This morning, my husband I took our kids to a local Turkey Trot. It was the first time our four-year-old ran an official race (and the first time the younger one got to come along for the ride). It was a mile, which is a lot when you’re about three feet tall. Something like four minutes in, he told me, “Mommy, this is a long race!” My husband and I looked at each other. Kid had no idea.
For the next fifteen minutes, we walked and ran and ran and walked at his pace. Please keep in mind that it was thirty-two degrees outside. At one point he was talking a lot about when we were going to get to the end. We told him to focus on enjoying the running and not worry about the end; we would get there when it was time.
Sooner than I expected, the finish line was in sight. He wanted to walk, but we encouraged him to at least run through the finish line. We mentioned the Oreos we’d seen there earlier as motivation, and that seemed to help—again, thirty-two degrees. The smile on his face when he ran through the gate was priceless. We each received a little white ribbon as a token of our accomplishment. We walked to the aforementioned Oreo station, and he said, “Mommy, I didn’t think I was going to win, but I did!” We came in just about last, but he didn’t notice. He didn’t care. He had run his race, and that was what mattered.
Until tonight, I didn’t understand why those who completed National Novel Writing Month were called winners. Didn’t just one person win a race, a game, a challenge?
But then I hit 50K (actually a little over to make up for any discrepancy in my word processor’s word count). I submitted my novel and had my count validated. And I felt, for real, like a winner.
So now, my husband is making me a latte. Celebratory cookies are ready and waiting. And I am so grateful for the challenge of NaNoWriMo, for everyone who cheered me on along the way, and for the rough draft I thought would take five years to write, but was completed in a mere four weeks.
A winner, indeed!