As a family we participated in the Ninth Annual SOS (Support Oakdale Schools) Fun Run this past Saturday. Taking in the morning with my kids at my side, I couldn’t help but reflect a bit with the event serving as my guide.
Truthfully, the reflections began shortly following the start of the one mile race which began at 8:30 a.m. sharp. Traveling that morning to Cloverland Elementary (host site for the event), my duo began discussing what time they thought they might pull off this year for the mile.
As I listened, I couldn’t help but smile. My son is not a runner, yet each year he humors me, shows up and gives it his all as we participate as a family. The event, after all, benefits all Oakdale school sites, so I’ve always felt it important that we participate to show our support. Being the non-runner of the family has always made the mile a bit more of a chore than a pleasure for him, but he’s stuck it out nonetheless.
As he’s grown older, running has become a PE requirement at school, so he’s slowly become a bit more accustomed to the mile. This year, that familiarity showed, as he and his sister shared there was no need for me to pace them. Each of them sharing a plan, which seemed a bit fast based on past years.
Always one to throw out a little competition, I challenged them. If they both beat me to the finish, a lunch at any place of their choosing was the reward. Both equally competitive, the challenge was taken.
This is when the beauty of firsts took over and my emotion was a bit hard to hold back. As the three of us made our way up Valley View Drive, they began to pull away and leave mom (the runner) in the dust. As I watched their backs grow more distant, their long strong legs carrying them up the hill I reflected on how far they had both come.
No longer was I cheering on my five-year-old mini me, no longer running to the finish and then back out to run in my non-runner. Nope, now they were running strong and solid and would be on the other side of the Finish Line waiting for me for a change.
That is the beauty of firsts, being in a moment and recognizing that there will never again be a moment like this. Acknowledging the natural growth and progression of these two from eight years prior at the Inaugural SOS event in 2010.
That first year, we walked the 5k with friends, my now 10-year-old the ripe age of two at the time, riding in her stroller with goldfish crackers on her tray. Her brother, five at the time and taking in the sights around us more than worrying about how fast or how long until we reached the finish.
This year, just nine short minutes after my duo left me in their smoke, I crossed that Finish Line with tears in my eyes. Each of them greeting me as I did, puzzlement on their faces. This was not my strongest year, by way of the clock. It was indeed a fun run. Yet, thanks to that one simple first, as I crossed the finish I shared with them what that emotion was.
“It’s pride,” I said to my daughter. “Seeing you and your brother coming into your own, breaking away… that made mom proud. These are tears of pride.”
And then ... I hugged them as if we just won the Olympics. As far as I’m concerned, we did.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.