Running Across the Years and the Lessons My Kids Learn from Running

Christmas morning, three weeks ago, I rub the sleep from my eyes as I wake to squealing children. Smells of brewing coffee waft into the bedroom and spur me into action. My boys vibrate as they anticipate the presents they are about to open.

Kenny and I find our places, steaming coffee in hand and wrapped in a soft and toasty blanket. Wrapping paper flies and excitement echoes off the walls. A ding sounds through the commotion and I reach for my phone. My own excitement bubbles over as I read a text informing me I won the raffle for an entry into Across the Years.

For the uninitiated, Across the Years, better known as ATY, is a multi-day timed running event. Runners choose 24, 48, or 72 hours or 6 days. During the chosen time frame, they run, walk, or hobble, as much as desired, along a short course. Runners sleep when needed, take care of bodily functions when needed. Everyone runs the same set loop. This particular event crosses from December 28th – Jan 3rd, hence “Across the Years”, and is a 1.0498 mile loop. The winner traverses the most miles within that time frame and though they are not usually the fastest runners, they are the most determined.

I find ATY to be the most spectacular way to round out the year and was thrilled to be a participant again. Even my boys enjoy the atmosphere, especially when they cheer for the runners or hand out smoothies or dance at the start/finish line to bring extra joy. My favorite part of running timed events is the camaraderie experienced with others that you circle past or with lap after lap.

I chose to run Friday December 28th, then volunteer Dec 30th and 31st. Friday dawned with blue skies and perfect temps. Crisp air and sunny skies make for perfect running weather. Kenny signed up for the race as well and we started together.

The race unfolded as they tend to do….completely unexpectedly. Early on, I had some bathroom issues. Fortunately, Aravaipa running hung funny signs in each port-o-potty so to make the plague a little less frustrating, I chose a different stall each time to increase my laughter quotient. It worked and when I recovered, the smile on my face was quite large.

I didn’t have any plans or particular goals for the day. I am getting myself into my training for Zion 100K in April so I didn’t want to run all-out and risk injury at the outset of my training. We discussed staying all night, but since neither of us had planned to run a 24 hour event and neither of us was prepared for 75 – 100 miles, the call of the hot tub at home proved too tempting.

Nine hours after starting, I took my final steps , hit 40 miles and called it a day. It was my second longest run ever, second only to Antelope Canyon 50 miler. I could have gone a lot farther and that was the best way to end the day. I was fresh, ready for more, and motivated to leap into my Zion training.

My favorite part of the day was meeting Catra Corbett and Truman. My dearest husband, in his infinite wisdom and perpetual love, told her that I was too scared to meet her. I was mortified! But ultimately I did talk with her and got scratched Truman’s chin. It was worth every moment of embarrassment I felt.

We came back and hung around for several more days, volunteering and cheering. Quinlan performed “Orange Justice” and “The Hype” – dance moves that earned him notoriety and a shout out by Jubilee, the race director. He felt famous! Keegan was the master of the cowbell and on more than one occasion put an extra spring in the steps of the runners.

I love runners. I love being around runners and feeling the drive and desire to push myself, to compete against others and myself. I never feel better about life and about who I am then when I am running. Running truly makes me the best version of myself.

Sharing my passion with my husband and children and building family memories at running events has become a tradition. Runners are a wealth of life lessons packaged in all shapes and sizes. While our children may never be runners themselves, they are learning valuable life lessons including:

  • Age is Irrelevant – You are never too old to start, never too old to continue, simply never too old. Age is even an advantage, especially at timed events, because with age comes the ability to keep going when the going gets tough.
  • Fitness is a Personal Journey – Running as a community is a powerful place to overcome the comparison trap. In a race of 100 or 10,000, there is only one winner and chances are it isn’t you. This fact teaches us to compete with ourselves and not those around us.
  • Play is Powerful – I often take life too seriously and I am not alone. Running, especially ultra running, teaches us that play is important and laughter makes the miles fly. Plus, when my kids see Ed the Jester and his train whistle after 5 days of running, they know that even adults can have fun!
  • Mind over Matter is Real – I can explain to my children all day that if they put their mind to it they can do anything, but seeing an individual still moving after 72 hours or longer makes that statement come to life.
  • Relentless Forward Progress is Critical – It isn’t how fast we go that gets us to our goals, but rather the ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The winners of ATY weren’t running circles around everyone else, but they kept moving one step at a time.

I look forward to all that this year will bring and the future lessons my kids and I will learn. For now, the journey continues…..


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