The family that runs together

Most days I run alone. Some days I run with a friend.

Either way, I usually leave my family behind, as I scamper across field and stream. Running trails is not their scene.

Once a year, however, we make it a family affair. We run together, all four us, in a local race to help support a worthy cause, our school district.

Today was that day.

We all rolled out of bed early to take part in the Great North Run, a 5K road race sponsored by the Washington Township Schools. 

We run it every year and always see lots of people we know. The race attracts hundreds of people and raises thousands of dollars for the schools. It’s better than a bake sale.

And why shouldn’t we support the cause? My two boys attend the public schools. Mrs. Trail Boy spends four or five days a week in the schools, as a math tutor, substitute teacher and volunteer.

That’s reason enough to give up trails for a day.

So off we went, bright and early, Mr. and Mrs. Trail Boy and two Trail Kids. Off to run a road race.

This year, the course was new. In past years, it was routed entirely on the high school campus, mostly around the parking lot.

This year, it went onto public roads. Some of it looped through scenic neighborhoods.

As for other parts — well, they were not so scenic. Let’s just say Trail Boy would never be caught dead running some of these roads any other day of the year. 

When we arrived, we saw a large crowd, the biggest in the four years we’ve participated. It turned out be 668 runners and walkers.

My goal was to beat my time last year: 22:14. But it wouldn’t be a slam dunk. I was facing a new, unfamiliar course and trying to jostle through a big field of runners. Either factor could hurt my time.

So for luck, I went over and did a fist-bump with the sponsor’s mascot, the Chick-fil-A cow. Of course, this being a blog, I had to get a photo.

Then I hurried over to the starting area, where everybody else was already singing the national anthem.

I found a spot about five rows back from the starting line, so I wouldn’t have to run around any strollers on the course. Yep, there plenty of strollers. This is a local fundraiser, after all, not the New York City Marathon.

I didn’t see too many people I knew in my little part of the starting area. But I didn’t have much time to look around. Before I knew it, the horn sounded, and we took off.

For the first mile, the course twisted and turned plenty of times, as it exited the school parking lot and worked its way to the main road. We ran a gradual uphill. I fought for position and pushed hard, passing a few young cross-country runners I recognized, and pretty soon hit the first mile marker. My split on Mile 1 was  7:01.

The second mile had a few rolling hills, some fun downhills and another long, gradual uphill on a busy divided highway. My split on Mile 2 was 7:14.

The third mile was just a long, long stretch that seemed to take forever, along one of the busiest roads in the city.  I was slowing down, despite myself. My split was 7:38.

Then we turned a corner for the last one-tenth of a mile to the finish line. I pushed as hard as my old legs would allow. 

I crossed the finish line in 22:26, for an average pace of 7:13.

Not great. Not terrible. And no PR.

But I had fun, and was glad to support the schools. I ended up finishing 4th out of 30 in my age group, and 48th out of 668 runners and walkers.

That put me in the top 7 percent overall and the top 13 percent of my age group. But that doesn’t count for much, not with all these weekend walkers and stroller pushers.

I waited for the boys to show up. Son No. 1 (Steven), wearing his lucky Eastwood Middle School sweatshirt, crossed the finish line a few minutes later, in 26:59.

Son No. 2 (Jake) came a bit after that, in 28:33.

Mrs. Trail Boy, who walked the course, turned on the speed when she saw the finish line, and bounded to the end. She finished in 41:10.

Afterwards, we caught up with a few old friends and cheered the stragglers across the finish line.

Then we went inside and were glad to see that our sponsors put out a lot of healthy snacks (fruit cups, bagels, granola bars) for the runners. After all, this was a healthy fundraiser. No sense wolfing down a cupcake, something you often see at a school fundraiser.

We ate our share, stuffed our pockets with granola bars and went home with a warm feeling, looking forward to next year’s race.

So I have 12 months to talk the race director into considering a new course.

One that involves dirt and a few creek crossings.

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2 Responses to “The family that runs together”

  1. Good luck with that dirt and creek crossing idea. Even so, it is definitely better than a bake sale.

  2. Awesome! I do one road race a year, and it too is only a 5k. I did do a half last year, but will never do it again. These legs can only handle so much pavement.

    5k’s are fun, especially if they’re for raising money for a good cause.

    Love the fruit cups.

    I hope you can get the RD to consider some trails for next year.

    Great time. My best 5k was 29 min and I was sooo proud of that!! Could never get that on the trails :)

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