Before I had kids and was able to do lots of races, my friend Bonita shared with me a tradition she and her husband have (he is also a runner): after every race Bonita asks, "Neil, did you win?" and Neil says "Bonita, I always win." I loved it right away because I am a very...slow....runner. I was that poor gal on her high school track team who ran the 800m every meet, despite coming in last or second to last no matter how hard she tried. When I started getting into running as an adult, I promised myself I'd never worry about being "fast". As I got better I learned that sometimes it's good to push yourself faster than your comfortable pace, just for fitness sake, but I've made it a point to not focus on time too much but more on distance and endurance. So after every race Bonita would, from then on ask me: "Sarah, did you win?" and I would say, "Bonita, I always win." We would both laugh a bit, knowing how corny it sounds but she said it every time, also knowing how true it is and what an important thing it was to remind me of.
Flash forward to present time: We have a bunch of family photos in our stairwell (shocker!) and one of them is Nathan crossing the finish line of the New York City Marathon. He ran it the year Zoe was born (actually just a few days before the day) and almost every time we go down the stairs, Owen likes to stop at it and clap and cheer for Daddy. Today, Zoe was with us and she asked: "Mommy, did Daddy win that race?" and I said "Well, he didn't finish the race before everybody else but he won because it was hard and he did it." It was so nice to explain that one further and I vowed to remind her of that whenever I can.
It was good timing, because today was the official first day of my half-marathon training! Zoe has even been caught up in the excitement of it all and is running a race of her own on June 2nd (locals: it's free and you don't have to register for the kid's run). She has been talking about how we are both training for a race and is really excited about it, so while I was on my run this morning I decided to ask the organizers of my race if it would be okay for Zoe to hop in with me at the very end and finish up my half alongside me (it is--yay!). That way, we can both be on a training schedule and have the same day as a goal. The mere thought of crossing the finish line with her makes me get all teary so I was pumped to find when I got home that she is totally game.
I made up a "training schedule" for her that is similar to mine, just obviously more vague. I told her that on her cross training days she can go swimming, ride her bike or just play on the playground.
Then she and I set off for her first training run. She wanted to hold hands at first because it would be "easier for us to stay together" but she eventually let go and we just jogged along side by side. We did some laps around our apartment complex and I let her lead the way. It was so special to me and I think for her too. At one point, we looked at each other and smiled and I said "Love ya, Zo!" and she smiled even bigger and said "Me too! Also, we love Daddy and Owen right?" and I said "Of course!" and she said "Daddy, cuz he works so hard and Owen cuz he's growing teeth."