The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lake Padden Ice Breaker - A New Athlete Emerges

Melting snow dripped from the roof of the picnic shelter nestled along the side of the lake.  Looking at the blue sky, one would find it hard to believe falling snow had replaced the pouring rain at some point in the night.    Waiting for the start of the race the snow had all but melted.  A chill in the air showed the sun's deceiving side. 

Two senior students at the high school centered their Senior Project around directing a race.  A local track club, boasting some of the brightest local talent, had several members doing strides as a warm up to the race.  Many of the rest of us were classmates, parents and school supporters.

A voice calls out to line up at the starting line, which to the passerby would look like nothing more than a line drawn in the gravel path but to us it marked a beginning.  Instructions were given concerning the trail we would be running on, as well as other race specific details.

I am slightly apprehensive about this course as the trail could prove to be a little difficult for my recovering ankle sprain.  My 10 year old son Dane is standing next to me and smiling.  He tells me he is nervous.  Only the night before had he announced to me he wanted to run the race with me.  Although very excited to share in his first race with him, I knew he had yet to ever run more than a mile.  I mentally went from 'race' to 'run' mode fully prepared to take walk breaks during the 2.6 mile course. 

I underestimated my son.

Someone yells, "GO!" and we are off.  The local track club immediately surges ahead with their race pace while the rest of us fall behind.  I look down at my Garmin and notice our 7:40 pace, I tell Dane we are going out too fast and we need to pull back.  His excitement keeps the pace strong.  Knowing the approaching hills would slow us down, I let him continue to lead us.

As expected, the hills are upon us and the pace slows.  We hit the mile mark and we are running amidst the trees on the back side of the lake.  He is doing well and I encourage him by explaining where each hill crests and he can try and catch his wind.  The mother in me silently concerned about his asthma.

We are now at the highest point of the course and I tell Dane it is all downhill from here.  We are about half way through the course and his pace is strong.  His big smile has been swallowed by determination.  I recognize the struggle in his eyes.  His focus sharpens.  Is he really only 10?  As we pass by spots where family memories have been made, I remind him of them in hopes it distracts him enough. 

My watch chirps 2 miles.  We have yet to walk.  Dane has yet to mention taking a break.  With only 0.6 miles to go I realize with excitement he is more than capable to run the entire distance for the first time in his life.  I break the course down into sections and fill Dane's ears with things like, "At that bend we...", "Once we get to...", "Right there is....".  It seems to be working.

Running now in a clearing, I notice the sun has hidden behind February's winter clouds.  Snowflakes start to fall.  Dane tells me his hands are cold.  As a mother I scold myself for not thinking of gloves for him.

I remind him Dad and his older brother are at the finish line ready to take his picture.  Dennis had promised to take Dane to Starbucks for a smoothie if he would be sure to run the last stretch into the finisher's shoot to ensure a great picture.  Wait until he finds out he has run the entire distance.

Knowing we have less than a quarter mile to go, I tell Dane we are going to pick up the pace so he can finish strong.

"I can't.  It's too hard"

"Yes you can.  Don't think. Stay right on my shoulder and just follow my lead."


Although he has proven himself capable, I ease off and follow his lead.  Not much later, I see the finish line.  In excitement I exclaim, "There it is Dane!  There is your very first finish line!!". 

The smile returned.  He has found the energy to pick up his pace.  I watch him take off and finish strong.  Parental pride is seeping from my pores.  Coming in right behind him I find him doubled over catching his breath.

"You did it buddy.  You did it! You ran the entire 2.6 miles!  How do you feel?"

"I want to puke."

I can not contain my laughter.  "Congratulations honey, that means you raced it." 

Later that day while we were alone, I asked him about his race.  As a marathoner, I knew the places he had to dig to finish strong, to finish a distance you just gained a deep respect for and I was curious as to what had driven him.

"Dane, when the run got difficult and you wanted to quit but you didn't, when every ounce of you told you to walk, what was it that kept you going?  What kept you running?"


And with that I laugh as he just proved more than he'll ever know, that he is my son. 



  1. way to go, Dane!!!
    you inspire ME! :)

  2. I love this Cheri!! Priceless that YOUR son was running for Starbucks!! Of course he has your drive and spirit. :)