Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pot of Gold - Celtic 5K Race Recap

At the starting line

Warning - the majority of this post is going to be shameless bragging about my daughter.  I can't help it.  I am so unbelievable, over-the-top, giddy proud of her.  If I completely bonk, break something or fall in the ocean next week at the New Bedford half marathon, I will still consider my brief running career a success, because it introduced my daughter to running.

And boy does she love to run.  

Training.  I stay next to her at all times.
A few weeks ago, Natalie asked if she could do a race with Mommy.  We often run together in warmer weather, but this unending winter has meant that our favorite rail trail isn't passable for little feet or the jogging stroller (where she takes her breaks on longer runs), so she's been feeling left out.  I hadn't planned on running the Celtic 5K this year, mostly because it's a little expensive, and because it's a week before my half marathon.  What was the point?  Well, the point started training on the treadmill - about 20 minutes every other day, and was determined to have a great race with mom.

Meanwhile I worked on creating the perfect leprechaun costume.  No small feat, when I wasn't sure what the weather would be like.  I got a clearance green sweater at Old Navy, pinned on some black and gold felt to make a belt.  A bowler hat from Target, some striped legwarmers on Amazon, and her existing white turtleneck and leggings finished off the look.  We tried her costume on for fit the other night and she was very happy with it.  Score one Mom!

We got a rocky start this morning - bleary from a late date night of babysitting and the time change.  Nat was also worried that I'd ditch her, since I DNFed my training run yesterday due to some tummy issues.  No chance honey.  The plan was that we'd all go.  Nat and I would run the race while Jedi and the little man found a spot to watch the parade.  Parking is tough so we got there early.  Got our bib (only one number so I pinned it on her back) and then had a lot of time to kill.  Which, when it's 25 degrees out and your kids are already tired, can be tough.  Luckily the Irish band was already playing, so we danced and jogged and shot some photos.


Brother is ready to make some noise!
The same plastic trumpet I bought them
at the race last year after one too many celebratory beers.
Might as well use it again!
Finally it was almost race time, so we sent to boys off to play photographer, and started jostling our way into the crowd.  By some amazing fortune, we saw our friend Dawn.  We know Dawn well from the farmer's market where we sell our cupcakes, and her gluten-free business has fed my children dinner on many a market night.  Nat gave her a big hug right away, and I had someone to visit with while we waited for the gun to go off.
Finding a good friend in a crowd of 3,000 is great!!!

Once the race got underway, we shuffled toward the starting line.  Dawn help me body block Natalie from the big crowd for the first few hundred yards (thank you Dawn!) and then we started getting some breathing space.  The course is an out-and-back.  Slightly downhill the first half, and slightly uphill the second (obviously).  I'd talked to Natalie before the race about pacing, as she (like many runners, even those older than 6) has a tendency to go out too fast and burn out.  She told me her plan was to do bursts of speed and then back off.  Good plan.  The first half mile or so she did great - she was running a little fast (around 10:30) so I told her to back off.  She took a few walking breaks, and then would start up again.  All the way we soaked in the comments of "Oh she is so cute!" and "how old is she?" and "You're doing great sweetie!!!!".  Both from the spectators and other runners.  She also interjection her own adorable-isms, telling me that "Running makes everything better" and "I hope I always race with you mommy" and many many "I love you so much mommy!"s.

I will admit it - it was really cool being the mom of the cutest, fastest little leprechaun on the course.

Around the turnaround she was starting to tire.  Pacing around 13:00.  But the cheers continued, and Natalie was starting to enjoy the feeling of "picking off" some of the walkers.  There were many joked comments about being beaten by a six year old.  That's my six year old!!!  I taught her how to focus on a landmark up ahead and just think about running to that (like a telephone pole).  We played shadow tag (where she tried to catch up to and jump on my shadow).  I whispered to her how much fun it is to find a racer ahead of you and "pick them off".  She started picking her targets - the girl in the striped socks.  The sparkle skirt lady.  You are going down sparkle skirt lady!  She was still doing great but I knew she was tired.

Nat's little running friend is in between us

Then she ran into the perfect motivation.  A buddy.  Just her size.  As we started to pass a little girl jogging on the side, she said "hey you're my age!!!"  While exchanging life stories (what grade are you in, how old are you, what's your name, I'm a leprechaun... I'm not I'm just wearing green stickers on my cheeks) the two little girls were unwilling to let each other get ahead of the other.

Perfect mini-running friends.  Best buddies, and yet determined to beat each other.

I wondered a bit if Nat's new friend had a parent around, but she assured me her mom was walking and her dad was waiting at the finish line.  Ok.  Go girls go!!  There were no more walking breaks as the girls ran the last mile together.  At one point I yelled at then to slow down - they were running faster than 10 minute miles!!  Just as we started to enter the chute Nat told me she wanted a break.  I said no no no now is when you give it all you have!!!  She took off and finished strong, sprinting ahead of mommy.  I'm pretty sure she tied with her little friend (who's father was indeed, right there to get her).

Sprinting the finish.  Perfect form!!

We crossed just before 40 minutes.  Official time 39:48.

To put that in perspective, when I ran this race solo last year (my first 5K in a long time) my time was 36 something.  That is fast for a little girl!  I hoisted her onto my shoulders and took her to get water, coconut water (not sure she likes that), and pizza.    We met up with the boys.  Tucked an exhausted but jubilant little girl into the stroller for some well deserved rest.

Post race tired and sweaty.

The rest of the parade passed pleasantly.  We were cold and the kids were tired. There weren't enough snacks, so I ran to the grocery store (literally - not an expression) for cheese sticks, blueberries and cookies.  Little guy told me all about the double fire truck I missed while I was at the store.   The mom next to us ended up also being a triathlete so we chatted amiably about which races we had done and what courses were our favorites.  Triathlete moms are everywhere.  For real.  


Finally the kids had had enough so we headed home.  The kids are playing quietly, but Natalie refuses to take off her leprechaun costume.  I think she may sleep in it....

Post-run hair is tough

I have no idea where my daughter gets her energy, her love of running, and her talent.  Certainly not from me.  Not from the Jedi, who will likely only run if being chased by some sort of large carnivore.  At my swim class yesterday a group of us were talking about just why I (we) run if we don't always enjoy it.  I have my answer.

I will always run, to make sure I'm always there to race with my daughter.  For as long as she wants me to.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!


Courtney Fields said...

Oh my gosh! Your daughter is beyond adorable! Congrats to her on her first very successful race. I'm sure she'll be beating us all soon enough =)

Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes said...

Totally awesome, can't wait til my son can do that distance...he is more of a sprinter for short distances :)

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