Barry and Braden's PR Times

Friday, October 13, 2017

2017 Race 13.1 Little Rock

Braden ran his first half marathon in June in the high altitude of Colorado with an excellent finishing time of 1:39, and after the race we checked to see what the world record time was for 9-yr-olds and found out it was a time of 1:35. From that point, he wanted to try to break the record at the CASA Half Marathon in December, and in order to get to there, we started training for it earlier this month.

Most of our training runs have been of the short variety and we had signed up for the Soaring Wings Half Marathon later this month, so we started ramping up the mileage. We utilize Little Rock Air Force Base for all our long training runs due to the hilly terrain and hardly any vehicles on early weekend mornings. I thought he might have a tough time with our first long run, but the weather was cool and he had no issues (unlike myself with the hills) running more than 12 miles at a pretty decent pace without stopping.

After our run, we had one open weekend before Soaring Wings and I was going to utilize it for another training run at the base. I then found out that there was a half marathon race in Little Rock I could sign us up for that would serve to not only utilize as another train-up event, but would also allow us to run two half marathons within 16 days and become Half Marathon Half Fanatics.

The Race 13.1 Little Rock is an out and back course that goes over the Clinton Library bridge and along the River Trail. It is mostly a flat course, but it does have some steep little hills in spots and because of the weather we had, those little hills seemed like mountains! The weather has been really off and on with the cool temperatures and unfortunately, for this race, the humidity was not indicative of fall in October!

Braden wanted to run a 1:45 time, but I knew how he performs in heat/humidity and I thought he was very ambitious with his goal. I told him that he needed to hit every water stop to make sure he kept hydrated. He started out pretty strong, but as things settle in, his pace got worse with each successive mile.

His first six miles splits were the following:

Mile 1 – 7:27

Mile 2 – 8:22

Mile 3 – 8:30

Mile 4 – 8:54

Mile 5 – 9:26

Mile 6 – 9:37

During the first six miles, he was way ahead of me, but wasn’t really pulling away. At the turnaround point, the humidity finally got to me and I had to start walking. Little did I know, Braden was in the same boat as me and he started having to walk after nearing eight miles.

Having to combat the humidity, my legs felt like lead and I was having a lot more difficult time than the kid. I was hoping he was having a better time of it, but he said the little hills and weather were taking a toll on him as well. Knowing my race was not going well, I was just looking to survive and get it over with.

Braden’s splits for the next seven miles were the following:

Mile 7 – 9:42

Mile 8 – 10:06

Mile 9 – 9:56

Mile 10 – 10:05

Mile 11 – 11:18

Mile 12 – 9:54

Mile 13 – 10:11

Mile 13.1 – 6:22

As I crossed over the bridge towards the finish line, Braden was there help me get to the finish where he proceeded to tell me how tough of a race he had.

Overall, his time was 2:04:11 (a 9:28 per mile pace) and he came in second in his 1-19 age group. For me, it was my one of my worst half marathons as I clocked in at 2:15:59 (a 10:22 per mile pace).

I thought that after the tough run we had, Braden would have had a rough go of it recovery-wise, but he actually felt fine even though he was a little disappointed with his time. I told him that I was happy with the way he gutted it out and that a lot of people had issues with the humidity and their times suffered as well.

A little bit of good with the bad…we knocked out the first hurdle to become Half Fanatics, but we also found out that his goal to break a world record became a lot more difficult. Apparently in early September, a kid from Iowa knocked five minutes off the record with a time of 1:30 (a 6:55 pace).  I told him we’ll continue to race and train for CASA, but even if he doesn’t get close enough to the record, at least we’ll try to get better.

Braden’s next race is the Grand Prix’s Breakaway 10K, which will be his first 10K race since May. He’s got the distance down fine, now we’re just hoping the temperatures are cooler (without the humidity) and his times will start dropping!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

2017 Paint Downtown Pink 5K

Race #16 on the Grand Prix schedule was on the schedule as Braden and I ran the Paint Downtown Pink 5K in Fort Smith on September 30. We had a very early start to the morning for the tiresome two-hour drive to Fort Smith, but the nice thing was that the temperatures and race conditions were great.

