There are times when things just all fall into place, running-wise. This past Thanksgiving wekeend was one of them for me.
It started off on Thursday with the Giving Thanks 5K, in Vienna, VA. I entered this race late, since I wasn't sure how I was going to respond to the rigors of the Marine Corps Marathon. I recovered nicely, and decided to keep my streak of Turkey Day races going at 5 years. This race (I believe) is in it's 3rd year, and participation has increased exponentially each year. Their inaugural race in 2010 drew 186 runners; 2011 doubled to 374 runners, and this year, they drew 520 participants. Nice steady growth for a nice little community 5K.
My goal for this race was to attempt to run the 5K in under 25 minutes (8:04 pace), which would be a milestone for me. But the race had an ominous beginning - 3 hills of increasing height within the first half-mile. The first one was short and steep, the second was longer and higher, and the third was short, but even further up than the second. The benefit to this was that there was a huge downhill at the top of the third hill, getting us back to flat ground and the W&OD Trail, where the remainder of the race would be contested. I ran the first mile in 8:05, right on track, and once we got on the slight downhill of the W&OD, I ran a 7:53 in mile 2. But as flat as the course looked from here, there was a slight upslope for the final 1.6 miles of the race. I was hanging around 8:20 as I was getting towards the end, and I kicked it up a notch at the 2.7 mile mark, but it wasn't enough. I crossed the line in 25:04, just missing my goal. But I wasn't dissatisfied, as this represented a 27-second improvement over my previous 5K PR from July 4th.
I finished 91st overall out of the 520 runners, my best placing to date, and 11th out of 44 in my age group.
But that was only the beginning. The next day, Friday, I signed up my 6 year-old son to run the Gingerbread Man Mile children's fun run in Reston, VA. He had never run a real race before, just a 2 block Dash this Halloween weekend. I ran outside with him the previous 2 Saturdays, and he hadn't run the entire mile without walking, his best being about a 10:55 pace. It didn't really matter, as the goal was just to have him participate. but I didn't want it to be miserable for him.
It was cold on Friday, but he insisted on wearing his orange dri-Fit shirt with his race number. That's a good sign. We lined up (I was going to run with him and act as his "pacer"), and when the horn went off, he took off like a cannon. I had to reign him in, since I knew there was a hill right around the corner. He made the first loop (about 3/10 mile) just fine, but the longer 7/10 mile loop was coming up, with the hill again around the corner. But he did great - never walked once, and as we approached the finish line, I peeled off and allowed him to cross the finish line by himself, in an impressive 10:02 - not bad for a first race!! After he crossed I went over, picked him up, and told him how proud I was at what he accomplished.
So, in a weekend where I set a great PR and ran a race with my son, I'll take the Father-Son moment every time!!