When mom = sucker for punishment

Alternately titled: Hub Run 2013 Race Report

Flashback approximately two months and hear my middle child say that she might want to run the Hub Run this year (last year she walked it). I take her to the Y and we test out a few run/walk intervals on the treadmill. She says she wants to try training.

Over the next two months she and I would run once to twice a week, steadily increasing run intervals and distance. There was a lot of complaining. A LOT OF COMPLAINING. I knew this wasn’t easy for her and regularly told her I was proud of her for pushing herself in this challenge but the complaining never stopped. It got so bad that two days before the early registration discount ended, I told her she had to make a decision. That it was okay with me if she changed her mind and decided this wasn’t her goal right now (or ever) but that if she did want to go forward, she had to stop beating me up so much about it and be more positive. She took 24 hours to think about it and told me she wanted to run and would be nicer to me and to herself.

Spoiler alert: She lied.

We talked about our race plan the night before the race. I told her that she would need to trust me on race day. That I would be carefully watching her breathing and form and decide her run interval times accordingly. I told her that race day is the day you push past where you feel comfortable because after race day, you can rest – or in her case never run again. She said she would follow orders.

She was excited and nervous at the start. All good emotions. J was with us too and determined to run his own race. We picked a post-race meeting spot and as we all started running I wished him good luck.


E lasted five minutes before the grouching started. It felt like she had saved the worst complaints and rudest comments of all for race day. Literally, she was so loud and mean to me that people around us were gasping and turning to see who was doing the talking. She was tired… she couldn’t run… her legs hurt… she was hot… she was going to stop RIGHT NOW…

On and on and on.

I met each of her negative comments with positive reinforcement. I told her she looked good and her breathing was fine (obviously if she had enough breath for all that yelling). I told her she was stronger than she knew. I reminded her of all that she had done so far and that she should be proud of what she was doing. I told her I was proud of her. None of it mattered. She would yell at me for not making her run more when we walked too long and then when I told her to start running she would scream, “I am NOT RUNNING ANOTHER STEP and you can’t make me.”

It got so bad that when the course ran through our neighborhood I told her she could quit and I meant it. She said she didn’t want to quit and I told her good now it’s time to stop the negative comments. That lasted for 45 seconds.

There was no race plan after all. My goal for her was under 40 minutes… hopefully close to 36. That goal flew away at mile 1.2. Her goal was to finish in less than 44 minutes. I spent the last mile of the race trying everything I could to get her to stop walking and run just to beat that goal. (And when she walks, she walks slowly – insisting that there is no reason to walk quickly because that’s not restful.)

I got her to run the last .1 around the Courthouse square. There are people along the course yelling and cheering. I told her all those cheers were for her. She asked twice if she could stop running (AT THE FINISH!?) and I said no. Astoundingly, she kept moving. She crossed the finish line in 41:43.

She beat her goal and yet didn’t want to celebrate. She was in a reasonably good mood as soon as she stopped running – maybe running makes her delirious? And as we left the post-race celebration she said “that was fun.” It was all I could do to not yell “FUN?!?! You call yelling and complaining for 41 minutes FUN!?!?” But I didn’t.

I’m impressed that her stubbornness extends to doing something physically difficult when she obviously didn’t enjoy it. I’m proud of her for wanting to try something that she knew would be hard. I’m happy that she didn’t quit when she was offered an opportunity (and her front door was in sight). But I am so discouraged at how she could beat herself up for so long. And I’m worn out from being told that I’m mean and awful when all I wanted was to help her succeed.

But I’m her mother and if she asked me to run again with her tomorrow, I probably would… even knowing that the barrage of insults would be so bad as to take people’s breath away.

On a more positive note, my 8yo ran the entire race by himself and pulled off a 36:55 with no training and no person to keep him going. His self-motivation impressed me (I would never have done that at his age – much less have done it alone.)

I like the Hub Run because it’s not too big. It’s for a good cause. You see all sorts of family groups out doing it together. And you see people crossing the finish line of their first 5K with tears in their eyes. It’s an accessible race for all the right reasons. My family will be back next year… though perhaps minus a certain middle child.


5 thoughts on “When mom = sucker for punishment

  1. I’m proud of her for not quitting with your house in sight because there are races where seeing my front door would’ve caused me to walk off the course, but man. You are a rockstar mom. 4 minutes of whining gets to me, let alone 44 directed right at me!

  2. Well I think J has just secured himself the position of E’s coach and trainer next year!

    (Good job mom, SERIOUSLY GOOD JOB!)

  3. I think that if she wants to do it next year (and you should encourage her to beat her time and win prizes!) that maybe you need to hire out. She might be nicer to someone no related to her. I volunteering Erin. They can talk sparkles and glitter and fairy dust 🙂

    1. That’s a damn good idea. However, I’d run the whole race in fear that my daughter would turn evil and then Erin would never speak to me again.

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