I have a sometimes unfortunate competitive streak. I like to win. Win, win, WIN-WIN-WIN. This has somehow extended to the group of people I’m running with to raise money for Compassion International’s Child Survival Programs. That whole “encouragement” part of running has instead become a competition.
And I know this kind of running should be all about “besting yourself,” and “beating your own time,” and, you know, raising money for mother and babies.
But I’m having a horrible time crushing the desire to beat everyone across the finish line too.
As a result of that, after the Shamrock Shuffle 3K, I signed up for a 5K that I pretended was my “practice 5K” for the 5K race the whole team is going to run next month. Really though, I thought of it as my “Secret Training 5K” were I would work on getting faster and then BEAT EVERYONE NEXT MONTH HAHAHAHAH.
I had two goals for the race: 1) run it in 33 minutes and 2) never stop to walk.
I was doing pretty well until the middle of Mile 2 when I was running up The Longest Hill Ever into an incredibly strong head wind. I kept running, but really wondered if walking wouldn’t be faster since it felt like the wind was pushing me back with each leap into the air. The first goal was out the window by the time I reached the final loop leading to the finish line.
My 3-year-old was jumping up and down when he saw me enter the loop. He had been devastated that he couldn’t run the race with me, and when I reached him he yelled with excitement “Can I run WITH YOU, Mama?!?!” And I thought, Sure! That will be such a beautiful moment! Us running together!
He ran ahead of me for the first quarter turn, inspiring me to pick up my pace, then at the top of the loop tripped and slid hands first onto the track.
I really, really wanted to run the whole race without stopping.
So I shouted to him and said, with as much cheer as I could muster, “IT’S OK, SWEETIE! SHAKE IT OFF! LET’S KEEP GOING!” And that poor kid picked himself up, rubbed his hands on the t-shirt I got for participating in the race that came to his knees and, whimpering, kept running.
He quickly fell behind, and I found out later tripped again. And all the people directly behind me got to see the spectacle of me running away from my crying and slightly bleeding child, while I intermittently turned and gasped out, “IT’S OK, JOHN! KEEP RUNNING!” all the while internally wishing with all my being that Michael would suddenly and miraculous get himself to our end of the track to take care of the situation so I could follow my glorious plan to SPRINT TO THE FINISH.
I finished the race in 34:17 and placed third in my age group (it really pays to be over 30). Michael managed to trot over with James to retrieve John at the Mile 3 marker, who was upset that I ran too fast and didn’t hold his hand.
It’s been a week and I still feel ashamed. I should have stopped. I should have held his hand and jogged slowly with him. I should have realized somewhere in my fatigued, goal-driven head that this race didn’t matter more than John.
When I discipline John, I tell him that just like he has to obey me, I have to obey too. God tells us to act with love, with kindness, with compassion. And when we fail and make poor choices, we ask forgiveness and repent.
It’s a very humbling experience to ask forgiveness from your children.