My First Mother-Daughter Race

If there is one thing that my first post-baby running year taught me, it's to run to have fun and feel good after. I hope I can help my daughter learn that too.

Before becoming pregnant, my main motivation was to earn personal bests and age-group medals. That became a lot harder after months off running combined with hormonal changes took my speed away. I know it will be a while before I can get PBs again...

Still, my running friends are very supportive and always happy to see me at races. My little one also does not like me keeping her in a stroller without moving. They were my new biggest motivations to get back to running. First, I shuffled on my own. When my baby became old enough, I did a few runs and races pushing her in the jogging stroller. I even walked a fun "run" while holding her in my arms most of the way!

At all the running events I took my little one to, it lookes like she just loved being there! She loves the music and watching people warm up. She returns the smiles of friendly runners. She seems to enjoy watching all the bright and colourful outfits bouncing around too. So I planned on bringing her to these events for as long as she enjoys it.

One day, she chose to walk all the way to her daycare. She took a lot of breaks to look at flowers and point at stuff, but did not ask to be picked up at any point.  I decided to check on Google maps what the actual distance was. It was over 1.5km, nearly a mile! I could not believe it! I was also really excited because I realized that it meant we could soon sign up for a 1k kids run! I picked the North Van Run as her first kids run because it included a stroller-friendly 5k (with prizes for all participants with strollers!) followed by a free 1k kids run that started at the finish line of the 5k.

As a competitive person, I have to remember that the most important thing for kids is to discover the joys of being active and to try everything. Yes, I love running. And yes, I love winning too! This does not mean I should push that on my daughter. If she is having fun when walking or running great. If not, I need to remember to just comfort her and find out what is wrong. I should definitely not insist on her walking or running more: she might end up not liking it anymore or worse, get hurt. So I just listen to her cues and let her out of the baby carrier or stroller whenever she wants to walk and pick her up again when she seems tired. I would also give her tons of opportunities to play in the park or at the community centre toddler drop-in gym.

On race day, she was probably more ready to walk 1k than I was to run 5k pushing a stroller. I had not done any practice stroller run since she started walking. This worried me a bit as I had promised my friend Annie that I'd help pace her achieve her goal 5k run-walk time. The truth is that I had no idea if I could do that while pushing a stroller! Thankfully, with the adrenaline and the great people who cheered for us as we passed by, we both managed to stick to the goal pace and ended up with a final time even faster than we hoped for. Also, thanks to all the other runners and volunteers, the little one did not get bored at any point and had a fun 5k ride and was all smiles at the finish line. I was too, thanks to the beautiful rose from Margitta's Flowers handed to me by a volunteer right at the finish line together with a coupon for a free skin treatment at Skoah.

We had some time to hang out at the race expo until they started a fun warm up there for all the kids there. There were a lot more other toddler than I expected! I was worried my pumpkin would be the youngest one by far. In fact, there was another little toddler the same age as mine who also did the 5k in a stroller just before. After the warm up, a couple of adults told us to all go towards the start line on the pier. There, my running friend Elsa, mother of two adorable little girls, chatted a bit with me,and joked that the hardest part would be to get my girl to actually follow me for 1k.

It did not take long for Elsa's prediction to become true. We stayed all the way at the back and waited for all the kids to start ahead of us to then follow them. Well, that was the plan. After a few steps, my little one stopped, turned around, and started walking in the opposite direction. I helped direct her in the right direction and it did not take too long until she started actually following me while friends and strangers would cheer her on. She loved all the attention!

After about 300-400m, most of the smaller toddlers started asking their parents to pick them up. As their parents picked them up and started walking past us we ended up being alone far behind the pack. Then, the fastest kids started passing by us going the other way as they had finished their loop and were sprinting back to the finish line. This got my little one to stop in awe and I used the opportunity to cheer them on. Once at the junction of two roads I got a bit confused. We got a bit lost, but then, thanks to some volunteers, got back on track. As we were getting close to the finish it was becoming clear that we were the last runners to finish. I shouted "Final Runner Finishing" to be sure they recorded her finish and then let go of my girl's hand and stood behind the finish line to let her finish alone. She sped up a little, but then stopped just behind the timing mat. She was scared she would trip on it. I helped her get over it and then our first race was finish. I was so excited and so proud of my little one. This run made me realize how strong-willed she is and how much she enjoyed doing things with me. My heart had never been so full at the end of a race!