It Runs in the Family: The Washcos

by Melissa Washco

Melissa's mom Colleen, Melinda, Mike, with Jacob and Madelyn in front

When Mike and I met in 2012, we were both looking for a partner with a shared admiration of running. Running has always been a staple in both of our lives growing up. Mike ran track in high school in Chittenango and college at SUNY Albany. I played soccer and ran track in high school in Brunswick and played college soccer at Western New England University. We have always thrived on the excitement of running and being part of a running community. Mike and I had a lot of our “dates” as runs, local 5k’s and some half marathons. We actually got engaged at the end of the Mohawk Hudson Marathon in 2013 that we ran together (his 2nd marathon and my first and only). It was our love of running and competition with each other that made our relationship grow. Mike actually did a 5k run the morning of our wedding. My mom, Colleen Walsh, is also an avid runner as well. She started running about 12 years ago and has done amazing things. She is traveling all over doing half marathons and has completed multiple full marathons as well. The kids get so excited to watch her run and cheer her on.

When we had our wonderful twins, Madelyn and Jacob in 2016, things were a little hectic at first. We both took a short break from running. We finally realized that running was what would recharge us and give us our alone time and energy to be the best parents we could be. At this point, the days of our runs together were essentially non-existent but we both still enjoyed it. As the kids got a little older, we got a jogging stroller and would take them for runs with us. My brother Chris and I did a 5K with them in the stroller when they were about 2 years old and it was so much fun! They were my little cheerleaders and kept me distracted from the difficult run and made it fun! From then on they always wanted to come with us or do short runs in the neighborhood. In 2019 Mike and I signed them up for their first kids’ run. It was ¼ of a mile and they ran their full speed for the entire race. They were so excited when they finished and you could see how proud they were of themselves. They also got medals, which helped, they felt like true winners. They ran 3 kids' runs that year and each one was longer than the last. They also watched my mom and brother finish their first marathon in Rochester that year and actually ran the last part of it with my mom and finished with her, a very special moment for them and her.

As they have gotten older, their interest in running and sports in general has increased. They like making signs and cheering on Mike, me or my mom when running and like to be cheered on for their races. They are seeing and experiencing the running community at its finest and they are hooked. In the fall of 2021 we signed both the kids up for a fun run at the Greenwich Fire Department. While warming up for the race, Jacob was copying Mike in his stretches and warming up with him. He asked if he could run the adult race with us. My mom and Madelyn waited at the finish line for us. We were not sure how it would go but he absolutely crushed it. He ran the entire 5K! Everyone we passed on the streets, all the volunteers, firemen, and fellow runners cheered him on which kept his motivation going right until the end. He was beaming!! He placed in his age group and got a medal. He then turned around and ran the kids' run with Madelyn. We decided as a family to run the HMRRC New Years Day race with both kids and my mom. Jacob ran with Mike and my mom and I ran with Madelyn. It was our one on one time with one kid. We talked, we listened, we observed and we encouraged each other during that race. We had no expectations or goals for them except that they finish the race, that was all they had to do. We were already so proud of them for even getting out there to do it, and we just wanted them to have a good time and enjoy it, and they did. Again, the encouragement that they got from fellow runners was amazing and really made a huge impact on them.

Mike and I have always stressed how important exercise is for our bodies. Running is great because the community in this area is so supportive and it is all inclusive. Anyone can get out there and run. If you ask the kids why they like to run they both say, because it’s fun and it’s good exercise. They are currently playing soccer and basketball but they keep asking when the next race is. We will always encourage them to do what they love and we are so happy that right now, their love is running races as a family.

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