Cross Country Jamboree!

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This past Saturday, as the leaves on the trees turned all the beautiful colors of fall, we were off to the annual Elementary Cross Country Jamboree.

My kids have done Cross Country every year, primarily because I want to help “coach” it at our school. Doesn’t getting paid to run sound better than sitting at your desk grading? I think so too. So, even though my kids were sort of reluctant this year, I wanted to do it, so they kind of had to as well. After practicing twice a week for a month, the day of the meet arrived.

No one wanted to get out of their nice warm beds to get up and run a race on a Saturday morning. I even contemplated not going, but knew we would all be glad in the end.

My youngest was particularly annoyed that we were making her run.

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But they perked up a little once we started the course walk-through.

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And they were off! This is the start of one of six races. My youngest ran first.

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She was extremely nervous, so I ran with her for about the first minute, after which she yanked her hand away and took off, shouting back, “You can go back now!”

IMG_4209.JPG And here she is at the finish, jogging in with a big smile and high-fiving our local 2012 Socchi Olympian, Kikkan Randall.

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One thing I love about Alaska is the support and push for active kids and families. It’s sometimes hard to keep your family active in a city with such a long winter, but there is a huge drive for kids to get outside, be active, and stay healthy. The city of Anchorage has a group of athletes called the Healthy Futures Ambassadors that support kids’ races and other active events, always dressed in superhero capes. These are well-known local athletic celebrities, who are still racing and training in their own races. It is humbling and amazing to me that they take time out of their busy schedule to come support kids’ running in Anchorage. They are always at the starting line leading warm-ups, running throughout the race giving encouragement, and in the finish chute helping each kid feel like a rock star. We won’t talk about how maybe I’ve shed a tear or two over the years watching them do their thing.

This is Marko Cheseto, a champion runner for UAA who lost both feet to frostbite a few years ago and still competes in local races:

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Here’s another one of the Healthy Future Ambassadors, cheering on my oldest daughter as she comes up to the finish line:

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And even though none of the kids initially wanted to leave their beds (a feeling I understand well), they all agreed it was worth it in the end.

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Having kids in sports and activities is a lot of work. Sometimes they want to quit, and sometimes I do. But I need to frame this picture to remind me that working toward a goal, staying healthy, exploring hobbies, those proud smiles – those things make it worth it.

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