Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sam: Soccer Star

Sam has been playing soccer with i9 sports this fall. I helped coach the team and twelve 3 & 4 year olds are a lot to handle!

Yesterday was his last game - of course, just as he was starting to get into it. The kid does not like the cold, and unfortunately most of his games fell on pretty chilly weekends. Somehow the nice weather has all been reserved for the work week this fall.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Setting His Own Pace

Gavin Sellers has never done anything in his life according to plan. One of the things I love about running is that it is such a metaphor for life in general. There are so many lessons to be found in between the lines of the track, or out in an open field running all alone, or pushing up what seems to be an insurmountable hill.

As anyone that reads this blog knows, Gavin was born three months early, only to beat all the odds initially. Vent tube out after 6 hours. Contracting a scary staph infection at 10 days old, but that was the "only" major setback of his NICU time, which was pretty amazing. Getting to the end of our odds-beating NICU stay to discover his stomach and intestines were malrotated (1 in 5,000 odds), requiring invasive surgery to correct. Being the first baby at our children's hospital to have said surgery performed laparoscopically, reducing the risk, pain, and recovery time.

He came home and we knew the rules of "What To Expect the First Year" did not apply. We expected delays, and regressions, and really had no idea what his full potential was. Would his lungs ever catch up, or would they always put him at risk for illness, would they be a limiting factor in playing sports? Would his motor skills ever truly catch up? Had his brain bleeds affected his development, physically, intellectually, socially?

When you are staring at this sweet child, all you want as a parent is for them to reach their fullest potential. While I have spent most of his life cautiously optimistic that he would be "the same" as any full term kid, I was never really sure when those preemie scars would raise their heads and show me what they had done to him.

I believe there are some character traits that all preemies have. It's either a Darwinian trait that allowed their survival or one they develop from everything they've gone through. One thing I know from all my preemie blog mom friends is that they all have it. A fighting spirit. A determination and focus like no other.

While Gavin has brought that to school, there is one place where this has come to life, and it's on the cross country course.

We started taking Gavin to the track when he was 4 or 5. It certainly wasn't my intention to make a runner out of him - it was just something to do to get out of the house and burn off some steam. Then he participated in some field days at school and a week long track camp in Kindergarten. We started entering him in some kids fun runs. He enjoyed it so we kept doing it.

Spring 2011, he went out for the track club. He was really young, and stuck to shorter distances, and we didn't expect much other than for him to have fun. He did, and he made it to the regional meet at Hamline University - his dad's college. At 6 years old, he competed on his Dad's college track.

Over the fall and winter he would run here and there, but never too much, too often. Spring 2012 came and we were coaching. We encouraged him to try the 1500m. He was terrified, but he did it - and he did it really well. He competed all the way to nationals.

But where we saw the biggest change was the cross country course. After the Iowa Games 4k, he proclaimed he loved the hilly xc course and "I want to run a 5k every weekend!".

Cross country started and he came to life. He connected with the team, he enjoyed (for the most part) the workouts, his confidence built as he ran more and more miles.

The thing I've always noticed, and admired, about Gavin when he runs - is that he has this innate sense of pacing. Most adults are not this astute and yet he knows just how hard he can push. He doesn't let other kids push him out too fast, and he knows which ones he can catch before the end of the race.

Last night the kids competed at the Westside Track Club Invitational. This was an important one because the state meet will be held at the same course. Gavin finally had a chance to compete in a 2k, the race distance for state and nationals. As he had been running 3k's, I didn't know if he would go out fast enough, too fast, or what would happen.

Off the start line, he stumbled, and a girl took off in a dead sprint. He was a couple seconds behind her for a good quarter mile, and I was a little worried! But he slowly overtook her and stretched out a good lead. He ran 2/3 of the race with a strong lead, chasing the gator.

He crossed the finish line in 8:08 minutes, running a 6:06 per min mile pace, and taking the course best down by 32 seconds.

