• autism,  high school,  milestones,  teen years,  track

    How it started…how it’s going

    I keep reminding myself that J’s running career hasn’t ended, it’s just his high school XC and track career that have ended. J may have ran his last high school race a few weeks ago, but he’s still got a lifetime’s worth of races to run. As I look back on J’s last six years, I would have to say that XC and track have been some of the most impactful experiences in J’s social, emotional, and physical growth. I truly believe that everyone is born to run. But for some people the running journey is harder than others. J really had to work at his running journey. J struggles…

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  • autism,  COVID life,  high school,  track

    The Comfort of Normal

    This Thursday was J’s first track meet of the year. It was blustery and cold. And absolutely wonderful. It was the closest I’ve felt to “normal” since March 2020. Even more “normal” than the XC meets of 2020. J rode the bus to the meet. Hung out at camp, ran his 1600, ordered from the concession stand. I know we’re not normal yet. We’re nowhere close to normal. We’ve got vaccines and we’re getting close, but it also feels like we’re on the cusp of the fourth wave. I know that at any moment things can change again. I know there’s still a risk someone in our family could come…

  • anxiety,  autism,  high school,  teen years,  track

    The stories we tell ourselves

    Self talk. It’s that narration we use to look through at the moments of our life. That voice in our heads that tells us that we’re having a good hair day or that we look fat in that shirt. The voice that tells you that you’ve done a really good job getting through something tough or that you’re a complete failure and always will be. J’s had a lot of training in self-talk and coping skills, but he always needs someone to walk him through it, because usually he’s in a state of distress when he needs that motivational story told to him. This week was the first time I’ve…

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  • anxiety,  autism,  track

    Let’s play a game

    Let’s play a game. I’m going to give you a list of dates for J’s track meets with his race times this season, and you tell me if you can spot the trend. There’s a significant trend going on here. You ready? 3/23/19 1600 M= 7:13 3/29/19 1500 M= 6:18 4/16/19 1600 M= 6:44.41 4/22/19 1600 M= 7:16.09 4/25/19 1600 M= 7:00.54 This may be a little unfair, especially if you don’t have experience with long distance track, so I’ll give you some hints. That 1500 m time? If you put it into a pace calculator, it comes out to 6:46 per mile (1600m). So let’s try this again, comparing…

  • autism,  cross-country,  high school,  teen years,  track

    Still behind, but still moving forward

    Wednesday afternoon before track practice, a reporter and a photographer from the local paper met with J to ask him a few questions and take a few pictures for a story featuring J, his autism, and his running experience. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. J’s not much of a talker–at least a talker that stays on topic. J and the reporter met for about 20 minutes and it was a bit of a struggle–J couldn’t give him any great quotes to use for his story–but boy, J is a million times better at small talk than he used to be. I don’t get to watch him…

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  • anxiety,  autism,  mental health,  track

    Sometimes you don’t deserve a Gatorade

    When I saw J writing the word “unicorn” over and over in the air as he ran each lap of his 1600 m race last week I wasn’t happy. I know most spectators didn’t catch J’s “air cursive,” but Steve and I sure did. What most spectators saw was J smiling and laughing each time he rounded the track. It looked like he was having a good time. And that was the problem. J was having a good time–not being a part of the race. I’m sure if anyone heard me chew out J post-race and tell him he didn’t earn his Gatorade (which he ALWAYS does after a race)…

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  • autism,  cross-country,  exercise,  high school,  milestones,  teen years,  track

    A New Label

      J’s met with a lot of new people this month–a new orthopedic doctor, new trainers in his weight training class, new therapists at the eye doctor. And in almost every conversation he’s had, one of the first things out of J’s mouth? “I’m a runner.” J has never identified himself with another label besides his name, so to hear him describe himself in a conversation as a runner? I was shocked, and elated, and little emotional. It’s been amazing to see J’s growth both emotionally and physically with this running journey. It’s like every few months, he becomes a new kid. And once again, this week, I got to…

  • autism,  cross-country,  exercise,  family,  milestones,  track

    Born to run

    I don’t know how he does it, but without fail, when J starts a new season of XC, track, or runs a race in the Fargo Marathon, he takes off minutes–MINUTES off of his PR from the previous season.  This weekend was the Fargo Marathon and J took off 1:39 off of his 5K time and 3:21 off of his 10K time. And Steve and I were totally shocked at how much improvement he’s made from last year’s 2017 5 and 10K races. J’s been running XC and track for three years now. He’s a conditioned runner and those dramatic reductions in time should start to wane and finally plateau. But…

  • autism,  motherhood,  teen years,  track

    Growth Spurts and that Growing Village

    Sometimes a lot of good things happen all at the same time. This week was one of those weeks. Monday–Track Meet #1: J PRd the heck out of his mile: By almost 30 seconds! J’s mile time was 7:03. Last year’s PR for that same event? 7:32. When J first started this whole XC/Track business? 13 min miles. That’s growth, folks! Running with a stronger pack: Monday’s meet was a really small meet (3 schools) which meant that there was going to be only 1 heat for the 1600m. I was super nervous about this, because that meant he was going to be running with the fast kids. Yes, he…

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  • autism,  high school,  track

    You Just Never Know

    In honour of celebrating Autism Awareness Month, we’ve been living this week in typical (unpredictable) autism fashion. Here’s a little recap of how this week totally threw us for some unexpected surprises. Sunday: Our good friends invited us over for Easter lunch, and it was the most entertaining, heartwarming lunch I’ve had in a long time. J got to meet my friend’s new dog Tucker. Fred really did work some miracles for J when it comes to dog interactions. Fred taught J about “dog bubbles” (like “you don’t run up to a dog and give it hugs” and “you give it time to get to know you”). Fred taught J how…