I’m not a born athlete. It takes a TON of motivation to get me to be active and despite how long I’ve been running, we still have a love/hate relationship. My child (aka Wild Boy) is nothing like me and craves athletic activity – it’s good to be fearless and seven years old.
When Live Ultimate Run Los Angeles offered me two registrations for their 5K race over Memorial Day Weekend, Wild Boy said he wanted to run his first 5K with me. As a parent and an advocate for healthy living, I was thrilled that physical activity was important to my son at such an early age. I didn’t do my first 5K until I was in my late twenties. I still have trouble calling myself a runner but today, in celebration of #NationalRunningDay, I’m sharing what it was like to watch a child (my child!) become a runner.
Below is Wild Boy at his first 5K race packet pick up. I love Race Expos but I’ll admit that the Live Ultimate LA bib pick-up made up for their lack of an Expo with something even better – a chance to meet Olympian Ryan Hall.
Wild Boy was so excited at the prospect of meeting a real Olympic athlete that everyone at packet pick up couldn’t help but notice.
Bryan Huberty, Live Ultimate’s Race Director (and running phenom himself!) and his effusively warm Live Ultimate team were wonderful examples of the supportive and welcoming running community. It made my heart swell to see how many smiles my child’s exuberance brought to other runner’s faces.
When Wild Boy met Ryan Hall, he was beaming. Ryan was so very gracious – he signed autographs, took photos and offered words of encouragement for one seven year old’s first 5K.
Cool, cloudy days are few and far between in Los Angeles but Live Ultimate Los Angeles lucked out because the weather was perfect for running. We arrived early, walked around the vendor area (complete with kids activities too) and took some quick photos before the race began.
Anxiety always runs high before a race and this time was no different. However, telling a seven year old to be patient wasn’t easy. Especially when this guy came to the start:
When the gun went off, we both tried to go out slow but any runner knows how hard it is to hold back. I’m not even a fast runner and I ALWAYS go out too fast. The deal was that both of us had to stay together until the finish. This wasn’t easy for a kid with a ton of energy but he held back a bit for me.
We took a few walk breaks, hit the water station (pinching the cup like a pro) and soon after the 1.5 mile turnaround, we saw Gillian@That’sG.com who was running the Quarter Marathon. Gillian looked stellar on the course. To see some amazing photos and to get G’s take on the race, go here.
On the way back toward to finish line, we were lucky enough to see Ryan Hall running on the other side of the out and back course. As only a child could, Wild Boy yelled out a hello to his new friend and in return got a loud and clear “Good Job!” from a world class athlete.
I watched how two simple words that my son has heard a hundred times before make an entirely different impact. Receiving support and encouragement from an athlete (an Olympian!) gave a child an exceptionally unique confidence boost. I saw a smile spread across my son’s face and watched his determination rise. I told him to surge ahead. As Wild Boy approached to the finish line, he heard his name being called and he gave it his all. He didn’t know it then but he placed in his age group. The fact that we both got the same medal and covered the same distance despite the differences in our ages, sizes and abilities made my son feel like a champion.
The Live Ultimate Run Los Angeles 5K reminded me why I love the running community. I may not love to run but I do love runners. For the most part, runners are supportive and encouraging in a race environment. As a parent of a very competitive child, I’m grateful that running has helped my child understand that not every athletic endeavor needs to be focused on winners or losers but about being part of the game and finding the strength to finish what you start. Not everyone can recall the exact minute that they became a runner but I can bet that my son will never forget.
Thank you Live Ultimate Run Series and Ryan Hall!
Disclaimer: I did receive 2 complimentary registrations to the Live Ultimate Run Los Angeles but all opinions are purely my own. Miami residents, your Live Ultimate Run chance is coming in December!