Adventures in Motherhood: Marathon milestones and following where daughter leads

by jennifer

My daughter Abby doesn’t have any formal piano training, but that didn’t stop her from climbing up on the bench and playing a spontaneous tune on the black baby grand at the YMCA today.  The place was buzzing with anxious runners picking up their Grand Rapids Marathon race packs to prep for tomorrow’s big race. There were plenty of people around to disturb with random piano playing, so my first instinct was to shoo Abby from the keyboard.

But then, I thought better of it, and sat back down in my chair.

She happily stretched out her fingers to plunk the keys, and did her thing. As she strung together a random series of notes, I was reminded once again how fun it can be to plunge into something exciting and new. I just love the way kids are so willing to give it a whirl in a public place with strangers looking. It just doesn’t matter to them. It didn’t bother Abby a bit that she doesn’t officially know how to play the piano. The fact is today she played – in public. The music was wonkie and wonderful and nobody seemed to mind.

Her 2-minute concert in the Y lobby was her warm-up for her first-ever road race: The Grand Rapids Kids Marathon. Abby first asked to run this race when she was 3, but I thought it was best to wait until kindergarten. The deal is that kids “train” for the race by walking or running 25 miles in the months leading up to the race, then they run the last 1.2 miles of the marathon on the race course.

What an excellent event this turned out to be. The kids get a T-shirt, “26.2” race bib, loads of food at the finish line, and a great finisher medal and certificate. And it’s all free.  Plus, they get an amazing 50% off running shoe discount at a local running shop. Gotta love that.

Abby has been running with Jeff and I on the Y track and beams when she completes her 7-lap mile. When she’s in a hurry to go play with her friends, she runs faster or cuts her run down to a half mile. Her decision process is amusing at times, but she always calls the shots on how far she goes. It’s been great fun to run with her and watch her push herself to try to beat her dad on the last lap. Time will tell if she keeps running, or moves on to piano lessons or something else. For now, I’m just going to enjoy following where she leads. It’s been an amazing journey so far.

While the Kids Marathon is a big deal for budding runners, it may be an even bigger deal for some of us parents who ran with our kids today. Crossing a finish line with my daughter was truly an awesome experience. Kudos to the cool people who spent countless hours working to make the event possible. ( Thank you! ) We’ll be back with little sister next year.

Oh, and on a crafty note, Abby got some very nice compliments on the “Meathead” hat she wore during the race. I LOVE this hat pattern and plan to whip up some more for Christmas. You can download the pattern (along with several other great projects) from Melanie Falick’s craft blog. The hat pattern is from the “Knitalong” book by Larrisa and Martin John Brown, my guests on podcast episode 76.

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