Raising Runners

Contributed by Dr. Lisa Marie Gonzales. Lisa and her twin daughters, Kennedy and Landry, are 2017 Ambassadors for The San Francisco Marathon. This post originally appeared on Lisa’s blog.

Early on in their childhood, I knew it was important to raise children who loved reading. Reading has always been the gateway to all learning for children. But what I never really thought much about was raising runners.

Sure, as my children got older, they wanted to go out and run with me. And if I’m honest with myself, I’d admit that even at age seven or eight, my twin daughters were faster than me. Much much faster than me. In their middle school PE classes, they can run sub-7 miles, something I could only dream of but have not and never see in my lifetime.

What I didn’t really count on was raising half marathoners at the young age of 11. Times two!

It was about a year ago, just before their 11th birthday. They would periodically join my running team, South Bay RUN365, on Sunday runs. Six. Seven. Eight miles. And then one Sunday one of them asked, “Is it okay if we run the San Francisco Half Marathon with you?”

My initial fear was – is it safe for them? Running a half marathon is certainly not easy on the body, whether forty something or eleven. For the past few years, I had consulted with a number of doctor friends who also have daughters. My biggest concern was the impact on their developing reproductive systems because, let’s face it, that’s a valid concern for young, growing girls. After many discussions, they all seemed to agree – a walk/run would be less impactful on their bodies and allow them the breaks during running that would help lessen the stress and strain.

Their first half marathon – well – they did it in style. It wasn’t a cake walk by any means, as the hills of San Francisco are tough for even the seasoned runner. As part of the official pace team, I had to run true to my 2:45 half, but they felt the energy and excitement to power through and leave me in the dust in the last couple of miles.

And that’s when I realized… I had raised runners. Runners who also find themselves on award platforms.

Like their mom, they are also motivated by the bling… the shiny hardware that adorns their necks at the finish lines. To date, they’ve run the streets of our downtown neighborhoods in the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. And they’ve helped me pace a number of other half’s to date: Berkeley and Run Rocklin. They’ve even joined me while pacing the Hot Chocolate 15K in San Francisco this past January.

They’ve learned to be resilient in many ways. While a half marathon can be taxing, running in the pouring rain is no picnic. During the Berkeley Half last November, the torrential downpour taught them a new way to reach deep inside and trudge through… puddle after puddle didn’t discourage them.

My twins have become loved members of the RUN365 running team, and inspire other young people who want to run. Yes, running means that one many weekend mornings when they aren’t playing soccer, they are also not sleeping in, as the trails and the team awaits. They seldom complain, have graduated to well-designed supportive women’s running shoes, and know the value of electrolytes, GU and gels. We pop blisters together, strategically place color-coordinated RockTape, and visit our favorite chiropractor for active release therapy (ART) sessions.

This summer, they will again tackle the streets of San Francisco, but this time as official Ambassadors of The San Francisco Marathon. Seldom are young people selected, but at the ripe old age of 12, they will hit the streets, in tandem, inspiring and engaging other runners in conversation and travel around The City. They are so excited about the opportunity to speak for young people. Young running people. Blisters and RockTape and nuun and GU and all.

But what are they looking forward to most of all? The trials and tribulations of being runners… and more bling. Special bling. 40th Anniversary bling.

See you on July 23rd!

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