I'm a worrier. I worry I'm pushing too much, or not enough. Am I giving too much instruction, do I need to step back and let him figure it out on his own? I don't want to see people fail, so I turn into this person that needs to control everything.

One of the hardest parts of parenting is having the faith to let go a little. To trust. To know that wherever he goes in life, he is leaving it all out on life's course. Finding his proper place in the pack. Setting his own pace.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gavin's First 5k! (Johnston Spooktacular)

Gavin and I ran in the Johnston Spooktacular 5k on Saturday. This is my 3rd 5k of the year and Gavin's very first! You can read my whole race recap if interested here.

Let's just say we majorly lucked out with the weather. A major storm ended right in time for the race and it was a nice, cool mid 50's morning for the race.

Gavin's longest race distance to date is a 4k turned 2.75 mile race this summer at the Iowa Games. A year ago, I couldn't imagine him completing this distance, let alone wanting to run this far. I keep thinking back to early track season this year when getting him to run a mile was a struggle and I would literally be walking at a 12 min mile pace along side him as he jogged. He has come so far and worked so hard and I was so proud of him for even wanting to sign up for this race!!

The race started and ended at the high school track and went through some local neighborhoods. Gavin's school principal was one of the organizers, so it was fun to see her and for her to see Gavin in action.

You can read the whole detailed race recap from my perspective if you want, but let's skip to the good stuff: Gavin ran a 23:42!! That is amazing, and a time I was so proud to run in the two 5k's I ran this summer. I saw his finish on the track and he looked so good and strong. An older gentleman watching the race made sure to come tell me how impressed he was, and what perfect form Gavin has and how amazing that is from a little kid. Made my heart absolutely swell with pride.

After the race, there was a kids 100m dash on the track, so Sam was able to get in on the action and run on the track. They all got ribbons, and were so nice to give out extra race shirts to the little kids - who hadn't paid for the kids run! All they had left for Sam was a youth med, to which he replied "It's ok, I'll grow up to it".

There was face painting and hair spraying by a local beauty school, so after much consideration the boys finally decided they wanted in on that action.

Gavin's black eye was very realistic!! After the race we went to Village Inn for brunch with another xc family. They have a really good menu these days! The Farmer's Market Potato Pancake Benedict was amazing.

The rest of the day was spent with more running related activities - spectating at the middle school state meet, and taking Gavin shopping for clothes he could run in. Perfect Saturday, in my opinion.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Running, Soccer, Eat, Repeat

That is pretty much what our fall has felt like!

Bridie and Chad have really started running a lot, so we are squeezing our running time in during lunch hours, early in the morning, or during a rare block of time in the evening.

Gavin is running cross country and is doing so well!! He really seems to love the sport and says he likes it way better than track. He really enjoys being out on the cross country course, running up and down hills, and has an incredibly competitive drive. He's consistently beating kids 2 - 5 years older than him. We're pretty much a sure bet to go to nationals for cross country, which is good because our tickets are already booked!

Gavin is also playing soccer this fall which he continues to enjoy, except for when it's freezing and windy like yesterday.

School is definitely more work this year and the new math program has been an adjustment for Gavin. I am not convinced about the new curriculum, but I guess time will tell.

Sam is playing i9 soccer (since he's not old enough for Johnston soccer) and I got roped into coaching the team, which means trying to wrangle twelve 3-4 yr olds and trying to keep six of them on the field at all times. Sam is a pretty fair weather soccer player, this boy is not a fan of the cold! I am re-thinking whether or not it is a good idea to teach him to ski this year. He also likes coming to cross country practice and running on the track with the kids once in a while. Right now I am not seeing the same sports drive in him that I see in Gavin, but maybe that will change.

Sam continues to enjoy his school and has a crazy active imagination.

Yesterday we had special one on one days with the kids. I took Sam to soccer, the circus and then home to play. Chad took Gavin to soccer, a cat show (not kidding, he saw an ad in the paper and I knew Gav would love it- he did) and to Ames for a quick informal wedding, and then they played at an arcade. It had been too long in coming, and it's so important to give the kids that individual attention once in a while.