Monday, October 20, 2014

Anabelle's Glow Run: 5k with my Daughter and 3k Family Fun Run

"I just ran my second 5k!  It was so cold and windy.  When I got to the end, I looked at my score.  I got 4th place out of 0 to 10 year olds!!  I was so so so proud of myself!  ..."
Naomi, age 7

"I was number 210 Sparrow.  I ran with my dad. We had a lot of glow sticks.  We also had lots of treats and cookies after the race.  We even had hot chocolate.  My first race was so fun!"
Sam, age 5

Not too long ago I published this post:

 Running and Racing with Our Kids: Lasting Benefits and Things to Consider.

In this post I shared that my middle daughter Naomi and I were hoping to race a 5k together for her second 5k.  Well, we did it!  And I can honestly say that our race - her race -will go down as one of my MOST special running memories in my 20 plus years of running.  This is true for so many reasons.  One of the biggest reasons is because of how inspired I was by her and another was because I got to see how incredibly proud she was of herself. It was an experience that affirmed my belief that running (and running with our kids) has so much to offer. The lessons we learn through running carry over into life in some powerful ways!  

This last Friday, our whole family of five headed down to the Les Schwab Amplitheater in Bend, OR for an evening of bouncy houses, face paint, glow sticks, live music and RUNNING!  We all registered for the Anabelle's Angel Glow Run for the 5k and 3k fun run (Naomi and I for the 5k and the others came along to support her and to run the 3k fun run.)  What a fantastic event!  Not only did it support an important cause (read more here) but it was FUN, FAMILY FRIENDLY, and AFFORDABLE.  As most of us know, races can be expensive these days and the idea of shelling out $25-30 (or more) for a 5k entry fee for ourselves AND our kids can seem absurd! Thank goodness that we are seeing community events like this being offered in more and more places. Family Fitness all across the country is growing because of it.  And with events like this, the community is coming together to support causes that are near and dear to their hearts as well.  We will be back next year!

Gearing up. 
Getting ready for this race was so much fun!  Since it was a glow run, the goal was to get GLOWY!  I finally found a good use for all my old neon race shirts!!  Score!  My husband went to the store and bought a ton of glow gear to add to our neon race clothes.  For my son (age 5) this would be the first race he can remember.  So fun to see him so excited!

I have so many neon/glowy race shirts and gear in my closet!  It was nice to use some of it for this race .

 Before we left the house, I made sure Naomi knew that this was her race to run whatever way she wanted.  Even though we've been running together when we can and working up to running a 5k, I didn't want her to feel any pressure.  She just responded, "Mom, I'm racing this one faster.  I ran my first one really slow and for fun but this one will be fun and I want to run my best."

Note:  Not once in our running together has the finishing time or time on a watch with mile splits been mentioned.  In fact, Naomi has never even been aware that I've had a watch on (mostly just my Garmin to keep track of our distance.)  Our runs have been and will continue to be about fun and quality time together.  This race was the first time Naomi connected a time on the clock with her running since it was a timed race and she wanted to see her name on the results. Finishing in 28:40 for her 5k was exciting to her mostly because she saw how she ranked with the other kids (and LOTS of kids in this 5k!!)   

The 5k

Before the race.  She was so excited! And there was a beautiful (and full) rainbow stretching across the sky. 

Naomi's race was special from the beginning to the very end.  Every step running next to my sweet girl was food for my soul.  Her's too.  She told jokes and made me laugh, commented on the people and scenery around her, and revealed such a positive and self-loving spirit with the words she spoke out loud to herself.  It's amazing how much we can learn from our children if we stop to observe and listen.  

Some highlights about Naomi's race:
  • She had a smile on her face for most of the race.
  • This was truly fun.
  • We took walk breaks in every mile. 
  • She led the way and decided how she wanted to run it. 
  • I talked to her lots and reminded her the whole way of how special this was, how proud I was of her, and how much she inspired me!
  • One of the first things Naomi noticed was just how much easier it was running on pavement compared to the dirt river trail next to our house. 
  • She wanted an age group award so she kept asking me if she though she'd get one.  I just reminded her to do her best.  At the time I didn't realize her age group was up to 10.  (Note: Again, time or place has never been a focus for us.  However, Naomi has been involved in running for long enough (her own races at a much younger age and in seeing her parents race) that age group and race time are very familiar terms to her. To her, this was a fun goal. 
  • Near the end of the race, she finally looked up at me and said "Mom, I'm tired.  This kind of hurts.  How much longer."  When I told her we only had about a half mile to go, she smiled and said, "Well, good to know! I can do this!"  Yes! Yes, you can!
Some mental tricks/strategies we used:
  • We broke the race up into parts.  For each mile, we took a short walk break to recharge for the next one.  
  • Looking ahead at the different colored shirts and making it a game.  25 points for blue shirts, 10 points for yellow...  This was all in fun and for awhile she tried counting them up but it ended up just being a fun little mental strategy for moving forward.  And no, she didn't count out loud when she passed until we were out of ear shot.  
  • Imagining a rope attached to us and a runner ahead of us, pulling us ahead.  This worked especially well when her older sister was right ahead of us.  
  • Relaxing the body.  Whenever I looked over and she had her little fists clenched, I'd just remind her to relax her hands and body and run naturally.  
  • Small reminders that helped her focus on her running and keeping it fun:  quick steps, lean forward, look ahead, smile. Note:   I think most kids have naturally beautiful running strides.  I don't think we need to teach them proper running form. This is my opinion but from what I can see, most kids just run...we don't need to make it something they think too much about when it comes to form, pace, stride -- just run and have fun! The rest comes naturally!  These reminders were just to distract her from being tired.  Gosh, what I'd give for her stride and form!
  • Self Talk.  Naomi did an incredible job telling herself positive things along the way.  
Exhausted, Happy, Proud! 

