Knitted :: for my run/walk buddy (Mochimochi Martian)

A year ago this past weekend, I ran my first official half-marathon and had my most beautiful race experience ever, at the Martian Marathon in Dearborn, Michigan. Two days later, the Boston Marathon Bombing happened; that night, my then-eight-year-old asked if he could go for a run with me. I blogged about that experience here.

I had high hopes of continuing my runs with him, as well as of preparing for a full marathon. But a few days later, I realized I was injured, and my recovery took longer than expected. In the year since all of that, I’ve stopped and started running a few times, setting and revising goals all along. I won’t bore you with the details, but the upshot is that by mid-February this year, (after already giving up the goal of a full marathon in late fall), I realized I needed to quit trying to prepare to run the same half-marathon again this spring. In fact, I’ve taken a break from running pretty much entirely for now, and have devoted myself to something else in the interim, which I’ll share about when the time is right.

It’s funny how sometimes in order to receive some new gift in your life you have to let go of something else first. Within a few days of releasing the goal of my next half-marathon, and of giving up running entirely (for now), my son asked me if I would help him train for the kids’ marathon at the same event. The idea is that, over a period of several weeks, kids log miles with the goal of completing 25 miles before race day. Then on race day, all the kids run 1.2 miles together. The focus is on completing the distance not on being fast (the race isn’t timed at all). The kids who do it, receive the same medal that the adult marathon runners do.

Little Buddha didn’t care whether we ran or walked for our training; in fact, he preferred to mostly walk. So in mid-February, when it was still bitterly cold and snowy, we began our walks together. I rarely get time with just one child, but Tiny Dancer had no interest in joining us, so it was just the two of us for all those miles. Most of the time, he did all the talking, while I got to listen. A few times, he asked really important questions, or shared pretty deep thoughts.  Sometimes he would slip his hand into mine while we walked. Little Buddha was focused on winning that medal, but I felt like I got my reward every time we walked – time with him.

When race day was almost here, I decided to make him something special, in celebration of his achievement. Since the race is martian-themed, I went with a tiny alien from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi: More Than 40 Itty-Bitty Minis to Knit, Wear, and Give:

mini-martian

mini-martian

THE CUTE, y’all. I could hardly stand it. I didn’t have fingering weight yarn in the right shade, so I went with Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool DK in lime along with some light bright blue for the antennae (I think it’s called “lakeshore”) and some navy for the eyes. Because I used a heavier yarn than the pattern calls for, he’s a little bigger than the book shows. But he’s still pretty little:

little alien in my hand

little alien in my hand

Little Buddha carried him along for the race packet pick-up:

a martian for luck

a martian for luck

And brought him to the start line:

martian invasion

martian invasion

And actually ran while holding him. In fact, the alien’s a little felted now, from the sweat and the friction. And the love!

Though we mostly walked for our 25 miles of training, we ran a good bit of the 1.2 miles on Saturday. It was a perfect day for it, and doing stop-start slowish running with a kid didn’t seem to aggravate my injury too much. We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand.

marathon medal!

marathon medal!

Of course he had the handknit alien in the other hand.

If you are a runner, you know how great it feels to cross the finish line. If you are the parent of a runner, you know how wonderful it is to see them cross the finish line. If you are a knitter, you know how amazing it feels to see someone cherish something you’ve made for them. So yeah, I was pretty much feeling all the feels on Saturday.

with all his bling

with all his bling

And now I basically want to knit all the teeny-tiny mochimochi toys for my kids and everyone else.

raveled

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a thing I did today

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Today I helped my kids run their first 5K. They are not natural athletes, and they are not naturally fast or tough or any of those things that kids who can go out and just keep running for 3 miles seem to be. But they wanted to do it, and I wanted it for them, so we did it.

5Ks are actually my least-favorite distance to run – I like to run far, not fast (though I realize lots of people are able to do both) – and 5K races are over by the time I feel like I am just starting to hit my stride. This particular race – the Ann Arbor Turkey Trot – offers a 10K following the 5K; you can choose to run the Iron Turkey, which involves running both races back-to-back. I did that last year and loved it. In the case of the Iron Turkey, the 5K is more like a warm-up for the 10K; that works perfectly for me.

But this year, I am still coming back from a particularly nagging injury I sustained last spring in a half-marathon (anterior tibialis tendonitis), and I’m nursing some ongoing piriformis problems. I’ve had two running focuses this fall: coming back to running gently enough that I don’t reinjure myself, and helping my kids run. We started running together in late September, when a parent at the boys’ elementary school started a once-a-week running club for the 3rd/4th/5th graders. Every Tuesday, I go train with the boys before school. It’s been a great way to start the day, for them and for me.

We’ve struggled to fit in additional training runs, though, and I knew we were approaching this 5K with less-than-optimum conditioning. In fact, before today, they’d never run a full three miles.That was okay, though, since we weren’t really racing, per se – we were just aiming to finish and to have a good time.

The day didn’t start off great. One of the kids woke up grumpy and out-of-sorts; he got in better space by the time the race started (the steel drum band near the start helped!), but he was still struggling for the whole first half of the race. There were tears before we’d even reached the first mile mark. I struggled with how to motivate without being overbearing. I was frustrated – it’s hard to know how to help a child do his best. Hard to judge sometimes what is his best and not someone else’s best, you know? We ended up walking much more than running, and walking at a slower pace than I’d expected, and I had to let go basically all my expectations about how this race was going to go.

In the end, we barely finished ahead of a woman who took the race at a leisurely stroll while pushing a baby carriage. We crossed the finish line while the 10K runners were already lining up for their race. I came in last for my age group. So did the boys. Of course in their case there were only 13 other runners – so the fact that my two nine year-olds hung in for three miles does feel like a good accomplishment.

So we finished, and it was amazing to watch my boys sprint for the finish line while the 10K runners cheered them on. Seeing the boys’ faces after they’d finished was truly priceless. One of my kids told me with some surprise that he was feeling emotional, because he was so proud of himself.

I am feeling proud of them, too, and hopeful that this is something they will keep wanting to do with me. Given our back-of-the-pack finish today, I’m pretty sure their next race will be a PR for them!

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