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A run with my daughter that I’ll never forget

This column was published in The Bryan Times on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013.

The sun was setting, the neighborhood was quiet and a cool breeze was rustling in the trees. A late Monday night had kept me from my Tuesday morning run, and an early assignment on Wednesday was threatening to do the same.

I usually prefer the solitude of my morning routine, but that evening I realized a workout with the toddler in tow would have to do. With Kenlee in the stroller and my play list on shuffle, we took off on what I worried would be a tough route.

Earlier in the day, when I was contemplating the effort, I told myself it was OK to cut things short. My training schedule called for 5 miles, but the exertion of pushing the stroller — and stopping to pick up tossed snack cups — had the potential to make those 5 miles feel like 10.

I don’t know if it was the cool temperatures, the change in routine or the thought of my daughter watching — but as the miles clicked by, I felt stronger. My pace was surprisingly faster than I normally can handle pushing a nearly 30-pound toddler and her chariot of the same weight.

“At some point you’ll burn out,” I told myself. “It’s OK if you have to stop.” 

I did stop, to take in an energy gel and some water at 2.7 miles, and I walked as I sipped and made sure a new episode of Doc McStuffins was playing on my training partner’s iPod.

“You’re more than halfway,” I thought as I assessed the state of my body. Surprisingly, my lungs felt great and my legs weren’t tired. Apparently my attitude was the only thing keeping me from doing the full 5 miles.

At the end of 5 amazing miles together
“I can do this,” I thought. “I believe.”

I asked Kenlee, “Ready to run again?” 

“Yeah!” she shouted from her seat, bouncing with the sort of anticipation only a 2-year-old can exhibit.

“What do you tell momma when she runs?” I prompted, knowing that she would reply with the motivation I needed.

“Go, momma, go!” she yelled.

And with that, I took off to finish what I started.

There’s something funny I’ve learned about running lately that’s difficult to explain. Most people would think the first mile or two — the warmup — would be the easiest, and the hardest part would be near the finish. But I don’t hit my stride until somewhere in the middle, and the end of my run is usually the best.

Around mile 4, I felt that familiar feeling wash over me. It’s freeing, like I’m flying, even though my feet are on the ground. Work, bills, stress — they are  all replaced by a new state of calm.

I am in the moment. Thoughts of the past or future are pushed out of my mind with only the present. I am running here and now, and that’s all that matters.

The voice in my head that tells me it’s OK to quit is replaced by a new voice. It tells me I am strong. I am powerful. I can do this.

Finally, the familiar voice of my running app tells me 5 miles have gone by, and I stop to check my time.

Amazingly, it’s a new personal record. I shaved several seconds off my previous best 5-miler, and I did it while pushing an extra 60 pounds.  

I bent down to give Kenlee a high five and thank her for coming with me.

“Go home have ice cream,” she said, not letting me forget the promise I made when we passed the Dairy Treat around mile 3.

I obliged, and we turned the corner toward our house.

As we sat in the living room, Kenlee didn’t realize the ice cream I shared with her was actually Greek frozen yogurt. She also didn’t realize my endorphins were giving me the best runner’s high I had ever experienced.

Not only did I rock a training run for my first half marathon, but I also defeated my own self-doubt. I found strength from within that I knew could carry me over any obstacle.

I’m willing to bet Kenlee won’t remember a thing about that run (aside from the cartoons she viewed), but I’ll never forget a single step.

I’ll hold on to the memory of those 5 miles, and someday I’ll tell her the story of how we pushed through each of them together.

And, most importantly, I’ll tell her that she can do anything. She just has to believe.

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