Manchild said he was going to run the 5K at this year’s Miles for Midwives. He’s done a 1K, he’s done a 1 mile, he’s killed the peewee race. He was ready for the real deal. Or so he thought. We knew he could do it, but we also knew it would be harder than he thought it would be. If he was willing to try it, however, we were willing to get him through to the end.
The plan was for Micah to actually run the race because he had a better shot than I did of doing well. I would run with Manchild and push Squish and Little Miss in the stroller. Micah would come meet up with us after he finished and make sure we were doing okay. I expected Micah to catch up to us around the halfway point, but we were well into mile 2 before we saw him coming our way. He was feeling good with a 4th place finish and a 19:17 time. (Rock on!)
Meanwhile, Manchild was realizing that running races can be hard. He’d cruised through the first (downhill) half mile, like I knew he would, and then reality set in. He wanted to slow down, so we did. He wanted to walk, so we did . . . for a little bit. After that, I coached him through one run-walk cycle about every quarter mile. He was willing to go with my plan, even though by mile 1 he was griping about how I’d neglected his training. Oops. He could have lost trust in me as a coach, but he didn’t. Instead he would say things like, “We have one more INCH!” or, “We’ll stop at the next lamppost!” and then do whatever I told him he could do anyway.
I knew he was just fine, no matter what he said, when we were running up the hill and he noticed two airplane exhaust tracks had crossed in the sky to make an X. He was suddenly cheerful and chipper as can be and imagining that they were playing a giant game of tic-tac-toe in the sky, and that the board was so big he couldn’t even see it. He didn’t even notice that we were running up the hill.
And once Micah caught up to us and gave Manchild a sip from his water bottle, the boy really perked up. He ran the last half mile without any walk breaks. And he even got a little competitive and decided to beat a couple of 11-year-old girls that were ahead of him. As we neared the finish line Micah ran ahead of us again, this time with the camera, so we could document the moment. It was awesome, not only because a 43-minute 5K is nothing to sneeze at (especially for a 5-year-old), but because Manchild ran straight into the tape that was marking the finish line corral thinking he was “breaking the tape.” We didn’t catch that bit on camera, but it is etched on my heart.
Truly. What a kid.
ps I should note that we offered him the option of wearing shorts, but the boy loves his jeans.