The boys weren’t up for racing. I’m still out of shape (fat and aerobically challenged) and Drew has a bit of lingering Sever’s Disease, a painful condition related to growth spurts that makes running around something of a chore. So, it was up to the Thompson Girls to do the family proud and kick some serious road ass this Saturday at the Wilton 5K.
Nona woke up bare-chested and focused. When asked what she wanted for breakfast she said, “I’m hungry for racing.” I looked away so no one could see the tears rolling down my cheeks.
For the first time, my youngest had okay’d yours truly as her racing companion. Previously, she’d opted for the better loved (and more balanced) parent to take her from start to finish. I was goofy with excitement, loaded with butterflies and utterly charmed by Nona’s cool pre-race demeanor. Quiet as a mouse in the backseat, she exuberantly broke into song when Taylor Swift came on just a few minutes short of our destination:
If you could see that I’m the one who understands you
Been here all along, so why can’t you see?
You belong with me
Catching her in the rearview mirror bopping along to the beat with her high pony and giant brown eyes, I chuckled at the prospect of a teenaged Nonny trying to get a boy’s attention. Somehow, I don’t think it will be a frequent issue in my daughter’s life.
Anyway, it was a pan flat “out and back course with a lap around the high school track to begin and end the effort. We took a spot deep in the starting pack and went through the first hot mile at a conversational pace. Concerned with the heat and my own potential overzealousness, I made no comment on our speed, just told my little girl that she was doing great.
And she was. More than anything, Fiona seemed to be really enjoying herself. She didn’t care when people passed her, she didn’t complain about the sun blasting down on her and she never asked if we could slow down or walk. The only thing she did ask was if she could pour some water on her head at the aid station. I said “yes” and she did.
Cooled down and dripping, we had a fairly lengthy conversation about what “.1 mile” means, passed the two mile marker and then got down to business.
In a moderate, emotionless tone, I suggested that we pick up the tempo and close out the race strong. Though her breathing was a little heavy, I’ve been out with Fiona enough to know that she could drop it down a gear or two. “What do you say we catch that guy ahead of us? The one with the tattoo on his arm and shaved head.”
“And black shorts?” she wanted to know.
“Okay.” She put her head down and cranked it up.
I have to confess that I picked out this guy for what his physical appearance represented. Yes, he was a good candidate because he was about a hundred yards ahead of us and moving slow. But more important to me was that he looked like the kind of guy that could easily stuff me headfirst into my size 10 DS Trainers. Massive through the chest and shoulders his appearance was intimidating to say the least. In my mind, I thought beating him in a race would be instructive for my daughter, a good lesson in just how strong she is.
As we blew by him a minute later, I had the good sense not to look over my shoulder for my example’s reaction.
Onto the track, Nonny really impressed. Keeping her form together, she ran down a thirtysomething woman then came up on a fiftysomething man. Off the last turn, you could tell he didn’t want this kid to do him in. He picked up the pace and so did she. I said, “Go hard, Beaner,” and with a Bernard Lagat like finishing kick she took it home, dropping the gray haired dude to come in second place for girls 12 and Under.
With a couple of water bottles in hand, Mrs T informed us that she was the fastest woman in the 40 plus set and Drew confessed that seeing all this fitness was too much for him. While we were out on the course, he spent his time running the stairs in the football stadium.
God help me, I love this family.