Apr 13, 2014

First 1500

5th grade means Pigtails is old enough to join her school's track team.

I invited her to run with me earlier this spring to log a few training miles so the races would go smoother.  She said it's too cold outside (30 degrees).  I responded, "Well, do what you want, but a minute into your first race you'll wish you'd trained more."

Offering her advice, but letting her choose, learn along the way and let competition be the teacher.

Her first meet was on Friday, coach marked her down for the 1500, sprint medley, 800 and high jump.  She started crying when she learned about the high jump, as she hasn't had a chance to practice it yet.  "What if I hit the bar on the first jump and people laugh at me?"  I told her all the kids were new at it, and being afraid to try something isn't a good reason to tap out.  She got the last laugh and talked coach into swapping high jump for long jump.

The 1500 is just under 4 laps and a tad less than one mile.  She's logged a total of 5 miles in practice before her first meet, so I kept it simple and gave her three bits of advice:

Don't go out too fast, try to be in the middle of the pack on the first lap.
Finish strong the last 200 meters and pass at least one person.
Have fun.

5th and 6th graders in the same heat, the girls went out like a banshee at the gun.  She had a "oh crap this is fast" surprised look on her face, and settled into the middle of the pack.

Things got real.  As she went around for lap two, I could see her little cheeks flushing red and the bear starting to jump on.

Two girls were well up in front trading the lead.  They were rolling smoothly and clipping off even splits.  There's a summer running camp that several of the kids log miles to June through August, you could tell which ones had training miles under their belt.

Bell lap, Pigtails kicked the nitro the last 200 meters and passed two girls.

I was excited at the start and forgot to time it with my watch.  Didn't see a clock at the finish, but I think she ran somewhere around 6:30.  She did great!

Later that night, she told me she wished she'd logged more miles this spring.  And she wants to join the summer running camp next year.  Most importantly, she grinned and said "that was fun!"

Looking ahead, if she sticks with it through college, this is the start of a decade of hot laps.  And the beauty of running is you can stay with it for life.  I've been banging the miles for 20 years, and still smile with heart pattering when toeing the line on race day.



  1. I ran my first track meet in the fifth grade, 1600 and 800. I'm 30 and still running today. This was a great recap that brought me way back. Every member of my girls high school CC team still runs as an adult today, at various levels of intensity. But we're all doing it. Tell her to stick with running - the kids on the distance teams were always the funniest, smartest (and maybe craziest, I mean, we ran for fun) kids in school. We did lots of wacky things, but no illegal or life-damaging things, so I think it probably was a good group to roll with. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I like your stance on letting her train her way with gentle encouragement, beard. I'm a fairly new runner in the last couple of years, lots of 5 & 10k's and a half under my belt. My 8 year old daughter decided she wanted to try a 5k so we hopped on our local trail just to see what she could do and those grasshopper legs gave me a run for my money! She can easily pound through a mile or 2 after just a couple runs but she's struggling with her feet (husband had to beat feet back to the truck yesterday and come pick us up at the mile 2 bench) so I think I'll have to invest in some insoles for her but what a treat having something we can do together! I hope Pigtails will decide to train with you, she reminds me so much of my daughter with those long heron like legs!

  3. Shucks... wish she had stuck it out and done the high jump, though I would be intimidated jumping over the bar my first time too without practicing with something more soft to fall on, like a bungee cord or something! Maybe she'll get another go at practice! i loved high jump in high school but couldn't cut it with the big leaguers in college! Good for you guys starting off in Middle School. We didn't have Middle school track when I was a student. Glad she had fun :)


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