Whether you represent the tortoise or the hare, it’s no matter at a young age. Running is fun. It’s when you turn six that it really matters. A few weekends ago my kids – ages 6 and 8 – ran in the Twin Cities Medtronic run – The Fieldhouse Fun Run – on Saturday, February 4.
Our friends and their kids (Ethan and Andrew) were planning on going. My daughter, Ava (8), had run in two annual TC Medtronic races on the first weekend in October – first a half mile, then a mile. She knew the uphill terrain of the course and outdoor environment. What I liked about this race was that it took place indoors on a track, giving them exposure to a more consistently flat elevation, and it introduced the concept of staggered starts and pace.
I pre-registered both kids ($12 each) – Ava for the mile (8 laps) and Calvin (6) for the half-mile. I swear we discussed this weeks ago. We also talked about it the night prior to the race. Yet, race day morning, Ava was NOT going to participate. She hadn’t trained for it. That pushback caught me off-guard, but I had to admire it. She was serious about running. After conveying a lot of blame and anger my direction, it finally sank in that she had the option to run or not to run. I was not going to force her. I packed her running gear on the sly and we headed out 8:30a.m.-ish.
Shelly and Hairy, the tortoise and the hare respectively, started the day out with their own comedic half-a-lap race. As the story goes the tortoise remained focus and steady, while the hare goofed off and ran circles around him. Of course, they tied at the finish and kids cheered. It was kind of a cluster (see video) at the start. Instead of one kid per each one of eight lanes, about 50 of them started together. Ava had coached Calvin earlier to pace himself and he nodded, taking in her advice (he was a novice runner). That immediately went by the wayside as he sprinted right out of the gates into the pole position.
The older kids in the group of 4-6-yr-olds passed up the young ones. It got confusing. I had to flag Calvin in after his 4 laps and none of the field crew seemed to understand what was happening. I think he was 4th. We don’t know. Then several more races took place. Finally Ava warmed up to the idea of running and got her gear on. An instructor of some sort warmed them up prior to the race.
The third graders were finally off and running. Ava also disregarded her own advice and began with a bit of a sprint right off the bat. Later she said that hanging back with the crowd really doesn’t get you anywhere. She should know. She held her own and I think finished second for girls in her race.
The whole event was a social hour for parents too – we met our friends there with their two boys who were each in the same races as our kids. I wanted to do some sprints – now THAT could be a fun event. The only things missing were donuts and coffee. Some parents were dragging. It was 10:45a.m. The kids were starved from their races and parents were decaffeinated. We debated, considered and settled on brunch at Hell’s Kitchen. Reward for a job well done.
As a runner – long distance and the 800meter – I had visions of track stars in my head. Us parents always have to go there, don’t we? I try to stay in the moment and accept that I do not know where their passions will take them. I can guide them, but cannot predict nor dictate. Tortoise or hare, it’s all about the journey.