Contributed by Sesa Pabalan and Gary Chan
LMJS has many energetic and enthusiastic youngsters who participate at the 4th Sunday Runs. One of them is 11-year-old Jared Chan. Jared’s dad, Gary, was a LMJS member back in 1978. It was Gary’s absolute favorite place to race. Now, it is Jared’s favorite. The only difference between them is that Jared greatly prefers the 15K! In just a little over a year, Jared has lowered his 15K PR from 97 minutes to 69:50.
Two summers ago, at age 9, Jared engaged in a typical game of chase with his brothers. On this day, Dad noticed something of a runner’s look in one of his triplet sons (yes, Jared is a triplet). He asked Jared if he would like to try an experiment at the nearby high school track. At whatever speed he wished, Jared could trot laps until he felt it was enough. For every lap completed without walking, he would be awarded 25 Chuck-E-Cheese arcade tokens - his favorite! Dad was not anticipating having to pay out more than a few dozen or so. Well, after 12 seemingly effortless laps (3 miles), and an un-phased boy grinning larger with each pass, Gary had to interrupt to stop Jared because he couldn't afford to buy any more tokens! Presumably, a fun-runner was born.
After two months of jogging 1 easy mile every other day, Jared asked to attempt his first-ever 5K, a non-competitive family fun run in Union City. Unfortunately, as does sometimes occur, this race involved a course volunteer who left his post early. Jared unknowingly proceeded past the 5K turn-around and wound up inadvertently getting on the 10K course. He had never exceeded 3 miles in his young life. Somehow, even with his low mileage base, he stubbornly persevered to the finish. Gary sadly anticipated Jared would gasp out that he’d never ever want to run again! Amazingly, all he expressed was, "Daddy, I think the course seemed a little long." Plus, he reported no major discomfort or fatigue.
Jared’s first serious running goal was an unusual one. Last fall, his current elementary school held its annual fundraising event, a multi-hour walkathon where the entire student body of 600 circled continuously around a large grass field loop to accrue pledge funds per lap. Of course, school officials have always only expected their students to merely fun-walk. But as is the case when offering handsome awards, a highly-charged competitive spirit emerges naturally among children. During his first 5 school years, Jared has seen the honors go to the bigger boys and girls – peers who stayed active via soccer and baseball. For his final year, he intended to show his school the true potential of a runner, and as he declares, “Leave his mark on his way out!” while breaking the school’s all-time record. His 25.75 miles in 4 hours did indeed break the record by a half-a-mile.
In the near-term, Jared has identified for himself two important running goals. One is to continue to improve on his half marathon PR of 1:44 while completing the Nor-Cal Half Marathon Series for 2012. The other goal is to become the youngest runner to complete the East Bay Triple Crown Trail Challenge. Both goals present a conundrum to his Daddy coach, who continually struggles with supporting Jared’s appetite for miles while keeping him safe, motivated, and healthy. Perhaps the only way to persuade him to reduce is when he joins his first cross-country team next fall with the longest competition no further than 3 miles.
In the meantime, Jared looks forward to his monthly returns to the Lake. Most special to him has been the fun he has had meeting and greeting fellow runners. He definitely appreciates the encourage- ment he receives at the 4SR races. As he points out, the crowd here always seems so friendly and supporting. Besides knowing the course so well, Jared attributes his faster times here to the props he gets from the LMJS crowd. And if he could express one desire, it would be that the 15K be run every month!