We’ve done Sport Relief three times before and every time it was unseasonably hot. But you know March. In like a lion, out like a lamb.
This year we had a logistical nightmare. I was running with my daughter, my eldest had an away rugby game and my younger son was training at home. Two adults, three kids in three different places just doesn’t work. So I did something I never do. I dropped my younger son at rugby and drove away. The second I drove away the hail started. My son suffers badly with the cold and had been sent home early from training the previous day because he physically couldn’t cope with the hail. We got to the Sport Relief car park and my daughter was practically crying from worry about her brother. I knew I had to turn round and check on him. He was OK. He’d sheltered in a van during the worst of the hail and the coach reassured me he’d put him in the car to warm him up if he saw him struggling again.
So back to the start line.
My daughter had decided for herself she wanted to run three miles rather than one. How long does it take for an 8 year old girl to run three miles? I had no idea. I thought maybe 45 minutes, which would be a pretty quick walking pace for an adult. My mum suggested it might be an hour. An hour! For three miles?!
We had waterproofs, drinks and warmer clothes than I would usually have for a run as I guessed it might be more like a walk. But Daddy had challenged her to run it all the way – and said he would pay up more sponsor money if she could do 12 minute miles. Twelve minutes! I do nine minutes for a long run, I would do eight minutes for a three mile run. But 12 minute miles seemed ambitious for an 8 year old.
We took off at a run. Within seconds I realised I was running at my pace. I slowed right down. We carried on running slowly. She was doing very well. She was feeling positive and happy. The sun was shining. She ran most of the first lap. She knew there were three laps, but she was thinking one lap at a time.
‘We’re nearly at the end now.’
Yep. A third of the way to the end.
After that she walked more than she ran. She chatted. And she moaned a little bit. Her legs were starting to ache and there was still a long way to go.
I didn’t see any other young children running three miles. People started to lap us. The weather started to turn. It was one of those four seasons in three miles one day kind of days. The waterproofs went back on. The marshals cheered us. She started skipping and galloping a bit as apparently it helped her aching leg.
And the best thing? She hardly ever let go of my hand.
My daughter holds my hand everywhere we go. I don’t make her do it, it’s her choice. And the fact that we’re doing a three mile charity run doesn’t change that.
The final lap was tough for her. There weren’t many people still running apart from those running six miles. They were fast. We went at our own special pace.
We crossed the line in 50 minutes. The mayor gave my daughter a big cheer. I have no doubt that we were the last three milers to finish, but I also have no doubt that she was the youngest person to do three miles.
My slowest three miles ever. But all I could feel was pride and elation. It had been much harder on my daughter I’d expected, but she’d done it!