Monday, July 29, 2013

Twilight 5K Race Report: Running with my 7 year old!

My son and I ran the Twilight 5K together on Saturday, July 20.  This is a night race with a 1 mile fun run followed by a 5K.  My son, who just turned 7, has been wanting to do a 5K for a couple of months now.  He even went as far as to "train" by doing a couple of runs with me where we jogged 20-30 minutes together.  But my son is a typical 7 year old boy with LOTS of energy.  He runs, walks, hikes, crawls, jumps, swims, and bike rides as much as he can fit into each day.  That is "training" enough for him.  How much should you train with a young child?  That and more questions are answered in a descriptive blog entry by Tia found here.  It was helpful reading her opinions and finding out how she's helped her encourage her oldest daughter's running.
We arrived at the race, and Rick went to volunteer at the aid station with our daughter.  Rick snapped this picture of us before he left. 

Then began a long period of waiting for the race to start.  It takes place on a local college campus surrounded by many pine trees, so my son and I went exploring under the trees while we waited for the start.  Much different than my typical pre-race warm-up routine! 
He spotted a boy about his age with his shirt off, so my son took his off too!  I thought that was a good idea to help keep him cool.  Running in the 80 degree weather without much training would be easier if he was cool.
The Race
I had the Garmin on to see my son's pace as we ran.  We started near the middle of the pack and pretty much maintained a steady pace throughout the run.  For me, the pace felt incredibly relaxed and easy, but I had to remind my self that, for my son, this pace was challenging. 
Rick and I each had given him "pep talks," which I think is inevitable for two runners to do!  We did our best to explain how to do your best, how running can feel VERY hard, and about pushing yourself to achieve your goal.  Our son's goal was just to finish and have fun, hopefully while running/jogging for most of the race.  I enjoyed running with him.  I distracted him as much as possible as we ran.  I've run this course many times, so I know it well.  We passed a small lake that we'd launched his remote-controlled boat in earlier this summer, so I made sure I pointed that out.  I explained how we would reach a turn-around cone and then head back to the start line.  And I knew we would pass the aid station twice, so I talked all about how Daddy and Sissy would be waiting to see us and cheering for us.  Sure enough, the aid station boosted my son's spirits both times, and the water cooled him off.

Approaching the aid station the first time

He's telling his sister to "pour the water ON me!!!"

Coming back around for the second time

He's looking tired here!

Sister hands him water!

Sister splashes water on him!!

A volunteer pours more water on his back at my prompting
The end of the course has a little hill.  I knew here was where my son would really be tempted to walk.  I was really proud of him when he didn't and noticed a nice man encouraging him as he passed the man.  As we got to the end, I reminded my son to push himself, especially when the finish line was in sight.  He later told me that he was picturing a large trophy at the finish line with his name on it.  How did he learn to usual mental imagery to help him as he ran?!?!  That is a great technique for all runners!

He finished in 30:15--a 9:44 pace!  We got water and walked for a bit and then sat down on a curb.  I asked him, "How do you feel?  Are you happy you did it?"  And I honestly had NO idea what he would say.  He said, "Mommy, I'm proud of myself, and I'm so happy you pushed me."  That made my day!

The best part was finding out that he has gotten 3rd place in his age group (0-9 year olds)!  He is so excited, because here in Huntsville, age group awards usually mean Fleet Feet gift cards!  He was presented with a $10 card for FF, and he is so excited to pick something out there!

This was a great experience for both of us, captured nicely by our local race photographer, Gregg Gelmis.  I am so happy to have this picture of us running together.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Surprise Date Night

from here
Rick surprised me on June 12 with a date night to see Spirit of the Marathon II!

As I stepped into his car, he had a bag with a new Fleet Feet jacket and a really sweet card for me, but the movie was a surprise until we got to the theater.  I thought all along that we were going to see The Great Gatsby, since we tried seeing that a couple of weeks ago and we hadn't been able to.  It turns out that our local theater had one showing of Spirit of the Marathon II, and Rick had knew it would be a great date night for two marathoners!

New jacket and nice card 
The movie followed seven runners from around the world as they prepared for the marathon in Rome.  Even though the theater we went to see the movie at was nearly empty, I didn't care.  I felt an instant connection with all of the other people in the theater and to the people featured in the movie.  I understood what the runners were going through as they trained and ran in the marathon and felt surges of adrenaline watching the race.  I got to see a variety of athletes train and run too---not just the people around my pace like I normally have the most exposure to.  The person I connected the most to was Ylenia from Milan.  She was a mother to two kids like me.  You can read much more about the movie and the other cast members here. From their website, the filmmakers tried to "capture the truly international nature of the marathon and how its transformative power has a profound effect on all who run it."  I know what they mean when they talk about the "profound effect" of marathons, since I know the effect they've had in my life.  I recommend you watch it if you get a chance, but I don't know if that is possible since there was only one showing on the same day all over the nation!

Even more special about the night was how Rick had all of this planned for us as something special to do.  Sometimes I fault running for making things so hard for us as we try to fit two marathon training schedules into our lives.  I forget that running is how we first fell in love.  Without running, there would be no us.  Now running is still a connection that we have, thought we rarely do it together anymore.  We still understand what the other one is going through during training, we still know what it feels like when the other one misses their goal by a single minute or two in the marathon, and we still get to enjoy traveling to marathons and starting each marathon together.  Somehow, we've been able to run marathons in almost 23 states together (we didn't do Georgia together but I think we did the rest?).  And we've managed to run 12 of those states after having our kids.  These marathons will be memories we will never forget.  I give Rick credit for finding a movie that unites us with the greater worldwide community of marathon runners, but I credit this movie and date night with reminding me of how running unites the two of us even more.