Thursday, February 17, 2011

Drew's Crew

A couple of nights a week I volunteer at the local YMCA as "the running coach" for the Prattville Swim League (PSL). Yes, the swim team. Made up of about 80 kids, the program integrates dry-land training to a) improve their overall fitness through cross training, b) manage available pool time and c) keep the kids from getting bored. In addition to running, the team also lifts weights and sometimes practices yoga and tai chi.

I originally got involved with the team over five years ago when my daughter, Hannah, was a member. While she swam, I built the club website and spent a couple of years on the parents association. As most kids her age do, she eventually decided to move on to other things; however, I didn't. I kept in touch with the coaches, continued to manage the website and eventually, when the previous running coach moved away, talked the head coach, Marcie, into letting me play work with the kids.

On Monday nights my group consists of 20-30 kids that are 10-13 years of age. Because they're younger and aren't all that interested in a structured running program, I get them warmed up with a few laps around the track and then we they play whatever games I can come up with that involve running. This usually means variations of the game tag, though sometimes we'll have relay races or competitions that pit one team against another. It's a challenge to keep them all engaged, but is a lot of fun and I look forward to the mob of raised hands every week.

Wednesday nights are for the older kids. A much smaller group, these athletes fall into the 13- to 17-year old range. For the most part they've been with the program for a while and take their fitness more seriously. Depending on their competition schedule, I'll put them through interval workouts and cone drills. And once it starts getting lighter in the evening we'll venture out into the local neighborhoods for hill work and longer, easy runs.

A few PSL Runners at the Polar Bear 5K on Feb 12, 2011
One thing I'm particularly proud of is getting some of the runners (Swimmers? Nah!) to attend local races. No easy task when many of their weekends are spent at swim meets around the state. About a dozen participated in the Cruising the Creekwalk 5k back in January, and another 7 or 8 entered the Polar Bear 5k last weekend. In each case all the kids did really well, and many of them placed in their age divisions and set PRs. WOOT!

All this back story leads me to the purpose of this post. The other night at practice I was approached by a few of the kids, who excitedly told me they were going enter the Centerpoint Half Marathon! Lauren, Madison, Mackenzie and Matt (who ran with me at the Cruising the Creekwalk 5k) will be running on March 26th as a 4-person relay team! As if this wasn't exciting enough, they asked me what I thought of the team name they'd come up with - "Drew's Crew." O.M.G. And the icing on the cake is that they want to have shirts made up!

Suffice to say, I'm really anxious to see "my" kids run as a team. So much so that I've signed up for the race, too. I'll only be three weeks removed from the Snickers Marathon, but nothing could keep me from taking part in this experience. I'm planning to run alongside all four of them during their individual legs, which will be a challenge considering that each of them can complete a 5k between 24-26 minutes. So, check back here for the eventual race report, and between now and then I may even post a photo of our team shirt.

1 comment:

  1. Drew....what a great way to get the kids involved in the sport! Bet you are getting as much as you are giving. Dad