We celebrated an important milestone in our family last week: our kids ran their first race, a .6-mile family fun run tacked on to the end of the Bele Chere 5K in downtown Asheville. While my wife ran the 5K, I pinned the race numbers onto the kids’ shirts and guided them through a pre-race ritual that included touching our toes really fast and eating powdered donuts. As we prepped for our brutal .6-mile run, we watched the 5Kers cross the finish line in a flurry of sweat and heavy breathing. One teenager even threw up right in front of us.

By the time the Family Fun Run race gun was fired, my kids were over it. Half way up the first and only hill, my daughter stopped running, looked at me and said, “I can’t do it, daddy!” My son didn’t even bother running up the hill. His mom carried him. But on the downhill, we gained some speed and my son started trying to catch other runners ahead of him while swinging his water bottle like a club. I’m not sure where the Road Runners Club of America comes down on bludgeoning other runners, but I was happy to see some enthusiasm on his part.

We finished last, but to be fair, my kids were the youngest competitors in the race, unless you include that baby in the jogging stroller. But I don’t include that baby, because his dad did all the running for him. Cheater. And like their race medals said, “as long as you had fun, you won.”

I’m honestly not sure if they had fun. There was a lot of crying, one downhill fall on asphalt, and a warning from a volunteer about short-cutting the course. But the medal they earned has given my son something else to wield like a barbarian, so the $8 race fee wasn’t a complete waste.