Here is a wonderful and inspirational story we received from Jennifer in response to our February newsletter request for runner's stories.
Runner's Story #1 February 2012: Jennifer's Teenaged Daughter
I have a teenaged daughter. She is amazingly sweet, thoughtful, kind, and intelligent. Like most parents, I found that she and I started to drift apart and I was worried that she might not continue to make the best choices for her life. The final straw was when she stopped confiding in me and was beginning to hide things from me. I had to do something to strengthen our bond without compromising my role as her mom. I was training for my first marathon and had never had a running partner, running was always my solitary healing, thinking, and stress-relieving time. But the only thing I could think of to force us to communicate was to take her to work with me and bring her on my training runs at lunchtime so she could have an opportunity to earn back my trust. The rules were simple, no electronics on the run. I know... this was incredibly harsh, especially for me since I always rock out while I run. To her, this was the gravest of punishments having to give up two weeks of her summer running with her mom when she wasn't completely bored sitting around an office all day.
The first day was rough, she cried on the way to work that it was a cruel and unusual punishment. At lunch, we hardly ran much distance at all before she had to stop and walk. I felt like I was getting nowhere but I set up the punishment and I meant to keep it, even if it meant I wouldn't be getting very effective training for a couple of weeks. So we walked, then ran, then walked, I started playing games with her that I play in my own head, "just make it to the mailbox", and when we were almost to the mailbox "just make it to the light post", etc. She laughed and groaned jokingly and eventually, after pushing herself a little farther than she expected, we would walk and laugh. We both had an excellent time. I decided that she needed some special motivation, there was a grocery store about a mile away from the office, nearly all uphill, if she could make it without walking to the top the of the hill we would stop and get a coke then walk back. On her fourth attempt up the hill, she returned coke in hand. The next day we took a trip out to the lake to run around a small portion of Lake Washington. It was great, we were talking, joking, motivating, and pushing one another - okay, well I was pushing and motivating her but it was great fun none the less.
After the summer passed and into the school year, she started talking about the running they were doing in PE and how she was faster than so many kids and had great stamina and was working toward a 5 k. By this time, my mileage was getting pretty intense, I started running over 10 miles every weekend when a wild thought struck me. I was reading that book "Born to Run" when I learned about pacers. I had never heard of a pacer but I though it might be nice to have someone to finish the race with me for the last mile or so. So I asked my daughter if she'd be interested, the next thing I knew, she was running the last mile of my 14 mile training run with me. She was great! I didn't realize it at the time, but she did all the things for me that I did for her on those first few runs, pushed me to finish without stopping, encouraged me, and even grabbed water for me. She trained with me to the point that she was ready to be my pacer for the last three miles of my marathon rather than just one. We both look fondly back on our two weeks spent running together, our relationship mended, and we are closer than ever. She even gave me permission to author this note and submit it for publication. Perhaps we'll have another 2 weeks together this summer, but for fun rather than punishment this time...