Barry and Braden's PR Times

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney 10K

This past weekend was filled with football and running as we visited the Dallas area to see my Texas A&M Aggies play the Razorbacks, the Cowboys play the Falcons, and to participate in a 10K race to boot!

We had planned over the past several months to visit the Dallas area for the football games, but signed up for the race a few days prior to us arriving since Braden started getting his mileage back up to where he could run 10K distances again.

Like I had mentioned in the previous blog entry, Braden had been struggling to put together any decent training runs and I was getting concerned about his distance, especially since he had the Chile Pepper 10K Grand Prix race coming up the first weekend in October. Knowing that there was a 10K race close to where we were staying, I told Braden that I would sign us up for the race only if he could show me on a training run that he could do the distance. For a change of scenery I took him to the Tucker Creek trail in Conway and Braden finally put together a really good run that prompted him to say that he had got his "running mojo" back!  With his self-assured confidence, I signed us up for the race knowing he was finally good to go.

In past years, the Crape Myrtle Trails races was only a 1 mile fun run and 5K, but this year they added the 10K distance. What I like about North Texas is the many paved running trails that are accessible and this particular race was strictly on the mostly flat paved trails. It was a nice community event with all the sponsor tents, inflatable play areas for the kids, and a small petting zoo.

The only thing that didn't excite me was the 8:30 start time. Even though the morning temperatures were more comfortable, it was still too warm for that late of a start. What made it even worse was that the 1-mile fun run was the first event and because it took a lot longer than what was anticipated for the runners to finish, the start time for our race got pushed back another 15 minutes.

Most of the runners ran the 1 mile and 5K events, while there was only 62 who participated in the 10K. I was kinda amazed that Braden was the only one in his age group (boys or girls) who was running the 10K distance in McKinney, a suburb of Dallas. I guess I figured there would have been a few more kids his age from the area that would run it. Apparently, when we lined up to start, the other runners thought it was unusual for a kid his age to be running that distance as well.

I considered this race more of a training one and because of that I wanted to push Braden to see how he would do, so we took off at a pretty quick pace and settled into the run. It was a very nice run that luckily had a lot of trees to provide some shade as we were running into the sun for the first half of the out and back.

Our splits for the first 3 miles were as followed:

Mile 1 - 8:28 pace
Mile 2 - 8:52 pace
Mile 3 - 9:05 pace

During the middle part of the course, he was slowing down and I could tell that the sun and heat was getting to him, so I encouraged him the best I could. Thankfully at the turnaround we had the sun to our back and Braden was getting a lot of thumbs up and well wishes as we passed the runners coming towards us and those that were ahead of us. One lady was very nice and chatted with us and she told him that he better be in front of her at the finish (which he did). I told Braden that we were going to ease up a little on the fourth mile, but he needed to turn it on the last couple of miles.

He responded very well and started to pick up the pace the last couple of miles. Towards the end, we were passing not only the 10K runners but the 5K walkers as well and luckily the trail wasn't too congested to where we had any issues passing. We made one final turn and Braden turned on the jets to finish with an official time of 55:11. His time was only 3 seconds off his personal best and for the first time in many races he did not throw up at the finish line!

His splits for the final 3 miles were as followed:

Mile 4 - 9:18 pace
Mile 5 - 8:57 pace
Mile 6 - 8:37 pace
Last .2 - 8:15 pace

At the awards ceremony, Braden, of course, won be default since he was the only runner in his age group, but the race director was very gracious and heaped a lot of praise towards Braden's direction. Not only did he win his race, he won a drawing for a $20 gift card to Target and it was the third time this year he won something in a drawing (luck is apparently on his side as well). I was pretty happy too because I came in first place in my age group, which is pretty rare since most of the races I particpate in are against Grand Prix runners who are a lot faster than me! The nice thing is as Braden gets faster, I'll be able to work on getting my times faster as well, which means I can compete better with those in my age group.

