I know it's Mother's Day weekend, but this race report is going to have a bit of a shout out to my Dad.
A month ago, my Dad asked me if I was going to be running the Sole Burner 5K, a local race that benefits the American Cancer Society. Even though it's been held in my hometown for as long as I can remember, I've never actually run it. I volunteered at it, but never run it. I've wanted to though since cancer has impacted my family.
So when Dad told me his company (one of the sponsors) was paying for registration for immediate family, I jumped at the chance. A race that supports a cause I care about and free. Sounds good to me. I ended up talking my Dad into walking the 5K. It was a manageable distance for him since he walks 3 miles a day about 4 or 5 times a week. He signed up.
As the race approached, Dad started getting nervous though. See most of the course is flat, but in the last 1/2 mile, there's the Hill of Hope, which is supposed to serve as a reminder to keep cancer patients in mind since they face an uphill battle while treating the disease. The Hill of Hope is what my Dad was freaking out about.
Race day dawned cold and dreary on Saturday morning. Someone must have made Mother Nature mad because it was down right chilly Saturday. And wet. Thankfully the snow that was falling Friday night (yes, you read that right) melted once it hit the ground.
My parents and I got to the park about 45 minutes before the race started. We scoped out the starting lines, watched the little kids run and tried to stay warm. About 10 minutes before the start, we headed off to the starting lines.
When I got to the runner's area, I didn't even attempt to get into the street with the rest of the runners. It was packed. Which shouldn't have been surprising since 7,500 runners and walkers turned out for the event. I stayed off on the grass, waited for the gun and just fell in with the rest of the runners when people started moving.
The first mile was crowded and congested, but thankfully people started to spread out once we hit the College Avenue bridge about a half-mile in. Once running on the bridge, I was able to settle into a nice, steady pace. It felt easy. Garmin Gus chimed when I hit the mile marker: 9:46. Huh. Not to shabby for a first mile.
I kept running. The rolling hills started during Mile 2. But honestly they weren't bad. I was still keeping a steady pace, still feeling pretty good and still managing to pass a few people every once and a while. Garmin Gus chimed at the mile marker: 19:50ish. I'll take it.
At this point I thought maybe a new PR would be in my future, but I didn't forget about the Hill of Hope that was coming up in less than a mile. I had a nice gradual downhill portion of the run into the flats and then ran along the river for a bit. It was a bit windy down here and I admit, I toyed with taking a very brief walk break to get ready for the hill, but ultimately decided not to. I kept running and there was the hill.
I was determined to own that hill. I pushed myself. Made myself run up it and push the pace. I knew it would hurt. I wanted it to hurt. Because people who are fighting cancer have it much tougher than running up a hill.
I owned the hill.
And then was looking at the finish line in 2 blocks. My legs were hurting, but I refused to take a walk break. Not that close to the finish line. I got a block away and could see the red flags. I saw Mom and my sister-in-law and 2/3 of the Rugrats on the sidelines cheering. I threw in a nice finishing sprint.
Then had to come to a dead stop at the red flags where the finish line corral started. I hit the stop button on Garmin Gus then waited for what seemed like forever to get through the corral. Once through, I glanced at Gus: 31:25. Honestly I didn't think much about it.
I walked back down the block, stopped briefly by Mom and then headed back down the Hill of Hope to wait for my Dad. Maybe I was spacing out, maybe I didn't see him (it's hard to pick a person out of the crowd when EVERYONE is wearing the same T-shirt). But after about 45 minutes I was starting to get worried. Maybe Dad was keeled over on the side of the road, because it shouldn't be taking him this long.
Well all of a sudden I heard my name. There's Dad. Walking downhill toward me. Huh? I never saw him walk uphill. Apparently he did see me, yelled out my name and kept walking - he didn't want to break his stride mid-way up the hill. Hardcore my Dad is. So we walked back up the hill, met up with Mom and stuck around for the awards ceremony.
While standing in the park freezing, I realized something. That 31:25 that Gus told me I finished 3.11 miles in? That's a new PR for me. And not just a post-Monster PR, but an all-time PR, better than the 31:56 I posted at the Sunset 5K in July 2007.
Of course, according to the "official" race results, I finished in 32:50. Apparently you weren't "officially" finished until you made it through the finish line corral. A corral that I honestly stood still in forever.
What do you think? Can I claim the new PR based on Gus telling me I had traveled the 3.11 miles when I hit those red flags (I didn't do much weaving at all during the course)? Or do I have to go by the "official" results that accounted for me standing still, waiting for 2 volunteers to collect tags off the bibs (even though the race was chip timed)?
I'm leaning toward using Gus's time.
Oh and Dad? He ended up finishing the 5K in 45 minutes, 32 seconds. Not bad.