A few years ago, when my son joined the Navy and had to do basic training, I decided to take up running myself. I started on the treadmill, and just wanted to be in better shape. I followed a Couch to 5K plan, to give me some focus.
Dante has always loved going for long walks, and sometimes they turned into runs, and someone suggested we run a 5k with Team Hoyt. Last September Jamie and I did run a 5k; he pushed Dante while I pushed Kimberly. We really enjoyed it and looked forward to more running with them.
All of my running was either done in the field next to my house, or on the treadmill...but this past February I got the idea to invite Amelia to run with me, and to train together for a 5k. I don't remember why, maybe I thought she would enjoy it, or probably I just didn't want to run alone around town, and she was an excuse to not have to push myself to a faster pace, or maybe I just knew it would give her and I some quality time together and give her a huge confidence boost.
So we ran, and Amelia absolutely loves it! She is completely willing to push herself harder, to go the distance and keep running even when she would rather walk.
Amelia's coordination improved, and her confidence soared. Our first 5k was April 30th, and she loved the crowd, the excitement, and the cheering as she crossed the finish line. This sealed the commitment, Amelia was definitely a runner now.
Since April 30th, Amelia and I have run four more races together, two with Kimberly, Dante, and Dad, two without Kimberly and Dante.
Amelia was given some new running clothes, and we continued to run through town togehter.
Now and then Sunny would put on her sneakers and Amelia's clothes, so I took her for a run to see if she would like to start training with us. Sunny clearly wanted to be a part of whatever was going on, but without the running involved. (We've since discovered that she very much likes to paint her nails, something Amelia has no interest in.)
Amelia came in Third Place in her age category at the race we ran in June! Every single night she insists on using her 5k glass at dinner; she is so proud!
We made her a corkboard wall to display all of her running bibs, and she intends to fill it.
Our most recent race is my personal favorite, because we were able to run through Old Sturbridge Village, a place we love to visit often. Parts of the run were like a time warp, with nothing modern in sight.
(In this photo, Amelia was excited to catch sight of Dad up around the bend, in front of the brick bank. He was a tad faster than us.)
And so we run. And Amelia, who has no idea that her diagnosis of Down Syndrome is supposed to hold her back, continues to get faster, get stronger, and get smarter.
Because she is fast, she is strong, and she is smart. She's a runner.
God is good.