Sunday, June 17, 2012

Don’t you give up Elijah at the USA Track and Field Long Island Championships.

Today, for Father’s Day, I was looking forward to watching my youngest take on the 4x100m relay, 800m and 1500m at the USA Track and Field Long Island Championships. I was especially excited to see how my little one would do in the 1500m. He’s only been training for the past 4 months at The Sports Center, and I’ve been amazed with his toughness on certain occasions.

They do plenty of interval training that includes a bunch of 200m, 400m and some hill work in a 90 acres grassy field of Flowerfield in St. James. On occasion I get to run with the kids, and each time I go to train with them, they all zip right by like I was standing still. It’s helped me stay the course as I train for my third NYC Marathon.

Apparently, I have lost all of my fast twitch muscles at my age, because I never really used them over the years. So my dreams of running a 3:15 to qualify for the Boston Marathon will be extra tough to achieve. Thank goodness as I get older, they raise the qualifying time. So I am excited that the kids are putting those muscles to work so they have less of a chance to lose them. They will be able to be fast when they get to my age!

On the far side of the WC Mepham High School track in Bellmore, Elijah starts running after the starting gun popped under cloudy skies. I see him in last place as he comes across the finish line for the first time, and a few of his teammates cheer him on. He has 3 more laps to go.

As he was about to pass his coach by the start, Elijah hesitates. With a little tough love, Coach Grant says, “Don’t you give up!” I think most kids would have cried, stopped and walked off. As Elijah, came around again, you could see his eyes welling up with tears, and he kept on going. More of his teammates, yelled, “Let’s go Elijah!”

Around the bend, the few of the female shot-put contestants say this little boy run pass their event and they cheered for him to keep going. He kept this turnover going, as he was about to pass us for the third time. This time more teammates cheered for him and even the people in the stands were cheering for this little boy whose singlet reaches his knees, and all you can see is his ankles in motion. Being that cute has its advantages!

This time the shot-put event was temporarily paused, as all the contestants cheered on Elijah. As he made his final kick, with the agony shown in his face, the little boy gathered a roar of the crowd. The race official stopped what he was doing and leaned over to tell him that he did a great job. Coach Grant walked over to him to tell him he did great and Zachary handed him a Gatorade.

I am so proud of him for staying in the race and toughing it out. Seeing him cry is not easy.  I know he does not like coming in last. He needs to know that he is running with older kids. Someday soon, he will be leading the pack, and wooing girls all around the track!

He opted out of running in the 800m, which gave him enough time to gather his composure to run with his team to come home with the Gold in the 400m relay!

We gathered our cooler, chairs and tent at the end of the day, and loaded the SUV. I bent over to tell Elijah how awesome he did, and he says, can we go get my medal. I smiled and said sure. As I walked over to the officials table, I noticed they were still downloading the results. I asked Elijah if he wanted to wait or get his medal from Coach Grant tomorrow. First he said he would wait, then I was surprised when he said, “That’s okay, I will get it tomorrow.”

There will be more accolades to come.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sunset 5K in Kings Park 2012

My friend Erik invited me to run with him at the 2012 Nissequogue River State Park Foundation 5K Sunset Run in the Park. I immediately created Facebook event and I invited all of my friends. It’s so cool to see the usual band of friends, and those from High School. I really get excited when new runners join our group. This time new runners, John and his wife, Lisa were included in the fun. My kids decided to watch Captain America in the truck, oh well!

The William T Rodgers Middle School temporary race village was manned by many volunteers in yellow shirts, swarming with kids getting ready for the 1K fun run, and many runners talking to friends and warming up for their 3.2 mile race. Mike Taylor was signing some great classic rock songs, as the sun came out from behind the clouds raising the temperature that worried me. Its tough running in warm weather, but the clouds came back and cooled the start of the race.

Around 15 minutes to the start, we headed down to the start somewhere on Old Dock Road. The downhill slope looked inviting; however I anxiously anticipated the uphill workout somewhere waiting for all of us to climb. Erik and I talked about our injuries as we waited.

Around 5:30, there was a little jingle sound and everyone rushed forward to follow the police escort in front of us. As I let gravity help me down the hill, I caught up to Irene. I said, “You’re doing great!” and I passed her. For about 3 minutes, I was doing my best and Erik came running past me. It was great that he was running in front of me, because I was working harder to keep up with him.

That first mile, I clock a 7:39 pace, and we entered the park. I could feel my lungs breathing harder, and my quads began to strain! I am not sure where I lost Erik, because I put on the blinders and concentrated on each peak as they came into sight. It was a challenge not to pause and walk a little bit, but “Do your best!” was being repeated in the back of my head. I did not think too much about anything else.

The trail was lined by trees. However, the park is home of the abandoned Kings Park Psychiatric Center. It's kind of erie running past those huge empty buildings that were once filled with unusual and often misunderstood people. Erik and I were thinking they should have a Halloween Run or a Zombie Run to go with the scary buildings.

As I neared the finish, I could hear the race announcer rattling off names as they crossed the finish line. As I made the left into the parking lot of the school, I ran up next to this guy and he looked at me and started quickening his pace, as I started to out kick him. He could not catch up as I noticed the clock read 26:30, I have a good chance to make it under 27:00. I finished with a 26:52 and it felt really good to run an 8:39 pace!

I turned around to cheer on the other runners, and I cheered on all of my friends. Erik PR’d! And John and Lisa completed their first race. They were looking forward to their next race which is the JP Morgan Chase Challenge in Central Park! I gave Nancy a high five as I walked further down the course for Irene. As I saw Irene make the turn, I ran next to her, so we can include additional finish line photos in our album!

A few of us headed to Napper Tandy’s to celebrate and catch up!