How my son pushes me to run harder

My family is so supportive of my devotion to running.

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I have 2 stepsons and an awesome hubby that cheer me on through training and race day. My husband often makes dinner, cleans the house, gets the kids ready, and picks up anything that I let fall through the cracks with out comment or question. While training, I am often struggling to get my runs in – squeezing them into a busy life is hard! With the help of my family it works.

My whole family cheers me on parents, in laws, husband, and kids (more on my amazing support system later) but there is one person who follows my training closer than anyone. He understands my running routes like no one else and kicks running butt right along side me: my oldest stepson Brayden.

I ran my 1st 5k race in 2013 and Brayden was eating bagels at the finish line. I ran my 1st half marathon and he was drinking a chocolate milk asking about the race; captivated by the energy. Then I ran The Color Run and he jumped in to run the last mile with me. We ran in together cheering and he then decided that he wanted to run a race himself.

In 7th grade he decided to run track. The desire to be lightening quick was enticing, so he signed up to be a sprinter. It was apparent during the first 100m dash that this wasn’t his forte and he wasn’t sold on the idea of competition. 8 kids lined up on the track. The gun goes off. Brayden is in a solid 7th place. About 50 meters in he turns around and starts cheering for the runner behind him. “You can do it!” “Keep going!” He yells. “Brayden – YOU keep going! RUN!” His Dad and I yell.

His compassion for others is unmatched, I love this about my son. He makes me so proud every day and his kindness is what makes running such a great sport for him – the running community is such a positive and uplifting place.

One practice toward the end of the season the team was running a mile and Brayden was barely breaking a sweat. His coach approached him with the idea of running Cross Country. He thought he would just give it a shot and the rest was history. This kid has endurance like nobody’s business and didn’t even realize it.

The Cross Country season came and watching him run was exhilarating. I would clap and cheer for the kids running, but when Brayden rounded the corner it was a whole new ball game. I would cheer my booty off clapping so hard I once bruised the palm of my hand. I’m extra, I know. He began to gain confidence and competitive spirit. He was GOOD, this fueled him. He experienced the highs and the lows of running – great training runs where you feel like you’re on top of the world and the ones where you question if it is worth it. He experienced PR’s but also the humbling feeling of a hard course. He developed friendships, gained support, and saw his family on the sidelines cheering him on. He ultimately felt like he invested in himself and was seeing the ROI both when it came to athletic and personal development. I could not be more proud.

The year before I had taken a break from signing up for formal races. I was in a rut; not really motivated to get out and race. Even though I still knew I enjoyed running, getting to the place where I was pushing myself to dig deep and enjoy all aspects of the sport was going to take a little time. I had to push past that “I am out of cardio shape” phase. I had to realize I was going to breathe a little heavy until I was back in the swing of things, ugh. The torture was daunting. During the Cross Country season I thought, knowing I am a runner I can’t sit on the sidelines asking my son to do things I am not willing to do myself. At that moment I decided to kick it into gear and start training again. I ran a half marathon that year, 2017, and followed it up with my first marathon 6 months after, May 2018, with a time of 4h 30m (more on my 1st marathon another time). Not my fastest pace, but hey! Longest distance EVER. I was proud.

My family was at the finish line waiting for me and Brayden was beaming with pride just like I had been at all of his races. Through out my training he would ask me how far I was running every time I left the house and understood how much of a commitment it was. He knew how big of an accomplishment this was.

This whole running thing was something that we were doing together.

From this marathon I decided to sign up for the 2018 Queen Bee Half and train for a PR with the goal of having a negative split. I had never done this before. I trained for 4 months while Brayden was practicing and running in XC meets. I was at every one still cheering my butt off like it was his first time walking.

He was asked to run in a meet that was originally not on the calendar and thinking of missing it absolutely broke my heart. I immediately told my husband and son that I was dropping out of the race. My husband told me not to, that I had been to every other meet, and that sometimes things were going to come up. I was almost in tears. He is only a kid for so long, this is something we share, I love seeing the progress and giving him a hug when he crosses the finish line. These were all thoughts racing through my head. He could not convince me to race. There was nothing he could say that would change my mind.

Then Brayden chimed in. “Allyson. You HAVE to race. You have worked so incredibly hard. I will race my hardest because you will be running for me and I will be running for you.” I broke down. Tears in my eyes. I knew that he got it. That was the only thing in the world that could have possibly changed my mind.

I wrote three things on my hand that day to remind myself to focus when things get tough:

  1. PR
  2. Brayden
  3. Right Foot, Left Foot

That day I went on to PR and a negative split! Through out the race I kept thinking about Brayden and how hard he trains every day. I kept thinking about calling him after the race and how we were going to celebrate together- with waffles from Taste of Belgium. That is always my post-race pick!

I dialed his number and couldn’t get through because the cell towers were jammed. I tried again, again, and again. I text him as a last resort. A couple minutes later he called me. He also ran an absolutely incredible race with a PR on an extremely hard course!

I was ecstatic! We push through for each other supporting each others successes and failures. Running is a lifetime sport and I am so incredibly blessed that I get to share it with my son.

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