Six months ago Isaac brought home a packet of information about the chance to participate in the Go! St. Louis Read, Right, and Run Marathon. I read through it and told Isaac that he had the chance to run in the same race that I'd be running in this Spring. He was so excited. That's all he wanted to do was "race" like his mommy.
In order to participate in the program, the students must read 26 books, do 26 good deeds (rights), and run 25 miles over six months. On race day, more than 3,000 students from 100 different area schools got together and ran the last 1.2 miles to complete their marathon.
I told Isaac that he would be running further than I would. He had to complete a full 26.2 miles and I only had to run 13.1. He was so excited. He talked about getting his medal. He talked about people making signs to hold up and cheer him on. He was greatly looking forward to this race.
In November or December, however, we found out that there were no adults allowed on the course. Isaac would be running this race all by himself. That was scary for him and for me. I didn't know what to do. I broke the news to him and he cried. He didn't want to do the race anymore. We had a hard couple of months there trying to get Isaac to prepare for the race.
He read all of the required books within the first month. We had done many of our good deeds picking up litter around the neighborhood and earning money for Living Water over Christmastime. Running was hard to do over the wintertime so we slacked off there.
When the weather got nicer and I started training heavily for my half marathon we started running outside together. Something happened over the winter. Isaac grew up a little bit. He started to get really excited to run again. He started looking forward to our little times running together. We'd run/walk a mile and it usually took us 16-17 minutes. Isaac would talk the whole time and stop to pick flowers for me. It was really fun for both of us. But I think mostly he was still looking forward to getting that medal.
We finally got our 25th mile in the week of the race. Isaac was way excited to run and wasn't scared in the slightest. We went to an informational meeting about where to park and when the kids would actually run (each school was started individually). The teacher gave us helpful hints about the fields being muddy, so wear boots and if you want to avoid traffic leaving the park, just park on Lindell heading towards home. Isaac got his t-shirt. We pinned the bib on. We were all ready to go.
The morning of the run, Isaac ate a good breakfast. He put on his Pierremont Panthers t-shirt with the bib already attached. He put on his running shorts. We knew it would be muddy and didn't want his shoes to get wet before the race, so we put him in hiking boots and told him to bring his tennis shoes. We got a water bottle, the camera and his sign and headed for Forest Park.
Yes, Randall and Isaac have the exact same face…
We got to Forest Park and it was crazy! Parking was impossible, but we found a great spot out of sheer luck after circling the park for 15 minutes. And that's when we realized that we forgot Isaac's tennis shoes… Yup.
Isaac realized it as he was unbuckling his seat belt. "Uh oh. I forgot my running shoes!" "Are you serious?!" I said. But then like every good mom knows, a child will base his reaction off of your reaction so I quickly changed my tone.
"That's okay. Those boots are great for running, too." I said as I frantically searched the car to make sure they weren't there. Isaac started to cry and we were seconds away from a full blown melt down when I distracted him by showing him the awesome sign I had made him.
That's pretty much all it took for Isaac to get out of the car and bound out towards his school friends. In just enough time, we found his school, and Grandpa and headed over to the start line. Our school got to go first.
Randall, Grandpa, Asher, and I positioned ourselves along the course to see Isaac coming out of the gate. Five kids were started at a time and Isaac was in one of the first groups. He came out of that gate running faster than I had ever seen him!
Thinking, he'd take his normal 18+ minutes to finish 1.2 miles, we took our time getting over to the other side of the course to see him finishing up. Before we knew it, he was running around the corner!
Of course, everyone's a winner in elementary school! So they didn't keep time for the kids, but I think Isaac finished 1.2 miles in about 10-11 minutes! In boots!
We were so proud! The school held the kids until everyone came in through the finish line and then escorted them (sort of. Isaac got lost.) to the parent pick up area. When we were reunited, I told Isaac how proud I was of him! I said, "How do you feel?" expecting him to say, "tired" or "my feet really hurt after running in these shoes." But his one word response was,
This kid worked hard when he didn't want to run anymore at home. He did good deeds and thought of others for six months. And he ran as fast as he could towards a goal. I could not be more proud of this kid.
And what a great example this is of preparing a child for life.
Dear God, first and foremost, thank you that Isaac is not of the age that he is embarrassed by things like big brown boots. May he never be ashamed of being different from everyone else. May he never worry about worldly things such as clothes but may he set his eyes on things from Heaven. May he make lofty goals that please you. Give him the strength to see them to completion. Give him the perseverance to keep running when life is hard. May his teachers and we, his parents, continue to train him up in the way he should go: constantly towards you.