Monday, 18 May 2009

Of Tortoises and Hares

"Whatever you do - don't start off fast! All the young kids will start sprinting and then will run out of steam. Take it nice and easy at the start, and then gradually increase your pace."

This is my mantra to myself, and now I was passing it 0n to my youngest kids - the secret of racing success in 1 easy lesson. Our 2 sons, now both married were the top runners in their school, and represented the school in inter-school competitions in 1500 meter races. Using this well-guarded secret they started off at the back of the field, and then passed almost all the other runners.

Our 12 year-old and 7 year-old daughters, Elisheva and Noa, were running their first competitive 2 kilometer race, on a wide trail in the Hulda forest on Friday May 15. Noa was especially excited. She like her 17 year-old sister, Shira, and her 2 brothers is slim and a natural runner. Elisheva is a keen sports player, but is a different build to her siblings. She is a terrific sprinter, but longer runs are a struggle for her. Nevertheless, the lure of missing a day's school, together with the excitement of competition were too tempting for her to refuse.

So, after my own successful return to competition in the 5 km race, where I managed to follow my own advice, and gradually passed several runners, my 2 daughters found themselves on the start line listening to Amir, the race starter giving the final instructions:

"Listen up kids! It's 1 kilometer straight down the trail, then turn around and run back. And don't forget! Don't start fast! Save your strength because 2 kilometers is not a short race!"

Oh no. Amir had given the game away! My kids' advantage was lost...The hooter went off, and
what do you know? In one ear and out the other. While all the kids sprinted off, my kids stayed back and bided their time.

Noa on extreme left, partially cut off, Elisheva in the green top.

I joined in and accompanied them. They were the 2 last runners in a field of 10 boys and 10 girls. Gradually Noa edged ahead, and I stayed with Elisheva. It was roughly 500 meters slightly downhill, and then 500 meters slightly up, and then down and up on the way back again.
Noa started passing runners, and Elisheva found it hard on the uphill. I stayed with Elisheva until the turn around, and then told her I was going ahead to see how Noa was doing. Noa was passing almost all the girls. She was getting faster all the time, and sprinted in to the finish in 11:24 - first in her category and 2nd girl overall. I thought I would then go back to get Elisheva, but as I turned around I saw her sprinting towards the finish. In the last 200 meters she passed 4 girls, and finished 2nd in her category in 12:28 and 4th girl overall.

Noa, the youngest competitor, ran a beautifully paced race - no slowing down and totally in control. But for me, the hero of the day was Elisheva. It was tough, very tough for her. But she hung in there, and with grit and determination came through and finished in style. I couldn't have been prouder of both of them.