Having survived--nay, totally relished--our first foray into family racing Memorial Day weekend, Team WestEnders bravely committed to another 5K in June. Since everyone successfully completed the "test run", if you will, we had no further concerns on that front. For this outing, the goals were more personal. Let's take Derek, who had kept a leisurely pace with his dad and younger brother last time. He decided that he was going to run at his own speed, to see what his individual best would turn out to be. Knowing that he would rocket out of the (metaphorical) starting gate and disappear in a (probably literal) cloud of dust, I bid him farewell, wished him a good race...and threw in a hasty reminder to just follow the crowd and turn when the volunteers pointed out a change of direction in the course. Husband kindly agreed to run with Riley again--both for encouragement if required and to help our least experienced runner maintain a steady speed (i.e: refrain from sprinting in the excitement of the moment...and pooping out too early). And me? Eh, I'm perfectly content to cross the end line. (Okay, okay, I wanted to do it in under 30 minutes, are you happy?Sheesh, the pressure...)
On Run Day, we had our routine distilled down to the most efficient, rapid, essential steps: 1) Wake up; 2) Get Dressed; 3) Munch a banana and swig a hydrating beverage of choice (For the males, this meant Gatorade. Since coffee was out of the question until post-exercise, I opted for iced tea. What? It's chock full of antioxidants...and stuff...so it's a health drink, right?) Naturally, Derek ate a cereal bar as well. However, we inadvertently had made an important discovery during a training jog a few days earlier--Riley can't eat before running or he gets a cramp...exactly like his mother...and his father. (So in summary, the only one who can scarf down anything he darn well pleases before exerting himself...is Derek the bottomless pit. "But I'm so surprised!"...said no one at all...) Then all we had to do was meander over to the site--a mile from our house--and wait for the start.
Unlike last month's event, in which the route wound its way through neighborhood streets, this course began and ended with a half-mile over grassy fields. The uneven terrain proved challenging for someone like me,who only ever runs on paved or smooth-dirt surfaces...and who also strikes the ground with the balls of her feet, rather than in the traditional heel-to-toe manner. (Don't ask me why; I know it's weird, but it just feels right...) Paying extra attention to my footing, and being careful not to twist my ankles, required an unexpected amount of surplus energy, I found. Then, there were some hills. And you did already gather that these things take place fairly early in the morning, yeah? (Which is sooooo my favorite time of day...N-O-T...) So let's just say there was some spirited self-talk going on in my head...something along the lines of "you've got this, just keep going, it doesn't matter at ALL how slow you feel...but look, you're still passing some people!" (Um, it's reeeealllly hard to completely shut down an intrinsically competitive nature, what can I say?) While the temperature felt cool-ish, it was tremendously (read: "disgustingly, drippily") muggy, which also tends to wilt me a bit...so the arrival of rain showers in the middle of the run actually came as a welcome relief.
And then, the blessed Finish Line (duh duh duh DA). Derek of course was waiting, having logged a time of 24 minutes. I know: Holy smokin' sneakers, Batman, that boy can fly! Husband and Riley had clocked a very nice 28.5, but that wasn't the awesome part of their conclusion. Having apparently consumed the proper breakfast for optimal pep and stamina, Riley spent the entire 3.1 miles attempting to speed up and blow past his dad. But Husband kept him on a tight leash, concerned that Riley would miscalculate and end up wanting to quit because he was too exhausted. With the end in sight, however, Riley reportedly turned to Husband and declared, "There can be only one winner!" He then proceeded to kick it into high gear to cross the finish line alone, leaving Husband panting in his wake. (Okay, so "competitive" is genetic, alright?) Annnnnnd, I trotted in soon after, at about 29:14 (achieving my ever-so-modest target) and we patted ourselves on the collective back for another (fitness) job well done. For our reward, there were some free snacks donated by a local grocery store...and for me, my long-awaited JAVA!
Perhaps most importantly, we were able to grant ourselves the remainder of the (Sun)day for rest, recovery, and relaxation. Ahh, now that's my kind of rigorous running regimen...