July 1st is an important day to me. On this day in 2004, I became a mom for the first time. I’ve always considered myself a mother of little ones until this year. It hit me this week that we’re nearing the end of an era. The teen years are quickly approaching and everything is just starting to move a little too fast.
A few days ago my youngest daughter helped me pick out a few birthday gifts to give and one of them was a barbie. Abi is still into playing with barbies and dolls but it’s only a matter of time. I know I’ll blink and she’ll be a senior in high school. I remember being a mom to four kids age 6 and under and I couldn’t see past the immediate needs of the day. There was always a diaper (or two) to change, a baby to be fed, someone to dress, toys to pick up, and laundry to wash- although that last one hasn’t changed! On the eve of her birthday I realized that this may be one of the last times I ever buy her a barbie because she is growing up and and will move on to other things. Then I started thinking of how many years I will still have her home with me and for the first time that number sounded much too small.
Fortunately, her birthday holds a special tradition for us. I think it helps soften the blow that my little girl is growing up and everything is changing. In 2013, we started the tradition of running her birthday number of years in miles. I have no idea how long we’ll continue doing this but it is hands down my favorite run of the year and one of the best ways we could ever spend time together. I will keep doing this with her for as long as she wants and as long as I can!
My daughter had a great spring racing season in which she set her 1 mile PR (6:56) as well as a 10k PR (50:18) during the month of May. Then she took a few weeks off running all together. She traveled with my in-laws to California to visit extended family. At the end of June (less than a week ago) she had surgery to remove a small mass on her cheek. It was non-cancerous but needed to come out because over the past few months it’s been getting infected and medicine was only a temporary fix. After seeing six different doctors over the past two months we were finally directed to one at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock who could help us. He and the rest of the hospital staff we worked with were wonderful and the surgery was a complete success.
Because her birthday was only five days after the surgery I didn’t bring up her birthday run. I honestly didn’t think it would happen. Abi was very groggy for the first two days after the surgery because of the anesthesia. She also hadn’t run at all since the 2 mile race we did on June 13 (two and a half weeks before her birthday). Still, the night before her birthday she asked me what time we were leaving for our run. I asked her if she was sure she wanted to do it and she was. We just needed to make sure she wore a visor and put on SPF 50. (She has to avoid sunlight on her incision area for one year to minimize any scarring.)
We left just after 6:30. It was warm (mid 70’s) but overcast which helped a lot! One (obvious) thing about a birthday run is that the weather is going to be just about the same every year. In this case, it’s almost always guaranteed to be HOT! I carried a water bottle and wore my fuel belt with my fuel and phone inside. This was actually my first run to carry my iPhone (6+) and it is definitely not runner-friendly. I love it in everyday life but there’s definitely a reason why I never run with it. Way too big and awkward! However, I stuffed it in my belt so I could have it in case I needed to call John. It also came in handy to take a few pics on the run.
We did make quite a few stops during this run (as you can see from the pictures). We stopped every other mile or so for water since it was so hot. She also had a few shot bloks along the way. Basically we were running out 5.5 miles and turning around. A grocery store 5 miles out was going to be a resting/ refueling/ bathroom stop. I thought it might be easier to run a half mile past the store and then stop there on the way back, once we’d completed 6 miles. The hardest mile for Abi was mile 5. We stopped at 5.5 so I could loosen it her shoelaces (looks like she’s outgrowing her current running shoes). Then we stopped at 6 when we got to Harp’s.
When we made it to mile 10 we stopped for a minute so I could text John and give him a one mile to go notice. He wanted to meet us at the finish with the other kids. He did this last year and Abi loved it. I told her that she was about to run further than she ever had before. The only time she had ever run 10 miles was last year on her 10th birthday. Abi was tired but somehow managed to push out her fastest mile on the last mile- a 9:37! She was completely exhausted when she finished but she had done it She set out with the goal to run 11 miles and she made it!
She said from the start she did not want to know her pace or the time. She had no pace goal and we kept the entire run based on feel. She was very consistent though and kept every mile within a one minute range. (Splits: 10:09, 9:45, 9:51, 9:56, 10:05, 10:27, 10:43, 9:46, 9:51, 10:00, 9:37.) It was hard for the runner in me but I didn’t tell her one single split. The mother in me knew I needed to respect her wishes and let her run her own pace. I couldn’t be more proud!
I have people ask me after races what Abi does to train. I’ve mentioned it on here before but during the school year she and my other two school-age children participate in the 100 Mile Club. In this program the kids have all school year to log 100 miles. They get most of their miles by running 1-2 miles a few days a week after school. They also run in PE and in at least one race every few months.
This was our best run to date. Not because of the time on my watch (although this was by far better than the 11:30 + pace from the past two years) but because it seemed more natural to her. She was able to run and talk to me about everything going on in her life. We talked about her trip to California, camp and vacation coming up, what the school year will be like (she starts sixth grade in August), and anything else on her mind. I truly enjoyed every second of the run and I’m already looking forward to our 12 mile date next summer but I’m in no hurry!!
The Firecracker Fast 5k is THIS Saturday!! Ready or not!
Who else is racing this weekend for the 4th?
Do you have any birthday traditions?