Being only the second 10K distance he had run since May, I was very proud of Braden's effort and ability to bounce back. I have no doubt that he will be able to shave a lot off his 10K times over the next couple of months and he'll get his first chance at the Chile Pepper race in Fayetteville on October 3, where it will be a lot cooler, but it will also be his first cross country race as well. Unfortunately, I won't be there to run with him, but I look forward to the results!

After our race, Braden went swimming, then we had some great Mexican food, and finally we took in an exciting football game as the Aggies won in overtime. Even though the Cowboys lost the next day, we had an awesome weekend in Dallas and look forward to going back to run there again!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

2015 Every Soul Matters 5K

For the first time, in what seemed like forever, the weather was absolutely spectacular for the Every Soul Matters 5K hosted by our church in our hometown of Vilonia. We had been anticipating the hot and humid temperatures that we've had to finally break and what we got was the low 60's for the start of the race which should have made for faster times and hopefully another PR for Braden. He was excited after his last race to set another PR because he had run so well when the temperatures were hotter, so he naturally thought when it got cooler it would translate to even faster run times...unfortunately, he discovered that bad training can lead to slower times.

With our hot summers here in Arkansas, there are not as many races that run beyond 5Ks, so because of this, his last race beyond 5K was the Yorktown Independence 8K on July 4 and his last 10K race was in May at the Toad Suck Daze 10K. I've been trying to get him ramped up in his mileage to the 6.2 mile level again because he's got a full docket of those types of races rapidly coming up and I don't want him to be unprepared. For the past couple of weeks I've tried to get at least one 10K practice run out of him, but he hasn't even come close to getting there. The week prior to the Every Soul Matters race we tried for three days to get a good training run, but all I could get was one one-mile and two two-mile runs out of him before he would "give out." After some long conversations with him about my concerns, it basically boiled down to the issue of him being bored with the same route we always take, running by ourselves, and lastly thinking that he's doing just fine training the way he is because he's still setting PRs. I had to tell him that running is a "lonely" sport most of the time and that we just can't travel all over the place for changes in scenery during training. The thing that bothered me the most, though, was him thinking he could just go out and run races without doing the yeoman's work to improve his times. With all this being said, I still thought that he could break his PR because he has proven me wrong before when I thought he wouldn't do that well.

Prior to the start, we talked about our pace and the finishing time he wanted and so we looked at going at a 7:55 pace which would have brought him in around 24:32. 

I took us out at the pace we were gunning for, but after the first mile I looked back and saw that Braden was a little bit behind me. My first inclination was to slow down and let him catch up to me, but then I started to think that I needed to go ahead and run my own race and show him that the old man was better than he thought and that his training was going to reflect in his result. After the first mile my pace was at 7:55 and his was 8:04.

During the second mile, confusing came into play. 

Last year, there were some front runners who didn't turn down the correct street and cut the course short by .15 miles. This year, the course was reversed, but the same thing happened again with the confusion. The 2 mile water stop was located at the corner of a street, but we were supposed to go to the next street up to turn. I had already noticed the runners ahead of me who turned down the wrong street, so I asked if this was a mistake or not and was told to follow the ones who turned down the wrong street. I knew this was not correct, but I thought maybe something could have changed, so I followed the group in front of me. I finished the second mile at an 8:17 pace and Braden was an 8:49 because he had to stop for a little bit.

At the last "mile," which was actually .95, I stopped for a few seconds during the last stretch to encourage Braden, so I finished at an 8:02 pace and he finished at an 8:21 pace.

Because of the shorter distance, our times weren't reflective of what it should have been. I finished with a time of 23:59 and Braden finished with a 24:36. The time that he got was the time we were shooting for, but unfortunately, it wasn't accurate. After dividing our times by the distance we ran (2.95) and multiplying the distance we should have run (3.10), my time should have been 25:12 and Braden's time should have been 25:51.

