Saturday, June 29, 2013

Courage to Succeed (Run for Independence 8k)

JD:  About a month after the North Face 50k, Heather scheduled a family outing in Leesburg, VA called the Run for Independence 8k. We were having a small dilemma in that neither of the boys, Nic(6) and Zach (8) have ever run ~5 miles before, and I actually wanted to get a decent run in today.  What that meant is that I didn't want to run 10/11 min miles and actually work the hills a little bit.  So Heather decided she would run with Nic and Zach would be flying solo.

Not sure why the children are zipped up and hooded like it's winter!
Heather:  I was a little nervous about Zach tackling the distance solo.  He has done a bunch of 5Ks on his own, but I wasn't sure how he would handle a new longer distance.  He was a little nervous at the race start, but after deciding on where to meet Dad at the finish line and feeling reassured that Nic and I wouldn't be far behind so that he could always stop and wait for us he was ready to go.

Yes!  Mommy coordinated our outfits for a theme for this race.

Heather:  The great part about this race is that it is a fundraiser for The Arc of Loudon County Paxton Campus which is an advocacy organization dedicated to helping persons especially children with disabilities.  I thought this was a great opportunity for us to help out and also for the kids to realize how fortunate they are.  Before the race we talked about why we were running, and I told them that when it felt hard they should think about how they were blessed to be able to run because there were kids who would never be able to do this. The other great thing is that there were signs all along the race course with pictures of some of the kids saying that the kids thanked you for running for them or other inspirational sayings.  I was reading them to Nic as we went by each of them.  (Quick aside on my outfit as I was trying some new gear:  The tank was from Run Pretty Far.  It was this awesome tissue weight fabric.  The website describes it as "butter soft", and it really is extremely comfortable.  The skirt was from Running Skirts.  Previously I had tried their running skirt and wasn't completely thrilled with it because I didn't like the brief bottom.  This time I tried the athletic skirt which worked much better for me because there is a 5" short attached.  I also really like the side pockets because it is easier to get things out of them while running.  I wish one was a zipper instead of velcro because I was worried about my key bouncing out.)

JD:  The race start was at 7am, nice and early but we had to get up extra early as to pick up our bibs and junkware.  So, this race had 0 heard it right.  Instead, they used the buildings attached to this campus and used the bathrooms in there.
(Heather:  I actually appreciated the nice clean indoor bathrooms in the buildings, but I found one in a not so crowded building on the edge of campus.)
Pre-race hugs from Dad
JD:  Hmm, 500 people, a handful of bathrooms, what could go wrong...well, I made sure I emptied out soon as to not wait for the huge lines and then went and hit about 1/1.5 miles to see how the legs were feeling.  All in all they were just ok, its was about 80+ in the AM and muggy and the legs felt heavy.  I figured I would suck it up and just try to get a decent run in.  So after the national anthem, Keira hits the PR horn and we are off.  I started in the back with the family as there was no chance in hell I was going to place in this bitch.  I saw at least 20+ PR singlets which just about meant every one of them were better than me. (Heather:  I was pretty glad that I wasn't trying to run hard when one of the PR women burned me in a full out sprint to be first in the bathroom lines.  I was just going to enjoy the race with the kids and not stress.)

JD:  Ok, so the race began and I started off in the back which meant I did a bunch of passing just to get my pace down which was slow for today.  First mile was a 7:04, usually, I live in the low 6's in these races but no speed work and all long runs have taken its toll.  The second mile was worse mostly b/c of the hills thrown in and was only got worse from there, a sluggish 7:23...The fourth mile was also a 7:23...something tells me I was not running my hardest...the last mile was a 6:56 and ended up with a 36:04 for 5:01 miles which gave me around a 7:11 pace.  In the end, I came in 42nd out of 194 in the male group and 8th out of 29th in my 40-44 age group - but I kinda expected this.  It wasn't a good run at all and if i wanted to place, I would have to drop 4 minutes off my time.  Yea, sure.  I have a nice easy 10 miles tomorrow at Bull Run Battlefield so i am looking forward to that.