At the end of the race, Naomi was exhausted but BEAMING with pride.  She did it!  She ran hard, had fun, and gave her all at the end.  The other kids had fun too!  As I mentioned, I didn't run with them but I know they had a blast.  At once point during our 5k, I saw my oldest daughter racing past us and on to her 3k finish.  This was a huge boost for all of us to see each other! After the race, we waiting for awards and prizes, danced to the music in our glowiness and enjoyed the first of many races together as an entire family!

As soon as we got home from the race, Naomi grabbed her journal, glued her race bib in and wrote about her race.  Before bed, she looked up at me and said, "Mom, I'm so PROUD of myself!  I ran hard.  And I was 4th out of 0 to 10 year olds!" How can this not carry over into her life in positive ways?  She gained self confidence and experienced what it's like to push herself and give her best all the way to the end.  She discovered that even if something is hard and hurts, it can still be fun and rewarding.  And she realized that she is capable of so much more than she thought.  There are no doubts in my mind that this race will be something that carries over to her life in incredibly positive ways.  

My kids have naturally taken an interest in running because they see us make it part of our daily lives and LOVE doing it.  They've actually been the ones to ask us if they can tag along.  Eventually, my kids wanted to run because they saw it as something that provided them with special time with us.  Now, I can honestly say that they have come to genuinely love running too!  I hope this continues.  

When I run with my kids, I try to keep what I call the Four F's in mind:  

The Four F's of Running with Kids:
  1. Fun. Keep it fun!
  2. Follow their lead. Let the child decide what they want running to be.  Maybe they will want to race and maybe they just want running to be about spending time together or playing a game.  
  3. Foster a love for running.  Model a love for running and help keep running positive so your child grows to love running too.  
  4. Family friendly.  Try to find ways to include the whole family in running as a way to promote family fitness and bonding.  

Have you ever done a glow run? 
Does your community offer family friendly and affordable races like this?  So far, I'm seeing that Bend has so much to offer the family!  I'm especially looking forward to this race series for kids put on my Lay It Our Events:  Kids Rock the Races.  



  1. That's just all 'round awesome!

  2. What a great day for you all. I totally agree with what you said about it being your favorite race in 20 yrs of racing--when I run races with my kids, I am SO happy. It's the best. Love your tips at the end for racing with kids. I've had mixed bag results when racing with mine (we've had a few bad days out there!) and we have to always remember that sometimes they are not in the right emotional place to race (like adults) and to never push them. Great post!

    1. Thanks Amanda. I completely agree. I wrote more on this but saved it for a future post/book :) . Yes, we do need to be careful of this when we share an activity (like running) with our kiddos. If we push, project our own goals onto them, or have them do too much too soon without letting them lead the way and keeping it fun and full of positives to start, chances are they won't keep running and associating running with positive feelings. Once in a race or run that gets challenging, however, I do think we can offer a nudge of support to help them keep from quitting...not pushing as much as guiding them through...but again, keeping it positive so it helps them succeed and feel empowered (carry over into their life in ways they can draw back on) rather than get a bad taste in their mouths and never want to come back. :)

  3. Can't wait until I have kids to introduce them to these fun runs!

    1. It's definitely something to look forward to! The kids had so much fun!

  4. Love, love, love this post. Such a wonderful, intentional approach. Good job empowering, mama!

  5. Fun experience for you guys! We ran a 5k as a family this weekend with my daughter,11, and son, 7 running and me pushing the 3 year old in the jogger. I totally agree that this builds up their confidence and teaches them the importance of healthy activity and family time. Like you, I run with my Garmin, but never mention time and use it just to let us know how far we've gone and far we have to go.
    One thing I had to laugh about was the different approach the two kids took. My daughter had a pre-stated goal of running the whole 5k, no walking. My son's goal was just to beat all of us and prove that he's Elsa went out slow and kept moving throughout the race, even with some pretty steep hills while we watched my son ebb and flow, run and walk, "wait for me" and "I'm passing you" for 3 miles. Overall we had an awesome time and even the three year old hopped out of the stroller to run across the finish line. Great family time.
    One thing I thought was interesting was that this race was to raise funds and awareness for PWS (Prader-Willi Syndrome), which affects the son of one of our friends. They did not "charge" to run the race, but simply asked for donations to benefit research. They raised over $9,000 with about 100 runners using this approach which is $90 a head. Pretty amazing to help out the cause and have a great time as a family too!

    1. LOVE this! This is so neat Shane! Yes, on building confidence and teaching them about health and family time. And yes, on all our kids being so different. funny.

      This is interesting about the way the PWS race was done. I like this! So cool to see how much money they raised too! I hope to see more and more family friendly races offered in our communities.

  6. Love this!!! My favorite part was when she was getting tired at the end and you told her it was about 1/2 mile and she said "I can do this!" A big YES!!!
    I'm beyond happy that both of my boys like to run now and I think it's because I tried to always keep it fun when they ran with me - I never forced the running on them.

  7. I know she'll remember this race forever! How exciting for her - and I love that the race had a glow theme. Perfect to get kids into racing and running!

  8. That's such a lovely thing for you both to have done. Special forever memories there.

  9. Wow! So much to love about this post! The pictures, the life lessons, racing strategies... I'm so glad you were able to experience this as a family!