This Thanksgiving, my son, Connor, 7, and I ran the Thanksgiving Day 5k at Sherando High School. This was Connor’s first 5k. He had run several kids 1 mile races and one 2 mile race. We practiced several times before the 5k, doing a 2.25 mile loop around our neighborhood. So, 3.1 miles was a new milestone for Connor, and I think he was a bit nervous.

The nerves probably stemmed from a kids mile race that took a detour. The course marshall mistakenly sent some the kids onto the 5k course. I happened upon the wayward runners – Connor looking distraught and saying, “Daddy, I took a wrong turn” – and lead them back to the correct path. He thought for sure he’d get lost. I think that incident traumatized poor Connor from running a 5k.

For this race, I ran with Connor the whole way, to reassure him that he would be able to find his way back to the start/finish line. For me, with my ridiculously competitive nature, this was a test. But once we got going and settled into a comfortable pace for Connor, I actually enjoyed just running for fun and encouraging him along the way. The stress of trying to beat everyone out there was eliminated. It was a fun run.

I must admit I was both surprised and proud that Connor ran the entire race without stopping or slowing down. And no complaining! For a 7 year old, that is a rare occurance. He had enough energy left at the end to sprint the final 200 meters and finish in just under 27 minutes.

Connor placed 6th overall for ages 1-10. I couldn’t have been more proud of him. He continues to amaze me with his athletic achievements and willingness to go all-out, no matter the sport or activity.

No matter the pace or result, an organized 5k is a great way to spend quality time with your kids. The exercize, bonding time with your children, and comradery of the running community really make it a fun activity.