WeissCrax: Running in Maddie’s world

It’s a compact model with personality plus! Comes with a BIG heart and most incredible smile.

We’ve been friends for half her life.  And a tiny fraction of mine.

Maddie is ten.

We keep in touch via Messenger Mom – both Laura and Dad, Jeff – are my wonderful colleagues at our great community bank. Whenever asked, they share her snapshots of her life. Always fun to hear the updates!

But the personal visits with Maddie are rare — usually just once per year.

And the good news?

Today’s the day!

Maddie and Randy ran together in competition for the first time on Saturday at the Law Day Race in Ventura.

And this year’s Ventura’s Law Day 5K Race offers a new twist:

We are running together in her very first race. Ever.

In years past, Maddie has helped toss sport towels to the racers at the finish line. Mom and Dad, along with Dakota, her older bro (beefing up his community service hours) and Auntie Lora (aka “SPIKE” due to the hair and she’s also a bank buddy) will do the “towel honors” this morning.

Maddie beams as she runs towards me in the registration area. She’s more grown-up than last year. After a hug and a few family photos, it’s all business as the two of us walk to the starting line, covering important race strategy.

Our conversation goes like this:

Me:  Should we start fast and finish slow or start slow and finish fast?

Her: Let’s finish fast!

Me: OK. Every once in a while, I’m gonna ask about your Mo-Jo (Motion Juice). It’s a 1 to 10 scale of how much you got left in your tank. 10 is a lot. Five means keep the same speed. Less than five means slow down.  OK, kiddo?

Her: OK.

Me: Let’s try to finish within 30 minutes, if we can. But if we don’t that’s OK too.  It’s important to remember that this is about having fun – right?

Her: Right!

Team Maddie(right to left): Maddie with Mom, Auntie Lora, "The Jamester", Austin & Dorothy

Just before the starter’s gun, we take a few last photos with Dorothy and “The Jamester” – the rest of our four-person team. They’re buddies in banking, running and life.

As the race begins, we set our smooth pace and quickly pass the eventual finish line that comes three miles later. Our adoring fans cheer wildly, yelling “YOU GO!!” encouragement!

As the crowded field of runners stretches out, Maddie and I catch up on life… and she is one busy girl!

On June 17, she’ll graduate from elementary school and “can’t wait for summer.” Three vacation trips are planned – Hawaii, Rockfield, Illinois (to see Great Grandma) and …I don’t recall the last one.

When she asks about my summer, I share my dream to rent an RV and park at Rincon for a couple of weeks, taking my dog, Cooper, and doing writing projects.

“You can use our RV. Auntie Lora uses when she goes to Yosemite,” she offers.

I told you Maddie has a BIG heart…

We count the mile markers. “One” comes quickly. Mile Two is along a nice tree-laden pathway, parallel to Route 126. Cars “swoosh” by.

Time for another quick-check in:

Me: MoJo?

Her:  7

Me: Cool. Let’s pass that boy with the curly red hair who looks like Harry Potter’s friend!

Her: OK!

She goes left. I go right.

Maddie is a member of a world champion cheerleading team.

Maddie is doing great in her well-worn gym sneakers her Dad reinforced last night.

She tells me about her cheerleading passion…her recent trip to Florida where her team became WORLD CHAMPIONS for her age group…all the training and conditioning involved, her friends on the team, etc.

I recall seeing a photo of her on top of the human pyramid – high off the ground!

Maddie also shares her aspirations….

Middle school next. Later, college will either be University of Louisville (the alma mater of her cheerleading coaches) or Hawaii. She’s hoping for a full-ride athletic scholarship – likely possible, according to her coaches, if she maintains her training and commitment to the sport.

“But, I want to be able to see my family sometimes too,” she adds.

Our time passes quickly…

In the last half-mile, we come upon a small group of ten runners, whom we need to pass for our last all-sprint to the finish. Once around them, it’s clear sailing for the last 150 yards.

Me:  This is it, Maddie!  You ready?

Her:  Yes!

With that, I grab her left hand and we both run at Jamaican-sprinter Usain-Bolt-like-speed on the grass.

The timing clock comes into focus: 29 minutes … and ticking.

We cross The Finish Line together seconds later, hands locked together raised toward the heavens.

Trendsetters: Lisa and Maddie set the pace

Mom and Dad are beaming. Dakota tosses sport towels and Spike, er, Auntie Lora hands us water.

Me: Maddie! You did it! Nice job! I’m proud of you, my friend!

Her: Thanks!

After they cut off the timing chips and a High 5, we take a short walk to cool off.

We finished in under 30 minutes. And later at the awards ceremonies – more good news for us both.

For me, winning a raffle certificate for new running shoes!

And for Maddie even “more better” — 2nd Place in the Girls Under-13 Age Group!

“1st Place next year,” she later says with a smile.

It’s the heart of a champion shining through…

And when she gets her new running shoes with the raffle certificate her Messenger Mom delivers to her after work today, it will help Maddie achieve her next goal.

I just hope to be able to keep pace with her next year because I wouldn’t want to miss these golden rays of sunshine running in Maddie’s World…

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