Bear joined the school’s Fitness Club this fall.

For ten weeks she stayed after school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, working with two teachers and 49 other students to build her stamina.  Bear was also responsible for at least one additional day of training at home during the week.

The club used the Couch to 5k Training Plan to steadily strengthen endurance with the final goal of running a 5k at the school.  By the end of those ten weeks at least half of the students had dropped out, but Bear was bound and determined to complete her training and run the race.

So one morning in December, we packed up and headed over to the school for Bear’s 5k.  At the race’s start the kids took off like a shot, basically sprinting the first lap before heading off on an elaborate route around the school.  By the time Bear came back into view she was struggling – stitch in her side, trouble catching her breath – nearly in tears because she didn’t know if she could make it.

I walked that lap with Bear, helping her control her breathing and work through the pain.  I encouraged her, telling her I knew she could do it, she’d trained so hard for this day.  But there was doubt and pain all over her face as she headed out on the second trip around the school.

BrightSide joined Bear midway through the second lap to help her run the last leg of the race.  This photo is of the two of them in the final stretch.  Bear put everything she had into that last bit of track, pushing hard to get to the finish line.  She came in 10th.

Bear had high expectations for herself that day.  She’d started the race aiming to finish in the top 3 runners – that’s my girl, always swinging for the fences – and Bear was pretty upset at first.  It took a while for her to realize how impressive it was just to finish her first 5k.

I’m so proud of her.  Bear accepted a challenge, stuck with the training, and followed it through to the end. That’s real dedication.