Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Toddler's Race Recap

**post contains audio**

Today was a great day outside.  The chilly temps loosened their grip for a moment and let us have a nice spring weekend with temps in the high sixties and early seventies. Zj and I had been sick since January and in the house hiding from the cold.  I figured today, would be a great time to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise.

When nap time ended, I mentioned to Zj that we were going to the trail.  She was immediately excited and started running around the room asking to put on her ‘running’ shirt. “The green one Mum Mum. Up there, up there”, pointing to the hanging shirt in the closet.  She was referring to the shirt they gave her last spring when she participated in her first ever race.  I have heard that pictures can say a thousand words and that has never been more true than with this pic.  

Let me back up a bit to give you some context.  A few weeks prior to this pic I had been looking for a race in which I could push Zj in the running stroller while I ran.  I found the Beltline Race Series and their Northside 5K and decided this would be the race.  After reading a bit further I noticed that they also offered Youth Fun Run 1K.  Being new to running and racing this was the first time I had noticed a race for children.  Zj loves to run.  She has been on the trails since she was born. Now that she was bigger, sometimes towards the end of our runs we would let her down, from the stroller, and run next to us to the end.  She would love to be in a race.  I got the A,OK from her Father, who also was surprised as I was to learn of races for small kids. (Clearly we were new to the kiddy scene.) When I told her, about the race, her reaction was just as I suspected.  She was ecstatic!  

My Toddler's Race Recap

Registration Day

So it was all set, both of us would be running races that morning.  As registration day drew closer I was feeling nervous about not finishing the 5K in time for the start of Zj’s race.  The registration location was a very popular running store across town.  It was a Friday evening and very busy with lots of people picking up their race bibs and registering for multiple races.  Zj stood proudly in line waiting to sign up.  At the registration desk, I opted to only register Zj for the sake of my nerves. I should have caught a hint from all the wows and looks of surprise from everyone in the store when the race registrar asked her birthday.  “_______”, I say.  A look of confusion.  “So... how old is she?”  "Two", I said.  

Race Prep

When I get excited and can't sleep.  Zj was equally excited, asking as many questions about her race as her two year old self could muster.  Aunt Gina called and wanted to know what were the colors for #teamZj. Ok Mommy, I thought, let me pull something together to make this memorable. I called our family in DC and Bermuda to tell them Zj was racing in the morning. Grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and Godparents all sent their best wishes and encouraged Zj to do her best.  She was pumped.  Aunt Gina, Mommy and Daddy, when he got off from work, we're going to be the cheer squad for #teamZj.  I fished around in her Zj’s closet and concocted an awesome run outfit that any runner would be proud to wear.  All of us decided to wear the color scheme of purple/pink and black in support of our racer.  I laid out her clothes and gear just like I do my own before a race and we all went to bed.  Zj slept.  Mommy sat up.

As the race official said, "On Your Mark..." Zj was saying hi and waving to the kids standing next to her.

Race Morning

The race was @ 8:30am across town.  I woke Zj up at 6:30.  We had the breakfast of champions: oatmeal, fruit and juice.  She wore her three quarter length black leggings under purple jogging shorts, a black race shirt under a black sweatshirt with a silver shimmer heart and her black and purple champions sneaks.  A black headband adorned her fro, and my old sports watch.  When she looked in the mirror, she sing songed, "ooo ooo" and shook her hips. Translation, "I look good!"

Aunt Gina arrived and we were off to the races.

We arrived at the beautiful Tanyard Creek Park. People were swarming everywhere.  This race was far bigger than I could have imagined.  Parking was impossible.  Finally, we spotted a space and I dashed to get into it before anyone could steal it.  We could hear the announcer, but we could not see the race area.   Anxiety was now if full effect as we raced through the trees and across the playground to find check-in.  We arrived just as the first of the 5K runners were crossing the finish line.  I was right not to enter.  It was now 15 minutes to Zj’s start time.  I couldn't have run the 5K in that short space of time.  

Zj was fascinated with all the activity and excitement.  We check in and again the looks of wonder at her age.  As I pin her bib on she is all smiles.  I had a bit of a tear in my voice. Look at my baby. Daddy hasn't arrived yet, but calls to say he is parking.  “Good luck with that”, I think to myself. We have a quick ramble then hang up and I give my phone to Aunt Gina.  

