YOUNG ATHLETES: WHEN TO START

TOT TRIATHLETES: KIDS AND RUNNING/TRIATHLONS

Kid’s running and triathlon events have been sprouting up more and more over the past few years. With this growing trend comes an inevitable list of pros and cons. As an eternal pessimist, I’ll start with the cons (and save the best for last, of course). If not approached correctly, entering kids into competitions before they are ready (or willing) can have a backlash that includes injury due to inexperience, the child getting burnt out on that sport early in life, or it feeling more like a chore and obligation (And we all know how most kids feel about chores… And most adults for that matter). When something feels forced it can be easier to lose a passion and drive for it. It is all too easy to assume that since something is your passion, it should be your child’s too!

To help avoid some of the potential negative outcomes, make sure to give the kids the option to participate. Hype it up all you want, but when it comes down to it let them have the final say. It is important to encourage positive habits and techniques to avoid injury. It is great (my personal motto is you should try everything twice to give it a second chance- nothing should have to be perfect on the first try. We are human after all.), especially with growing trends of health in youth, to find ways for your child to stay as active as possible.

On the bright side, when approached with an air of caution and good nature, junior triathlons can be the perfect setting to foster a love for physical activity and competition at an early age. If it is not over-emphasized it can also be a perfect opportunity for some light-hearted fun. Many kids naturally love all three elements of triathlons and this solo-sport can be the perfect place for them to grow and shine. The extent you can push your child will really only be clear to you- each training situation is going to be unique and need different sets of guidelines and expectations. Just take the time to gauge your child, their needs, and their abilities.

Speaking of kids… we have a lot to offer this year to keep them busy while you compete (or before/after they do)! In addition to our Mission: 1K Kid’s Run and our Jr. Triathlon, we are excited to introduce Southland’s Kid Zone in the vendor expo. Here, kids will have access to a face painter, balloon artist, various carnival games, AND a radar game that measures the speed of their pitch! They will also have the chance to make a custom race sign to cheer on their favorite racer!

Whether as a spectator or an athlete, this event truly has something for everyone and is sure to be fun for the whole family. Don’t miss out! If you haven’t signed up already, visit our website www.raceonthebase.com to register! If you have… now you know that you have that much more fun to look forward to!

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Running for a Cause

When I was little I had a cliché dream of being a veterinarian or finding a way to somehow transform tree-climbing into a professional career. These dreams were dashed both by my lack of scientific prowess and intense fear of ridicule, respectively. At just thirteen years of age, eighth grader Alyssa, puts my simplistic aspirations to shame.

Alyssa is set to compete in our 5K this year. That alone is exciting for us, as we love for young kids to get out and stay active. However, there’s a little more to be excited about than the simple fact that she is running our race. Alyssa has set out on an ambitious journey: run a race in each of the 50 states.

Not only is her feat extraordinary on its own as a physical accomplishment, but it is an extraordinary display of determination and good will. Each race she competes in, Alyssa raises money for a different charity. It hasn’t been just about a personal goal, but about helping others achieve their goals by supporting worthy causes.

Alyssa’s ultimate goal is to complete all of her races before her 16th birthday. She currently averages one race per month and may even extend to two in order to finish on time. During her free time (I clearly use the term free time very loosely) she attempts to blend in with the rest of the kids her age by participating in various sports, hitting the beach, and playing music (piano and percussion, to be exact). Keep reading below to find out more about this amazing young girl and her equally amazing cause:

Race on the Base: What gave you the idea to run for charity in all 50 states?

Alyssa: I ran the race in Washington DC because my friend Athena’s Mom, and my Mom’s friend Carol were battling breast cancer and I wanted to do something to show support for them. So my mom said you can always run the 5k in Washington, and we did.  I didn’t run another race until I was going into the 7th grade and in my hometown there is the Progeria foundation.  My brother had run for them the year before, so I decided to make Team 777 which was 7 kids in the 7th grade to raise 700.00 for Progeria.  I sent out 10 letters to my friends to get them on my team and only one joined.  So 120 letters later, we had a team.  We worked hard to reach our goal and it ended up being over 1000.00. Sam and Megan who have Progeria were amazing, but when we were fund raising, we found out that a lot of people didn’t even know of the condition. That is when I decided I could find other races to run and help out other charities.

ROTB: Why did you want to run all of these before your 16th birthday?

A: I chose 16 because you have to set goals in life and since my birthday isn’t until August, I will turn 16 right before my junior year in High School when I have to really start focusing on college.

ROTB: How do you raise money for your charities?

A: I raise money through letters, e-mails and small bake sales.  My goal was to raise at least 25.00 per month and run one race per month.

ROTB: How much have you raised for charity to date (including all races so far)?

A: I’m not sure how much I have raised so far, but 25.00 is my least amount and 2295.00 is the largest amount.  My parents pay my entrance fees to the races.

