The Slowest 800

In Olympic spirit, I am posting this piece that I wrote several months ago.  I hope to move all of my “notes” on Facebook to my blog soon–this is the first one.  

My relationship with running has given me much to write about since I began plodding around neighborhood roads with my dad when I was around my son’s age.  It’s always a thrill to write about a new personal best time, or a new course, or a fun race.  Today, I am celebrating my slowest 800 ever.  I never really cared for the 800 as a competitive race or as a training distance:  too long to be a true sprint, but too short to spread out the pace.  I never could really get into a groove in that event.  Two laps, run as fast as I could manage, always left me breathless, nauseated, and hoping my coach would keep me in the longer races from then on.

Today, the 800 was fantastic, and also fantastically slow.  But I wasn’t out there for competitive reasons.  Today’s run was all about satisfying the wishes of my toddler.  Ever since her brother started having field days, P.E. classes, and track meets out on the school track, she has had a fascination with running, especially running on the track.  We checked with the school P.E. teachers first, with only a humorous warning not to wear stilettos (ha!), and then headed out this morning in our sneakers after walking my son up to the door for his school day.  I would have been content just to let my eager little girl run back and forth near the entry gate–what if we got all the way to the other side and she insisted on being carried?  What if the sprinklers came on with their reportedly ill-smelling water?  What if she just wasn’t that impressed once she got out there?  She was cheerfully adamant about wanting to go all the way around.  We set out in the outer lanes (she has much to learn), and even though I could easily keep up with her trotting legs by walking, she urged me to run, too.  So, we ran.

When she got tired of running, she walked.  When she wanted to run again, she ran.  If there were some interesting birds eating worms on the football field, we stopped to watch them.  When she spotted the soccer goals stacked next to each other outside of the track, we looked at them and talked about soccer.  When she saw the football uprights on either end of the field, I demonstrated a field goal kick.  We talked about the time we sat in the bleachers with the students on community helper day and saw a helicopter lift off from the field.  We noticed a high schooler, late for school, park his car and try to get into the building, only to find the door locked.  We finished one lap.  Jog, walk, jog, walk, jog, walk.

When I suggested we head home and come again another day, figuring she must need a snack or a change of scenery, she instead said she wanted to do another lap.  “Really?  Another lap, all the way around?  You sure?”  Her little trot ahead answered me.  The second lap was much like the first.  We looked at the soccer goals again, and this time we noticed the long jump pit, too.  She also asked about the big cushions that catch high jumpers and pole vaulters, and I realized these are kind of funny things to try to explain to someone who has never seen them.  The whole time, I think she was reveling in the fact that she was doing something that her big brother does.

I forgot to look at what time it was when we started, much less use the stopwatch on my phone.  Truth is, keeping track of the time never occurred to me.  The weather was perfect, I was wearing jeans and not-running-specific sneakers, we didn’t stretch, and we didn’t always go in the same direction.  I’d say we’re off to a wonderful start.

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