Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jack-O-Lantern Jog: The Family That Runs Together

My two running buddies and I.
October 26 was the day. The day my 9-year-old daughter Haylee was to run her first real race. This was going to be a challenge because it was a 4-miler.

Personally, I would have preferred her start off with a 2-miler or even a 5K. But I think the like the cool looking bling for the AG winners and she wanted one of those. (Plus, instead of a t-shirt, you got a nice hoodie. Not bad for a $17 registration fee, eh?)

Then again, she could just take after her old man. After all, the first race I signed up for and ran when I started running at the ripe age of 38 was a half marathon. They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, you know.

The fact Haylee asked to run this race (and trained with my bride and me) was a bit surprising. A couple years ago, she did the Kids Half Marathon as part of the Secret City Half Marathon. All she had to do was run 12 1-mile increments leading up to race and then run the final 1.1 miles on race day. As soon as she crossed the finish line, she announced, "I'm never doing that again."

Again, sounds eerily similar to someone I know.

For whatever reason, and I'm not going to question it, Haylee asked to run this race. After making sure she wanted to do it, I signed us up for it.

Genople and Haylee pre-race
The plan for this was simple: I would run my race - see what I can do, and Genople would run with Haylee. After I finished, I would run back to join them to help them across the finish line.

It was cold out for this race. I realize as I am finally finishing this recap that there's freezing rain falling outside and a call for 2-3 inches of snow overnight, but for the last Saturday in October, 25 degrees is really cold. And in the week prior, I was running in 60-degree weather. It's been a crazy autumn.

Anywho, I started out a bit fast, but I felt good. However, when I completed the first mile in 8:10, I knew I needed to back off a bit or else I would die. Coming off a half marathon PR two weeks prior, I did not think it wise to push so hard so fast.

I eased up during mile 2, posting a time of 9:04. Fast for me, but a good race pace for me on this short course.

Up to this point, the course was pretty flat. There really was only one hill, and it was right after mile 2 and it was steep. But on the plus side, we got to run down it. The hill went up to old St. Camillus School, where
Me crossing the finish line!
we ran to the track, did a loop around the track and back through the parking lot and down the hill. I was able complete mile 3 in 8:56.

As I noted before, I didn't want to push it, but I had the goal of finishing in under 36 minutes. So, I steadily picked up my pace during the final mile. Since this race is in my hometown and I run this area a lot, I knew when I could easily pick up steam.

After making the turn around the gazebo in town and began heading back toward downtown, I went under the underpass and made the final turn back to the finish line. A quick glance at my watch and I saw I could post a sub-35 minute time, so I picked up my pace even more. I went full throttle, finishing mile 4 in 8:37 and the race in 34:53.

I finished 23rd out of 132 runners and won my age group. Yup, pretty pleased.

But my happiness in my success was about to be eclipsed.

I ran the course backward to try and find Genople and Haylee. After about a 10-12 minute run, I caught up with them at the base of St. Camillus hill. And Haylee began to pick up her pace when she saw me. I finished
My two girls crossing the finish line!
the last mile-plus with them. Still new to running, Haylee likes to take a number of walk breaks. But I did what I could to encourage her to keep running. I'd tell her something like, "OK, we'll run to this point and then take a 1-minute walk break."

Doing intervals like that helped her pick up her pace a bit and she finished strong. Haylee and Genople crossed the line in 1:01:33 in 118th and 119th places.

Not going to lie, I'm proud of Haylee for sticking to training and running ... despite the whining. Yes, she whined, but she did not give up ... and that trumps the whining.

Haylee being Haylee
I believe she will run again, and my hope is she'll drop down to some 5Ks and some shorter runs. But we will run what she wants to run. She is taking the winter off because I'm not going to force her to run in the cold (now if she asks to, I'll gladly take her :) ) and since it gets dark so early now. By the time we pick her up from afterschool, the sun has nearly set.

But my hope is come late-February/early-March we can begin training for another race.

I must add that I'm grateful to my bride for letting me run my race to see what I could do. This was new race distance for me (and truthfully, her too), and she allowed me to go all out. Thanks, sweetie!

Lastly, there's nothing like getting to run with your family. I've really enjoyed training for and running this race. Look forward to many more family runs!

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