Skyridge Middle School students are training for a half-marathon

Making it count

Paige McCray (left) and Lindsey Lattimer are heading into the final weeks of half-marathon training.

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Lattimer pushed through pain to earn this medal for finishing a half-marathon last year. She will run the same race again in just a few weeks.

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Contributed photo Lattimer grins after finishing the Vancouver U.S.A. half-marathon last year. She set the course record for runners 15 and younger as a seventh-grader.

“When you cross the finish line, no matter how slow or fast, it will change your life forever.”This quote comes from the movie, “The Spirit of the Marathon.” Anyone who has ever trained for a challenging race, be it an Ironman, marathon or half-marathon, understands exactly what it means to push past your limits and cross the finish line victoriously.

Two Skyridge Middle School eighth-graders are training for that moment. After struggling through injury, illness and busy schedules, Lindsey Lattimer and Paige McCray are just weeks away from the Vancouver U.S.A. Half Marathon.

They were inspired to run it by Skyridge physical education teacher and cross country coach Rick Houston.

“I just want to empower these two,” he said. “I know they have the mental discipline to do it.”

It will be Lattimer’s second half-marathon. She ran the inaugural Vancouver U.S.A. half last year as a seventh-grader, and set a course record for runners 15 and younger, coming in nearly eight minutes faster than the next competitor.

McCray is doing it for the first time, using a training guide designed by Houston to fit her competition goals. She is also juggling her training time with being a part of the school play “Oklahoma,” and maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Lattimer has been dealt a series of blows with illness followed by an ankle sprain that forced her to drop out of track. She is still planning to run the race purely for enjoyment.

“Last year, I wanted to quit at mile four,” Lattimer said. “I hit the wall pretty hard. Then I just got really mad at myself and told myself to keep going.”

This year, she is hoping to beat her time and finish strong.

“I like running because it gives you a chance to think and you feel good afterward,” she said.

McCray has been running for a year. She started due to soccer conditioning sessions at the Heritage Trail at Lacamas Lake.

“It was hard but really gratifying,” she said. “Mr. Houston asked me to try out for cross country this past fall, so I did it and loved it, and just continued to run.”

McCray decided to join Lattimer and Houston for the half-marathon because it was a difficult but attainable goal.

“It’s an achievement to do something like this,” she said. “Not many kids have the strength to finish a half marathon.”

So far, her longest run has been 10 miles, which is typical distance training for a 13.1 mile race.

“My mom has been my biggest supporter,” McCray said. “She maps out routes for me in advance and has been really encouraging.”

Both girls agreed that the most difficult aspect of training is getting out the door.

“If you get past the wall of not wanting to do it and just put your shoes and running clothes on and walk outside, that’s half the battle,” Lattimer said.

Although she is nervous, McCray is also looking forward to the race atmosphere and finishing strong.

“I haven’t done many competitive races so I’m really excited about feeling that adrenaline kick in.”

She is most nervous about pushing through the inevitable “bad patch” during the race.

“I’ll just have to shut it off and make it though, then I’ll feel fine afterward,” she said.

As a second-time half marathoner, Lattimer is thinking more about what she’ll need after the race.

“I’m going to ask my parents to get me some food,” she said.

Houston, an avid half-marathon runner, wants both girls to finish strong.

“It’s really about becoming a lifelong runner through the experience,” he said. “It’s not about how good or fast you are, it’s about enjoying the journey. These girls are both special people and I know they can do it.”

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