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Mother and son cross the finish line

I wrote this post while still on vacation, but I went "unplugged" and could not post until now.  The race was Dec.5th

 This past Sunday was the Christmas Town Dash 8K. J and I had been registered for this race for a while and he has been running and training for it since October. The past few weeks of training had been lagging. Everyone had been sick and between that and Thanksgiving, J had not logged many miles lately. I was excited for the race, but nervous for my little guy. After all, he is only 7, and tackling 5 miles is quite an accomplishment.

We got down to Williamsburg Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the expo to pick up our race packets. The race was sponsored by Chick-fil-a, our favorite family restaurant, so there were Chick-fil-a cows and free samples to be had. K decided he would go up to every cow there and tell them that he would be running with them tomorrow! There was and Chick-fil-a cow dressed as an elf there and K proclaimed that he would beat that cow!!

When we went up to the table to pick up our packets, the woman looked at J and said, “Oh, are you doing the Running with the Cows fun run? You need to go to that table.” I looked at J and J said, “No, I am doing the 8K.” The lady looked stunned and said, “Oh, really!” Then she got his race packet for him. J got a few comments like that at the expo, and I must admit, I was worried. Maybe I should not have entered him in the race. Maybe 5 miles is too much for him. He had run 5 miles in training, but maybe he is just too young. But, even with my concerns, we enjoyed the rest of the expo and ended up with tons of free food coupons from Chick-fil-a, including 5 free peppermint chocolate chip shake coupons (yummy)!!!!

There is the Elf Cow K was determined to beat!

K before the Running of the Cows
The next morning, I woke up early, got ready and then woke the rest of the family up to feed them. The Running with the Cows race was at 8AM and the 8K at 8:30AM, so we left at 7AM to get there and get settled. The race took place at Busch Gardens. Cars were streaming in when we got there. We got out of the car, packed everyone up and started walking to the start. We were promptly told that the races were delayed a ½ hr due to a major accident on one of the highways. We headed back to the car to stay warm. Oh, did I mention yet? It was COLD!! It was in the low 30’s at that time of the morning and the high for the DAY was only supposed to be in the low 40’s, so we were bundled. I had layers on everyone.

At about 8:15AM, we ventured out of the car and began to make our way to the start. There were 2,000 registered for the 8K, so it was pretty busy and there were people everywhere. My husband, A (in the stroller) and K lined up for the Running with the Cows. They had to line up by age, so because my hubby had the stroller and K was younger, they were in the back. J and I stood on the side to try to take a picture of them. They rang a cow bell to start the race and everyone was off. I was searching for my hubby in the crowd to try to get a photo of K. All of the sudden, I saw K sprinting to catch up with the cows! He had left my hubby far behind and just took off with a huge smile on his face!! I think he is going to be a sprinter! The fun run was a ½ mile long, so they did disappear out of sight for a bit. A minute or two later, the group was running back. I really did attempt to get a picture of K running, but instead I did get a few shots of some random adults who were trying to keep up with their kids! K did beat the elf cow, just as he had proclaimed the day before. And, when he got his “Running with the Cows” dog tag at the end, he could not have been more proud of himself.

Running with the Cows

Heading to the start
 With about 20 min to go before the start of the 8K, I needed to head to the port-a-potty line. The line was long. The family waited in line with me and I finally made it to the front of the line with 1 min to go till the start. I was in the port-a-potty when they said “go.” Since we had timing chips, I was not too concerned with when we crossed the start. But, I ran out of the port-a-potty, ripped my winter jacket off, ripped J’s winter jacket off of him and we headed to the start.

We ran through the start and about ¼ of a mile into the race, I looked at J’s hands. No gloves. “Um, J, where are your gloves?” His response, “Mom, when you took my coat off, they fell off too.” Oh, boy. Did I mention it was cold? My hands were numb with gloves on. “J, you need gloves.” So, I took mine off and put them on him. I called my hubby in hopes that he would get the message and be able to find us somewhere on the course to bring J’s gloves so we could both have gloves again before I got frostbite. Ok, I am exaggerating, a bit.

