Hello! Has it really been 2 weeks?! So much going on and so little time to write about it…
First, yes, I did have a birthday and I did something I’ve never done before on my birthday- I ran a race! I always make it a point to run on my birthday but believe it or not I have never run a race on it. There’s a big difference! Several months ago when I realized my birthday was on a Saturday I had hopes of finding a good birthday race. Originally I had hoped to run in the Mississippi Coast Marathon or Half Marathon and it would have been great to meet up with Gracie but because of plantar fasciitis my fall racing plans changed.
On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving I decided to look on Arkansas Runner to see if there were any races nearby. I really love this site because it is kept up to date and just about every race in Arkansas is posted here. Sure enough there was a race on Saturday, November 29th- in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Where is Stuttgart? Good question! We’d never been there before and it really is in the middle of nowhere. But then, that describes most towns in Arkansas! I looked it up on mapquest and it said an hour and twenty minutes away.
I was a little hesitant to register because I have raced A LOT lately (shhh- almost every weekend the past two months) and I didn’t want to push it although I probably past that point a few races ago! I know I married a man who knows me well because when I mentioned it to John he didn’t even hesitate. He just said, “If that’s what you want to do on your birthday we can.” I thought and prayed about it. The bottom line is that I really love racing– in fact, it’s my favorite part of running- and there is a lot about running that I love. My in-laws kept the kids Friday night so we could go on a date. This also meant Saturday morning we could leave early and not have to wake up 14 children. Well, just 4 but you know what I mean!
Saturday morning got off to an early start. My dad called at 4:44 to wish me a happy birthday. He does this every year. I was born at 4:44 am and when I was young and still living at home he would always wake me up to be the first one to tell me happy birthday. Once I started college he would call me at 4:44 and has done so ever since. It’s early but I’ve always gone right back to sleep- except this year!
John and I were on the road by 5:40. As I mentioned earlier, Stuttgart is in the middle of nowhere (big rice and duck country) so the drive there was dark with several windy country roads. I knew from the start that it would be a very memorable birthday. We got to Stuttgart just after 7 and I had plenty of time to register, use the restroom and warm-up. The weather was in the mid 50’s but WINDY. I am not a fan of running in 14+ mph winds so I was hoping we would change direction enough to find some relief.
My plan for the race was to try to do a little better than my recent 10k’s. This was my third 10k in three weeks- yes, I am WAY behind on race reports but I WILL get them up this week. My 10K PR average on my watch was from this spring with a 6:05. I am not there right now but have run a 6:23 and a 6:30 average recently on two very different courses. The Great Duck 10K race website described this course as flat and fast. These are by far my favorite adjectives when reading a course description!
Mi 1- 6:21. From the start I knew I was 1st female and 6th overall. By the end of the first mile I was fourth overall. We were running completely against the wind which made it very challenging but I was thankful that on the way back I would have a nice tailwind.
Mi 2- 6:26. We had about 5 minutes relief from the wind during this mile when we briefly changed direction but then we headed south again against the wind so I went back to counting down the time until we turned. I didn’t know the course but I knew we had to turn around at some point to head back to the finish. I focused on catching the guy in front of me.
Mi 3- 6:35. This was definitely my worst mile. There was a terrible headwind the entire time and it was exhausting mentally and physically.
5k- 20:04. I was really hoping this would be sub 20 minutes. I wanted to run a sub 40-minute 10k and it might be tough to negative split- especially if the race went a little longer on my watch. Fortunately around this time we turned so I did not have the wind pounding against my face! I ran along-side another local runner I know and I decided I would try to stay with him.
Mi 4- 6:25. During this mile I felt like I finally found my pace and was feeling better. I told myself I could do this and that I was feeling good.
Mi 5- 6:18. Heading back with the wind behind us was the best. It felt like a completely different race. I felt so much stronger and more in control than I did in the first half.
Mi 6- 6:11. I pulled ahead of the guy I had been pacing with and pushed the pace a little. I was too tired to do the mental math but I knew going sub 40 would be close. It might come down to a few seconds so I needed to push it.
Mi 6.25- 1:26 (5:40 pace). I was passing a lot of 5k runners who were also finishing around this time. I’m not going to lie- it felt good sprinting in to the finish.
Official Finish Time- 39:44 (1st female overall/ 3rd overall). Official results can be found here.
My watch average was a 6:21 which is an improvement!
Then I went on a 4 mile cool-down. I would have liked to have run even longer since I have a half coming up and I haven’t run more than 12 miles in a few weeks but it is what it is. I am not in a typical training cycle right now at all. My foot is just not ready yet.
It turns out this race only has one overall winner category male and female and the rest are age group awards. I won a watch from a local jewelry store for coming in first place! This made this birthday race even more special!
|First place male and female 10K runners won watches. First place male and female 5K runners won duck calls.|
|Only in Arkansas- this was actually the company that donated the watches! We saw this sign all over town.|
There was a big duck festival taking place after the awards we headed home to pick up the kids.
|So thankful for this man who supports what I love to do!|
Post Race Thoughts
This was a race I will always remember. I don’t know when or if I will have the opportunity to race again on my birthday but I would definitely recommend it. I’m not where I want to be race-wise (sorry, I know this may sound like a broken record) but I know it’s just going to take a while. I’m trying to appreciate the progress I’ve made since this summer. It felt good to finish strong.
And now for the big announcement… It’s probably no surprise that I am a huge advocate of family fitness, especially when it comes to kids and running. I’ve been coordinating our local family track nights since 2009 where we have running events for kids age 1-12 from the 50m through the mile. I have spoken to running clubs about kids running and I often run with my own children at home and in races. I am very blessed to have a good friend (also a mother runner) who feels passionately about this subject as well. She is Amanda from Runninghood and I couldn’t have found a more creative and talented partner to team up with for this project. We have been doing a lot of research and writing on this subject and will soon launch a new site/ blog: Run With Me Kids.
Run With Me Kids will be a site that offers community, guidance, information and inspiration about making running (and fitness) fun for kids while fostering family relationship and helping kids build healthy habits for living. Our site will include stories from the community (YOU) about family running experiences as well as posts about running, fitness, parenting, healthy living, and more. For now, you can follow and read more about us on RunwithmeKids Instagram, Run with Me Kids Facebook, and RunwithmeKids Twitter. The website is coming soon! If you ever blog about kids and running or a race you’ve done with your kids feel free to share a link on this Facebook page. We will also promote it on twitter and our blog once it’s up and running.
|Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!|
I will close with some pictures from my birthday including the cutest cards ever. I LOVE the ages my kids are right now. Sure, I’m curious about how life will be down the road and I am looking forward to many things to come but I can honestly say I am enjoying this phase of our family. The kids are young but not too young if you know what I mean!