Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dogwood Duathlon

After Elena and Vivian's success in their Kid's Dash, I've been looking for another opportunity for them to 'race'.  There have been a few...but some were for older kids, others were in fields, or the timing was bad.

Then I found the Dogwood Duathlon.  It's an event for kids 7-16.  For Elena's age group, the distance was a 1/2 mile run, 2 mile bike, and 1/2 mile run.

Now...I know that Elena can do a 1/2 mile distance.  I don't expect her to run it.  I also didn't expect her to do it twice, or with a bike inbetween.  But I inquired, b/c I wondered if we could work within the confines of the race to create a successful experience for Elena.

The race coordinator was wonderful.  She wanted me to know that Elena was welcome, and she even had some ideas to help make it a positive experience.  Her first suggestion was to make the running distance shorter.  I wasn't able to see the course until the night before the race, and it had some pretty big hills--so the shorter distance was key.  They made a special turnaround cone for Elena, with a big "E" on it.  Her running distance was 1/4 mile for each leg.  Because it was basically one big hill, I decided I would walk it with her--especially if she fell.  The coordinator also suggested a shorter bike course--but since there were hills, Elena wouldn't be able to bike solo; currently she cannot scale up a hill, and does not always brake sufficiently by herself when on a decline.  We decided to do the entire bike leg, together, on the trail-a-bike.  I was the only parent allowed on the course with a participant.  That was a little odd, but I think the others understood our situation.

Team Doodle before the race

Sure, Elena got some looks when we arrived.  Some stares.  The volunteers knew all about Team Doodle and were all wonderfully supportive.  The other kids, once the stares were over, were too.  

The starting line was worrisome...lots of legs and arms moving around a crowded space, and oftentimes E doesn't walk in a straight line.  I served as a buffer so E didn't get knocked.  She walked down the hill, and she ran most of the uphill.  I have to say...I wish I had a video.  It was fantastically inspirational.   Everyone cheered for us!  And since E's distance was shorter, we managed to be around other race participants--not being last was a new experience for Elena.  Last position isn't something we stress, but normally, Elena is so far behind speed events she never enjoys the thrill of the group.  This was something new--and helped E be a part of something special.

We had some help mounting our bike, and then we were off!  Elena loves going fast, and she considers it her job to pedal when I pedal.  I can feel her pushing the bike as she pedals--I love it.  She does tend to hold the handlebars hard to steady her body when she is trying push her feet, which can make the bike hard for me to balance at times.  One of her feet came out of her straps (I strap her feet to the pedals so they will stay on) so I had to dismount and fix it.

The last running leg was the most difficult.  She was out of breath after the bike, and sat for a rest and some water before continuing.  She was a little "rickety" as we left the transition zone--but the cheers buoyed her up and her form improved.  Again, she walked down to her cone and turned around and started to run.  

The finish was slightly off course, up a path through an inflatable arch.  The path was thin, so we waited for a bunch of runners to pass.  As we got on the path, everyone was cheering-Elena was BEAMING with pride!  It was AWESOME! 

My Little Duathlete!


Josephine Andersen said...

This is so great. I love that she gets to experience these things :) I am wondering whether Avery would be ready to participate in the YMCA Kid's Marathon next year - they have from December-April to do the first 25.2 miles on their own, and then they run the last mile together in downtown Roanoke on the day of the Blue Ridge Marathon. I bet Elena would be able to do it :)

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colleen said...

this is definitely an inspiration blog i just I'll continue reading all of your blogs!