Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day 5K

On Memorial Day I ran with my 10 year old daughter, Payton, in the Maple Ridge 5K. This is a little race that takes place every year around our neighborhood. This was Payton’s third attempt at the distance and she was enthusiastic about taking part. Paige, her twin sister, and Braden, her brother, passed on the opportunity and instead elected to watch TV.

Payton doesn’t run much at all. However, she stays extremely fit as a level 7 gymnast. She trains for gymnastics typically 4 hrs a day. This training involves quite a bit of conditioning which helps give her the endurance to do this type of thing.

I chose to run with Payton and teach her the finer points of endurance racing. We went through a warm up routine and lined up in the middle of the pack. The gun went off and we enjoyed an easy pace: 5:30/kilometer. I just ran along side her offering her tips now and then.

The course is two loops and has some long grades and hills which can slow the pace significantly. Pacing early is important here, the late hills are killer. The winner just managed to barely break 17 minutes, so this is a tough course.

By the end of the first kilometer, we hit some hills and she began picking off the quick starters as they were slowed to a walk. On some of the downhill sections I instructed her to open up the stride up and relax and rest. I couldn’t get her to take water from the aid stations because she didn’t want to stop. I could see the determination in her eyes. She was focused. You can’t teach that.

On the second loop she continued to pass folks and I could tell she was beginning to feel some discomfort on the hills. She continued to keep a good pace and never walked. I thought to myself, could I have done this when I was 10? : Probably not. First of all, in 1972, Frank Shorter had yet to win the Olympic marathon and the running boom had yet to start. These types of races didn’t exist. However, I used to stage my own race and run home from school for 3 or 4 miles when I was 12 or 13. My motivation then was to beat the bus riders home. At 10 I think I would have been joining her siblings in front of the TV. Needless to say, I was very proud of her.

In the last half kilometer she was able to open the stride and run strong into the finish. She finished in 28:08 and earned 3rd place in the 9-12 age group, and a new personal record.

This summer Payton will continue with her gymnastic training and will start some swim stroke technique training at Swim Tulsa where her sister Paige swims on the team. She hasn’t ruled out any more 5k runs in the near future. Maybe she can motivate her other siblings to join her next time. I get more of a kick out of watching them race than racing myself.

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