Monday, April 09, 2012
The Dadline: See kids run
More than 200 children are expected to register for the YMCA Kids Marathon, which encourages children to get up and move.
Kyle Green | The Roanoke Times
Sarah Goodman and her sons Silas, 6, and Satchel, 9, run a mile at the Roanoke YMCA in preparation for the kids' marathon.
Courtesy of Kim Bratic of YMCA
Kids race in the 2010 YMCA Kids Marathon. Last year's run was forced indoors by rain.
Ralph Berrier Jr.
About The Dadline
Veteran Roanoke Times features reporter Ralph Berrier Jr. Ralph became a father nearly five years ago, and has since learned, um, something about parenting.
He will share insights, trends and just plain funny stories by talking to people on the front lines. Questions? Find Ralph on the Roanoke Times Facebook page to share your own parenting stories.
National College Blue Ridge MarathonFull marathon, half-marathon, five-person relay marathon and walking marathon.
- When: April 21, 7:30 a.m.
- Where: Starts and finishes at the Taubman Museum of Art, downtown Roanoke
- Cost: $100 marathon; $65 half-marathon
- Contact: 343-1550, ext. 104; blueridgemarathon.com
YMCA Kids MarathonKids in grades K-5 who registered to run 25.2 miles before April 21 can run the final marathon mile with other participants. Kids can also participate on April 21 by registering to run the 25.2 miles later.
Sarah Goodman arrived at the Kirk Family YMCA, ready to run a mile on the indoor track with her sons Satchel, 9, and Silas, 6.
"So, what's a mile, 10 laps?" she asked, hopefully.
"No, mom," replied Satchel. "Fifteen."
Mom rolled her eyes. Then, they were off — logging another mile as they trained for the YMCA Kids Marathon.
The children's event is part of the National College Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke on April 21. No, the little runners don't have to run the mountainous 26.2-mile course from downtown Roanoke to the Blue Ridge Parkway and back. They just have to log 25.2 miles by marathon day, when they join other kids to run the last mile from the Kirk Family Y to the Taubman Museum of Art, crossing the finish line where the adult runners will finish.
About 250 children are expected to register for the event, which includes water stops, just like on a real marathon course.
Last year, Goodman and Satchel did the kids' marathon together. Sadly, the ending was anticlimactic — because the weather was, well, anti-climatic for running. Rain poured on marathon day, meaning that gangs of kids had to finish their personal marathons inside on the Y track.
Hopefully, the weather will be better this year. Regardless, the whole point of the kids' marathon is to encourage kids to exercise. That's especially important for Goodman, 36, a Roanoke County resident and ninth-grade teacher at Hidden Valley High School. Satchel has exercise-induced asthma.
"But I want to make sure that doesn't stop him from doing things," she said. "We did the marathon last year as a way to keep him active."
The Y wants active kids, too. Kim Bratic, YMCA of the Roanoke Valley's director of communication, pulled together what she described as "unsettling statistics" that show the economic recession and rise of high-tech gadgets have really curtailed family activities in recent years.
The Y's "National Health Snapshot" survey of 1,600 parents with children between the ages of 5 and 10 found that 52 percent of parents have cut back on after-school activities to save money, reducing kids' playtime. The survey also found that:
>> 74 percent of parents opt to spend "family time" with their kids sitting in front of the TV;
>> 42 percent believe computer games, cellphones and social media are getting in the way of physical play, but 53 percent admit that they spend leisure time playing video games with their kids;
>> 58 percent of children ages 5 to 10 spend fewer than four days a week playing outdoors;
>> Parents are more concerned with their children's financial security (42 percent), education (17 percent) and moral and ethical values (17 percent) than physical activity.
Of course, many parents probably don't realize that their children's unhealthy lifestyles can ultimately lead to financial insecurity in the future, as medical expenses, missed work time because of illness and other health-related issues can ruin a person's bank account.
That's why the Y sponsors events such as the kids' marathon. Anything to get them up and moving.
Participants in the marathon don't have to run all the miles. They can hike, bike, swim, roller skate — anything that makes them move. The Y even gives them pedometers so they can log their miles.
"Any physical activity," Bratic said. "The rule of thumb is 15 minutes of activity equals one mile. At the heart of why we're doing this is kids aren't playing outside enough."
The Kirk Family Y is also sponsoring "Healthy Kids Day" after the kids' marathon until 11:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.
"You're running too fast," Goodman hollered at Silas, her youngest. "You're going to poop out!"
Silas had lapped his mom and big brother on the Y track. Usually, the family runs around their neighborhood near Garst Mill Park, but yucky weather forced them indoors.
Goodman and her sons aren't just racking up miles by running. The family has walked the trails of Fishburn Park and the Murray Run Greenway, and over the weekend was headed to hike Mount Rogers in Grayson County. They visit the Roanoke River Greenway, where the boys get distracted from running by working out on the "exercise stations" in Vic Thomas Park. That's a distraction mom can tolerate.
"I emphasize spending time being active," she said. "We don't even own video-game players."
Still, logging the first 25.2 miles requires planning and commitment, even for a family that enjoys the outdoors. In addition to teaching, Goodman also works part time in real estate, which limits her outdoor time.
"The first thing that goes is exercise time," she said. "It forced me to sit down with a calendar. I tried to figure out 3 to 4 miles a week, so we'd have the 25 miles, if not a little more."
So, with a little planning, even the most time-stressed parents can get their families outdoors. It's about more than exercise, too. It's family time. When they run outside, Goodman runs with one boy at a time, so each can have some together time with mom.
"This is our time to be active together and talk about things," Goodman said. "They enjoy that aspect as much as the running. Even if I am breathless, panting, we're talking the whole time. It's a good workout. My 6-year-old can haul."
Anybody on the Y track could see that.
Ralph Berrier Jr.'s column runs every other Monday in Extra.