The alarm woke me at six o’clock. I lay there with my eyes still closed, listening to the morning news. I was still in that semi-conscious zone between sleep and wakefulness when I felt the tap on my arm. It was ten-year-old Nikki – she was up and ready. It was race day and she wanted to make sure we made it there on time.
While I splashed water on my face and tamed my bedtime hair, she dressed in her pink t-shirt and running shorts. I emerged from the bedroom to find her in the living room pulling socks onto her feet. She stood up, and with a look that showed both nervousness and anticipation, she handed me her race number. I pinned it onto her shirt, smiled, and reached up to stroke her tousled hair.
She grabbed her shoes, and together we attached the small sensor chip to her shoe laces. This small chip would register with the computer when she crossed the start line and the finish line, letting us know what her final time was. She pulled her shoes onto her feet, and I felt a small lump form in my throat as I watched her. These were my old shoes – a nice pair of Nikes I’d bought and later realized were a little too tight for me. My tall, long-legged ten-year-old daughter is now old enough to wear shoes that I can fit onto my own feet. How did she get there so quickly?
Together, we hopped on our bikes and rode through the early morning air to the University, across the river from our house. On the way, we met up with her friend and her friend’s mom. We were headed to the start of the annual Manitoba Marathon, and for the first time in her young life, Nikki was set to run the Super Run – a 2.6 mile run that’s just right for kids and novice runners.
There was a high energy buzz in the crowd gathered at the start of the race. Thousands of people had gathered to run various distances and thousands more were there to lend their support. It was a drizzly morning, and some hid under umbrellas or raincoats, but Nikki and her friend barely noticed the rain in their excitement. They scanned the crowd for other friends.
I followed them to the starting line, but soon they got swallowed up in the crowd. The whistle blew, and they were off. I stood alone on the sidelines, watching my daughter’s strong legs propel her into the distance. I’m sure I was smiling. I know I saw smiles on the faces of many of the other parents gathered to watch.
I followed the spectator crowd to the finish line, and climbed up to a seat in the stadium just across from the finish line. It didn’t take long before the first Super-runners started to arrive on the track. Parents cheered as they watched their children approach. Quicker than I’d expected, Nikki’s pink shirt appeared in the stream of runners. She looked strong and agile. Her stride was good. Her long legs carried her across the turf to the finish line, and I stood and cheered.
With my mommy-heart swelling with pride, I headed to the gate where the runners exited the stadium. Before long, I spotted Nikki eating a popsicle while she scanned the crowd for a familiar face. When she spotted me, her face lit up and she walked toward me. I grinned at her and a tiny smile tickled the corners of her mouth. She couldn’t show too much pride in this crowd of thousands, but she couldn’t fully hide it either.
This was a shining moment for her, and she knew it. She’d run the race, she’d finished the course, and she was victorious. She’d been afraid that she wouldn’t be able to run the whole distance without stopping to rest, but the first thing she told me when she reached me was that the only time she’d had to stop was to tie her shoe.
I know, as a mom, there will be many more moments like this, when I’ll watch from the sidelines as my children accomplish something they’ve set their minds to. But there’s something about the first time you see your child cross the finish line that fills you with an emotion that’s hard to describe. I couldn’t have been more proud of my daughter, who’s filling my old shoes, but running faster in them than I ever did.
Her time was 25 minutes and 39 seconds. Quite respectable. If you scan the results at http://www.manitobamarathon.mb.ca/ (click on Super Run) you’ll see that she out-ran A LOT of people. In my rough estimate, she finished in the top 18th percentile for ten year olds. Out of about 510 ten year olds, only about 93 beat her.
(I have a picture of her nearing the finish line, but Blogger doesn't want me to upload it right now. Phooey for Blogger.)