The 9-year-old had stayed up with me to watch the Olympics. We watched the women race the 5000 meters. He asked when he could run. I said he could try running with me. We would just go for a short run, not 5000 meters, but I would be happy to try the next morning. He agreed.
Then morning came and he snuggled with me on the couch. “I don’t want to go, mom.” Why not? He thought about it. Then he changed his mind. He said he could try. So, after breakfast, we got ready. He put on a long sleeve shirt, despite it being 75 degrees out. He didn’t put on socks (I insisted he put them on). Figuring out running gear is a process.
I aimed to do a short loop, about a mile total. We would run to his sister’s preschool and back. We darted around the construction at the end of our street, and down a hill. Once we turned onto the quieter back street, though, he said he had to stop and “relax” a bit. So we walked. He told me he wasn’t good at this. I said everyone has to take walk breaks at the beginning. We would start running again at the next light pole. We did. Around the corner. Another walk break on the hill. “Mom, I’m the worst person to run with.” No, not at all. It was easier for me because I’d been running 12 years. It was tough at the beginning. “Do you take walk breaks?” Sometimes — like if I’m going up a tough hill, or during that really hot half marathon at the beginning of the summer. Everything is hard when you start, just like swimming. Once, you couldn’t swim 100 meters. Now you can. Someday, someday soon, you will run faster than me.
And so we kept going. Walk, run, walk run. Back up the hill to home. We turned the corner and he was feeling the surge when you see the end in sight. Unfortunately, this inspired him to dart across the road without looking, which set me howling (people speed down our street a lot). “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he said. “I did everything wrong.”
We have to be careful crossing the street, I said. But I would like to run again with you. Would you? He said he would. So we will.