A few months ago I signed up to run the SLTC Half Marathon, thinking it would be a good way to keep myself motivated and running after doing the L&C Half in September. I also noticed that there would be a 1/2 Mile Youth Run that morning sponsored by Special Olympics. I immediately called my mom and asked her if Anna would be interested in "running" a race that morning too. She said yes and we signed up.
Let me back up a minute. Anna is my cousin's daughter. She is 3 years old (will be 4 in January) and has spina bifida. She was born with a gap in her spine and is paralyzed from the chest down. Anna is incredibly smart, creative, funny and talkative - but very very shy. We thought a race would be great for her. Here's a picture of Anna - talk about adorable.
Being my mom's only daughter, she talks about me to Anna all the time. My running is one of their favorite topics. She tells her about my races and shows her all my race photos. So Anna was excited that she was going to run her first race. She would practice "going fast" where ever she could - especially through the aisles at the grocery store and down wheelchair ramps. My mom took her to the local high school track so they could do a lap and "train" for the upcoming race. The night before, she even had a pasta dinner to get her necessary carbs.
Race morning came and they were up at 4 am to get ready and drive to St. Louis. Anna told my mom that she didn't realize she'd be running in the dark! Start time for the Half was 8:00 and start time for the Youth Run was 8:45. I was much more concerned with Anna having a good race than me, and I didn't want to miss it, so I traded in my Half bib for a 5K bib and knew I could make it back in time to see her run if I finished in 30 minutes (I'm slow, but that seemed doable). Here's us at the starting line.
Yes, she wore bunny slippers to make her fast (b/c rabbits are really fast).
There was only one word to describe my 5K...HILLY. Man, it sucked. But I managed to finish right at 30 minutes and ran straight to Anna's start line.
At the whistle, she was OFF. My mom ran behind her and helped her go up the hills and over the speedbumps, but she did most of it herself. When they got around the building at the top of the hill, it was a straight shot downhill to the finish line. She was FLYING!!
Seriously, she almost took out that little girl next to her. When she went around the corner, I swear she went up on one wheel! And was smiling the whole time! She crossed the finish line and got her medal. I've never seen anyone so proud of anything. She showed it to every single person we passed. Mom said she even slept with it last night.
I think we'll be doing this again soon!