A Family Affair
By: Kevin Irwin
The return of fall brings the return of school. Good news for parents, bad news for kids. This year our neighborhood held a 5K fun run to raise money for the local elementary schools.
Last year, when I was recovering from my injuries, I would let my kids tag along on their bikes as I ran. Then, during the school year, my daughter joined the running club. Once a month, she would participate in an after-school run. And earlier this summer, my son would occasionally ask me to take him out for a run – which I did, taking him along for a warm up or warm down for my runs. (He’s excitedly looking forward to the chance to run cross country and track in middle school.) So when the neighborhood 5K was announced about a month before the first day of school, a kernel of an idea took hold. We’d run the race as a family.
My wife and I split duties. As she and my son were non-runners, they chose a couch to 5K program to follow to get ready. My daughter had more experience from her running club, so I took charge of her “training”, taking her on short runs. As the weeks passed, my wife and son followed their plan, running and walking their way up to longer distances. My daughter, on the other hand, often found it “too early” or “too hot” to go for a training run, ultimately deciding to rely on her innate talents instead. Of course, this did not stop her from talking trash to her brother, going on about how he needed to train more and how she would crush him in the race. Ah, sibling rivalry…
Finally, race day came and we all pinned our numbers on as we headed to the start. It was a bit of a change for me, as normally I’m all alone on race day – nobody wants to get up early and wait around while I race. Unfortunately, my son, anxious about the race, began complaining about stomach pains and ending up sitting out the 5K. Even today, with many years of racing, I too feel butterflies every time I toe the starting line. So he’s that much like his dad, even if he might not have gotten the running genes.
The gun went off and predictably all the kids shot right out of the gate – except my daughter, who’s pretty good at finding her pace and sticking with it. If only she could exhibit such patience in other aspects of life… Slowly and steadily, we caught many of the fast starters over the first mile (but not fellow Rogue and neighbor Laura Mitchell who was the eventual women’s winner). It was hard to just run a race and let the leaders go, but looking over and seeing the big grin on my daughter’s face was a more than sufficient reward. The remaining miles were a mix of run and walk with a final result of 31:53 – pretty amazing for a first time 5K by an elementary school girl. My wife wasn’t too far behind, running on her own and just breaking 40 minutes. True to earlier trash talking form, post-race my daughter told our neighbor she let him beat her so he wouldn’t be embarrassed by losing to a little girl.
While I’m sure we’ll do the neighborhood back to school run again next year as a family, we’re also talking about trying another sometime sooner. Maybe one of the Vern’s No Frills 5K when it’s cooler. We’re not planning on becoming the first family of Austin running, but it’s certainly an easy and healthy way to spend family time together.