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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Training partner

It's no secret to anyone who's read my blog for long that my immediate family isn't exactly involved in my endurance sports life. Their attitudes range from my middle son's semi-gorced conscription into AR volunteering to my husband's tolerance to my oldest son's belief that I do too much to my youngest son's assertion (shared by his father) that running and bicycling aren't sports (don't get me started...). If I let it, it makes me feel bad, and I definitely envy those whose families share and support their interests. This is what has made the past few days particularly sweet.

20130430-164911.jpg J has resisted any attempts I've made to get him interested in bikes ever since I first taught him to ride without training wheels. We've done a few 'round the block loops and one trip to our Y to swim (2 mi each way) with a stop for ice cream on the return trip, but coaxing was involved. Not wanting this to turn into something he resisted because he was being forced to do something he didn't want to do, I pretty much left it alone. I still invited him to go for rides but didn't push it. This spring I hit on the idea of an overnight on the Katy Trail. There's a trail shelter that's about 10 miles from Jeff City. Ten miles is a reasonable distance for a nine-year old to cover if we're open to taking as long as it takes. When I brought this up to J, he was interested. Excited, even, and we spent the next several days talking about what to bring (chances are, polar expeditions have been undertaken with less crap than I'll be lugging), what we'd do, etc.

20130430-165840.jpg His enthusiasm for the plan was even better than I'd hoped, but an added benefit was that his desire to be ready for the ride has translated into a new willingness to get out on his bike. Admittedly, that willingness was initially fertilized with the offer of ice cream on our ride, but still...last weekend he was up to ride home from baseball practice. This being our first actual ride together, I was pretty worried about how it would go. I've always run next to him just in case, but even with him being unsteady, his bike speed has outpaced my run speed. Last time he rode, I had taken a friend's advice to lowered his seat, and his new ability to easily put a foot down did wonders for both of our confidence. We didn't set any land-speed records, but J got noticeably better as he stuck with it, and we made it home without tears from either of us. This past Sunday was another baseball practice, this one just a few blocks away. We rode to it together, and though he opted to stay and play longer rather than ride back, he was disappointed that I wouldn't take him out after he got home (making dinner). As a consolation prize, I offered him a ride after school Monday. The on-road portion of our ride was moderately terrifying, but I was able to relax (a little) when we hit the paved bike trails.

20130430-175347.jpg J once again did great, and I think the kid corners better than I do. Granted, my friends will tell you that's not anything to write home about, but still. He was a little nervous on the downhill, but he rode up the other side like a champ.

20130430-175657.jpg We rode around 1.5 mi before he started getting uncomfortable, so we turned around, stopping to
smell the rosesblow the dandelions along the way.

20130430-180046.jpg As we rode back home I was telling him how proud of him I was, what a great job he'd done. "This was really fun," he answered. "The only reason I didn't like it before is because I was bad at it." Maybe some of us are wired to avoid things that are hard for us without the right motivation. I can remember Daniel, my oldest, refusing to ride a bike because "it's just not my thing", when we knew he just didn't like doing things that didn't come easily. For him, it was a bike ride to the pool that did the trick; for me, it was adventure racing that forced me to stick with mountain biking. In J's case, all it took was the promise of an overnight trip. And ice cream. He truly is a boy after my own heart.

15 comments:

  1. Great post. I have a boy who can't ride a bike in my class and it really bothers him. I am not sure where he lives but where we live is not where a kid can learn. I had to take my kids to the high school parking lot or bike paths. Not all parents are interested or willing to spend the time to go places to do this. When we would go on vacation and the kids could ride in the parking lot (large and nicer than it sounds) it was wonderful.
    What fun to share this with J. The overnight trip would be good motivation for a lot of kids. Ice cream would work for me! When is he going to want his first mountain bike?

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  2. Aww, this post is very sweet. Nice to see a family member following in your footsteps!

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  3. If it works out date wise, I could probably convince my daughter (same age) to join me and do this trip with you and J. And my husband can be the SAG if anyone has a mechanical issue. She isn't as tough of a sell in most athletic endeavors, but might complain about a sore butt sooner than I'd like. But getting to stop often for drinks and snacks would probably get her over that. Let me know when it gets a little closer.

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  4. I actually asked him about getting a group of friends together, and he was not for it. He wants strictly a mommy & me trip (though daddy can come along). I think he'd have fun with other kids going, so I'm hopefully maybe we can do a group trip later on.

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  5. Well let me know if he changes his mind or if another trip comes up - and the offer for SAG still stands. Just thought it would be fun since they are so close in age and this adventure is so close to us.

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  6. How I love this!! Well done both of you!

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  7. I love this. Cannot wait for my sons to turn the corner. They are still on the timid side when it comes to biking...never left the cul de sac :)

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  8. Beautiful post. I remember when my son was a kid and followed my workouts by bike. Now he is 34 y.o. and runs with me.
    Great photos!

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  9. We're looking forward to our 6 year old riding without training wheels, but so far, no dice.

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  10. Glad to hear he's giving riding a chance and finding it enjoyable. It's hard to do "healthy" things when we feel like we do them badly and family members aren't supporting our choices. Of course if we thought about it long enough we would remember that it takes time and consistancy to do things well or better than doing it once and quitting.

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  11. Love your post. I would give anything if my family would be interested in my running or gym workouts. I thought my youngest might be into running but that fizzled out at the age of 10.

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  12. I've read this 4x now, why I can't comment is beyond me. Words don't flow anymore - my brain is frozen from our latest winter wonderland (on May 1st).

    My boys used to ride with me when they were younger on some long runs...this post reminded me of those days. Now, I can't get one to move a muscle and the other, well, he can outrun me once we reach the sidewalk.

    My family thinks my running is a "disease" (well, aside from the running child :))...they've never understood it (I loved your FB message to me...still haven't reposnded...look for that in about July 15th, when Leadville is done :)). I know in those two years where running was a huge frustation with my foot, I was not a nice person. Not that I am now, you know, but wow that was a bad stretch. And now that I'm 10 years older than you, I think about what the heck I'm going to do to stay sane when I can't run. I think it'll be sipping margaritas on the beach in Mexico! :)

    Glad you found a great training bud...please send him to Denver after you're done so I have someone to talk to other than my feeble head, my boys are LONG past riding their bikes with me. Ha.
    xo

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  13. The great thing about kids is that at one time they seem like they'll never be able/interested in something....and then suddenly for no apparent reason (other than growing up a little) they love it.

    Wait...this was true of me too. I hated running until I was about 12. Hated it. And after that I only tolerated it because it kept me thin. I didn't really fall in love until I ran my first race at age 21. You *never* know. Maybe I'll even enter a bike race someday. :^)

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  14. That is so sweet! I am so happy you guys get to do this together :)

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  15. Yeah, Ice cream would do it for me too, or brownies

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