For the Love of Kids, Not One More

Saturday morning, we awoke to uncharacteristically gray, dreary weather here in Santa Barbara. The air felt like heavy wet wool.

Normally, Saturday mornings are one of my favorite moments of the week because I have the joy of coaching our Kids Corner Coyotes running program with Nash Jimenez, but this morning was anything but light and joyful. My shoulders were wrapped in a heavy shawl of melancholy.

It was almost as if Mother Nature knew.

She knew that less than twelve hours earlier six college students had been murdered at UCSB-Isla Vista, just two minutes from where we were holding our morning practice at Goleta Beach Park. And she knew that thirteen others had also been injured by a gun-wielding madman, incapable of managing his rage.

When I first heard the news earlier that the morning, I was sickened, saddened, and furious.

But I was not one bit surprised.

Why wouldn’t another mass shooting happen when nothing had changed since the last one…or the one before…or the one before? And why wouldn’t it be in my own backyard? Santa Barbara is no more special than any other place in America where anybody can buy a gun and use it whenever they feel disenchanted with their life.

As I drove to practice Saturday morning to get everything set up for our team’s arrival, I fought off the angry lump in my throat and sported my World’s Best Actress hat. This coach was not prepared to explain to thirty-five little ones why she had tears in her eyes, nor why something this atrocious could possibly happen AGAIN, and so close to home, especially since several of our Coyote parents are UCSB professors.

As I plastered on a fake smile when the kids arrived and looked at all the bright, and blissfully clueless faces sitting before me, all I could think about was how horribly we have failed, and continue to fail our kids.

How by not standing up to the NRA and all the greedy gun-lobbying bullies and politicians, and those who claim that it’s their “God-given right” to own assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons, we are showing these kids we do not care. We do not care if they are murdered at their preschools or elementary schools. We do not care if they are mowed down the week before they are supposed to graduate from college. We do not care if they’re scared to go to a movie theater or shopping mall because it no longer feels safe. We do not care if they’re terrified because their parents are teachers, principals or university professors.

As I moved through the motions of our team announcements and chirped on about our fabulous Runners of the Week and our Word of the Week, I was thankful that kids always have a way of making you operate in the present, whether you want to or not. It was soon impossible for me to think beyond the immediate circle of adorable-ness sitting before me, and certainly not beyond the workout ahead of us as I got peppered with question after question.

“Coach Becky, how far is the State Street Mile race we’re doing next week?”

“It’s called the State Street Mile,” I replied while trying not to laugh, “because it’s a 1-mile race.”

“Coach Becky, can you tie my shoe?”

“Coach Becky, guess what? I ran 7 miles this week!”

“Coach Becky, can we run on the pier? Pllllleeeeaaase?”

And so it went, an hour and fifteen minutes of kids being kids, runners being runners. Pure bliss.

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Photo of Coach Becky running with Coyotes on Goleta Beach pier

By the end of practice, my shoulders felt lighter and my heart felt full, but anger still simmered deep inside, knowing there will undoubtedly be another shooting…at least until we have the guts to take a stand and say, “NOT ONE MORE,” to show our kids that we value their lives and their futures far more than we value our freedom to own and wield a damn gun.

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Celebrating Momentum

It has been an exciting time of momentum around here. You know, when things suddenly start coming together for you and many of those special peeps around you? When you begin to see some of your  “I think I cans” turn into exhilarating moments of, “Holy crap, I did it!”

“Enthusiasm
is the energy and force
that builds literal momentum of
the human soul and mind.”
~Bryant H. McGill

Last weekend was filled with multiple exclamation points as many of my friends and I participated in the Gaucho Gallop, a local 5K put on by the University of California on its beautiful Santa Barbara campus.

We were all looking forward to participating in this race for a variety of reasons, but when we woke up on Saturday morning, we were greeted with less than ideal conditions. Can you say cold, blustery wind? What’s a fair weather Californian to do? And we’re not talking just a little breeze. It was the kind of wind that had sponsors bungee’ing down their tents so they wouldn’t fly away.

Regardless of Mother Nature’s extra little test, it was a GORGEOUS morning filled with fun, friendship and fabulous competition. Most exciting was kicking off the spring season of Kids Corner Coyotes, a youth running club I coach with Nash Jimenez. It’s impossible not to be filled with joy when being surrounded by so many eager young faces falling head over heels for the sport we all love so much.

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Coyote kiddos getting ready to race the Kids 1k

Doubly exciting was seeing so many of our Roosevelt Running Club families participate in the 5K race. They didn’t just participate either, they ROCKED the course. One of my 8-year old runners (#52) finished in a blistering 23:05 (7:26), and each of these other rock star runners pushed themselves way beyond their comfort zones, and ran terrific races too! I was especially excited for my daughter (#245), who took 10 MINUTES off her last 5K finishing time. EPIC! #proudmamamoment. Thank you Stella for being her awesome running partner!

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Some of our Roosevelt Running Club members celebrating their hard work after the 5K race.

My race was about redeeming myself. You might remember the last race I ran was less than stellar; I didn’t “race” race and it left a hollow, disappointing feeling in my gut. I didn’t want to let myself down again so this time I woke up with fire in my belly, ready to leave it all on the course.

And that’s exactly what I did. I ran the fastest 5K I’ve ever run, despite the wind, finishing in 23:30 (7:34 pace). I have to try to keep up with #52, after all! Most exciting? This time I didn’t finish 6 minutes behind my closest GP competitor. I finished 6 seconds behind her. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I’m slowly building momentum, inching closer to where I believe I can be, knowing I still have A LOT of work to do.

Another highlight was seeing one of my Roosevelt moms beaming after the race. She was riding high on sweet momentum as she knocked off even more time from her finishing goal. Way to go, Debbie!! I’m so happy for you, and proud of you!! Debbie started running again because she was so inspired by what her boys were doing (yep #52 is her speedy son, and her older son is blistering fast too). Now, not only are her boys inspiring us all, she is too (especially me)!

The topper to all this was being surrounded by a gaggle of happy, healthy, motivated people. Runners are nothing but a bundle of positive energy. After all, optimism is the fuel that keeps us going! Momentum is its sweet, electrifying byproduct.

Speaking of sweet momentum, I have one last tidbit to share with you… several weeks ago a writer contacted me wanting to do a story about the running program my husband and I started at my daughter’s elementary school, The Roosevelt Running Club. Needless to say, I was bowled over by his interest in our program, and filled with gratitude for all the people that have, and continue to, make this program what it is. This kind of magic can only happen with the support of parents and athletes who want to pay it forward for the next generation of runners.

Here’s a link to the story if you are interested in seeing what we’re up to: http://presidiosports.com/2014/04/aaronson-establishes-roosevelt-running-club/ (or click on the photo below).

Presidio Sports Sports Figure of the Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So tell me, as spring heads quickly toward summer, are you starting to feel momentum with your running? Are your feet being lifted a little higher and faster from the power of your fabulous running community? What’s your story?