Running Club has started meeting again at Archer's school. You may recall that last year, his first eligible year to join, I went with him to most training session and ran the one mile fun run with him in the spring. This year I can't go to the meetings, which are held after school on Mondays and Wednesdays, because of other commitments at those times.
So Archer has been running just with his schoolmates -- a huge gaggle of them. If you happened by the schoolyard on Monday or Wednesday afternoon around 3:30, you'd see fifty kids circling the 1/12th mile track, chasing each other, walking several abreast, clunking and squirting each other with water bottles, and generally delineating an atmosphere where sustaining running is nearly impossible.
We've been a little worried by what we've found on a few occasions when picking Archer up after Running Club. The incident he describes in "The Big Scrape" was fairly traumatic; he was banged up in several places, had his water bottle broken and spilled, and then insisted on running despite the advice of the physical education teacher supervising the club. When Noel picked him up he was upset and exhausted. Even when he hasn't been knocked down, he's been splotchy, sweaty and coughing when the half hour was up. Given his insistence on telling us every day how he had set new personal bests in number of total laps and running, we were concerned that he was pushing himself beyond his limits.
I was able to get free for a Monday afternoon to join Archer at running club and see for myself what was up. And apart from the scrum of third- and fourth-graders socializing and occasionally sprinting wildly and erratically around the track, there was nothing untoward happening. Archer set himself a pace -- three running laps and one walking lap, rinse and repeat -- and enthusiastically announced the lap number in Spanish every time we crossed the starting line. I taught him to sing out "On your left!" when approaching a blockade of third-grade girls. And when he determined that the ending whistle was about to blow, he encouraged me to "kick it in" and ran the last three laps at double speed. That's why he's physically spent when Dad picks him up.
It's good to know that Archer is motivated but not immoderate in his training. He's hoping to run the 5K this year instead of the mile. There's no doubt he can do it; the only question is whether I can manage to do it with him.