Barry and Braden's PR Times

Saturday, April 18, 2015

2015 Fly Like an Eagle 5K

Braden with Vilonia High School 2-time state cross country champion, Zach Rail

“Most people can't handle adversity. Simply by not quitting, you'll succeed." 
                                                                              - Stephanie Rothstein Bruce      

The Fly Like an Eagle 5K was a perfect example that despite the fact Braden wants to get a PR in every race, sometimes there is going to be some adversity and a PR is just not going to be in the cards.

Adversity in the form of illness and injury hit Braden and myself over the past couple of weeks. I sustained an Achilles injury from the Capital City Classic 10K and have been put under orders not to run for a while until it heals up (which is VERY hard for me to do!) and then a couple of days after Braden's birthday, he came down with strep throat and was out of commission until a few days before the race.

After the 10K race, I had a conversation with Cindy Stage, fellow Conway Running Club member and supporter of the Vilonia cross country team (to whom the Fly Like an Eagle race benefitted), concerning the 5K race and my injury, since normally I run with Braden to pace him. She mentioned that possibly she could get a cross country team member to run with Braden...which got my wheels turning. Braden LOVES watching track and is a big fan of the Vilonia track team and in particular Zach Rail. Zach Rail is the two-time state champion in cross country and holds almost every distance record for Vilonia High School. The Vilonia team, year in and year out,  is one of the strongest programs in the state and Braden aspires to be a part of the team many years from now. I called Cindy back the next day and asked her if she could pull some strings and have Zach run with Braden during the race, since I couldn't, so she said she would see she could do. When I told Braden of the possibility of running with Zach, he was on cloud nine!!

Then Braden got sick...

It was dicey on whether to run the race or not; and on top of that, when you have a kid who would have to be on death's door to not run a race, it makes it a tough judgement call on when to have him run again. Luckily (if you can call it that) his sickness had subsided three days before the race, so I took him out to the track two days prior to see how he would do. He ran at a slower pace, but he didn't have any issues whatsoever, so he said he was ready to go for the race...he wasn't about to let the opportunity of running with Zach slip by.

On race day, upon our arrival, Cindy and the cross country coach, John Allison, introduced us to Zach and some of the other cross country team members. The team members talked with and spent a lot of time with Braden prior to the race.

Braden wanted to PR the race, since it was a flat course and his previous best time of 26:35 was set a month earlier on a hillier course...but it wasn't meant to be. This was the first race of Braden's that I was purely a spectator and after checking my watch at the half-way point and not seeing him come into view in a timely manner, I figured something might be wrong. When he did finally come into view, he had to stop at the water table (which is something he's never done in a 5K race) and it looked like he wasn't his normal speedy self. 

Towards the tail end of the race as they entered the stadium for the last 1/4 mile he was already passed the 30 minute mark and he was really struggling. With 200 meters left he had to stop and proceeded to throw up. After losing his banana breakfast on the track, he refused to quit and ran full tilt to the finish line with a time of 32:03...5 1/2 minutes off his PR, but still good enough for first place in his age group of one.

Zach and the rest of the team were a constant encouragement to Braden during the run and even though Braden was disappointed with his time, he was thrilled to be with his new friends. Even after the race, they played frisbee with Braden and hung out with him through the awards ceremony. From the coaches to the runners, the cross country team were all very gracious and I'm so looking forward to the day when Braden runs for the Vilonia program!

Braden's next race will be on May 4 at the Toad Suck Daze 10K, a championship Grand Prix  race. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

2015 Capital City Classic 10K

Welcome to the latest posting of Running Down a Dream...the Capital City Classic 10K edition and Braden's last race as a 6-year-old since he'll be turning 7 on April 9th!

Going into the Capital City Classic, I had a lot of concerns on how to handle this race with Braden. It had been a couple of weeks since our last race, his last 10K training run was so-so, and weather had been pretty crummy as of late. What was helpful was that I knew the course was flat, the weather forecast was looking good, and Braden had a very strong 5K training run two nights prior. With that in mind, I told him we were going to shoot for a 9 minute per mile pace and hopefully finish underneath the 56 minute mark; which would be a PR by a couple of minutes set at the JLLR Downtown Dash three weeks earlier with a 9:20 pace. What was cool about this race was that it was the first time that me, Braden, my brother Greg, and my father-in-law Bernie all ran in the same race.

We eased up closer than normal to the start line prior to the race because it was a gun start, so I knew we were going to lose some time coming out of the gate. Once we got past the initial mass of humanity, we settled in at about an 8:45 pace. I told him we were going to slow it down a little bit, but he said he was feeling good, so I locked us in on an 8:53 pace instead of 9:00. 
The run was going beautiful and the first half of the race felt like we were going slightly up on elevation and we were going against just a little wind. I kept telling him that the second half of the race should be better because we'd have the wind to our back and a slight decline in elevation to help us finish strong. Unfortunately, for me, at the half way point it felt like something had popped in my right leg around the Achilles area. My main concern was that I would make it worse if I ran further and that I would hold Braden back if I couldn't maintain the pace. I fought through the gritting discomfort and discussed with Braden to see if he wanted to pick up the pace a little more over the last couple of miles. 

Based on the Garmin, we ran the 5th mile at 8:47 pace and then ran the 6th mile at an 8:41 pace. He then had enough left in the tank to make a finishing kick the last 100 meters to finish with a PR time of 55:08. Officially, he finished with a pace of 8:54, factoring in the gun start and the obvious more distance traveled, while unofficially, by the Garmin, he finished with an 8:48 pace. Braden basically knocked off three minutes from previous PR and I was so amazed on how effortless he looked running the race! 

When I raced next to Braden I noticed how good his form looked and how well his breathing control was. He got several compliments during the race from other runners on his running abilities and I know that these types of comments just motivate him even more. 

Braden finished in first place in his age group of two, but most importantly, since this was a non-championship Grand Prix race, he picked up the maximum of 20 points in the standings. He now sits one point behind the current leader and unless something bizarre happens, he'll be in first place after the next championship Grand Prix race, which is the Toad Suck Daze 10K on May 4th.

Arkansas Grand Prix standings after the Capital City Classic 10K

At the awards ceremony, Braden received a print of a well-known local runner who passed away recently...Jacob Wells, who was very active in the running community and assisted physically challenged runners as well. It's pretty cool to get other things than just a medal or after the race we went to get a frame and now it sits proudly on his desk.

After the events at the race, we had more business to take care of because the distance medals from the Little Rock Marathon were finally available for pick-up! Even though Braden didn't get the 3.5 pound monster medal from the marathon (he now wants to run the marathon next year...I told him no!), he thought his 10K medal was spectacular.

Our next race is two weeks away at the Fly Like an Eagle 5K in Vilonia and Braden is looking to set another PR. The proceeds of the race are used to support the Vilonia Cross Country team (where Braden hopes to be a future team member).