The alarm buzzes annoyingly. Its 6am, it’s a Sunday, and its race day. Like any other race day, I get up feeling a bit nervy; wake up the rest of the family. Then flap about, eat porridge, drink coffee and leave the house about 20 minutes later than I had hoped to. Except this isn’t like any other race day, I’m not racing, my 8-year-old daughter is. It’s her first race without me, and the nerves are just as strong if not worse than if it was me racing. But as I tell her ‘if you’re nervous it means you care about it’. And, I certainly care about it.
We arrive at The Hoe with a few minutes to spare, and find her classmates. I think this is the point it sinks in that she is running without me and begins to get some doubts. Luckily this doesn’t last long, and the excitement takes over. Photos are taken and she is taken with her group into a massive holding pen. Part of me remains relieved that I wasn’t asked to help with the schools’ challenge; the noise coming out of the pen – containing something like 300 excitable 6-10 year olds – was unbelievable. Must have been like trying to herd cats on amphetamine at a rock concert – but less fun.
Once they are in the pen we scamper over to past the start finish line for a good view as she comes past. All the runners have been given the same red top, so picking out individual children is nigh on impossible – in fact I know people who didn’t see their kids at all. I resort to trying to spot her teachers, then who is running with them. It works; I see her teacher from last year and there she was running next to her chatting away. We cheer, take lots of photos and then try to get across to the other side of the route for a second shot. This time we are less successful as we can’t get very close and don’t want to miss her crossing the finish line. Missing the second photo opportunity we dash back across the finishing straight. As she comes into view she is still with the same teacher – beaming from ear to ear even if she is chatting a little less.
She crosses the line and disappears into the hoards past the finish line. After a few minutes, we find her school’s spot in the pen, sat with her mates – medals around their necks rummaging through the goody bags. I can confirm that goody bags at kids’ races are also full of crap that no one wants. After what feels like an age, the schools begin to file out. We head around to the drop off point to scoop up my running champion. Once the crowds disperse we find a patch of grass with a few of the other parents. The kids run around for a while enjoying the late morning sun.
As our parking runs low, we head off and go for a celebratory brunch. It feels right to make a big deal of her accomplishment and she is overjoyed when the waitress takes an interest in her medal and how she got it.
My grasp of the English language fails me when I try to describe how proud of her I am. It’s not that she ran the mile. Its far more than that. Running isn’t something she finds easy or that comes natural, but she persists at it and works hard. She has a stubborn streak in her – not always in a good way – and a stoic determination that even if she has to walk she will get to the top of the hill.
My 8 year old daughter has recently signed up to run a half marathon – of sorts. She will be running the schools’ half marathon challenge in Plymouth and will be running a mile a week with the final mile taking place on the half marathon weekend on the Hoe (where the main event starts and finished). This has really caught her imagination, and has reignited her desire to come running with me – which I am obviously overjoyed about.
Despite the looming threat of ‘Storm Doris’, an after school family run was all but demanded. So after school, we pop home to get our running kit on and head over to Saltram House (a local National Trust property), however not all of us are quite so keen to go for a run in the Plymouth mizzle. So the two of us head to Saltram for a run around the grounds and down to the river. Despite the threat from meteorologists it’s a lovely night for a run, a bit cool but not too cold or windy and the trees protect us from the worst of the rain.
She is noticably excited as we set off – she skips, bounces and grins like a cheshire cat. I try to calm her down a bit – without wanting to piss on her parade – and we jog around the grounds while we chat and generally just be silly. Running as it should be, fun.
We make it as far as the river, before having to turn back for failing light. It’s been a while since we last ran together, and I honestly can’t believe how much more resiliant she has become, she is able to run much further and was able to push herself much harder, wanting to get to pointmarkers despite obviously working hard.
Famous Danish beers don’t make running buddies, but if they did she would be it.
I have never really been one for ‘this is my best run because…’ until yesterday. Yesterday was my best, most rewarding run. It wasn’t long, fast or special for any reason other than the company I was keeping.
My soon to be 7-year-old daughter has been keen to come out for a run with me for a while, and this has been accelerated by my training for the Eden Marathon. First things first, Sunday morning we head into town to buy her first pair of ‘proper running shoes’. Nothing special, but something more suitable than the daps she currently has to wear to the park. She was surprisingly excited about buying them, almost as excited as me.
The plan initially was for her to wear them in the house for a few days to make sure they were comfy and then go later in the week. That plan didn’t last. Once we got our proper parent-children duties done (i.e. homework) the words “Can we go for a run now” positively explode from her gleaming, smiling face. How could I say “No”? So I suck up the remnants of the cold I’ve had for what feels like an age and get changed into my running gear.
We head out the front door, stop for a couple of pre run photos then have a little stretch while my Garmin gets a fix. While stretching – which she is far better at than me – I ask her where she wants to go, “Around the block” is her instant reply, even the news that it requires running up ‘that’ hill isn’t enough to dampen her enthusiasm. So off up the hill we go.
Once we get to the top, I drop back to get a picture, but before I can she has stopped to check on me. Once I get the desired picture, we jog, we chat, and we even put in a little sprint at the end.
Roll on next weekend, so we can do it again.