“Fun” Run

15 May

I’ve never felt like a particularly athletic person. I played sports growing up, including girl’s soccer from age 6 to age 14, and yet I’m not actually sporty. To this day, when I manage to catch a frisbee or kick a ball to my intended recipient I feel surprised and pleased. Well, lookee who didn’t trip! Look who’s a good l’il catcher!

I was content to be an adult who strolled lengthily and did intermittent yoga for the good of my back. A paddle-ball-but-only-at-the-beach kind of adult. But then, and I feel like this sentence appears at some point in every blog post I write, I had children. I was a dedicated and enthusiastic pregnant eater, and I gained 60 pounds with each pregnancy. Even though I nursed for over a year after each baby, I did not get back to my pre-baby weight, and damn you celebrity lady mags for suggesting that it’s just that easy. I hovered about 15 pounds up, at the threshold where you can’t justify buying new clothes because the stuff you have sort of fits, but you are uncomfortable all day long, and you have to un-button and un-zip your jeans after not just dinner, but lunch. Hell, breakfast. And actually there’s only the one pair of jeans you can get into in the first place.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. It appeared that actual exercise needed to be undertaken. So, even though the last time I had run a mile all at once on purpose was about 20 years before, I signed up for the Charlottesville Women’s 4-Miler Training Program. I took it slow jog by slow jog over a 4 month period with the help of the encouraging trainers. Crossing the 4-Miler finish line in September of that year could not have been a prouder moment for me. I ran! I ran FOUR MILES! BONUS: I was back in all of my pairs of jeans (except for the aspirational ones I bought in San Francisco, whatever, they don’t count.)

Since that successful first time, I’ve signed up to do the 4-Miler every year. First, for sentimental reasons, as a gesture to myself of how meaningful the experience of going from couch potato to running spud (SORRY) was to me. And second, because it’s a fantastic all-woman race raising funds for breast cancer research, and it’s just a lot of fun to run. And last September’s race was especially exciting for me, because my daughter was finally old enough, at 8, to officially sign up, train for, and run it with me!

I am, of course, concerned that both of my kids have good relationships with their bodies. Around here our party line is that if you eat sensibly and exercise regularly, whatever your body looks like is the way it should look. We hike together, eat family dinners, eschew Doritos, etc. But can I just say I’m more concerned about the way my daughter feels about her body than I am about my son? Getting her started early with running seemed like a good way to foster a feeling that she’s strong and capable. Plus, running is easy, all you really need is a pair of shoes and a spare half hour–I wanted her to see exercise as relatively simple to integrate into your routine.

Training for the race together was an adventure, sometimes in the literal sense. She struggled with some of the common GI issues runners can encounter, and we now know the location of every public bathroom within a 3 mile radius of our house. We ran/walked up the side of a foggy mountain in San Francisco. I got us lost in Acadia Park in Maine and we ended up running 4.5 miles when we were supposed to be running 2. Through it all, we, or more frequently she, talked about every single thing under the sun–that little head is full of the craziest, boringest, funniest thoughts!

The training was pure pleasure for me, but it had nothing on the transcendent joy of race day with my petite athlete. The huge crowd of women made her nervous, so she held tightly to my hand as we tried to find space to establish a comfortable pace. She ran every step of the course, four whole miles, a distance she’d only managed twice before the race. Her form of self-encouragement being smack talk, she kept up a continuous commentary: “They call this a hill? We’ve run up a MOUNTAIN, this is nothing!…This doesn’t feel like four miles, it’s so CINCHY!…I feel FANTASTIC!” When we came to the final 1/3 mile and could see the finish line, she shook her hand free of mine and said, “Let’s KICK IT!” and took off. We crossed in her best time ever, and I turned to her with tears in my eyes.

“That was so amazing!” I said. “Aren’t you PROUD of yourself?”

And she replied, “If by proud, you mean happy I NEVER have to do that again!!!”

Oh. Hmmm.

