White Rabbit

I've been easing back into running for the last 2 weeks. My physical therapist gave me a return to running plan that started with walk/run combinations and finally this week switched to a full run. The plan has been working well for the tendonitis but has really revealed how much my fitness level has dropped. That really surprised me since I was dedicated to getting to the gym and using the cardio machines when I couldn't run. So what do you do when you have been on the roads for two weeks and have run one time for 25 minutes? Sign up and run a 5k!

I really didn't have much of a choice. Today was the Z-run, our local 5k that supports the local schools. If you are a long time reader, you might remember that I won my age group last year. However, that was then and this is now. Last year I was base building and training to pace Jil through her first running half marathon.  This year, I had 2 weeks of running under my belt and had just spent the week fighting either severe seasonal allergies or a head cold. Translated: I needed a new strategy. Will (my 11 yr old son) flirted with the 25 minute mark last year, so I decided to play pace rabbit and help him achieve that goal.

Mile 1: 8:27
This race is interesting, because it brings out a lot of families and kids in the 4-8 grade range. Most of these kids fall into 2 categoreis, either yo-yos or shooting stars. The yo-yos are the little kids that sprint for a few hundred yards and the shooting stars line up at the front of the pack and run all out as long as they can until they blow up, usually after a mile or so. Will and I started mid-pack and stayed patient for the first mile, slowly working through the yo-yos and the other kids that had started to blow up already. That isn't too bad, except that a good portion of the first mile is run on bike trails, so there isn't a lot of room to maneuver. The first mile wasn't quite where we wanted to be, but we were confident we could make it up.

Mile 2: 7:49
Mile 2 got us into a neighborhood, so we were back on the streets and had more room. This is the section of the course where we  usually face a wind, but this year the conditions were fairly calm. Will and I just tried to maintain a comfortable pace and pass as many runners as we could. There was one water stop, but Will informed me that you really don't need water for anything under 5. Maybe he does actually listen to his dad, at least sometimes. Right after the water stop it was back onto the bike path.

Mile 3: 7:50
As we got into mile 3, I could tell that Will was starting to feel the pace, because he wasn't talking much and his breathing was getting fairly shallow. I knew I needed to get him relaxed, because the one hill on the course was coming in about a half mile. I got him to breath deeper and then begun to build him up. I talked about how it was just the end of a triathlon, this is when all the work pays off (all 2 training runs that he did!), that he was more prepared than the next guy, etc. We got to the short climb and pulled ourselves up. By this time I was beginning to feel the effects of the pace and my cold as well, but knew I had to be there for him or he may not reach his goal. 

The course leveled out again, and we started to work our way on the paths through a small park. Will said "why does this path have to be so windy?". I had to concur, but told him just to get strength from all the people we were passing.

Final .1: 0:33 (5:30 pace)
As we reached the 3 mile marker, we took a right turn, and then took off down finishing straight to the line. We passed the one pair of runners that had passed us after the 3/4 mile mark and got passed a few more with a strong finish. The announcer didn't call out our names, but did mention hustling in to beat the 25 min mark.

The day was successful. Will got under 25, with an official time of 24:47, a PR by 20 seconds. Jil also came in with a PR by about 30 seconds. Not to bad considering their lack of training! As for me, my legs felt good and I believe that I am finally on the way back.

Artist for Song in Title: Jefferson Airplane

Update: Will had a little trouble walking on Sunday. His calves were just a tad sore from the effort on Saturday. He understands that is because he didn't train. Hopefully that lesson will stick with him as he heads into the beginning of triathlon season next weekend.


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