I know you can't set a PR every race, but Braden knew that his time should have been a lot better, especially with the cooler temps that we had. I also told him that because of my improved training, I'm getting faster and he'll need to start taking his training more seriously if he wants to beat me in the future.

Overall, we did have a fun time and not only did Braden come in first place in his age group, but I, along with his grandparents, came in first in our respective age groups as well. Braden, who never turns down an opportunity to race, had enough energy at the end of the 5K to run with some of the other kids during their Little Souls Matter races around the church.

Most of our upcoming races will be of the 10K variety and I'm thankful that we won't be messing with the heat anymore on our runs. Even though I know it's hard to stay motivated all the time, I'm sure that Braden will step up to the plate and keep improving...he's just too competitive not to.

Monday, September 7, 2015

2015 ARK 5K Classic

As summer draws to a close and the weather starts to cool down our race schedule is about to get busy again. Since June, not counting USATF events, we've only ran one road race per month, but starting this month we'll be averaging three races per month until December. 

With the summer heat, consistently churning out great runs has been difficult, but Braden managed to knock 43 seconds off his 5K best during our last race at the Watermelon 5K in August. With that being said, I was hoping that he would be able to improve again on his 5K time since the temperatures were going to be somewhat cooler and the course flatter at the ARK 5K Classic.

After my bad race at the Watermelon 5K, I have been working on getting my running back in order since Braden wiped me out. I was determined to hang with him and I felt really good the morning of the race since I had a good night's rest and I didn't have to go far because the race was in North Little Rock. The humidity at the start of the race was pretty high, but with the temperatures around 75 degrees, it made it more tolerable.

We got off to a clean start, but about 100 yards into the race, one of the participants tripped up and took a hard fall right in front of us. Braden avoided the crash and we were able to quickly adjust and settle into the race (the lady who took the fall was okay, other than some bandages on both knees after the race). I felt really good, so I wanted to push Braden into a faster pace than normal to see how he would handle it. He was doing good until about the 3/4 mile mark when he asked me to slow down the pace. I laughed and told him that he was supposed to be the one dominating me and that I should be trying to keep up with him. Needless to say, I slowed it up a little bit and we finished our first mile at an 8:01 pace.

Unfortunately, I think I slowed it down a little bit too much and with an ease up at the water station, we clocked our second mile at an 8:29 pace. With a mile to go, I told Braden that we needed to pick up the pace if he wanted to get another PR, and with that he responded very well. We started making mini-goals of passing up the runners that were ahead of us and that enabled us to get our pace down again. Our third mile ended up being an 8:13 pace and with a final .1 to go, I told him to turn it on and he responded by running the last tenth at a 7:00 pace. I finished 3 seconds behind him, but I got such a thrill watching him kick it into another gear. When he pushes like that, I just can't keep up with him. 

After crossing the finish line, Braden, once again, lost his breakfast (which I now just contribute to him pushing himself to his limits to finish the race), while finishing with a time of 25:09. For the second race in a row, he had knocked of 43 seconds off his previous best time! For myself, I was happy that I had run so much better and was able to push him throughout the race.

With his results, Braden came in first place in his age group, and because it was also a non-championship Grand Prix race, he picked up all 20 points for the standings. As it stands, he now has 220 points and if he gets all 30 points in his next Grand Prix race (the Chile Pepper XC 10K next month), he'll be maxed out and will have clinched first place overall for the year.

Arkansas Grand Prix standings after the ARK 5K Classic

Below is the video of our finish at the 9:30 mark:

I'm really excited to see how Braden does over the next couple of months because I know that with the cooler temperatures, his times will continue to drop! Our next race is next week at the Every Soul Matters 5K at our church here in Vilonia. This week the weather is supposed to break again and the temperatures should be in the low 60's come race time...YEAH!!!! Braden is already talking about setting a new PR and as I have learned, he usually doesn't disappoint.