It was 19* that day. Nineteen. Fucking. Degrees. It was cold as Kellyanne Conway's heart and we were running. Voluntarily. For long periods of time.
I'm trying to establish that we are crazy. I mean, you already knew that about me but my sister-in-law is a little too. For God's sake, she married a blood relative of mine. The certifiably sane do not do things like that.
Now I had been running a bit in the summer before I decided to pop my pelvis out of place. I was getting back into it but was still pretty slow. As in I could likely get lapped by walkers, really. Definitely nowhere near where my times were for cross country in high school, when I was young, in shape, and blissfully ignorant of the need for extra absorbent pads while running because you leak urine because childbirth ruins you in so many, many ways.
Through a series of events over which neither of us had control, we ended up having Charlie and my niece Halle with us. They are, as Charlie says, best friend cousins and the two of them together is about the cutest fucking thing since that kid from Jerry McGuire. They weren't registered for the race, but we brought them anyways because we are totally law breakers like that. And really, what were they going to do, kick us out? It was 19*, no one was fucking policing this race. We had told them that we were going to walk most of the race, but I was hoping that we could talk them into running at least some of it. When I told Charlie this, and reassured her that we would go slow, she asked, "Like more of a slow jog, Mama ?" Yes, child, yes indeed.
We got to the race and promptly started to freeze our asses off. The girls thought it was great fun, and even tried to convince us to let them take their hats off. Uh, no. Nineteen degrees. I'm a pretty shitty parent generally, but even I draw the limits at frostbite. The race started, and we convinced the girls to run for at least the first quarter mile. They made it for .39 miles before walking. We then went through a series of walking and running, surprisingly more running than walking. We finished with a respectable 13:37 mile time...not bad, considering we were running with two 6 year olds who have never run that far in their lives.
Both would have had you convinced they were dying, though. At one point, when we told them they were going to have run in their first race, the response we got back was "I'm never doing this again!" Another time, I was trying to convince Charlie to run for the last quarter mile and I told her she was my warrior princess and could do this, and she said "I don't want to be a warrior princess. I want to stop!"
All that being said, though, they both soldiered on through it. They were so proud at the end of it, and of course we totally talked that shit up to them.
Our girls, marching on. Or, as Charlie says, slow jogging on.
I was so goddamned proud of the two of them. I really think that they provided inspiration (as well as humor when they were dramatically "dying") to all of the runners around us. It was so gratifying to see them pushing through to accomplish something. Society has not gotten to them yet and told them they are less than capable, that they should just give up, that since they weren't first their effort does not matter. I truly hope that they remember that cold March day when they ran with their mom and aunt and completed the race, and how that effort and perseverance felt. At least, I hope that is what the remember from that day and not the free banana, bottled water,a and granola bar they got, along with a pair of shamrocks on a headband some guy gave them at the beginning of the race.