Through the end of 2016, Kaitlyn and I were running buddies. Each race that she ran, I was there to guide her to the finish. Then, 2017 came along, and Kaitlyn decided that she wanted to run races solo.
It was easy for me to be OK with her running her first 5k by herself since it started and finished at her school, and the course traced a neighborhood that we frequent when we go for walks as a family. Plus, with so many of her friends and school staff out there running and supporting the runners, there was little chance that she would go off course (and she didn’t).
Picking her next solo race was tough for me. I wanted to enter her into one that would be on a relatively closed course, which means I had to find one that didn’t get her too close to the crazies who take to the streets around here. I settled on one that benefits our local Girl Scouts, the Run 4 the Cookies 5k.
Throughout the week, I kept checking with Kaitlyn to make sure that she didn’t want me to run with her, and she assured me that she didn’t; Amber kept telling me that she would be fine, too.
We showed up this morning at the site of the race, our local community college, ready to race. Kaitlyn told me her race strategy, and assured me one more time that she was running this one solo.
I ran next to her for about 100 yards after the start, then I was on my way. I saw Kaitlyn on the course twice during the race, once right before mile 1 and again right before mile 2, and it made me happy to see that she was pushing herself and that she was having a blast.
I finished a little bit ahead of Kaitlyn, so I was waiting for her when she crossed the finish line. She finished in 31:02, which shaved over 2 minutes off of her first solo 5k time.
As we were walking back to the car, Kaitlyn kept asking when she could run another race by herself (she wants to use these as practice for when she tries out for cross country in middle school this fall), and I told her we would have to look at the calendar to see which ones looked interesting to her. For me though, not running with her and crossing the finish line with her signals another part of her that I have to let go, and while I know it is inevitable, it doesn’t mean I have to like it (I know I will get to run at least one race with her…the Turkey Trot 10k in November).
Amber and I are extremely proud of Kaitlyn’s determination to succeed and keep getting better with each race she runs. Before too long, I think she will spend a lot of Saturday mornings riding with me to one race or another. I can’t wait!
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.