I'm excited to announce that Braden officially belongs to two running clubs after joining the Arkansas Performance Running Club Patriots! Even though Braden has been practicing with his new club for about a month now, I thought it was worthwhile to pay the monthly costs to join so he can get trained by a coach and run in U.S.A. Track & Field events on a local, regional, and potentially a national level.
Head coach Cezar Terlea and his assistant Krista Hawkins work really well with the kids and I've noticed how Braden's times have really come down in the middle distance events he is running.
Interestingly, I wasn't pursuing anything USATF related, but after we ran the Capital City Classic 10K in 55:08, Coach Cezar was at the finish line to greet us. He asked how old Braden was (6 at the time), then he gave me his card and asked me to give him a call. Initially I was skeptical, but after making a few phone calls I found out that he was legit and that some of the top high school track athletes in the state run in the club.
I take Braden down to the UALR track once a week to train and I think that even he amazes the coaches with his stamina because he runs just as many 150M and 300M iterations as the high school kids and his times are just as consistent from the first to the last iteration. The coach sometimes looks at me and questions if Braden can keep the pace up and I tell him that he is used to running 10K races, so 2-3 mile training events are easy to him, and Braden proves me right every time. The coaches and older kids are always complimenting him on his stamina and his endless motor.
On June 20, Braden will run in his first meet at the USATF Arkansas Association Junior Olympic Outdoor Track and Field Championship in Little Rock in the 7-8 year old age division. To confirm which events Braden should run, Coach Cezar timed him in the 800M and 1500M runs. Braden first ran the 1500M event and finished with a PR time of 6:57 and then 25 minutes later ran the 800M run in 3:33, setting another PR in that distance as well!
The awesome thing is that with some work Braden's times could actually qualify him to run on a national level! Would he win? Not a chance, but at least he could get to a level where he could challenge on a regional basis and maybe one day compete against the big dogs. Originally, I was just wanting him to join the club so he could compete in Junior Olympic Cross Country events, but the track and field side has opened up some other doors.
So now, Braden not only will be running Arkansas Grand Prix races, but USATF meets as well. I think our schedule and vacations are now going to revolve around Braden's running!
Cindy and I are truly thankful at the way the Lord has blessed Braden and we know with his running abilities and his smarts (he's a straight A student), that many opportunities will come his way as he gets older. Until then, I'll just enjoy the ride and run with him as long as I can until I can't keep up with him anymore...which may be sooner than I think!!