Last Saturday, Brent and I eagerly jumped out of bed at 5:00 am to get Alec ready for his 1-mile race. It was the longest race he had done, and we were both nervous. We were way more excited for Alec's race than our half marathon the next day! Weird. We had trained him for weeks ahead of time, preparing him for what a mile feels like. Alec is only 6, and a mile is a long way for a little kid, especially for a boy who loves to sprint all out everywhere he goes!
During the weeks before, we went to the track, and I ran with him for 4 laps, running the straightaways, walking the curves. I taught him the "talk test" (more like the sing test), where you know you're not running too fast if you can talk (he preferred to sing) comfortably. On our last practice run, I used my GPS to simulate the race conditions a bit more, and we ran 1/2 mile out on the sidewalk, and turned around and ran back. Even though the first half was all uphill, he really did awesome. I pushed him a bit (he had been skipping and jumping during walk breaks), encouraging him to take as few and short walk breaks as possible. He only walked briefly at the turn-around, and then zoomed downhill the whole way back. I had a hard time keeping up with him at the end! We did it in about 12 minutes. I knew he was ready.
On race morning, we dressed him in his Ironman Arizona t-shirt. We all donned our red IMAZ shirts too so we matched. We were Team Alec! We tried to get Alec to have a bowl of cereal but Alec didn't want to eat. I got him to drink some orange juice and eat half a banana. We got to the race site, and Alec let me pin his number on him before running off to play with the kids, who were all dancing with a DJ, playing kids music. The kids were all having a lot of fun. Brent and I were more nervous than Alec. Lots of parents were running with their kids for the mile. I asked Alec if he wanted me to cheer for him or run with him. He thought about it a long time and decided he wanted to do it all by himself.
He lined up on the start. I gave him a few last minute tips: "don't start out too fast; it's okay if you have to walk because a mile is long way; the important thing is to have fun". He kept waving goodbye to me as if to say, "It's okay. You can go now. I'll see you later." I was nervous for him; he was excited. Brent stood a little ways off to get a good pic.
The airhorn blew and Alec took off sprinting (later he swore he didn't start out too fast; funny how perceived effort drops during a race with all that adrenaline). Brent captured it all on his camera as I cheered for him. Then, he disappeared from sight. The course took him into Legoland (way cool for the kids), and we lined up on the finish. We kept checking our watches. Is he okay? What's taking so long? Isn't that kid in his age group? Where's Alec? We saw a some kids being pushed too hard by their parents. They were screaming and crying as they struggled to run or walk down the finish chute. OMG. I hope we're not like that. Were we too hard on him? This is supposed to be fun! Brent and I gave each other worried looks. I checked my watch. Right at 12 minutes, I spotted his red shirt. Right on time. "There he is!" I screamed. Brent got the camera ready. "Go Alec! You're doing great!" I cheered. He was sprinting for the finish line, cheeks red, mouth open, little legs pumping as he huffed and puffed.
We met him at the finish and he hurried over to show us his medal. "Did you have fun?" we asked. He nodded and eagerly told us of all the characters built out of Legos he had spotted during his run in the park. He was red and sweaty but all smiles.
"I had to walk a little bit but I ran most of it," he said.
"You did GREAT. We are SO proud of you," I said. "Want to go get breakfast?"
"Yes!" he replied, always excited to eat.
"Alec, you did a great job. I am so proud of you. You set a goal for yourself, worked towards it, and achieved it. Good job!" Brent said.
"Okay," Alec said calmly, clearly more concerned about eating than whatever his daddy was talking about. The two of us began cracking up.
"Do you want to do more races like that?" I asked him later.
"Sure," he shrugged. He's a pretty laid-back kid.
"Would you want to do a race with all of us together that's a bit longer...like 3 miles?"
"Yeah!" he said, his face lighting up.
Looks like we have more training ahead of us!