Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My Hardest Run Ever

I know my children are not robots.  They remind me of that everyday.  They have their own will, and it is not always a happy thing when I try to force my will upon them.  It wasn't so much a force of my will upon my kids as it was contagious enthusiasm when we decided to run our local 5K race last Saturday.  I threw it out to the whole family as an event that we could do together.  Fun family running time!  Can you just hear the cheers and excitement exploding from my house?  Of course not, but they weren't completely opposed to the idea, so 3 out of 4 Spellmans participated in the run. (Daddy is a great cheerleader, but running, well, that's not his favorite thing to do.) We agreed to do it and I signed us up.  5K here we come!

Now my little B is a strong, healthy girl.  She and I ran the mile for her school spirit run 2 weeks ago. Remember that one?  I said it was my best run ever.  It was amazing and invigorating and she performed spectacularly.  She ran really well at her spirit run.  Great stride.  Good breathing.  Not walking once.  It was awesome!  So being the optimist that I am, I expected the 5K to be the exact same thing.  This is the picture in my mind: B and I running down the river walk, sun shining, a lovely 65 degrees outside, other runners admiring us running in stride together saying beautiful things like "Oh, look at that mother and daughter!  They are so in sync and bonding in such a fantastic and healthy, loving way.  I wish I could be like them." The bluebirds would sing, and the butterflies would flutter.  Can you just hear the music in the background now?  It's a dreamy, lovely picture, right?  Why wouldn't it happen again?  Because this is planet Earth and I live in something called reality.

Fast forward to race day, we eat our protein breakfast.  We're staying hydrated.  We get our running shoes tied and we put on our matching shirts that I had made for us.  Yes, we are just that cool.  We are the Spellman 3 and we are going to dominate this race...ok, not necessarily dominate, but we're going to run most of it and we're going to finish together.  Honestly, that was my goal: run together, finish together.  (I wasn't expecting little man to stay with us.  He's done this before and is pretty much an old pro at it.  We saw him at the start of the race and then the horn went off and we saw him again at the end.  Go, buddy, go!  He got 38th place overall.  Not too shabby for a 12 year old.  Super proud of him!)

We were off to a good start.  B and I were going at a steady pace; not too fast, but not the slowest either.  We're going.  We're running, and little missy is still going strong.  About 1 mile in she starts to get tired.  It's okay.  I expected this.  Water is soon.  We'll make it to the water station and catch our breath and keep going.  All along the way, I'm talking to her.  You're doing great, sister.  You got this, baby.  You're strong, sweetie.  Let's do this.  And then something snapped in her mind.  I'm tired, mom.  I can't do this.  I can't do this.  I can't do this.  I can't do this!

 UL crimson red

She got stuck in her mind.  She got stuck on I can't.  Next it was I can't breathe, which was true because she was so upset that her airway was constricted and she really wasn't taking in much air.  I could see how breathing could be tough.  The ironic part is that she would then get mad at me (because somehow I was causing her to not breathe by telling her to slow down and take a deep breath???) and then she would sprint ahead of me 100 feet, then stop and look back at me and away we'd go again.  Then she'd run a little more with me.  Slow down, Mom!  (I'm telling you, friends, this mom is already one of the world's slowest runners.  It was literally impossible for me to go any slower.  Walking was faster than what I was doing.) I can't do this.  We can do it together, B.  Mom is right here with you.  I can't do it!  Yes, you can.  You can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you.  That's what the Bible tells us.  No, I can't, Mom.  (Because the rules of the Bible apply to everyone except her??? Oh my stubborn, sweet girl.)

Did I mention my girl is stubborn?  She gets it from me, but I like to call it tenacious.  Doesn't that sound nicer and more productive?  Moving right along...this went on for the next 2 miles.  It was exhausting.  It was constant.  I'm not one that normally concerns myself with what others think of me, but I can only imagine the stories going on at dinner tables across the city that sound something like this: "Did you see Jennille with her daughter?  That poor little girl!  That mean mommy must have forced her to run.  Oh, the sweet, sweet child." And then there was some sort of continued discussion about whether to rescue my daughter from me.  It was craziness to watch, I'm sure.  I would jog backwards, while trying to motivate my strong-willed child to go.  She's giving me the stink eye and saying things to me that without any doubt express her lack of motivation to finish this race.

Finally, we passed the 2 mile sign.  Almost there.  Please, God, let her see that and want to finish strong.  When we had talked prior to the race about our strategy, I told her we would go at our own slow and steady pace for most of the race until we got to the last 1/8th of a mile or so, and then we'd kick it into high gear and sprint to the finish line, but she was not having any of that either.  Oh, my girl.  She is so a little me.  I'm jogging backwards again, desperate to find any encouraging words to make her want to run across the finish line.  No, such luck.  Let's go, B!  I'm pretty frustrated at this point because this is always how I finish a race: I sprint it in.  Imagine to my surprise when I turn around to run to the finish line and BAM!  There's a sign there--as in, right there.  I smacked it hard. If I were a spectator seeing this event transpire, I'm sure I couldn't avoid laughing.  It was pretty funny in retrospect, but at the time...well, that was the straw that broke the camel's back.  I picked up my girl and started running with her.  She didn't say anything at that point.  I think she knew mommy was about to lose it.
"I'm going to run a little ways holding you, and then you are going to run the last 100 yards," I told my sweet, little stubbornness. "Ok, Mom."
So I did.  Oh mylanta, friends, this momma was fit to be tied.  When I ran into the sign, I hit it hard, (but I didn't fall!) whacking my hand, wrist, knee, and face.  I cut my eyebrow and still have bruises on my body.  I finally put Breanna back down for her to run.  It was literally the last 100 yards to the finish line.  Her mantra the previous half mile had been, "I want Daddy." Fine, sister, he is waiting for you at the finish line.  Go get him.  When I put her down, she didn't want to run again, but I just don't quit.  I believe quitting is a habit just like everything else, and I choose to not create that habit.

Run, baby, run!  Let's go.  Let's finish.  We're almost there.  Let's do it together.  Here's a picture from the trail that the newspaper photographer got of us:

Now isn't that the picture that you saw earlier when I described the lovely family 5K run?  We weren't smiling, but it was good.  Actually, it was a good moment...which I'm glad he captured.  There were a few of those good moments before we got to the end.  This next picture was us crossing the finish line and is a more accurate picture of what most of the race was like.

My girl was upset, I was frustrated, but we did it and we did it together.  Once I calmed down after the race and had some time to digest and process my thoughts, there were some great takeaways.  This is what I learned:

  • My girl is strong, just like her mommy.  I need to help her channel that energy in a positive way.
  • My girl was selling herself short.  She was thinking that just her brother is the athletic one.  Not true at all.
  • I had failed her because I assumed she would be as mentally strong as I am, without having to prepare herself like I do.  
  • We are going to spend more time together doing physical things.  We will run another 5K, and do it better next time.
  • I believe more is caught by our kids than is taught, but what am I throwing out there for them to catch?  Much of my go-getter activities (crossfit, business, karate studies, etc.) are done while they are asleep or I do them outside of the house.  They may not see me doing the things that I want them to catch.  I need to be more deliberate in teaching those things to them.
I know this post was much longer than most, but I had a lot to digest on this one.  I hope you were able to glean some truths and maybe some encouragement from a fellow grace-needing parent.  I did apologize to my girl for not preparing her better.  I did talk with her about doing it again, and preparing better, and she actually seemed excited.  It's girl time, right?

I'd love some feedback on this one.  Do you think I was too hard on her when I didn't prepare her for it well enough?  Did I do the right thing to push her?  Please comment below.

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