So here it is the next May, time to start training for this year’s race. I’ve casually floated running it together again a couple of times over the course of the year and always been shot down–”No way, I really don’t want to, I didn’t like it” etc. I thought maybe her attitude would soften over time, but no such luck. So I faced a dilemma. Ideally, this would be an activity she enjoys as much as I do. If I force her to exercise she will associate it with me, when the whole point is for it to seem like something it’s easy and fun to choose for herself. It’s her body, it’s her time and effort, it’s her decision, and she’s not into it. I should back off.

But, uh, the following is a transcript of the conversation we had on Mother’s Day.

Me: “So, the 4 Miler training starts soon.”

Her: “I don’t want to do it again, Mom. No way.”

Me: “Well, let’s talk about it, ok? It may be that we can work out some kind of deal, because I really want to do it with you again.”

Her: “Deal? Like what?”

Me: “I don’t know, I’m open to suggestions.”

Her: “How about the deal is you pay me 20,000 dollars to do it.”

Me: “Well, I don’t have 20,000 dollars, but how about I pay you 20?”

Her: “Really? You’ll PAY me?”

Me: “Yes. Yes, I will. If you train with me all summer and run the race again in September, I will give you 20 dollars.”

Her: “IT’S A DEAL.”

And that, folks, is grade A excellent fucking parenting.

That face totally says, "I'll thank you for this someday." Or it says, "20 bucks or bust."

That little face totally says, “I’ll thank you for this someday.” Or it says, “20 bucks or bust.”

7 Responses to ““Fun” Run”

  1. Ray Nedzel May 15, 2013 at 2:38 am #

    “that little head is full of the craziest, boringest, funniest thoughts!” the apple falls not far from the crazy-funny tree. oh, and where do i collect the 20 bucks you promised me to read this?

    • amomynous2 May 15, 2013 at 2:42 am #

      I don’t know if you get paid, I think you just called me boring!!! Regardless, thanks for reading. I pay you with gratitude. XOX

  2. Larissa May 15, 2013 at 3:52 am #

    she’s lucky to have you, for sure! and will totally look back on the experience with love and gratitude as an adult! (I have tried to get my 6.5 year old boy to start running/run-walking with the goal of doing a 5K, but he has not bitten yet – although I am SURE that he runs 3m in a soccer game!)

  3. massapeel May 15, 2013 at 3:55 am #

    she will totally look back on this experience as with love and appreciation in days to come… good job, mom 🙂 (I have tried to get my 6.5yo son to run – well, jog/walk – with me with the goal of completing a 5K, but he has ot bitten to date (although, I am SURE that he has run 3m in a soccer game for sure!)

    • amomynous2 May 15, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      Aw, thanks. 🙂 I also have a 6.5yo son! He sometimes rides a bike or scooter with us when we do our jogs, but he won’t run, either. Establishing a pace is the hardest thing for kids, it seems–they like to sprint and walk and sprint and walk. Anyway, thanks so much for reading!

  4. Claire May 16, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Oh, dear. I felt so proud of my slow-ass last year and am looking forward to this year’s race (I’m toying with signing up for a half-marathon to jumpstart my exercise-is-fun mantra but terror is trumping adventuresome right now). I’m also looking forward to the day that Maeve can train with me and we can weave mother-daughter-healthy-goddess memories together. But- last year’s pictures show that she is totally unimpressed by my swagger and that mommy’s running time cuts into her tantrum time. But I, like you, am going to try as hard as I can to give her the armor she needs to fend off unwanted and untrue body image consultants like magazines, TV, friends…oh god everything everywhere. Girls need strength from the eccentric smart funny honest peeps like you (I’m in training for that too) so thanks for that

    • amomynous2 May 17, 2013 at 3:18 am #

      Oh, I think my daughter will need it from YOU, eccentric, smart, funny, honest talent face! She doesn’t listen to me (unless I pay her!) Thanks, as always, for reading. Love you!

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