A post with no pictures! (but you can refer to last year's entry)
This year the Autumn Chase was on Thursday, September 19. Autumn Chase is a set of free runs for children up to 8th grade. It is actually several 1-mile events broken up by grade and gender (see link for full explanation). At the last minute, the kids decided that they wanted to run it. Rick and I saw that our team needed help pacing the runs, so a plan was hatched: We would each run the race with our kids and then we would alternate pacing the remaining races. As a mom of young kids, I sometimes feel don't feel like I have much to offer my racing team. Then I realize that sometimes a little creativity is all it takes. Rick and I could both help at the races by working together. Childcare is usually our biggest hurdle, so we look for ways to work creatively around that. Today we did that nicely.
Our son got 10th place, and our daughter got 5th. It was fun running with my daughter.
Then it was on to the pacing. Our team captain, Eric, was there, along with fellow teammates Kylie and Julia. Also pacing some of the earlier races were some local high school track team members. The pacers' job is to run alongside the front runners, offering encouragement and support. I found it to be very different from pacing the marathon! These kids are not trained at all and have no idea how to pace themselves. Most start out too fast and then quickly fade. Our job is to stay with them and encourage them, making small conversation and guiding them to finish the best they can. We want them to have a positive experience with running.
When I paced the 2nd grade girls, I ran/walked with a cute little girl who was telling me how hard it was for her to catch her breath. I slowed down and walked a bit with her, then I asked if she wanted to jog a little. She seemed comforted when I told her I'd stay with her until the end. I have to remember that these kids may have no idea about how long a mile is. To them, it's really long! Sometimes that grown up running beside them gives them the confidence to keep going.
After I paced the 2nd grade girls, Rick then paced the next group of boys, and we alternated that way. All in all, I think I paced 5 different groups of girls, and he did the same with the boys. At the end, it was a little hard to see how HARD some of these moms/coaches are on these poor kids! There was a mom/coach just yelling at one girl at the end (6th, 7th, and 8th grade girls). These races should just be for fun! I felt so bad that this girl was being yelled at like that. I wasn't pacing her, but my friend was. I was proud of how Kylie ran alongside her and encouraged her the whole time. All in all, Eric and Kylie paced all 13 races, with the first few miles being more like 9 minute miles and the last few miles around a 6:00 pace. But I'd had enough with my every-other approach. As usual when volunteering, I ended up having a lot of fun and learning a lot too. I know there's many other ways of volunteering where you are also running (such as leading training groups), and I recommend this type of volunteering to anyone who, like us, is short on free time. One of us watched our kids the entire time, and they even decided to run/walk in a later race together since they grew bored watching us and the other runners! After the races were over and we were getting ready to leave, we noticed people breaking down the course. There were many flags and cones to remove. We started doing that, and the kids joined in with great enthusiasm. At home, we all just crashed that night from a long school/work day and then staying out late at these races, but it was definitely worth it to me!