Tonight my kids and I ran a 5K at Mooseheart (in the dark because it showcases their holiday lights display.) I haven't run much the last three weeks because of my hamstring, and it's back to not feeling good after going from stand-still to somewhat race pace. I finished in 25:37, which in a small race was good enough for 6th place woman. I am grateful that I can do that and grateful that instead of beating myself up over how I'm slower than I once was, I can be grateful that I'm faster than I was more recently. It's a respectable time. But what I'm more grateful for is when we were walking to the starting line, and my kids walked off together to start near the front of the pack, talking, looking strong and fast and completely in control of the situation. (As it turns out, they were and they weren't. Neither had run since the end of their respective seasons, which was almost a month ago for Adam and almost two months ago for Gretchen, so neither ran as well as they thought they would. Afterward, Adam said that if this had been at the end of the cc season, he could have won. He got 6th. G did, actually, win 1st girl in the 12 and under category and was 4th woman overall. At the end of her season, she still would have been 3rd, though.) Both kids beat me. This is beautiful to me not because they are stand-outs--they aren't--but because they are just good enough to feel empowered to walk up to the front of a race, to run until they hurt (G was hurting pretty badly), and to see themselves as runners. I feel, perhaps foolishly, that identifying themselves as runners will, to some degree, innoculate them from some dumb decisions in their teen years. Not all, of course. But if you see your body as a thing that runs, you don't put really bad stuff in it. If you see your body as a thing that runs, it doesn't matter what the opposite sex says of it. If you see yourself as part of a team, it doesn't matter if there are other crowds you aren't part of. I am also grateful that running brings them closer together.
Both of my kids can run faster than I can. Tonight I'm grateful for my own running, but I'm just as grateful for theirs.