Because of the cooler conditions and a decent course, I was expecting us to have some better times than our previous races, but in the same respect, the hotter temperatures during the latter weeks of September kept us from really training at an acceptable level. From Braden’s past history, he runs strong in the spring, where he coincidentally gets most of his PRs, then he spends the fall trying to get back to the quick times he had lost over the summer. His PR for the 5K was set in March with a time of 21:59 and all his recent runs have been in the high 23 to high 24 minute range. This also affects his age-graded percentages where his 70%+ norms drop into the mid to high 60% range during the summer.

At the beginning of the race, Braden took off and started to open up a big gap between the both of us, while also keeping ahead of some kids that were older. I took this as a good sign that the weather was definitely in his favor to perform well. At the end of the first mile, his time as 7:07, which was on pace to break his PR. That’s when it fell apart.

He was going pretty strong through mile two, but then I started to notice him getting passed by the kids he had been leading and I also saw (from a distance) him clutching his side. I started to actually draw closer to him as well, which is definitely a sure sign of trouble and his second mile average pace of 8:10 was reflective of the issues he was having.

Braden’s third mile was not much better than the second as he continued to have a tough time. With about a half-mile to go, he started to pick up the pace again and sprinted towards the finish. His third mile average pace was 7:51 and the last tenth at a 6:14 pace.

When it was all said and done, Braden came in with a time of 23:55 (a 7:42 minute per mile pace) and an age-graded percentage of 68.01%. I wasn’t any better, lagging with a time of 24:38. Knowing our training hasn’t been up to snuff, it is still perplexing that a few weeks earlier he ran a better time at the Minuteman Cross Country race on the grass. After the race, we talked about ramping up our training so we could get back to where we need to be, while also knowing the break in temperatures will assist as well.

Overall, Braden came first in his age group along with his papa Bernie. This was a non-championship Grand Prix race and since both of them have already maxed out their point totals at 250 and won their respective age groups, they are running out the string for the rest of the schedule. I came in sixth in my age group and was able to pick up 12 points and move into 10th place in my age group in my shortened Grand Prix season.
Arkansas Grand Prix Standings after the Paint Downtown Pink 5K

Our next race will be the Race 13.1 Little Rock half marathon on October 8, which will also be Braden's second half marathon. It wasn’t originally on our schedule, but it turns out this will help in accomplishing some achievements we weren't planning on!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2017 Summer Races and a Grand Prix Championship

It has been a busy last few months with lots of races and I feel bad because I haven’t been keeping up with our racing blog like I should have been. With that being said, I’m going to briefly recap the many 5Ks and one 4-miler we’ve ran during the summer.

The one thing that has been a constant in Braden’s brief running life is the difficulty in dealing with hot weather and humidity. Even though this summer was extremely mild, compared to the normal melting temperatures we get here in Arkansas, Braden had a difficult time adapting. He was fortunate enough to win a lot of the races in his age group, but his times took a hit.

The first two races of the summer were the Firecracker Fast 5K and That Dam Night Run 5K. I had hoped Braden would do really well since both races were advertised as being mainly downhill and one of them being at nighttime, but the humidity got the best of him and I beat him in both events.

The race officials said the Firecracker was a great race to set a PR, but the heavy air would prevent any PRs being set by us. Braden started out pretty quick, but I was able to catch up and pass him at the midpoint water stop. I kept on increasing the distance between us and I was exhausted with a half mile to go, so I actually stopped to see where Braden was. Several seconds later, I saw him rounding a bend and I headed to the finish line falling short of my PR by 30 seconds with a time of 22:35, while Braden came in with a time of 23:04 (7:25 pace). This race would be his best of the summer as he came in first amongst 48 others in his age group and he won a $20 gift card to Fleet Feet.