The first mile and a half of the race was through the parking area of Busch Gardens. We looped around the parking area to make our way into a side entrance of the park. The course was thick with runners. J was running really well and was around an 11 min mile for most of the first mile. I had to slow him down a few times because I did not want him to go too fast and to burn out before we got to the finish line. During that first mile, he got MANY comments too. People all around us, would look at him and say things like, “Wow, look at that little boy run.” Or “He is going faster than me!” One woman passed us and she slowed down, looked at J and said, “You are doing such a great job. That is wonderful that you wanted to do this. You are running strong!”

Once we passed mile marker 1, we took a 1 min walk break. I had planned on doing this every mile. It gave J a chance to catch his breath and it ensured he would not run too fast, because we were running faster that he had during his practice runs. I think the excitement of the race, naturally made him go faster. Plus, anytime someone would say something to him or cheer him on, he would naturally start going faster too.

Once we were at about 1.5 miles, we headed into the park. I had never been to Busch Gardens before, so I did not know what to expect. Right now, they have a Christmas Town going on. The whole place was decorated for Christmas. It was beautiful. We ran on “cobble stone streets”, wooden bridges over a stream. We ran past a castle, an Irish town, a German town, and Pompeii. We saw giant Christmas trees and a giant snow man. Christmas music was playing throughout the whole park. It was so much fun to run through. The miles in the park went by quickly. There was so much to look at and so much to see, that it did not even feel like we were putting forth any effort at all. Also, in the park, the Navy and Marines were there to cheer us on. One of the Marines in dress uniform gave Joshua a high five. And, while we were crossing a bridge, a Marine looked at J and said to him, “Now that is motivation. You go little man.” Of, course J picked up the pace, and a tiny smile lit up his face.

Looking good at 4 miles!
 At 3.5 miles, we headed out of the park to make our way back to the finish line. I had called my hubby, who had taken the other boys back to the van to watch a movie and stay warm, to tell him where we were. J had been consistently running about 1-2 min per mile faster than I expected, so we would finish faster than anticipated and I wanted my hubby to be able to see him finish.

Our pace slowed a bit out of the park. The parking lot was boring compared to where we had just run, and I could tell J was starting to get tired. At about 4.3 miles, we were running up a hill and at the top of the hill, my hubby, K and A were waiting for us. They were cheering and yelling. A ran out on the course to come see me and I picked him up and gave him a big hug. We ran past, said “See you at the finish line” and took off again. We had just a little bit more to go and we would be done. We had to run around a turn and then headed down a slight hill to the finish line. As we ran up to the finish line, people started to cheer. Our names were printed on our race bibs, so people were cheering J by name. They were clapping and saying “Go, J!!” Well, he took off! He sprinted through the finish line! A woman placed the finisher’s medal around his neck and he had a huge smile on his face.

We stayed for a bit. The Chick-fil-a cows were entertaining the crowd by having a “dance party”. We grabbed some of food and hot chocolate. I conversed with a woman wearing Vibrams (I wanted to know if her feet were cold. I was going to wear mine, but my hubby thought my feet would be too cold in them.) After hanging out and watching the festivities for a bit, we decided it was too cold and headed back to our place.

This was the best race I have ever run in. I had the most fun during this race. The t-shirt is cute and the medal is beautiful. The course was fun. The cows were fun to watch too!

But, the real reason this race was so memorable was because I got to do it with J. I am beyond proud of him for working so hard to cross the finish line. I enjoyed every step with him!

After we finished


  1. Wow! I got a little teary reading that. So beautiful and I am so proud of J. He is an amazing little guy. Congratulations on such a fun time!

  2. Congratulations to you and all you guys!!

  3. Wow, I am so impressed! My boys do track and burn out after 1/2 mile runs!! He is going to be your long distance race partner in the future :)


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