This is and always will be my favorite race. One, it's a half-mile from my house, meaning we can walk there. Two, it's a small race, usually capping out at about 200 participants. Three, it's laid back, like most small races. There is no technical starting line, just a starting area. You run when the firework explodes. I also love it because like I said, it's so close to my house--meaning I run those roads several times a week and could run this course with my eyes closed. I know there's a big hill at the halfway point, and I know that when the road starts to slope upward at the end that I'm almost done.
They've been doing this race for four years and I've managed to run every single year, which is pretty cool. In fact, it was the first race I ever ran, so obviously it holds a special place in my heart. While I run it, Shane usually takes the boys to playground. He also usually manages to miss me at the finish line, but this year, he swore he would get there on time.
This year was extra special because Luke wanted to run the 5k. I was a little nervous about it because although we've run 3 miles together before, we hadn't been doing it on a regular basis. Also, he was insistent that I not run with him, so I could just picture him taking a wrong turn or something crazy because I didn't know where he would be at in the crowd. In fact, I wrote his name and my cell number on his bib in permanent marker just in case. We did run the course together before the race, so I made sure that he knew the course. I also had a friend who I knew would be further back in the pack and she was going to watch out for him, too. Still, I was nervous because, you know. I'm a mom.
The only thing I dislike about this race is that they don't close down the streets. I understand why because the parade starts at the same place as the 5k, so they can't exactly deny people from getting to the start of the parade--especially those in the parade who need to line up. That said, the police are very good about making sure traffic is stopped for runners; however, the exhaust fumes from the idling cars are pretty brutal. At about 2.5 miles, there's a gradual uphill that you don't notice in a car, but you definitely notice it while running. I was behind a little boy about Luke's age who was crying to his dad that he wanted to walk, but dad kept telling him that the finish line was near. I turned my head and said, "Good job, buddy! You're so close!" and got a small smile out of him. At the final push, he blew past me like I was standing still. Kids!
When I got to the final turn into the parking lot towards the finish line, I saw that the clock said 27:0x and relaxed because I knew there was NO WAY it was going to take me 50 seconds to cross the finish line. My official finish time was 27:15, which is a 5k PR for me. I ran the turkey trot two years ago at under 27, but the course was way long so my time was not at all reflected on the official time (yes, I'm still frustrated about this). My time two years ago was after coming off a rigorous half-marathon training schedule and running myself into an injury, so knowing that I can hit my goal with no speed work or training, aside from making myself get up and run five miles every morning before summer school? That is a good feeling.
And yes, Shane made it to the finish line this year. It was a good feeling to see him clapping and cheering at the end. After finishing, I grabbed a bottle of water and stood next to Shane and Tommy to catch my breath for a minute, then I headed back to find Luke. I'd just started down the sidewalk when I saw him coming and truly, I wish I'd taken my phone to capture this. He didn't see me because his face was sheer determination, arms and legs pumping. I hopped in next to him and said, "You're almost done, just around the corner!" and he kicked it in so strong that I couldn't catch him--legitimately could not catch him.
He crossed the finish line at 30:37 and hands down, I am more proud/excited about his time than mine. He was so close to a sub-30, he did way better than I expected and on so little training. He finished 5th in his age group. Aside from the boy who finished just in front of me, the other kids who beat him were 9 and 10.
Run Dirty. I think he will love a trail race!
Not to be outdone, Tommy ran the sparkler sprint for the first time. Little kids are funny because they all just fall in a perfect line and don't pass, but I loved watching him run and he loved getting a box of sparklers and a ribbon at the end.
All told, it was a perfect way to kick off our 4th of July. I am hoping next year, Shane will also run!