Monday, June 6, 2011

Track/running season for the boys

This year has been a lot of fun in watching the boys run. Let's rewind back to 2010.

Last year, Brady ran with a track team over the summer and he loved it. Alex wasn't that interested in running and couldn't make it through 100m without stopping and whining for mom to be next to him. We just figured track wasn't Alex's thing. But Brady sure loved it.

Now this year, we find out that his former track team dropped track from their organization to focus more on their football program. The only alternative teams were so crazy expensive. So we decided that I would just coach Brady this year and he'd run as an unattached/independent runner. We've been practicing on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights and he's been able to run with one of his good buddies to make practice more fun. And what's been even better is that Alex is now loving track! He runs all the workouts by himself and is doing really great.

One thing that's popped up this year is a series of kids 1K races on Thursday nights (the 1K runs are right before the 5K runs for the racers). We thought these would be more fun that running around the track on Thursday nights, so we let the boys run in them if they wanted.

The first one the boys ran in was on May 26th. It was funny because the race director doesn't want the kids to overheat (been in the 90s in the evenings lately), so he was telling them it's okay to slow down if you get tired. So then he posed the question to the whole group of kids, "So what do you do if you start to feel tired?" And Brady yelled out--and no other kids made any noises, so it stood out very clear--"You run harder!" We all got a little chuckle out of that; he's already got the mindset of a runner. Alex did really well for his first ever run-with-no-walking 1K and ran a time of 6:41. Brady did really well and ran a 5:19, which was his fastest time so far.

The second run was on June 2nd. I should preface this one with a little story. Brady and I watch a lot of cycling together, and he always asks questions about why they make the faces they do and how they go so fast. Melanie and I tell him it's because that really fast athletes don't slow down or quit when they get tired or hurt, instead, they just go as hard as they can and never quit. Now, of course, this is easier said than done. Brady's known this for a long time, but in practice and in races, he has a tendency to give up once he reaches a certain point of discomfort. And I have never blamed him...he's only 6! But the week leading up to the second 1K, he had a major change in practice that week. I ran him really hard on Tuesday of that week and it was the first time I ever saw him not slow down when he got tired. He really pushed hard, so hard that he felt like crap by the time he'd finish each run in practice. I know that sounds awful, but that is a totally normal part of track. I don't push misery on him at this age, but it was neat to see him doing that because he wanted to go faster. So that's the set-up...after a really great practice on Tuesday where I ran him hard and he pushed himself, we were ready to race on Thursday.

Alex didn't get to run in this second 1K because he had a bad day at school, so it was just Brady. In the first 1K on May 26, I ran alongside Brady. For this one, he asked if he could run it all on his own. I mostly like to run with him to keep him from going out too fast, but we decided to let him learn how to pace on his own by running this one solo. He really paced well for the first half, staying toward the middle of the pack. At the turnaround, he picked up the pace and was passing a lot of kids who were tiring out. He ran very smart. At the end, he was trying to catch an older kid and really kicked in a hard sprint for the last 100 meters or so. All the grown-ups were cheering like crazy and seemed to think it was really neat that kids that age were dueling out to the finish. The older kid ended up beating Brady out, but he really gave it his best effort. I knew Brady had made a breakthrough because I've never seen him really have that desire to chase somebody down like that. When he crossed the line, he had a new best time of 5:01!!! I couldn't believe it. That's a really good time for a 6 year old.

Brady coming down the home stretch. He really was working hard to try and catch the boy in front of him.

The final sprint!

I ran up to the finish line and one of our friends told us that he was crying. Melanie and I were trying to find out what was wrong but he wasn't talking. I didn't know if he was seriously hurt or upset that he didn't outsprint the kid or what. Eventually, when he could catch his breath a little better, he started talking to me. He said that he was crying because everything just hurt so bad...his legs, his lungs, everything. I told him he did really well and that the reason he hurt so much was because he worked so hard and ran so well. I asked him if he wishes he wouldn't have run so hard and he kind of smiled and said "no, I'm glad I did." I asked him if he had fun running that hard and he stopped crying, smiled, and said, "yes." So although it hurt, I think he really liked going fast like that. I was so proud of him for running so hard and for working so hard in practice. I know it's hard for non-lifelong runners to understand, but running hard and hurting is actually a fun aspect of track in its own sick, little, twisted way. I understood exactly what he was feeling at the moment.

After the race when he was crying. He was a little embarrassed so we walked over away from everyone.

Got him to stop crying when I asked him if he had fun. A little smile started to creep in.

He settled back down and while he still hurt and was sore, the mental shock of it had worn off. He posed for some photos and we watched the start of the grown-ups' 5K. I'll be curious to see how his track interests change over time. He has the option to opt out and not run at any time, but he seems to have that sick runner's mentality of enjoying running hard! I'm looking forward to watching him the remainder of the season.

Posing after the race with his medal. He likes to wear his Usain Bolt shirt to help him go fast. He's so cute.