Future Ultramarathoner?


This coming weekend Haliku and I will be running the 77 mile Laurel Highlands Trail Ultra. In preparation, I've been going through my gear, charging the batteries for my headlamp and GPS watch, put together my pace chart and so on.

I also downloaded photos off the memory card from the recent trip my family and I took to Alaska. I had over 650 photos to download! That's not counting the photos Jeanne took on her camera!  It will take some time before I get a chance to go through all of them and post them here.

When we were in Girdwood, AK my son Nathan (age 9) and I went for a short (5.5 mile) trail run/hike. Although he doesn't yet have the endurance to keep up with me on longer runs/hikes, he has fast light sure-footed feet. When I make our jogs into a game such as follow-the-leader over around and under stuff,  he does extremely well.

Later that trip we stayed on an island in a cove off of Resurrection Bay south of Seward, AK. We stayed in yurts, went sea-kayaking and explored the tide pools. The variety and amount of sea life that can be found at low tide is amazing. (once I get the time, I'll post a full account of our adventures).

While scrambling on the rocks, Nathan slipped  and tore one of his toenails. It turned black. A few days later it fell off.

Ultramarathoners lose toenails frequently. One thing that surprises non-runners is that losing a toenail isn't really all that painful. Still, I much prefer keeping my toenails in place where they belong instead of randomly finding them loose in my sock. Since I started wearing a full size larger of trail shoes and began keeping my toenails clipped and filed short, I haven't lost any nails recently.

I've heard stories of ultramarathoners annoyed with losing toenails, finally getting them permanently removed. That has never made sense to me. Why don't they just buy a larger size shoe?

When his toenail fell off Nathan smiled and proudly displayed it to me so I could photo-document. He said it actually didn't hurt that much.  Hmmm… if losing a toenail doesn't seem like that big a deal to him, I wonder:

Might we possibly have a future ultramarathoner on our hands?

There have been 10-11 year olds who have run ultras. However, as a parent who is also a medical professional, the potential negative effects of extremely long distance on bones and joints not yet fully developed concerns me greatly. Ultras also require a certain mental drive and self-disclipine, lacking even in many 20-30 year olds.

It would be nice to someday have a buddy to jog trails and pace me once in a while.  However, whether Nathan wants to run trails or ultras, or for that matter even run, will be completely up to him. I hate it when parents push their children into sports and other activites they are not interested in or ready for. What could have potentially turned out to be a life-long passion, instead becomes something the kid absolutely detests. That's unfortunate. It might not have happened had the parents been more supportive and a little-less pushy.  

It won't be long before Nathan will be able to outrun me (but of course, I'm so dang slow, that doesn't say much!).  For now we'll do short jogs as a game of tag and follow-the-leader or include it as a distraction during a longer hike. The main objective right now is to keep running fun, enjoyable and not too arduous. 

Will Nathan eventually become a runner like his dad? That will be entirely up to him.  He has his entire lifetime to decide.     

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One response

  1. Or how about as a horseman? When I was his age…
    BTW somehow this posted twice.

    June 7, 2010 at 10:50 pm

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