Zj and I are standing in the corral and I finally get a chance to look around.  Zj is the youngest participant by at least four or five years.  What - was - I - thinking!  As the race leader directs a warm up Zj is mesmerized by all the big kids.  At this point I realize that I haven't properly prepared her, or more importantly myself, for what is about to take place.  She was clueless as to what was going on around her.  Still no Daddy.  He can't find parking.  Oh flip!

Race Start

As the race official said, "On your mark" Zj was saying hi and waving to the kids standing next to her.  Geeking because she had some friends.  "Get set..."  A little boy took off in a false start and a few kids started to run as well.  As the kids returned to the starting line Zj looked at me with big questioning eyes.  The announcer started again and the gun went off.  Everyone took off running. Everyone but Zj.  “Run Zj run”, I shouted, trying to get her to run.  Off she went with me running next to her. “They could have cut the grass”, I thought as Zj tried to run through the grass that higher than her knees.  A few yards in, the little boy who had a false start had stopped.  He was crying really hard.  Me knowing Zj thought, “oh no, she's going to stop”, which she did.  “Mum Mum, crying’, she said as she looked at me and tried to comfort the little boy. I asked the little boy if he was ok which clearly he wasn't because he was crying uncontrollably.  Just then his Dad came over.  I told Zj he was going to be ok and after she was convinced I was able to get her to run again.  Up over the hill (which I had to push her over) and onto the paved trail.  Thank goodness!

First Turn

Zj is running pumping her arms as fast as she can.  She's doing it!  Then she stops and points, “Daddy, Daddy” and runs right off the track into the arms of her Father who is all teared up.  They are hugging and kissing and I'm saying, “Isaac put her down. She has to run”.  He proceeds to put her down and take pictures, cheering, “Run Punkin Run” as she poses for the pics.  Really!  “Isaac run with her”, I call to him.  Now all three of us are in the race.  

On the Straight

The older kids are completely out of sight.  I hear cheers on the other side so I assume the first kid has crossed the finish line.  “Run Zj!”  Arms pumping.  Daddy runs next to her filming with his iPhone.  All of a sudden I hear, “Sssswwwwinnnnnnngsssss Mommy!!!!!!!!!!!”  Before we could get to her, she runs off the race path and onto the playground and up to the swings.  “Up, up Mommy!” “No Zj we are in a race.  We have to run.”  “Nooooo swing?”  I sway her, as I pick her up and head back to the race, by promising to play swings after the race.

The Bridge
As we approach the rickety bridge, that even I'm afraid to cross, we hear them announcing her name over the loudspeaker. “Run Zj you can do it!”  I say to Isaac, “You have to pick her up she won't cross”.  He picks her up and dashes over the bridge and places her down on the other side. The announcer calls out over the microphone to her again, “Run Zj!” Zj asks, "They call me Mum Mum?"

To The Finish
Zj is the only kid left in the race and we can see the finish line up ahead. We are back in the tall grass and Zj is tired of lifting her legs in the wet grass.  “Come on Z”, as we try to make a dash for the finish line. The numerous adult participants who have finished their 5K are now cheering for Z and calling her by name as we run by. "How do they know her name", I wonder, while the announcer is using the mic to be Zj's personal cheerleader. Everyone is clapping and cheering for her as she runs holding my hand. One of the race organizers comes out and runs with us holding her other hand.  Zj is looking around and then at me with big eyes but keeps on running. We see Aunt Gina with tears running down her face and cheering as loud as she can.  She was the one who told the announcer ZJ’s name.

Aunt Gina’s Account
I recognized Daddy from afar, barely could I see her small frame in the distance. I started jumping and screaming out her name--with my animated and easily excitable self. The announcer asked clarification and proceeded to call her name in encouragement. The encouragement caught momentum and all those at the finish line joined their voices, especially when they realized that this wee-biddy person is running towards the finish, moving her arms like a skilled runner, while smiling and enjoying the run. Auntie was so caught up, trying to scream and take pictureslol those two actions dont go together so well.

We are close to the finish line now and Daddy drops back, then I drop back and Zj crosses the line holding the race organizers hand.  Everyone was cheering.  She did it!  

Post Race
We take pictures and they come to escort Zj over to the tee shirt table to pick a shirt.  The organizer put the green tee on her and all Zj could say was, “For me Mum Mum? For me?” She repeated it over and over.  Standing all around her and offering congratulations were adults in green tees.  She was one of them. “Like the big ones”, she said. The look of pride on her face was priceless.  

