11 October 2011

Ultrarunner Parent's Joy


There were around 250 runners and two of them were my kids with their Mom.

It was the Fontana Sports Festival last Sunday (09 October 2011) in Clark, Philippines and our team, Team Clark was tapped to handle the running event. It was a race of 3K, 5K, and 10K.

So nothing new here since my kids are used to joining races of up to 3k for the fun of it. I remember Sophia joining her first race of 2.5k when she was 5 years old and her brother, Nathan at 7. Their ate (eldest sister), Patricia at 7 as well. But when Nathan and Sophia were told of this event (Fontana), Nathan without batting an eyelash shouted "5K!". Sophia initially said 3K but later on changed her mind to 5K. I asked her if she was sure. She said "Yes!". The night before the event was filled with questions ranging from mundane to essential. I had to laugh inside as I became the race costume director while they asked me if their shirt goes well with their shorts, what shoes to wear (as if they had many to choose from :), etc.

I knew Nathan was ready since he plays soccer and those time spent sprinting and running has helped to build his confidence to choose 5K. Above all, he has been spending time with me lately climbing/running the Donggwang hills where I trained for UTMB. As for Sophia, I was a little apprehensive but knowing her gutsy disposition, I gave in and approved the 5K. Both do not follow any structured training schedule. We run when they can and are not busy with school work. The consistent theme is "running is fun". Perhaps, it also helps that all of my 4 kids are barefoot while at home and sometimes outside when I feel it is safe to be so. My youngest of less than 2 years old runs in his toes as if sprinting. Perhaps a natural foot position? He also has what I call "gorilla-shaped" feet. Naturally wide and free. I also choose shoes for them that are minimalist. One of the biggest mistakes I see around is for parents to stifle their kids' feet by overly cushioned shoes. I care less if it's the most expensive or prettiest running shoes around. I am also aware that there are younger and faster runners out there but that is beside the point.

Back to the race. As race marshalls, we positioned  ourselves at 3K turn around point or the last 1.5k to the finish line. We figured this spot had the best vantage point since we would see all the runners - lead pack to back pack from all event categories. These are some of the pictures I took while spectating:

Nathan en route to 2.5K u-turn

Sophia with Mom trailing behind

En route to finish line (last 1.5k) with pacer, Pot (Albert's son)

Sophia with 1.5k to finish line. Bandana in her hand. Ultra style :)

Needless to say, I was just overwhelmed with happiness just to see my kids out that day running/walking or doing what I love as well - running. I definitely could empathize with what they were going through especially the last 1K as the route dramatically inclined. 5k is still 5k. Just like ultra, the last few kilometers must have been a mental challenge for them. I even challenged Sophia to not allow the woman runner behind her to overtake her during the last 1.5K. She confessed later on that she watched her very carefully in a sense that she would speed up when the other runner accelerated. She finished ahead. I wondered if I planted the seed of competition in her :)

                                Medals for being the youngest runners 7, and 9 years of age
                                                (their Mom on the background).

Later that evening, both of them were wearing their medals with such pride. I quietly told myself that the pride is all mine. Nathan asked me If I were proud for what they had accomplished. I said "Are you kidding me? Not proud. But very very proud!". Next day, Nathan could not find his school ID so he wore his medal instead and showed it to all his classmates. Haha.

Come to think of it. I see more kids all around me slowly becoming a victim of technology with "I-want-it-now attitude". They have become impatient and less physically active. It is very common now to see kids in social or family events playing mobile video games in one corner and hardly mingling with their age group. The art and joy of talking are slowly vanishing in our offspring. My kids are of course no special or extraordinary. They are what they are. They also play video games just like the rest of the kids of the same age. Technology is here to stay. But if I could lead them by example to be physically active and to learn to love being outside and enjoy and respect Nature then I have somehow done my duty as a parent. I hope I have shown by deed that running is a part of them and it is there for them to embrace it :)


Despite sore quads, they joined me to trek one of the Donggwang hills. I asked them if they are sure and they answered "Yes!". End of discussion. Unfortunately, it was already dark when we reached the peak since we started late and the sun slept earlier than usual. This was barely 7PM. Good thing the moon graciously appeared and the weather cooperated since it has been raining lately. It did not matter to me if I did not reach my mileage for that day. What is important is we had fun that night. One can only imagine their appetite when we reached home :) I hope all of these are signs of good things to come. Pictures below.


Going to the peak

With trekking poles (rarely used)

Moon obscured by clouds

Sophia giving his brother some light while he ties his shoes.

We chanced upon this spider on our way back

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