“Coming across Marathon Kids program one late night was a blessing in disguise for my family and me. Our kickoff ceremony was a simple, brisk walk to our local Whittier Greenway Trail. Once we reached the entrance to the trail I began explaining to my son, Peter (10 years old), and my husband, Peter Sr., that as a family we were at the beginning of a new health journey.
They looked puzzled as I continued to talk. I mentioned that we were going to exercise together but before doing so we were going to race each other. I gave my younger son, Paul, a noise maker clapper. As I counted down “3,2,1…GO,” we raced each other only a quarter of a mile. Tired, winded, and hot. I told them we are much too young to feel tired from a short quick run, that from that day forward, we were a team – a club. That under the guidance of Marathon Kids, we had made a family team.
My son Peter was doubtful. He didn’t believe he could run a mile straight without stopping. Fear in his eyes, knowing he has asthma and environmental allergies, he questioned me and he questioned the process of reaching our goal. Although extremely excited about the rewards, there was a lot of fear of failure.
As a family, we sat down with a calendar in-hand and counted how many weeks we had left of summer break. We decided to train/jog/run/play every other day at Whittier Greenway Trail and between those days, we would use our backyard to implement Marathon Kids games for 20 minutes (which would be an equivalent to a mile).
Everyday we jogged together and played together. Although hard at times for my husband – being a veteran of the Marines, he continues his hard work ethic at his current job – I’ve embedded how important it is for me to keep our family healthy from inside out. So, he would go hiking on the weekends and I would sign us up for community races, virtual races, charity races. We would dress up in my kids’ favorite movie and super hero characters, and even silly looking outfits to motivate us, to continue our journey as a family.
I used quotes I found online, Pinterest, books, poems, news articles and magazines as a ritual starting our runs every morning. I would ask my son to analyze what I had read, to explain it in his own words. That encouraged him and also entertained while we jogged – we would talk and it helped him keep going. One quote he particularly liked was and is: “a strong person looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.”
I explain to my son that no matter how hard a goal or obstacle may be, if you just set your mind to it, you will be able to achieve and conquer that goal. We concluded our club session, but we continue our trainings. We train for virtual runs, towards raising money for organizations that need assistance (like Operation Gratitude and Team Red White and Blue).
What can I say, other than if I had not crossed paths with the Marathon Kids website that one very late night, my family, myself and my son Peter wouldn’t be where we are currently. On a more positive life path, filled with inspiration, motivation, integrity to help our health by spreading some love and encouraging others to get moving together with family, friends, classmates, and community. Marathon Kids gave me the tools and guidance to set the foundation to help my son on his journey. I encourage you to do the same.”
By Miriam Ayala, Parent and Marathon Kids at Home Coach