This year, however, I made the choice to go to Cleveland to celebrate with Michael's family, and my parents went to see my grandparents in Illinois. We had a brief discussion about running a different 5K, maybe around Christmas, but I really wanted to run this with my dad for the fourth year in a row. In the end, my parents simply told my grandma that they would be there in the late afternoon, so we were on for the race!
Last year was very cold and snowy, with a lot of snow and ice already on the ground, so this year was gorgeous by comparison. It was right around freezing, but the ground was clear, and there was only a light wind.
|Look how not miserable we look! (I'm only grimacing because the cold wind hurt my sensitive teeth.)|
We lined up one minute before the race start, but they gave everyone an extra five minutes and then had some brief announcements. I hadn't thought to wear a coat, even though my mom would've been able to take it, but luckily my dad hugged me inside his coat, otherwise the wait would've been pretty miserable.
The race raises money for epilepsy and was started by a local family with an epileptic child, and they announced before the gun that he had been officially seizure-free for six years. This was awesome news, and it made me reflect on how lucky I am to have my good health.
Lining up for this race is always a bit strange, as everyone forms a sort of Y-shape, and it can be hard to get far enough forward to be in the "neck" and away from a lot of the congestion. We made a better effort to line up closer to the front than in past years, but there were still a lot of people that seeded themselves inappropriately. I'm glad everyone is getting out and being active, but it drives me nuts when people in jeans line up in the very front! I know they probably have no clue, but they announced several times the race was chip-timed. I guess it comes with the territory.
The first mile winds through a neighborhood and leads runners out to the golf course. The road is closed to traffic and quite wide, so a lot of congestion is relieved in this area. It's very important to jockey for position here, since the path on the golf course is very narrow. It's always tricky navigating through with my dad, since he can't squeeze through as small of gaps as me, but we stuck together well. (It helps that he's very tall, so it's pretty easy to keep track of him with my peripheral vision.) Our goal was to run a sub-30, and we clicked off the first mile in 9:33.
I tried to get my dad to dial it back a notch, but he kept passing people of his own accord through the golf course, so I just hung with him and let him know how we were doing. Since there was no snow this year, we were able to pass on the grass, rather than being trapped on the path, so we made great time in this section. I was amazed how fast it felt compared to last year, even though we weren't running that much faster. I guess it was just mentally easier when we didn't have to dodge people the whole way. The second mile went by in 9:29, and my dad was still going strong.
After leaving the golf course, we wound around a pond. This was the area where the course was diverted last year due to ice, but it was thankfully back to normal. Once again, my mom was waiting to cheer us on halfway around. This is always a great boost and marks the beginning of the end, with about half a mile to go.
My dad was really going faster than necessary at this point, but he seemed comfortable, so I let him know we could slow down if he needed, but we kept pushing. The last bit of the course winds around some small hills before the final turn to the finish. We passed quite a few people here and then made our last push. I have finally accepted not being able to see the finish until almost the very end, and I think I've gotten much better at pacing this part, rather than getting mentally defeated. To my amazement, we had run the last mile in 9:16.
I'm so proud of how my dad did! He always blusters that he won't be able to finish, but I thought 29:59 would be a challenging time for him, since he only runs about three miles a week. He dictated the pace the whole way and did an awesome job. Not only did we end up with negative splits, the third mile was the fastest by far, and he was still able to push harder at the very end. This is a big improvement from a few years ago, when I accidentally left him behind when I kicked.
It was a little strange to shower and leave for Ohio afterwards, rather than spending more time with my parents, so I'm really grateful we were able to fit this in.
And for the record, my dad wasn't sore the next day, but he's already telling me how he doesn't think he can finish next year!