On Saturday I "ran" the Southern California Half Marathon in Irvine. Actually, I only ran the first 3 miles, then I walked. I'm really focused on getting my butt to fit into my jeans which means I need to cut calories. By the end of the first mile, I knew the I didn't have enough gas in my tank to run for 13 miles. I ran to mile 3, then I decided to conserve energy and walk the race. Discretion is the better part of valor and all that.
It was really sweet race. Probably a quarter of the 6,000 participants were kids from Students Run L.A (SRLA). The organization works with at-risk kids and helps them train to run the Los Angeles Marathon. Endurance sports teach personal discipline and mental toughness; both are skills that at-risk kids need in abundance. I was a little worried because endurance running is hard on developing bodies and some of these kids were elementary school aged. Most of the kids did fine. As in any group of first-time endurance athletes, there were certainly a few who needed to be better prepared but most of the kids completed the course. (Also, my pet peeve - none of the kids had a water belt or hydration backpack.)
It was incredibly sweet seeing the kids receive their finisher's medals. Most of the race volunteers were students at a local high school from a fairly affluent neighborhood. I hope they respected all those "at-risk" kids for completing the challenge. In the last 3 years, I've seen thousands of people cross marathon and endurance ride finish lines. Finisher's have a look of personal satisfaction that's hard beat. Here's hoping the SRLA kids carry that sense of accomplishment with them for rest of their lives.