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While preparing for the upcoming school year, I asked the oldest girls if they wanted to be in any activities. With a sister in the same school, it offers built-in moral support, and when Claire said she wanted to be on the cross country team, Evelyn reluctantly agreed that she would run, too. While Claire is naturally inclined to run, Evelyn…isn’t. She’s identified as a swimmer since she was a baby, and prefers to get her exercise in an aquatic setting. But, when Jack and I mentioned running would help her improve her swimming times, she was (slightly) more excited.

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The first day of cross country practice, I got a text from Evelyn asking when I’d be picking them up. When I answered that practice ended at 4:30pm, I got the classic, What?! in response. Hard not to chuckle. When she realized that she could survive practices, the next few weeks went smoothly. Claire? She might like cats, but she runs like a greyhound.
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Practices are one thing, but competing is a totally different story. Again, it didn’t shock us when Evelyn and Claire approached them differently. Basically, Claire would run so hard that I was concerned her heart would explode, while Evelyn took a more relaxed approach (that occasionally included a few tears).

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If there’s one thing Claire and Evelyn were both REALLY good at, it’s kicking to the finish. We’ve had multiple conversations about the importance of finishing strong. Not only do you improve your time, you can also catch a lot of people who give up when you should be running the hardest. I mean, c’mon! The end is in sight!
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The cross country season had it’s ups and downs, but generally had an ascending trend. Times improved, and so did attitudes. By the time the girls were ready to run at a state middle school cross-country meet, they were ready to compete. We carbed up the night before with a spaghetti feed (homemade noodles, too!), and made the trek halfway across the state to watch Evelyn and Claire run.
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Some of my favorite childhood memories were of watching my siblings run cross-country (I had a brief middle school career running cross-country, until we got Stoney, and I decided riding cross-country was way better than running it, haha!). I loved being in wide open spaces, watching people compete, and cheering them on. Watching Evelyn and Claire run their little hearts out brought back a lot of the same good feelings. Maybe not for them in the moment, but definitely for me!
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Despite it being a hugely challenging (yet beautiful!) course, the girls both PR-ed for the race. Sometimes, the stars align, and everything works in your favor. Once we celebrated their successes and had a picnic lunch, they passed out on the car ride home.
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Coming back from chasing off the blue heron.

Evelyn and Claire weren’t the only ones who had foot races this season. Kate signed up to run a mile fun run for the older elementary school kids. I initially was hesitant, because in the past, she has had less than stellar opinions of running when I’d signed her up for races before. However, giving her a few years and a few inches, and she’s vastly improved.

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Pretty much the only training Kate did was running with Raven around the pond for fun, chasing off unwelcome foxes, and scaring away unwanted blue herons. That was it. But, come race day, she turned on the heat. We watched her power around the course with her incredibly long stride, and even with the need to course correct, she still kicked it in for a fourth place finish!
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I have my own twisted relationship with races and running, too. I love thinking of myself as a runner, though I have moments that I loathe pushing myself to run. However, signing up for a race always gives me the motivation I need to keep training when I’d rather…not.
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The morning that Henry, Zoey, and Peter mutton busted, there was a 5k in the same small town, so Claire and I signed up to do it together. The weather was perfect, and the course was through a cute neighborhood that was just the right amount of challenging.

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I had anticipated that Claire would give me a run for my money, but she was recovering from a cold that had wiped her out. We ran the start together, but she eventually wanted to walk, while I was in competition mode. I told her I’d see her at the finish, and trusted she’d be able to find her own way. She did, but not until I pretty much whooped her time.
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Jack doesn’t understand my need to run, but some of my kids are getting it. I hope this is the start of lots of running together, in whatever form it takes–long distance, competitive, sprints, or to keep fit.
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Ready, set, race!
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Welcome to the farm!

True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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