On Father’s Day I was blessed with a gift from my older son, Lucas. Not sure why… but he agreed to do a 4th of July race with me. For anyone who knows me (and my son), you know what a big deal this is because he doesn’t always love the idea of running.
Which, you know, I get, because I didn’t always love the idea of running either.
Way back when: cheering with his little brother at the 4 miler.
At first I tried to sell him on the local 4 miler, the Pitman 4 Miler. When asked if there were hills though, I could not tell a lie. There are hills and lots of them. I’ve run it twice and it’s a thoroughly challenging course!
He quickly put the kibosh on that.
After looking around a bit, I found the Woodstown Firecracker 5k. Small, 20 minutes from home, less than $30 for both of us to run, and from what I could tell, fairly flat. SOLD! We registered immediately.
He planned to train but didn’t train (at all), and when we woke up on race morning, he confessed that his sneakers were shot and he needed new ones (not exactly the ideal time to tell me).
On a wing and a prayer.
The race started at 8am at Marlton Recreation Park, with packet pickup beginning at 6:30am. We arrived at a little after 7 and were immediately able to get our bibs and shirts. After asking where the starting line was (we saw the finish, but not a start), we headed in the direction we were pointed. We saw an arrow sign and figured we’d just line up when we saw other people doing the same. There were a few portapotties but we didn’t need to use them.
Since we arrived early, we wandered around the park and found a few animals. Lucas likes chickens and roosters so he was content just watching them. In fact, I think if I told him we were going to skip the race and just hang out there, he would have been absolutely fine with that.
No such luck, kiddo!
There were 186 participants and the start was actually on the grass (which is why we didn’t see a start line). From the grass line, we were to run toward a path that we’d all eventually go on.
It was a little awkward because we were lined up length wise rather than what I’ve come to expect but it worked out well because people naturally fell into place rather than trying to self-seed. After hearing a few words from the race director, we were off!
The course was about a mile loop around the park, then a mile through a neighborhood, with the third mile being the same as the first but in reverse.
Lucas was unsure with how well he’d be able to do, so I suggested that we run intervals. We ran the first half mile before switching into 30 second intervals of running and walking.
Hanging in the ‘hood, just after the water station.
The first mile and a half were great for Lucas, he was feeling good and was fairly content. Just after the water stop, which was around 1.5 miles, he started getting down on himself.
You guys, I hate to admit this but in the past I’ve not been very supportive when he’s gotten emotional during a race. Which is not okay!
I know that self doubt can be a hell of a thing to deal with and while yes, he should and could have trained more, he didn’t need to hear that from me once we were in the thick of the race.
Before going to the race, I decided that there were only going to be positive affirmations and motivation coming from me toward him while we were running. If he was feeling discouraged, I’d remind him how great he was and what an awesome kid I think he is. Because that’s what he needed in that moment from me and I want him to feel good about himself when he’s running and accomplished when he’s done!
Last mile, running by our chicken friends, who were obviously cheering him on too!
He was not as happy as he appears in this picture, but then again, we runners have that “fake it ’til you make it” smile down pat, amirite?
I tried the best that I could to read him and what he needed to hear from me while we were in the home stretch. I didn’t want to be too strong or inauthentic with my motivating. I asked him his motto for the rest of the race and he started chanting “almost done” about a quarter mile from the finish line. So I joined him and we both chanted “almost done” until we crossed the finish at 41 minutes.
There were no timing mats, instead they kept track by collecting the bottom tab on our bibs. After handing over our information, we were given a bottle of water and continued to walk in order to cool down and get in the shade.
The Woodstown parade was starting after the race was over but we decided to hit the road so I could make us a yummy breakfast. It was the perfect way to start our celebration of America’s birthday. He even told me that he was glad that he did it and he was looking forward to running another race with me.
“Next time, I’ll train…”
What did you do on the 4th of July? How do you motivation someone during a race?