Allergy/Asthma Information Association

From 0 to 5 km

by Nick Pothier, Picton, ON

Have you ever said something without thinking it through? If so, I have a story for you!

It all started in my mom’s van, last winter while we were driving home from a hard power skating session. My mom was mad at me and I had no idea what I had done this time. I was half listening... until I heard her say that, while she was in the dressing room tying my brother’s skates, she had overheard what I said to some of the kids. “Oh, no” I thought, and the color drained from my face. When I got home, she gave me a punishment. The punishment was that I had to try out for the bantam rep hockey team next season. This was bad for me because I’m small for my age and there is checking. The thought of this was terrifying!

Months later my mom dragged me out to the local waterfront festival. I had to baby sit my sister while my mom ran the 8km race. She is an avid runner, running many races and has done the Prince Edward County Marathon for the past 3 years. My mom forced me to do the 1 km kids race because my little sister wanted to do it and needed somebody to run with. I did it without being short of breath. I did a mixture of running and walking to keep my breathing easy. I was very slow but I finished. As I watched my mom finish her race, some kids were running in the 4 km race. I was very impressed that they completed the race. Those kids were running extremely hard. When they crossed the finish line, they looked awfully tired.

Ever since I was little, my asthma has been keeping me back from playing sports. Even in hockey, I had a hard time breathing while I was skating, which was very frustrating. In fact, my worst mark in school was gym because I couldn’t keep up with my classmates. But, for the past few years my asthma has been controlled with my maintainer and I rarely need to use my ventolin. That’s likely why I could run the 1km race without being short of breath.

I enjoy playing hockey in our local house league. My brother, who is not asthmatic, made the rep. team last year. He got to do all sorts of neat trips and hung around with the cool rep. kids. He also ran with my mom at the AAIA run last spring. I was content not running. I volunteered instead. I liked being with other kids that have the same health issues as me. I really enjoyed my day.

Two weeks before the bantam rep tryouts last fall, my mom was nice enough to give me an option: Try out for rep hockey or run the 5km run at Sandbanks. Both options were brutal because I didn’t want to do either. I chose running because I was terrified of getting hurt in the tryouts. I had no idea how hard the training would be. However, since I was able to run the 1km distance at the waterfront festival without being short of breath, I felt there was hope.

My mom agreed to train me, but she thought I was just going to quit. My first day of training was very hard because of my asthma. I didn’t think I could do it. My mom didn’t even run with me because I was so slow, but I kept doing it. I decided to run very slow to prevent my asthma from flaring up. (I ran for 5 min very slow, then I walked for 1 min, I did it 3 times and it nearly killed me.)

After a couple of weeks, the training got a lot easier. I was going further and faster. My mom started to run with me and she was treating me like an equal runner. I was beginning to know her better because I was talking to her on the runs and she was starting to know me better too. My punishment (which I feared all summer) was actually fun and enjoyable. I was surprised that with proper training I could run long distances.

Then the Sandbanks race finally came. I was one of the few kids there. I ran the whole race without being short of breath and I finished in 29:47 min! I got 11th place in my age group! I was very proud of myself! My mom was extremely proud because I finished the race. My whole family was supportive just like the time when my brother made rep.

I felt so good after that race that a couple of weeks later, I did the Brighton Applefest 5km race with my mom. Mom and I ran the whole race together and we both had fun. I got third place in my age category and my mom got third place in her category too! As I was receiving my award and hearing the applause, I felt like I belonged in the running community. Asthma was no longer an excuse to keep me from being active.

My training has certainly helped my asthma but it hasn’t removed it. I feel good about being in shape and sports now seem easier. In fact last term I got an “A” in gym. Training is a lot of hard work, but it has been worth it.

Realizing that I can do well in athletics even with asthma is opening new doors for me. I am also having a great year in hockey.

I plan to do the AAIA 5km fun run this spring as well as cross country and track in my school. I am in grade 8 and this will be the first time that I have tried out for a school team.

I guess I was punished in the first place for lying about my hockey skills to the other kids in the arena. I told them I could have easily made the rep team too. I had not wanted to tryout but I thought I could have made the team anyway. My mom must have overheard. My mom mentioned that rep tryouts are very tough and “one shouldn’t lie about how good one is” unless one commits to doing it.

Many lessons have come out of this. For example I will think before I say things and it doesn’t matter who you are, you can always get in shape! I now know I can follow through on a commitment, even with asthma.

See you in Whitby at the AAIA Fun Run!

from Allergy & Asthma News, Issue 1 2007

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