In the That Dam Night Run 5K the weather at night was beautiful for the downhill race. Despite the comfortable 82-degree temperature Braden really struggled as I passed him after the first mile. He said that after I passed him, he began to walk and when I crossed the finish line, it seemed like an eternity for him to come in. I finished with a time of 22:49, while Braden finished at 24:37 (7:56 pace) and despite the bad race, he placed third in his age group.

Our next race was the Grand Prix’s White River 4 Mile Classic in Batesville. This race is traditionally very hot, since it is during the beginning of August, but this year, the temperatures were very mild and ideal. What makes this race difficult, other than the normal high heat, is the many hills throughout the course. Braden took off at a pretty good pace and I stayed within striking distance for most of the race. I figured the hills would get to him because he hadn’t been performing good during our training runs, but he was tackling them very well. At about the three-mile mark I passed him, but he quickly rebounded and passed me back, and from there, pushed to the finish. He came across the finish line with a time of 30:57 (7:44 pace) and I came in 14 seconds later, breaking the streak of getting beat by me the previous two races. Braden finished first in his age group and I actually finished fourth in my age group.


The following race ended up being Braden’s worst (time-wise) of the summer in the Grand Prix's Watermelon 5K at Hope. Once again, this is traditionally a tough race for Braden because of the heat and the long drive to the race. Even though he didn’t walk at any point of the race, he said he legs felt heavy in the heat and he couldn’t maintain a good pace. He finished with a time of 24:52 (8:01 pace), and came in second in his age group.


After a three-week break in our race schedule, we hit the pavement again in the Grand Prix's ARK 5K Classic in Little Rock. Prior to the race, Braden had a tough time during our training runs and he didn’t feel like he would do well at the race. The weather was nice and foggy before the start, but then the humidity kicked in. From the start, I was ahead of Braden for the whole race until the last quarter mile. From there, the humidity finally got to me and he passed me up as he sprinted to the line. He finished with an improved time of 23:47 and I came in 8 seconds after him. His time was good enough to win first in his age group and most importantly he gained the necessary points to clinch the Grand Prix Championship in his age group for the third consecutive year!

Our most recent race was the Grand Prix’s Minuteman Cross Country 5K in Little Rock. This was my first time ever running a race on the grass, but it was Braden’s fifth, so he had an edge on me running on that type of course. Unlike our recent races, he took off from the start and I could not hang with him as he opened up a lengthy gap between us. I tried my best to get some good momentum, but the thick grass and uneven surface got to me. This time Braden got to wait on me for what seemed an eternity as he finished with a time of 23:38 (7:37 pace) and I trailed behind him by 1:17. Once again, he finished first in his age group and more markedly, he finished about 3 ½ minutes better than the previous year on the same course.

As the temperatures continue to drop, I know Braden will get back to his normal faster times, but we’ve got to try to figure out a way to not getting him to swing dramatically to the other direction when it starts heating up again. Heat and humidity is truly his Achilles heel. We grade his performance using the age-graded calculators where anything above 70% is great; but all of his most recent races have been in the 60’s -- except the Firecracker 5K. In dealing with his struggles in the summer, one of the things we’ve been discussing and preparing him for is his age group finishes. He knows now that, unless he has a REALLY bad race, he will most likely place at or near the top of his age group, but next year when he hits the age of 10, he’ll be running into steeper competition against a lot older kids around junior high age. There have been times when he doesn’t place and he gets down on himself, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts and perseveres when he doesn’t come close to finishing at the top of the standings as often as he does now.

Going forward, there are just a few more 5Ks on the schedule with a couple of 10Ks and Half Marathons thrown in the mix. We are going to be ramping up our mileage in preparation for the Soaring Wings Half Marathon and then we’ll see if we can get his times down for a record breaking attempt at the CASA Half Marathon in December. Braden and Bernie have won their respective age groups, so their Grand Prix points won’t count anymore, while I three more races to accumulate points.
Arkansas Grand Prix Standings after the Minuteman Cross Country 5K