident. So we all laid back and waited again. It was now time as the gun went off we shot forward and gave it our best. The first .9 miles was 90 % uphill followed by a rolling run through music row in the Gulch neighborhood of Nashville. The hills beat up her knee but not so bad she was hurting. We passed the two mile mark and she was still pumping it out. We crossed over the highway towards the Frist museum and she had pain in her eyes. She had to walk for a bit. I said fine and like a good dad started running again. She looked up and ran with me. We lost valuable seconds there but I felt I needed to help her push. We came to the last two turns and you could hear the African Drums playing, she started pumping her arms and running as hard as she can. This was when I finally told her what her time was. She rounded the final turn and pumped to home in 29:02.
In one month she shaved 5 minutes off a 5K time using just self determination. I am very proud of her.