Sometimes, you plan ahead. This is usually the case for people who run races, because many races require registering before the day of the race. While some races have walk-up registration, it is usually much cheaper to register well ahead of race day. Not to mention that race-day registration is not always guaranteed.
If you're someone like me, who has three kids, planning for a race becomes slightly more involved because a sitter is usually required.
I registered for the Anoka-Ramsey Community College Cambridge Campus 5K Family Fun Run on March 3, 2017, well ahead of the April 22 race day. There was no registration fee, but I wanted to commit to it early. I wanted to plan ahead.
Originally, the plan was that I would run the race alone, while my sister and her girlfriend walked with my three kids. I didn't expect my kids to want to run it, nor did I expect them to be excited about running it. But, I wanted to run it, and it was easier to bring them with. It's usually much easier to convince my family to watch my kids if I'm nearby, even if a 3.1 mile walk is involved.
I suppose that my sister and her girlfriend could've just played with the kids at the race site, rather than signing up to participate. I suppose that may have been less work for the kids. But, hindsight is 20/20.
A month before the race, my daughter found out that she would be participating in a school-related state competition on race day. Oh, well. As long as I could find her transportation, there was no reason why I couldn't still participate in the 5K with my two sons, still running on my own, while my sister and her girlfriend walked the route with them.
A couple of days before the race, my sister had to cancel. She had the opportunity to see an apartment that would hopefully become hers. So, now what was I supposed to do? I had no sitter. I guess it was time to make the decision, and admit to myself the reality that I would not be running this race for a PR. I would have to push my youngest son in the jogging stroller while my oldest son walked and ran beside me.
The idea of just walking 3.1 miles with my oldest son was pretty stressful. He's a particularly sensitive kid, and to be honest, I didn't know if he would make it. He's the kind of kid who whines about walking a few blocks to the park. So, in order to get him more excited about the race, I bought him an MP3 player, which I was going to let him carry in one of my SPIbelts. And, I had plenty of Sports Beans to bribe him with along the course.
Race day came and I dropped my daughter off at her friend's house so that she could be at her competition. Then, my sons and I headed to the college. The weather was picture perfect. We couldn't have paid for a more gorgeous day. We ended up ditching the idea of him using the MP3 player, because we just couldn't get the ear buds to stay in his ears. Not to mention that he's a skinny kid, and my SPIBelt wouldn't stay up on him. We lined up at the start, and when they blew the air horn to signal the start of the race, my son took off in a flash. I wasn't even ready to run yet, but I started trying to catch him. He ran for about 400 meters before I caught him and he said, "I'm tired." I knew that was going to happen with the way that he took off at the start. I gave him some water from the jogging stroller, and we continued on at a very slow pace. From then on, I continued running slowly, and he walked and then sprinted to catch me. Every so often, I would feed him a Sports Bean. Even if they didn't actually help him in any way, they definitely had a placebo effect.
I had to do a fair amount of walking to be with him. Once we got to the two mile mark, there were cones in the road. He came up with a strategy to help himself move forward, telling me that we would walk to a specific cone and then we would run. I basically tried to let him be in charge of the pace, but I also tried to push his limits a bit and encourage him to keep going. I would run ahead a little ways, and then I would walk until he caught up. We probably went through two packages of Sports Beans, because I would reward him with one every time he got to me.
He was exhausted by the time the finish line was in view, but he found enough energy to sprint the last fifty meters. In the end, he finished the race in 43:14. That time completely blew away any expectations I had of him. My time was 43:10 (chip time) and is my worst 5K time. But despite running my worst race, I'm not disappointed. The pride I felt after finishing with my son trumps any pride I may have had if I had run a PR. I think the memories that we created are far better than any PR, too.