Independence, MO – The Beem clan decided to do the Second Annual Rivalry Run on Aug. 20 in Kansas City. The 5k, which pits Tigers against Jayhawks and perpetuates the legendary border war, would be especially fun because it fell on Maggie’s 14th birthday, we all agreed.
After sleeping through a thunderstorm that threatened to rain out the race, Kate and I crawled out of bed around 6:30 a.m. to stir the troops. Joe and Tom popped up and began getting ready, but the birthday girl wasn’t feeling it.
She’d run 2 miles the day before at cross-country practice and competed that night in a fast-paced basketball game. All she wanted to do was go back to bed.
Which is exactly what she did as the rest of us piled into the car and headed west toward the starting line outside the Sprint Center in Kansas City’s Power and Light District. The gun would fire at 8 a.m., and we didn’t want to be late.
We knew from previous family 5ks how this one would start. Joe, a fit 15-year-old high school soccer player, would leave Kate and me in the dust. And Tom, an energetic 8-year-old athlete, would pace us.
We were right about how the race began. What we couldn’t predict was how it ended.
Joe shot out of the starting gate and quickly faded from sight. Tom stuck by our side, keeping the conversation alive with curious questions and astute observations.
Until the last half mile. That’s when he decided to emulate his big brother and kicked it into high gear.
Kate and I crossed the finish line a few minutes after Tom. We scanned the crowd and spotted him with Joe, relaxing with a bottle of water.
“What took you so long?” he asked coolly as we approached him. “I’ve been here for a long time.”
Thanks for rubbing it in.
As it turned out, Joe and Tom had been waiting at the finish line longer than nearly every other runner in their categories. They both finished among the top three boys in their age groups and brought home medals.
After enjoying a post-race breakfast and awards ceremony at Johnny’s Tavern, we headed for the car. We were eager to see the birthday girl.
Who had enjoyed her morning every bit as much as we had, thank you very much. Maggie was still asleep when we got home, having slept longer on her 14th birthday than any other member of the family.
Which proves that the birthday girl always comes out on top. Tom and Joe finished in the top three, but Maggie left us all in the dust.
I encourage you and your family to find something to enjoy together. It may be running or walking, or it may be volunteering or something else entirely.
Whatever it is, I suspect you’ll find – as the Beems do – that everybody wins when you commit to and do things as a family. Some may finish faster than others, but everybody has fun and enjoys a sense of accomplishment.
I’m yet to win a top-three medal. If only there was a race that ranks finishers in reverse order.
But alas, there isn’t. And that’s just fine with me, because the greatest reward of running as a family is enjoying our collective accomplishments.