Our training was not as consistent as I would've liked. We got most runs in (running 3 days per week for a month), but not all - including missing some key longer runs. What I think helped Connor a lot was a day he and I went out and ran the race course (mostly), starting from our house. This is key, because it means we get the two fairly big hills on the official course, plus one more that's between our house and the course. This means I can tell Connor he's running a harder course than the actual race, which gives him a lot of confidence for the race. Helen and I also had two great neighborhood hill runs. On one of them, she was just not into running. We decided we would head out and see how we felt after a half mile, giving ourselves permission to turn back early. As soon as we got out, we noticed that our neighbors have some amazing flowers. So we bopped from street to street, looking for the most beautiful flowers, which was enough to keep Helen's mind off the hard physical work she was doing. We ran a lot of hills that day, completed almost 3 full miles, and at the end, Helen felt great. A second run was a good long hill up to return a friend's keys, followed by sprinkles that looked like they would turn to pouring rain soon (which they did), which gave us good motivation to run home, fast.
Per usual, getting Helen to the startling line was perhaps the most difficult aspect of the race. Although her training runs were done remarkably well, steadily improving pace and pretty much keeping up with Connor most days - she requires a LOT of race day accommodations. She had decided to wear her running skirt and a tank top (an outfit I can certainly support, as it is my preferred race day outfit as well), but a chilly predicted start meant she wanted to add my running sleeves and her running tights. But the sleeves got left at home on race day, so she insisted she needed to run with a bulky, zip-up sweater she owns. She needed music playing for her via my iPhone (I sing to her, but have never carried music for her) and she also needed water. (I always carry water for Helen when we run, so this last one was not a surprise.) For a brief period, she also wanted Ed (now known officially as the running sherpa) to carry a squirt bottle and spritz her throughout the race as needed. I did draw the line there, given that Ed has only 2 hands and if one of them had water and one had my phone, there simply wasn't going to be room to carry a squirt bottle, too. Helen and I compromised when I told her my parents (who were visiting for the week) could stand on the course and spritz her as she ran by them. (Luckily, it was too cool on race day to even contemplate this, so the squirt bottle was left at home.) Finally, she decided to wear my LUNA visor, which has a built in sweatband, but even after adjusting it to its smallest size, she needed another sweatband beneath it to keep it in place. Both of these items, along with the sweater that got shed mid-race, would also end up in Ed's hands.
Connor was a champ. That kid needs a pacer and a bottle of Gatorade and he is ready. He has totally internalized the "go out easy", but also has a fantastic kick at the end which he proved he could sustain for a long time. And his easy is not that easy anymore.
We got tangled up in traffic at the start. I didn't want to start at the front of the pack because it's too tempting to try and keep up with the super fast racers (who will run sub-20 minutes 5Ks). The middle of the pack is good for pace, but the race starts with a big bottleneck, and that's difficult to get through. It definitely cost us time, but not much distance. The course was changed from running around a field to start (too muddy!) to running out and back on a street. My parents were stationed about half mile into the race, and having them cheer was great. The whole course is out and back on a bike trail so we also got to see them toward the end when Connor was just killing it.
|This is just about at the end of the race. Connor is running an 8:24 mile, and speeding up.|
|Helen is free as a bird - Ed is balancing everything, without missing a step. Importantly, Helen can hear the music and is one song ahead of where she needs to be to finish her playlist. She's definitely feeling good here.|
Connor's official time was 27:20. Helen's official time was 29:21. As fast as these both are, they were both 5th in their age groups. There are some fast kids out there!