Monday, July 29, 2013

Twilight 5K Race Report: Running with my 7 year old!

My son and I ran the Twilight 5K together on Saturday, July 20.  This is a night race with a 1 mile fun run followed by a 5K.  My son, who just turned 7, has been wanting to do a 5K for a couple of months now.  He even went as far as to "train" by doing a couple of runs with me where we jogged 20-30 minutes together.  But my son is a typical 7 year old boy with LOTS of energy.  He runs, walks, hikes, crawls, jumps, swims, and bike rides as much as he can fit into each day.  That is "training" enough for him.  How much should you train with a young child?  That and more questions are answered in a descriptive blog entry by Tia found here.  It was helpful reading her opinions and finding out how she's helped her encourage her oldest daughter's running.
We arrived at the race, and Rick went to volunteer at the aid station with our daughter.  Rick snapped this picture of us before he left. 

Then began a long period of waiting for the race to start.  It takes place on a local college campus surrounded by many pine trees, so my son and I went exploring under the trees while we waited for the start.  Much different than my typical pre-race warm-up routine! 
He spotted a boy about his age with his shirt off, so my son took his off too!  I thought that was a good idea to help keep him cool.  Running in the 80 degree weather without much training would be easier if he was cool.
The Race
I had the Garmin on to see my son's pace as we ran.  We started near the middle of the pack and pretty much maintained a steady pace throughout the run.  For me, the pace felt incredibly relaxed and easy, but I had to remind my self that, for my son, this pace was challenging. 
Rick and I each had given him "pep talks," which I think is inevitable for two runners to do!  We did our best to explain how to do your best, how running can feel VERY hard, and about pushing yourself to achieve your goal.  Our son's goal was just to finish and have fun, hopefully while running/jogging for most of the race.  I enjoyed running with him.  I distracted him as much as possible as we ran.  I've run this course many times, so I know it well.  We passed a small lake that we'd launched his remote-controlled boat in earlier this summer, so I made sure I pointed that out.  I explained how we would reach a turn-around cone and then head back to the start line.  And I knew we would pass the aid station twice, so I talked all about how Daddy and Sissy would be waiting to see us and cheering for us.  Sure enough, the aid station boosted my son's spirits both times, and the water cooled him off.

Approaching the aid station the first time

He's telling his sister to "pour the water ON me!!!"

Coming back around for the second time

He's looking tired here!

Sister hands him water!

Sister splashes water on him!!

A volunteer pours more water on his back at my prompting
The end of the course has a little hill.  I knew here was where my son would really be tempted to walk.  I was really proud of him when he didn't and noticed a nice man encouraging him as he passed the man.  As we got to the end, I reminded my son to push himself, especially when the finish line was in sight.  He later told me that he was picturing a large trophy at the finish line with his name on it.  How did he learn to usual mental imagery to help him as he ran?!?!  That is a great technique for all runners!

He finished in 30:15--a 9:44 pace!  We got water and walked for a bit and then sat down on a curb.  I asked him, "How do you feel?  Are you happy you did it?"  And I honestly had NO idea what he would say.  He said, "Mommy, I'm proud of myself, and I'm so happy you pushed me."  That made my day!

The best part was finding out that he has gotten 3rd place in his age group (0-9 year olds)!  He is so excited, because here in Huntsville, age group awards usually mean Fleet Feet gift cards!  He was presented with a $10 card for FF, and he is so excited to pick something out there!

This was a great experience for both of us, captured nicely by our local race photographer, Gregg Gelmis.  I am so happy to have this picture of us running together.


  1. That is so sweet what he said to you after the race! Congratulations to Nate! It is so wonderful to see these young ones participating in local races. It gives me great hope for our future to know that they are going to stay active and set good examples. Lord knows we need more positive from our youth these days!

  2. Such a great story! And LOVE the last picture! My 8 year old wants to run with me too, but I'm hesitant to take him on runs with me as I run on rural country roads with a good bit of traffic. Any suggestions?

  3. LOVE this! And you seriously got the best running with kids pictures ever! I love the one of you two together and the one of your daughter handing him water.

    Awesome time too and congrats on the 3rd place in his age group. Looks like you have a little runner on your hands!