I didn’t spend a lot of time in the hospital or doctor’s office as an child or adult. Then I had kids.

It seems like almost once a month, someone has something that needs medical care beyond my chicken noodle soup.

This past week, I received a call from school to pick up Mountain Kid 2. What we originally thought would be an easy visit to the urgent care center, turned into almost seven hours of waiting. I watched the other kids at home and Mountain Papa and MK2 sat in the hospital’s emergency room. 

Luckily, after many doctors and a lot of crying and pain, my son headed home that night. He was comforted by a big milkshake and some toys for his bravery.

I was comforted by the fact my kid was home with his siblings.

The next day, we traveled to Wheeling, W.Va., for the Northern Lights 5k, which helps fund scholarships for the community college there. Mountain Kid 1 and I signed up to run, while the boys watched. 

Mountain Papa bet the kid a milkshake if she beat me. I think she won that bet as soon as we passed the starting line.

I kept her within eyesight for the first mile. The course was an out-and-back through downtown to the rail-trail and back. As I watched, I ran a commentary in my head.

Look at her pull beside the other girl. This will be her pacer for most of the race.

Will they stop at the water table? No, they keep going, neck and neck toward the finish line.

As my daughter passed me on her way to the finish, I looked at her and smiled. She seemed so carefree and in her element. She made running look so easy, as I struggled to keep up with the person I chose as my pacer, another member of the Sub 30 Club group on Facebook.

As I made the turn around, I realized I should be out there having fun, not struggling. My son was home after a scary ordeal (it was probably more scary for me than it was for him). I have kids who are able to run and enjoy themselves.

So the last leg of the race became my celebration. A kickoff to the running season. A happy dance to whatever song my mind wanted my voice to belt out (apparently my brain likes Fall Out Boy) as my feet hit the pavement to beat. I celebrated feeling stronger as a person than I have in years.

I had enough energy toward the end to pick up my pace some. I didn’t catch up with my daughter until we started a fantic search for her. She wasn’t there to meet me when I crossed the finish line.

I found her near the school’s entrance. She grabbed a bottle of water for me and was chilling, with a big grin on her face. She knew she had beaten her record. She knew she just did something amazing.

We later confirmed her official time, about a minute faster than her personal record.

As for me, I know I did better than any of my previous races. I had fun because I had something to celebrate. The time on the clock was irrelevant compared to the joy I felt during and after the race.

The next day, we hiked along the rail-trail in our hometown. It was like something opened up in me. I delighted in watching the kids’ reactions to the spring flowers and animals. Even dandelion blowing was something to cherish. 

Though I was still tired from the day before, my heart was full. I don’t think I’ll look at running the same way again. It’s my kids’ time to shine. I just need to encourage it and enjoy the view.