ROTB: What states have you ran in so far?

A: I have ran in Washington DC, Cape Cod, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.  I have ran 20 races total because I have ran a few in MA.

ROTB: What do you like to do on your free time?

A: In my free time I love to hang out with my friends, play soccer, lacrosse and basketball.  I love the beach in the summer and skiing in the winter.  I also play piano and percussion.

ROTB: What grade are you in?

A: I am in the 8th grade and go to Peabody Higgins Middle School.

ROTB: What is your overall goal in doing these races?

A: To help as many different charities as I can because there are so many people out there who need us.  My Nana and Papa are my biggest inspiration because they do so much for people and they are 79 and 84.

ROTB: What has been your favorite race so far and why?

A: Susan G Komen Race for the Cure in Washington DC.  There were so many people there and a lady asked me how old I was and I said 10 and she was 70 battling cancer and she thanked me.

ROTB: What has been the hardest thing about your journey?

A: The hardest thing about the journey is going to the same people over and over again to pledge me and the causes are great ones.

ROTB: Why Race on the Base for your California race?

A: My brother Nick is a junior in High School and he is taking the ASVAB on Friday and he found this race for me. (ASVAB stands for “Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery”, which serves as a career assessment).

ROTB: What made you select Honoring Our Fallen as your California charity?

A: I have chosen Honoring Our Fallen as my charity because I ran for Home front Heroes in Colorado and The Wounded Warriors in Rhode Island and the military are so grateful and nice for the little things we do for them and the Fallen have made the ultimate sacrifice for us, so we owe them.   

If you want to donate to this young girl’s amazing cause, please visit her charity page:

http://www.crowdrise.com/HonoringOurFallen/fundraiser/alyssashashaty

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Shown here, Alyssa competed in a run to raise money to battle MS (Multiple Sclerosis). 1 of the 50 charities she will have helped by the end of her journey!

Crossing the Finish Line

Working a race like this we have been fortunate enough to meet many amazing people with equally amazing stories. People enter races like these for a variety of reasons from exercise and fitness goals to bucket lists and weight loss. We are excited and honored to have a special participant in our Mission 1K Kid’s Run this year: Tejas.

Like most little boys his age, he is more excited about the fact that he is running on a military base than anything else. However, his parents have a reason to be proud. At 6.5 years old, Tejas has already undergone two reconstructive surgeries for a rare orthopedic condition called Tibial Hemimelia. By definition, Tibial Hemimelia is a partial or total absence of the tibia. For those that aren’t as familiar with anatomy like me, the tibia is the bigger, thicker bone in the lower leg (the smaller, thinner one is the fibula). The tibia supports most of your weight and is a key element of both the knee joint and ankle joint (http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00522). It supports the calf muscle and allows for movement of the foot. The condition and severity of Tibial Hemimelia varies for each person.

For Tejas, it means that he has 89% of his lower leg bone. He wears a 1.25” lift on the outside of his shoe and has gone through many casts and braces. Throughout life and in setting out to complete this race, Tejas’ parents have made sure to let him know that he can compete and earn his accomplishments like anyone else. Tejas doesn’t need anything handed to him- he will gladly take on the challenge. With a new pair of running shoes fitted with a lift, Tejas is ready to go!

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Tejas (pronounced Tay-jus) is all smiles.

A condition that happens to only 1 in a million births produced a 1 in a million child: a boy that is smart, confident, determined, and ready to conquer the world around him. Already, he tells his parents that he is eating healthy so he can be in the Air Force. From the sound of what he has overcome so far, we would be lucky to have him serve. This race day, take the time to stop by our Mission 1K Kid’s Run at 9:00am to cheer on our trooper, Tejas, and the rest of the kids as they race across the finish line!

To learn more about Tibial Hemimelia, check out these great websites:

http://www.steps-charity.org.uk/How-We-Help/fibula.html

http://footanklealliance.com/blog/find-foot-doctor-orange-county-san-diego/

Behind the Scenes

Have you ever wondered what it takes to put on a large scale racing event? Though it may not be the catch-all end-all of the racing production experience, we at the City of Los Alamitos Recreation Department would like to invite you into our world as we prepare for the 2013 Race on the Base event. Held the last weekend in February of each year, this will be the 32nd annual Race on the Base put on by the Recreation Department. It is truly a year-round preparation experience that began the week after the 2012 event. It starts slowly at first with meetings to review and gather feedback on the last year’s event. From the feedback received we discuss feasible changes we can make to continually improve our racing formula. New times? New or revised events? Expanded marketing efforts? Brief meetings quickly become more detailed planning meetings where the two entities (City of Los Alamitos Recreation and Run Racing) begin to divide and conquer the task list we have devised. We are currently in the process of re-structuring the course. Check back for more updates on this and more!