One of the most enjoyable parts of the relationship I have with Kaitlyn is that she has taken a real interest in running. She has, over the last two years or so, turned into my running buddy. She will run around the neighborhood with me on occasion, and has run in several local one mile races, plus one in Jacksonville. She gets upset at me when I dare enter a local race, or any race, and run it by myself.
This past Saturday was one we had circled on the calendar for a few months. This past Saturday, Kaitlyn ran in her first 5k (3.1 miles). The event was sponsored by her school and benefitted their Relay for Life program to help find a cure for cancer. I ran the 5k last year, and Kaitlyn did the one mile, and she was determined to run the 5k this year. It was all that she talked about all week, and she was happy to get out of bed around 6:30 Saturday morning.
Saturday’s time will not go down as a personal best for me in the 5k, but it will go down as the absolute most enjoyable 5k that I have ever run. Kaitlyn did a great job. She made it well over a mile before she had to walk for the first time, and really and truly ran like the wind; her little arms were just pumping the whole time. We finished with a time of 35:55, placing 231st and 232nd in the event; Kaitlyn even got a high-five from her teacher at the finish line.
There are no races on Kaitlyn’s schedule until the middle of March, so it will be a while before she gets to toe the line of a race. She’ll probably run one or two more before the end of school, which also happens to be the time that our local races take somewhat of a summer hiatus. For the fall, we are considering entering a 5k together at Disney, will surely do the Turkey Trot again, and I have already signed Kaitlyn up to join me in Columbus in November to run her final leg of the Soldier Marathon’s Kids Marathon.
I have come to realize that running is a really good metaphor for raising a child with Asperger’s. There are times where you run great, there are times when you run bad, but no matter what, just keep running. And of course, no matter if you have gone on a good run or a bad run, you will be very tired at the end of the day.
Thanksgiving was awesome. Anytime I get to spend a day in the middle of the week with Amber and Kaitlyn is a great day. We had quite the long day yesterday, but it was a really good day, and so I am thankful today for yesterday.
We were up bright and early (ok not so bright, but it was early) to get ready to head to our local Turkey Trot race. Just like last year, I had signed Kaitlyn up for the one mile Turkey Gobbler before I ran in a longer race (the 5k this year for me). It was not as cold before the start as last year, and Kaitlyn chose to wear shorts and short sleeve shirt, just like her dad (we are not crazy I tell you).
Overall, 942 runners ran the one mile race. Kaitlyn finished in 9:55, and like she always does, ran the entire time. She finished 124th, ahead of 818 other runners. That is very impressive.
I don’t know who enjoys her running more, me or her. It is something that the two of us can do together, and something we both enjoy. She has been asking to run a 5k soon, and we have one in our sights in January. I am not expecting her to cover all 3.1 miles of that race without stopping, but I will not be surprised if she does.
It’s been a while, but Kaitlyn still loves to run. A few weeks ago, we went down to the new sporting goods store here to look around, and left with a whole new running outfit for her-new shoes, new shorts, and a new running tank top. She had been wanting some new running gear since I talked to her about running the Trick-or-Trot in October.
As much as she loves running the one mile races with me, it seems like that is just not enough for her. She wants to run further. I had been balking at that prospect, mostly because of her age, for a while now, but I am finally at the point where it is time to give in and let her get a taste of a longer distance.
First, we have a few warm-up races. In a few weeks, it will be the first of a few mile races as we build up to a longer distance. For the next few months, I will enter her into at least one mile race per month to get her back used to running with a large group of people. Leading off is a race at the middle school that is right by her school; I figure there is a good chance that some of her friends from school will be there, so she will enjoy herself. Next will be the Trick-or-Trot in October; that one is a Friday night race, which should be pretty interesting for both of us. Then we will do the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, and be ready for a longer race.
Of course, we will not jump right into the next longest distance offered, a 5k. I think we will brave the masses and do the Jingle Bell Run this year downtown during the Winter Festival. It’s a shade over one mile with some pretty decent hills to run on. If, after that run, she is still asking to do a 5k with me, I will have us registered for a 5k early next year. My hope is that once she has that goal in place, and she already knows the plan, she will stick with it and do the 5k.
For me, there is a lot of joy in being able to run with her. She ran with me for a little this past Tuesday, and when I came home after finishing the rest of my run, she greeted me with, “how was your run, running partner?” That was really cool. I’m happy that she gets so excited about running, and to see the joy on her face while she runs is awesome for me.
I’ve read in a few places where people with Asperger’s tend to excel in individual sports (although they can also thrive in a team environment). The physical and individual nature of running is something that seems to have really taken hold of Kaitlyn. It helps burn off some of her boundless energy, and gives her a sense of accomplishment and a way to tangibly measure her progress.
As we were sitting in the car this morning, waiting for 7:45 to get here so Kaitlyn could start her school day, we got to talking about our running schedule. Since Kaitlyn is my running buddy, I have to make sure to enter her into a few events that I am running.
We are both most excited about the YMCA Trick or Trot coming up in October. It is a night race on a Friday night, so that will be a lot of fun. Kaitlyn is insistent that she wears a costume for the run, and if that makes her happy, I am all for it. Then, she gave me a dose of bad news. She does not want to run with me.
It turns out that she feels like I slow her down some. I offered to run with her, but not hold her hand during the run, and she was not buying. She just knows that I will lose sight of her because she runs so fast. I tried to convince her that I could probably keep up, but nothing seemed to work. Until I reminded her that it was in the dark. Then, she seemed a little more accepting of the fact of having her slow dad run by her.
For the record, I may not be a Usain Bolt speed demon, but I think I can keep up with Kaitlyn! At least I can keep up with her for now; that is likely to change in the coming years.
She did it again. Kaitlyn beat me to the finish line in another race this morning. She ran her record to 3-0-1 against me. I will beat her one day.
This morning, we braved the cool weather and strong wind as we participated in the Family Fun Run that is part of the Breast Cancer Marathon, aka 26.2 with Donna. This is the event’s 5th year and the third time we have made the trip to Jacksonville to participate. Kaitlyn completed her first Donna race today, and could not have been more proud of herself as she happily wore her medal for the rest of the morning.
One of the best parts of the day for me was when Kaitlyn asked me when she can run a half marathon with me. I told her that maybe she should tackle a 5k first and build up from there. It makes me happy that she is so into running, and the individual nature of running lends itself well to a person with Asperger’s because it is purely a physical activity with no real team dynamic that could cause her to falter a little.
I will beat her to the finish line one day!