Heather:  So my race experience was quite a bit different.  I'm usually an upper mid-pack runner, but when I run with the kids sometimes I get to experience life at the back of the pack.  It was not pretty out there with the heat and rolling terrain. Lots of runners were using me as a pacer and kept saying that they were listening to me encouraging Nic to help keep them going.  Both boys started out with me and started out a little fast.  So I was having to sprint and weave to keep up with them.  Nic was trying to annoy Zach by running just slightly ahead of him, and Zach just can't stand to be behind Nic for even a second.  I finally got them settled down, and Zach went on ahead.  During this time I also had to answer at least 10 times that yes, the kids really were going to finish the whole 8k, and no I wasn't going to drop them off somewhere along the way. Then I had to ignore the looks that folks were giving me and hope that no one called CPS on me.

 I had told Nic that we were going to do a solid 5K and the reevaluate where we were after that.  So he settled in and was running between 10-11:30 miles for the first 5K.  He was running most of the inclines at that point and was doing really well. The first mile was mainly winding through a neighborhood and down Battlefield Parkway.  Then we crossed over Rt 15.  Nic liked this because all of the traffic was stopped so he could run across a 4 lane road. He was excited to see the water stop at 2 miles and got some water and dumped some over his head to stay cool.  
Getting some hydration from the handheld that I brought along

At this point we were running behind a bunch of schools so he was checking out the playgrounds and football stadiums.  Somewhere around 2.5 miles, two way running traffic started with an out and back so I kept him occupied looking for Dad.  We cheered and waved when we saw JD go by.  Then we started looking for Zach.  We finally saw him when we were almost at the 3 mile point.  He was running well and told us that the turnaround and 3 mile point were up ahead.  
There's Zach on his own!

Nic was excited to not be too far behind Zach.  We hit the turn around and then cheered a little when we got to the 5K point.  Nic was still fine to run as we were on a down hill so we kept going running until we hit a hill and then we walked the hill.  After walking the hill we passed the water stop again.  He walked through this area.  Then we met up with a senior runner and his son who were running with cameras on their heads.  The son was nice enough to help encourage Nic to get to the 4 mile mark by offering to race him.  So they sprinted off while the elderly man and I laughed at how our "kids" were trying to kill us.  Nic was really excited when I told him that we had passed the first mile mark and that he had officially run his longest distance yet.  The last mile was harder for him, and we did a lot of run walking even though the terrain was pretty flat back into the neighborhood.  As we were nearing the campus, one of the race volunteers said that there was only 200 meters to go.  Nic said that's what he was saving his energy for and tore off in a sprint to the finish line. 
Finish line

 He had so much energy at the end that I think he probably could have run a little harder throughout, but I didn't want to push him on the first try at this distance.  He finished at 1:01:06, and Zach had finished about 10 minutes earlier at 51:45.  I'm pretty sure Zach could have run better with one of us pacing him because he said that he let himself walk some of the hills as it was hard doing it by himself. 

Zach still running after he crosses the line.

Nic trying to beat a baby! 

 The best part about the finish was that Keira from PR made a big deal of announcing the kids' names and ages.  She also mentioned that Zach and Nic were the youngest runners and that Nic had run more K's than his age today.  That really made them feel special.  The other runners at the finish were also great about cheering for the boys as they finished.  Nic is still talking about how some lady told him that he was her favorite runner.

Post run!

One of the quotes on the signs said, "If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed."  This was so true for the boys today.  We are really proud of them for taking on a new running challenge that they initiated on their own and for succeeding at it.  We'll go back to 5Ks for the rest of the year now.  Zach wants to try a 10K in the fall, but Nic will stay at the 8K and under distance for quite a while and keep improving his times.
Sporting their race shirts...we definitely won't lose them in those shirts!

 Of course, we can't have a post without the recovery Starbucks coffee and assorted food after the race!  The race was catered by Eggspectation and the brunch was supposed to be great, but the line was insane by the time the boys finished so we hit our usual post race stop.

JD:  We are running the Firecracker 5k on July 4th, then I have the 37th annual La Sportiva Hill Climb in Vail, CO.  Starts at 8500 feet and goes up to 10,300 for a 7.5 mile run.  Here is the course map for the run.  Nothing that exciting about the race and it was run well as always, PR does an awesome job at organizing road races.  I'm out.

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