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Cate's first race

by Laura As a part of our family’s commitment to a healthy and active lifestyle, we are always on the lookout for fun and active things to do as a family. Having struggled with weight issues our whole life, hubby and I are determined to encourage our children to eat healthy, stay active, and most importantly, have fun doing it.

Since the arrival of our second daughter, Maddie (15 months), we’ve noticed the importance of have special one on one activities with our eldest daughter, Cate (3). An afternoon alone can work wonders for her attitude the rest of the week.

Recently, hubby and I have taken up running (more of the former, less of the latter). We’ve done a few 5K and 10K races between the two of us. Much to our surprise, Cate had started to express an interest in running too and so in February we decided to sign her up for her first race!

I researched many of the races in the Ottawa area. Some of them were limiting since the kids have to run on their own, which is fine for a “there and back” kind of run, but some of these races are far too long for a 3 year old to do on her own. In the end, we decided that the 2K race at Ottawa Race Weekend was the best fit. This way, we could all sign up and run together.

In preparation for race day, Cate and I did a handful of practice runs. We talked a lot about what to expect at the race and how we had to train to make sure that we would be in good enough shape to run fast on the big day. I tracked each of our training runs with an app on my iPhone and we would check in with the map when she would start to get tired or distracted. She loved to see where we were on the map and it made it easier for her to understand how much we had left to go.

At first, it was a bit of a challenge to keep her interested in running, but soon I figured out that we could run from fire hydrant to stop sign to street corner. I watched her cues to stop and catch her breath but quickly set a new goal of when to start running again. When all else failed, I started running backwards, sideways, and skipping -  these were sure to get her playing around and not noticing that she wasn’t actually tired, just bored! I also made sure to bring water, especially on the hot days. Most of our training runs were about 1.5 kms, which really only took us about 15 minutes. Somehow, she talked about those 15 minutes all week long and continued to ask to go for another run.

Finally, the training was done and race day approached. We brought her to pick up her race shirt and bib (number). She even got to swipe her own timing chip to activate it. We toured the expo and she tried a bunch of the samples for health foods like organic granola bars, greek yogurt, and protein packed chocolate milk. She seemed to really get a kick out of the whole thing, knowing that she was just as much a part of it as anyone else.

When race day arrived, we headed downtown sporting our race shirt and bib numbers. Grandma and Grandpa watched over Maddie as Cate, hubby and myself headed over to the start line. Hubby hoisted her up on his shoulders so she could see the sea of people huddled around us – the look on her face was priceless. When the starting horn blew, the crowd started moving. We weaved our way through the crowd as a family and kept a good pace going on the way down Elgin Street. Once we turned on one of the side streets, Cate’s interest level waned and the heat increased. A few sips of water helped her to keep her spirits up and soon enough we were turning the corner to come back down the Queen Elizabeth Parkway in the dash to the finish line. Spectators had lined the street cheering us all on. Excitement was in the air and Cate just started motoring down the street!

We crossed the finish line as a family with our arms in the air and a time of 21 minutes and 3 seconds. Of course, Cate was .1 of a second ahead of the rest of us. There was cookies and Gatorade waiting on the other side – a real treat for this little girl! After catching her breath, we went on to collect our medals. What a treat!

We had a blast the whole weekend and really felt part of something so special to our city. Between the expo, the race, and the photos that followed the very next day, I can’t say enough about how well organized I found the whole weekend and I would highly recommend it to anyone - no need to be a runner to participate!

On another note, Cate has yet to take off her medal…

Laura is a Marketer by day and Mom by night. She recently returned to the workforce after spending a year dedicated to losing weight, getting fit, and of course, her new baby! Laura and her husband, Rob write about their trials and tribulations with weight loss, parenting, and everything in between over at lalaland

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