Late last summer, Darren started a training program called Couch to 5k. He ran his first race on Thanksgiving morning (the Fort Worth Turkey Trot), and his second race tonight (the Jingle Bell Run.) I'm so stinkin' proud of him for setting a goal and seeing it through, which frankly, has never been his forte. His calves are shaping up QUITE NICELY as a result, and I'm certainly enjoying THAT added benefit. Mmmm. ;)
A few weeks into the program, his coworkers got interested, and several of them started too. They all signed up as a team for the Jingle Bell Run and ended up raising $1200 for The Arthritis Foundation. It was fun watching all of them run together, and waiting at the finish line as each of them crossed.
At sign-up time, Darren mentioned to Aidan that the Jingle Bell Run included a 1 mile Fun Run. Aidan said he wanted to do it. One evening several weeks ago, the two of them ran to Aidan's school and back - an exact mile - just to see if Aidan could do it. On the home stretch, Darren said, "Let's race back home." Aidan turned on his jets and left Darren in his dust! There was no doubt that he could run a mile, and THEN some!
Tonight was the night. We didn't officially sign him up, so he didn't have a number or anything. Darren has been coughing up a lung for the better part of a week, so I didn't think we'd even go. We didn't mention it again to Aidan until a couple of hours before the race. He got so excited!
"Aidan," I coached. "You'll need to save your energy for the whole race. Don't start out too fast. And if you get tired, just tell yourself, 'I can do it. I know I can! I know I can!"
He interrupted me, saying, "Mom, I don't need to say that. I already know I can."
"Yah, but just in case...." I started.
"Mom. I'm a winner. Winners don't quit. I'm gonna win. I know it already."
Talk about confidence!
While Darren waited with him at the starting line, I hiked a half mile down the course to wait, snagging a good spot for picture-taking and for cheering on my little winner. I gotta tell ya: as I stood there in front of the Tarrant County Jail ignoring the cat calls and whistles coming from its windows, I thought, "What the heck kind of parents send their not-quite-7-year-old running through the streets of downtown with no one to watch him? No one to make sure he didn't stumble and scrape his knees. No one to make sure he didn't veer off the course...."
But before I could worry for TOO long, here they came. A few adults, a handful of teenagers, and then..... AIDAN!! I can't even express the pride I felt. "You're doing GREAT, Aidan!! Keep running! I'm so proud of you! GO AIDAN!!!" The race ran along the main streets of downtown, where cars were parked along the sides and bicycle cops weaved in and out of intersections keeping cars from entering. Aidan kept running between parked cars to jump up on the curb, then he'd run down the sidewalk a bit, then weave back out on to the street again. He was having a BALL! I think he could've shave a lot of seconds off his time if he'd just stayed on the street. LOL!
After snapping a few pics, I high-tailed it to another intersection where I could cheer him on again on the second half. This time, he was running uphill and was dragging. When he saw me, he slowed to a near-walk. "AIDAN!" I yelled. "You're a WINNER!! You're a winner, Aidan! Keep running! You can do it!" And he turned on his jets, and did it. I ran behind him, cheering him on, for about 2 blocks. When I slowed down, I had to wipe my eyes.
At the finish line, the crowd cheered him like crazy. He was in the top 30 to cross... and the first little kid. Afterward, as we waited for Darren to run his race, people kept stopping to say, "Hey! I saw you running! You did great!" Aidan said he felt famous.
9:24. Aidan's first officially-timed mile.
I'm here to tell you: it won't be his last.