It was New Year’s morning, and I was up early, getting ready to leave for the New Year's Revolution Run at the Utah Olympic Oval. I was anxiously looking forward to this race because it would be my first race postpartum. The last time I had run the race, I had just had a baby, and I was able to complete 22 miles. This time around, I wanted to complete a marathon.
Just as I was about to leave, my 11-year old son Ace asked if he could go with me. Of course I said yes, and soon the two of us were on our way to the race.
At the start line, I told Ace to run his own race and not to worry about me or anyone else. But as the race got underway, that advice was completely thrown out the window, and not by Ace, but by me.
When the race began, Ace went as fast as he could, and I followed him. My motherly instincts kicked in, and I wanted to be with him if he got hurt, or in this case, if he found he couldn't hold that pace.
Also, as his mom, I didn't want to discourage him from going too fast, because I wanted him to learn on his own. However, I wanted to be right there with him when he did begin to hurt, so that I could help him through it.
For the next four miles or so, I stayed with him, running at a pace that was uncomfortable for me, and one I knew I could not sustain. And for a minute, I worried that I would not be able to be there for him when he realized he could not go on, and then he would be alone in his suffering.
However, not long after that four-mile mark, Ace began to fade. He expressed that he was tired, his foot ached and he wanted to stop.
At that moment, I was torn. I thought that I could quickly tell him to walk the next few laps, and get something to eat, and I'd keep running and meet him later. The other option was to stop and walk with him. Continuing on would allow me to have a chance at meeting my goal, whereas walking would not.
So, I walked.
Helping Ace in his time of need was more important than my desire to complete a marathon.
For the next lap, we had some water and a snack, and did some shake-out exercises as well as some mental rebooting. When Ace was feeling good enough to run, we ran, and when he needed to walk, we walked.
For several more miles, we continued this pattern, and as we did, I realized that while I was letting go of my goal, I was gaining much more. I was spending time with my son as we now shared a common goal: to enjoy time running together.
As I look forward to my personal running goals, I still have many that I hope to achieve. However, in this season of my life, I'm perfectly fine with shifting those goals a bit.
Especially if it means that I get to share the time with my children.
Arianne Brown is a mother of eight who loves hearing and sharing stories. For more of her writings, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Twitter: A_Mothers_Write