A Goshen mom laced up her running shoes recently to lead her daughter by example. Except in this case, leading by example included following behind by about two minutes.
Kristina Adams and her daughter Mackenzie, 12, a Northridge Middle School sixth-grader, ran together in the Finish Line 500 Festival 5K in Indianapolis on May 5. The three-mile run was a way for Kristina to get herself physically fit and to encourage her daughter in a new sport.
Kristina, a NMS teacher, and her husband, Ryan, have always encouraged Mackenzie to be active. She was in softball for six years, soccer for two, ballet and tap dancing for a year and played basketball.
“My goal before she got to this age was to try as many things as possible,” Kristina said.
Part of that goal, however, was teaching Mackenzie to stick with what she started.
Mackenzie’s friends encouraged her to try out for cross country. But after her initial experience with the sport, she was ready to give up.
“After her first practice she was completely discouraged,” Kristina said.
Many of the other participants — some were seventh and eighth-graders — had already been training for years and Mackenzie was having trouble keeping up.
“All my friends were faster,” Mackenzie said. “A lot of people had been running for years.”
Mackenzie said out of 15 girls on the team, she was coming in dead last and wanted to quit — but in her family, quitting out of frustration is not an option.
Kristina said she and Ryan have the parenting philosophy that once something is started, it needs to be followed through to a reasonable stopping point. With cross country and Mackenzie, that meant finishing the season.
“You have to learn you can finish something,” Kristina said. “If you don’t learn that early, it won’t become a part of who you are. If you constantly quit, that becomes part of who you develop into. You have to learn to think long and hard before starting something, because you know you have to finish.”
With the option of dropping out off the table, Mackenzie began to improve. She moved up to around the middle of the pack and her time for a two-mile run began to shrink.
“It is nice to see growth at the end of the season,” Kristina said. “It helps you gain confidence and build yourself up.”
Part of Kristina’s encouragement of her daughter was to look toward her own fitness goals and share them with Mackenzie by training together for the Indy 5K.
Kristina ran the Indy 5K two years ago, but lately was feeling “blah” and out of shape. She decided to run the race again and asked Mackenzie to join her.
“I needed something to motivate me,” Kristina said.
Mackenzie said having a mother as a running partner was the perfect motivation.
“She helped me train a lot more,” she said. “I probably would have just sat on my butt, but she was there to help me.”
When it came down to the race, however, youth had the advantage. Mackenzie’s time on that unseasonably hot and humid day was 26.39 and Kristina’s was 28.19 — slower than her daughter, but better than her 2010 time of 29.22.
Mackenzie said she was a little nervous when she realized she had outpaced her running partner.
“In the beginning when we ran out, I tried looking back to see where she was,” Mackenzie said, “but I couldn’t see her.”
Who she did see at the finish line, however, were her dad and brother, Carter, 7, cheering her on.
Both mother and daughter said they could see running a 5K together again and plan to participate in the NMS “Ridge Run” June 9. And both want to improve their times, especially Kristina.
“I get competitive when it comes to my time,” Kristina said. “When I run next, I want to do better than 28.19.”
As for Mackenzie, she said she is glad now her parents made her stick with cross country.
“I like how it (running) helps you make friends,” Mackenzie said. “You meet new people — not just stay in the same group you usually hang out with.”
Want to run?
If you want to try your own 5K, here’s one you do:
* What: Northridge Middle School “Ridge Run Family 5K Run/Walk”
* When: June 9, 7:30 a.m. registration, race starts at 9 a.m., awards ceremony after the race
* Fees: $15 per person by May 31; $20 race day.
* Register: www.mcsin-k12.org/nms or pick up a pamphlet at the school