The Promise
I was glad and relieved that all went well. We took many more pics than Daddy had to go.  As we walked back to the car we came across the swings and she took off running again.  She played until she couldn't play anymore than we took a stroll around Tanyard Park.  Before the car even pulled away from the curb she was asleep.  

The race clothes stayed on for two days.  Every time I attempted to remove them, I was met with cries of, “My race shirt, my race shirt Mum Mum, nooooo!” Eventually I was able to remove the sweat and race shirts but had to put the green race shirt back on.

This was a very proud day not only for Zj, but for our entire village of family and friends. Daddy got to see his daughter on a larger scale. He congratulated me for giving her a healthy start and providing her with exposure.  He said he was proud of me.  I blushed.  Zj was super proud of her efforts and learnt how to persevere.  I was proud on so many levels, but mostly because it was good knowing that some of my efforts in trying to model a healthy lifestyle for her are paying off.

So as Z points to her green race tee shirt hanging in the closet all these memories come flooding back to me and I have to smile.  I will never forget the look of wonder and pride on her face that day.

Coincidentally,  As I prepare to publish this post I received an email announcing Beltline Northside 5K and 1K Youth Fun Run registration is now open.  Should we run it again?

This post was also shared on the #WOW Link Up, Wellness Wednesday, Mom Blog Party Fitness Friday, Small Victories Sunday Link Up Mommy Monday Blog Hop

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  1. Nothing cuter than kids participating in an activity! Way to go!

  2. Oh my goodness this is soo cute! How awesome of you to encourage her love of running and her self-confidence is totally rad! YES--I'd definitely sign up again if she wants to go!

  3. So cute! I love seeing the kids races.

  4. This is awesome! Your kiddo is adorable and she is going to thank you later in life for establishing a love of fitness.

  5. What a cutie! Love the idea of a kids race

  6. What a great story. YES, I bet she will love it even more next time cause she will have an idea what is going on. So fun!

  7. How cute is this story, I'm in DC and had no idea they had races for kids this age. We do a lot of obstacles runs as a family. We do the charity runs as well. They have a kid run but they are usually older. Our son (now 10) participates in the Kids Fun Run put on by the Marine Corps. My daughter is 3 and she would probably be just like Miss. Zj. Congrats on finishing and having a great time along the way.

    1. Thanks. It was awesome! If you find one definitely enter your daughter. An excellent self estee builder.

  8. Super cute! I love to see the kids running in races. Great sense of accomplishment for them.

  9. It sounds like she ran the race she wanted to run! So cute!

  10. haha, awww! That's so cute! <3 I haven't ever seen kids participating in races, so this was awesome to read. :]!

  11. You are an amazing role model for you daughter :) And she is too stinking cute btw!!

  12. Awww so cute! What a great gift you are giving to your little one! Thank you for linking up with us this week. Have a lovely week!

    1. Thanks Maureen! Wonderful week wishes to you as well!

  13. Awww what an adorable story! I too, had no idea they had races for the little ones, so will have to look into it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. This is so sweet! I haven't entered my kiddies in anything like this yet but you have definitely inspired me to find something asap...what an amazing experience to have. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  15. wow how cute!!! You're a great role model

  16. awww this was adorable! My boys loved to run at that age, but would freak out if we put a race bib on them and lined them up at a tot trot!

  17. Yes, you should do it again. You can also do an organized bike ride especially if you have a trailer for your bike. #wowlinkup

    1. With a riding group you mean? I'll have to look into that. We do have a trailer. Thanks!

  18. Way to go! What a great way to get involved, teach her that fitness can be fun and running is a way of life! Love it- do it again!

  19. How precious!!! I was wondering when kids are old enough to enter their first race :) My son turned two this month and I'm hoping he can run his first race soon - if he wants to! What an amazing experience to share this with your toddler, especially when mommy is a runner, too! Love it!
    Amy @

  20. How cute is Zj. I see a future track star right here. I know you enjoyed this race with her. This is a special bond that will get so much better as time goes on.

  21. Such an inspiring story. I love when kids get excited about exercise. Thanks for sharing on the Small Victories Sunday link up.

  22. Wow what a great recap! Congrats to little Zj!

  23. Sooo cute! I can imagine she was waving and say hi to the other participants :D great recap and thank you for linking up with wellness wednesday. See you again on this week's linky :)

  24. Wonderful story. Teach them that fitness is fun when they're young, and they'll pursue it when they're old. Thanks for sharing on Small Victories Sunday link up.