Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A lesson on pacing

This weekend's running events include a kid's fun run at Marek Park on Saturday, and a fun 5k or 10k race on Futenma Airbase on Sunday. The kid's run will be hosted by the America's Kids Run organization and it brings to mind many of the kid's runs my family has participated in over the years and how ironically, it was at one of these kid's runs that I learned one of my very first lessons on pacing.
At age three, my youngest daughter Jade took part in her first running event; it was the Junior Carlsbad and she entered the Toddler Trot which was no more than a quarter mile dash. I ran that race with her and I'm ashamed to say that my intentions of "just having fun" were swept away in the dust remnants of our speedy take-off. I'm not sure we can justify Jade's second-place win as legitimate, as one of the professional photographs we later viewed shows both her feet off the ground as I'm whisking her along by her hand.

Jade proudly toting her finisher's bag

At age four Jade participated in the Keebler Kids Mile, a "non-competitive" mile run held at Legoland in San Diego. Knowing that I probably wouldn't be able to resist the urge to keep up with the front-runners, I agreed to let my my father and my mother-in-law run with Jade, and walk if necessary. When I saw the three of them come flying around the final bend however, it was obvious that they too did not understand the concept of "fun run." Poor Jade was exhausted, and her grandparents hardly noticed; they were too busy basking in the glory of having beaten so many other kids and parents out on the course. Maybe the genes on both sides of the family were fished out of the "competitive" pool because it seems that we all have trouble conforming to the "just have fun" premise.

Jade being swept along by her grandparents

Jade sporting her medal
A year later, at one of the annual America's Kids Run events, Jade unknowingly showed me what it is to be competitive in a sensible way; she suprised me by doing what I least expected her to do. When the starter gun sounded Jade took off at a mad pace with all the other kids vying to take the lead, but she quickly eased back and settled into a pace that she was capable of maintaining for a full half mile. At five years old, she not only completed the half mile distance set for her age group,  but she completed it comfortably and well ahead of many other boys and girls in her division. In fact, she even had enough energy reserved to go out and run another half mile.I wonder if she would have had any energy left had she been accompanied by certain unnamed family members?
Jade in the middle, cooling down after running half a mile
I learned a lesson that day. Jade ran her first race on her own and demonstrated the kind of self-restraint and discipline that resulted in a successful and enjoyable run. Quite simply, she took her sights off the runners in front of her and focused instead on keeping a pace that suited her ability and enabled her to outrun some of the other kids who went out too fast.
It's ironic isn't it, how as mothers we try to teach our kids lessons in life, and yet sometimes it's our kids who teach us a thing or two.

1 comment:

  1. I love the picture with the grandparents! Jade is one of the cutest kids ever! Amy