Bookin’ 4 Books was a small local “inaugural” race held on April 24 to benefit the school libraries. As such, it was heavily promoted in Sarah Kate’s school. There were two events: the 5k Plot Trot and the 1 Mile Pun Run (not a typo – we are incorporating book themes here!) Sarah Kate insisted that she wanted to do the Pun Run. I wasn’t too sure about it, knowing I would be just a few weeks postpartum and recalling the last 1 mile fun run we tried to do – it was over the advertised distance of 1 mile by a great deal; I ended up cutting part of the course and also carrying her for a portion; apparently the race organizers didn’t know enough about fun runs to realize that finisher ribbons for young children are a MUST. However, I told her she could do it as long as she was willing to train for it.
My first steps back into running after my c-section weren’t running steps at all. At one week postpartum I started pushing the stroller around the neighborhood, and if Sarah Kate wasn’t at school she would walk with me. She brought along her iPod Shuffle and tried to keep ahead of me. If I stopped to talk to a neighbor, she would keep right on going. The route we took in our neighborhood was about a mile long, and she finished the full mile on a few occasions. I figured she was ready.
As it turned out, the weather was horrendous in the early morning hours of race day, and I wasn’t convinced that the Pun Run was even going to take place. Just after 8:00, though, it cleared up somewhat and we headed out. My dad and stepmom (“Papa and Bebe”) were in town so we all loaded up (Baby Nate included) and drove over to the start. Sarah Kate was outfitted in her favorite running outfit – a SkirtSports running skirt and blue top (the same color combo typically sported by Marathon Andi at races when I am not running pregnant and just happy to find something that fits). I gave the usual pep talk about it not being important where you finish as long as you “Finish Strong” and we were off.
The course was almost completely flat and was a direct out-and-back on a two lane road. The good thing about the out-and-back was that we were able to see the faster runners coming back toward us and cheered them as they went by. The bad thing about the out-and-back was that it was painfully obvious (at least to me) how slow we were. We reached the orange cone marking the turnaround point and headed back toward the school. Sarah Kate had slowed down somewhat, but was still moving steadily along.
I noticed after a few more blocks that the police cars that were redirecting traffic at the end of the course and the side streets began to fall in line behind us as we went by. By the time we rounded the turn into the school parking lot toward the finish, there were at least five police vehicles escorting us in. As Sarah Kate approached the home stretch, she picked up the pace, crossing the finish with a time of 24:57 and extending both arms in the air in victory. There weren’t a lot of people left at the finish when she got there, but every single one of them was yelling for her. Her school librarian was especially excited – Sarah Kate had told her that she planned to run, but Mrs. Normand wasn’t too sure. The librarian from the school Sarah Kate will attend next year was also cheering, with a few tears in her eyes.
As for me, I just beamed. The first few races were tough for dear ol’ mom – pain and pride mixed together in a messy heap of emotions – but this time there was just pride in my little girl’s accomplishment.