What got into him?!
That's the only phrase I can think of as I sit here writing the latest race report. I am still scratching my head trying to figure out if my son has grown a new set of legs or has he just reached a different tier to his running after his latest race...the Breakaway 10K in Searcy, AR.
The previous week, Braden set a new 5K PR (by a lot) and I wrote that it would be scary to think what his times would be like in the upcoming year. Little did I know that it would only take a week for him to show me how fast he truly has progressed.
The Breakaway 10K was the first 10K race Braden participated in last year and as a 6-year-old, he finished with a time of 1:04:25. From there, he raced in the Little Rock Marathon 10K and, even though he was sick as a dog, finished with a time of 1:10:07. Two weeks later, and after feeling a lot better, he was able to knock 6 minutes off his PR with a 58:04 at the JLLR Downtown Dash. Three weeks later, and his last race at age 6, he knocked another 3 minutes off his PR to finish with a time of 55:08 at the Capital City Classic 10K. Ever since early April, Braden has run four other 10K races that have resulted in times within a minute of his personal best, but he just hasn't been able to crack the 55 minute mark...until this past weekend's race.
The Breakaway 10K course winds itself through the Harding University campus and is generally flat. What made it even better was the fact that the temperature at race time was 50 degrees, the sun was out, and there was no wind. In other words, the conditions were perfect!
As always, we discussed what pace he wanted to run. At the 5K race, where he set his PR, he ran a 7:45 minute per mile and his Capital City Classic 10K pace was an 8:54, so we looked at running at an 8:30 pace, which would have knocked a couple of minutes off his best 10K time and set a new PR.
We got in front of the pack at the starting line and quickly settled into a much faster pace than the 8:30 we had talked about. Normally I would be concerned about the quick start, but after asking him a 1/2 mile into the race how he was feeling and him telling me that he was great, I told him that I would let him pace us and I would just stay with him. As the second and third mile came and went, there was a few runners ahead of us we were hanging behind, but one in particular was a young runner who Braden has never come close to beating and at that point I looked at my watch and realized we were definitely going a lot faster than what was planned.
Our splits for the first 3 miles were the following:
Mile 1 - 7:52 pace
Mile 2 - 7:57
Mile 3 - 7:44
3/4 into the third mile, Braden and I started to pass the runners we had been trailing behind including the one Braden had never finished in front of. It was at that point that I realized I couldn't keep up the pace we had been running as well, so I told him to keep going and not to wait on me. Of course he never would pass up an opportunity to beat me, so he proceeded to put a little distance between the both of us. I thought at some point he would give out from the rigorous pace he was setting for himself, but he just kept on going. I kept within approximately 100 meters of him the rest of the way, which allowed me to keep shouting out and encouraging him the last three miles. He passed a couple of more runners and got overtaken by those same runners with less than a mile to go (as his pace finally slowed a little), but he did have enough in the tank to make a final push to the finish line.
The splits for his final 3.2 miles were the following:
Mile 4 - 7:38
Mile 5 - 7:55
Mile 6 - 7:57
Last .20 - 7:04
As I was crossing the finish line behind him, the clock showed 48:04. To my utter disbelief (and the timekeeper as well), Braden finished with a time of 47:39!!
Where to begin...
1. He broke his 10K PR by 7 1/2 minutes!
2. He has shaved 16 minutes off his 10K time in one year
3. He negative split the race
4. Lastly, he actually beat my PR time for a 10K!
When Braden first beat me in a race at the Watermelon 5K in August, it was a day where I didn't get any sleep, had to drive 2 1/2 hours to the race, and it felt like I was running in sand. It was by far my worst 5K run and I had my excuses on why he beat me. This time it was totally different...he beat me at my best with the time I ran, as I actually came within 6 seconds of breaking my own personal best from 2011! I will say, though, that my PR was set on my very first race at the Toad Suck 10K and I hadn't run any other 10K races other than with Braden. A couple of years ago I was much faster, and if I had run a 10K race, I most likely would have established another PR, but as it stands, he has a better 10K time than the old man!
Braden finished in 1st place in his age group, and never walking away from an opportunity to run some more, he ran a one-lap race around the Harding track after the 10K where he also finished 1st.
After the race, all I could think about was where he found the speed to take that much time off his previous PR. The 55 minute 10K times he had been running as of late are really excellent times for a 7-year-old and I would have understood if he had finished with a time around 52 or 53 minutes, but to finish at 47:39 is insane (especially since he runs a lot slower during training runs)! I just don't know if this will be the new norm or was it a one-off kind of run that I won't see again for a great while. I guess I won't be able to find out until March when we run our next 10K race at the Little Rock Marathon 10K. I'm just so proud of his accomplishments and so thankful that the Lord has blessed him with the ability to do so well!
Braden's next race will be the USATF Arkansas Association XC Championship in Little Rock where he'll qualify for Nationals in December, and then we'll have our final road race of the year on Thanksgiving at the Turkey Trot 5K in Conway.