Running with a 6 year old

I was really looking forward to my run this morning. I really enjoy running at 9:30 instead of the usual 6:30-where-is-the-sun time I have during the week. I have an opportunity to get well hydrated, eat breakfast and in general get my energy level up before trying to exert myself.

The last few weeks have been especially busy at the office. Most nights the girls are in bed before I get home. This morning, Madison and Macey were not thrilled with the idea of me leaving for 30 minutes. Madison went so far as to suggest she run with me.

I thought this was a terrible idea. Today I started week 2 of the Couch to 5k program. That means I'm moving up to 90 seconds of running with two minutes of walking. I know that on the second half of my run, which is also uphill, I struggle to make my full 60 seconds. How could I handle this with Madison tagging along? Obviously it would be impossible for a 6 year old to keep up, and then I would break my routine and hurt the progress I'm making on conditioning toward a continuous 5k run.

Jenny was insistent that Madison could do it. I caved and agreed she could come on the condition Jenny was ready to come pick her up at a moments notice.

I took Madison through a stretching routine, and then started the warm up. Madison was so excited that she was jumping, skipping, twirling and just generally expending too much energy. I was sure that she was setting herself up to run out of steam before we even got started.

And she was talking. And singing. I take these 5 minutes to focus, clear my mind and prepare to push myself. Madison ran ahead, picked up leaves, and told stories. Yes, a disaster was imminent.

And then came the voice of the C25k app in my ears, "Run!"

I set off at a slower pace than usual. Several runners have told me to "start as slow as I finish." Madison darted ahead like a winter wind, gliding effortlessly along the sidewalk.

I felt better than I have yet. My legs felt light, and my heart rate remained steady. The entire first half of the run was much easier than usual, even with the increased 90 second run. When it came time to walk, Madison resumed her skipping/dancing/singing/talking activity. No signs of fatigue at all.

Then we turned around, and faced the uphill second half. I started to pull ahead on the running stretches. My legs weren't screaming like they did in week 1. Instead, as I would pass a 60 seconds of running, I got a terrible stitch in my sides that remained a minute or so into the walk. Madison would dart ahead of me the moment I stopped running. Here I am, sucking air and trying to remain vertical and she's dancing and singing.

I hit me. She's waiting on me. I'm not waiting on her. Madison has the same natural, almost effortless athleticism that my Dad has. She's happiest in motion, while I find peace at rest.

As we did our cool down walk and stretched, I asked Madison how she felt.

"That was fun daddy. Can we run longer next time?"