Barry and Braden's PR Times

Thursday, March 24, 2016

2016 Spring Fling 5K

For the first time in a few weeks, Braden was feeling good as he prepared to run his final 5K race before his birthday, the Spring Fling 5K in Cabot. Even though he had a pretty decent race the week before at the Chase Race 2 Miler, he still wasn't in top condition, so he was optimistic about putting up a really good time at the Spring Fling.

In preparing for the race, Braden attended track practice for the first time this year at UALR for the upcoming USA Track & Field season. Going to track practice really helps his speed and that translates into faster times for his long distance races. In the past year running in USATF, Braden has been able to consistently take chunks of time off his personal bests and it has gotten to the point where it's becoming more of the norm with him beating me during our races. His outlook for the Spring Fling was to be aggressive and try to get below 23 minutes, but as the day of the race approached, I told him it would be tough due to the possible windy conditions.

On the day of the race we had to break out the cold weather clothes again because the temperature was in the low-40's with the wind at 10-15 mph. Thankfully, we got to wait at the Cabot High School fieldhouse to keep warm before the start of the race.

Since it was a chipped start, I wasn't concerned about being close to the start line, but with so many runners packed in, I'm always concerned about getting off to a clean start and not getting tripped up. We had a couple of races last year where we had runners fall in front of us and about 15 seconds into this race someone cut off a runner ahead of us and he took a tumble. I wish I could stop and assist, but I also know that doing so could cause even more runners to fall by stopping and going back. We avoided the crash and Braden took advantage of the wind to his back and some downhills to finish his first mile at a 7:15 pace.

Heading into the second mile, Braden started to pull ahead of me and I told him to continue to run strong but save enough in the tank because I knew he would have to go up some hills the last mile and against the wind. Even though his pace slowed up, he looked to be running very well and he ended his second mile at a 7:54 pace.

Braden continued to look strong as he headed up the hill midway through the second mile as the winds were gusting. He was about a minute ahead of me, but I was able to keep my eyes on him as he kept a decent lead over his competition. The course ends by leaving the road, going through a parking lot, and heading down a steep slope onto the high school track for the final 300 meters. As I entered onto the track I could see Braden turning it on as he charged to the finish line. Despite the hill and wind, his last mile's pace was the same as his second at 7:54 and the last tenth of a mile he finished at a 5:53 pace.

Below is the video, with Braden coming in at the 7:15 mark:

Braden crossed the line with a total time of 23:50, which was only 27 seconds off his personal best from November. He was 1st out of 6 boys in his age group and had his strongest performance of the year so far. Amongst all males, Braden finished 63rd out of 143, and overall he finished 83rd out of a total of 322 runners. His age-graded percentage was at 76.70% and was the 14th best performance overall. Because this was a non-championship Grand Prix race, he collected all 20 points and is half way towards another championship in his age group with 130 total points for the season.

I finished a little less than a minute behind Braden with a time of 24:41, finished 6th in my age group and am in 6th place in the Grand Prix standings. Papa Bernie set a new 5K PR for himself with a time of 25:23, finished 2nd in his age group and is still in 1st place in the Grand Prix standings.

Grand Prix Standings after the Spring Fling 5K

Our next race is the Grand Prix championship Capital City Classic 10K in a couple of weeks. It will be Braden's final race as a seven-year-old and will start a run of 4 out of 5 races that will be 10K distances. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

2016 Chase Race 2 Mile and the Little Rock Marathon Weekend

This blog entry will be a little bit different, and lengthier, from the others due to the fact that I will be writing about three races, but Braden will only be involved with one of them due to him having to pull out of the Little Rock Marathon 10K because of being sick with strep. I'll go ahead and get the easy one out of the way first with the Chase Race 2 Miler that we ran on March 12.

The Chase Race is one of the tougher races Braden will have to run this year and it's not because of the difficulty of the course; mainly it's because of the distance and his age group. Last year Braden set the course record for his age group (0-6 years old) with a time of 17:12 and he received a free entry into this year's event. Normally, his age group would be 0-9 years old, but for this particular race, his age group is 7-10. With the shorter distance, kids that are older than Braden tend to have an advantage because they are usually taller and can be quicker, whereas he can make up the difference with the 5 and 10K distances. Going into the race, I told Braden one of the kids he was running up against was a 10-year-old who had ran faster 5K times than he had, and his main goal should be to finish ahead of any other kid who was in his Grand Prix age group since it was a Grand Prix championship race.

The whole week before the race it rained, rained and rained some more. On the day of the race, however, we caught a break with the weather as it was overcast and in the mid-50's and very little wind. There were 439 runners and thankfully it was a chipped start which made it more fair since we weren't lined up in the front at the start.

We got off to a pretty decent start and quickly settled in. Braden's goal was to run a 14:30 since he wasn't feeling quite at 100% and I could tell he was struggling a little bit since I was ahead of him by about 10 meters during the first mile. There was one kid that was ahead of us that looked like he was in Braden's age group and I told him I believed he was in the Grand Prix as well. As we got to the one-mile turnaround Braden was running at a 7:34 per mile pace.


I was still ahead of Braden and was telling him he needed to kick it in and pass me up along with the competition ahead of us. With 3/4 of a mile to go, Braden started to pick up the pace as he passed me and closed the gap on the kid ahead of us. It was actually fun watching the both of them look back and forth at each other during the last 1/2 mile as Braden caught up with him as they were racing toward the finish. Braden managed to pull ahead and held the other kid off as they crossed the mats. His last mile was at a 7:17 per mile pace with a finishing time of 14:51. Even though he didn't meet his race goal, he still set a PR by 2 minutes and 4 seconds from his last two-mile race from nine months earlier! The course record for his age group is 12:47 and he'll have three more chances to break it before he turns 11, so he's already saying he wants to set a new mark here in the next few years.

Braden finished 3rd overall out of 21 other kids in his age group and, most importantly, finished 1st amongst those who were in his age group in the Grand Prix, so he was able to pick up the full 30 points and is still sitting in 1st place in the standings. I finished 15 seconds behind Braden and was 7th in my age group and I'm 8th place in the standings, while papa Bernie finished in 2nd place in his age group, but is still in 1st place in the standings.

Grand Prix Standings after the Chase Race 2 Miler

Our next race is the Grand Prix non-championship Spring Fling 5K where hopefully Braden will be feeling at his best as he tries to break his PR from a few months ago.

Now comes the part of the blog where it's all about me and Bernie since Braden got sick at the wrong time during the Little Rock Marathon weekend.

Last year Braden got strep the week before the Little Rock Marathon 10K and he struggled with coughing and throwing up on the course, but yet still finishing the race. I signed us up in October for the 10K and I went ahead and signed up for the Half Marathon the day after as well. The weather forecast for the weekend was absolutely perfect with temperatures in the low-50's and no wind. This year he was feeling better, but he started having a sore throat a couple of days before the race. We went to the expo where it seemed everyone knew who he was and he got a massage amongst a lot of other activities that kept him interested. Everything looked good to go...until the morning.

When we woke up it was hard getting him going as I sent him to his room to get changed. After a few minutes, he came out complaining about his legs hurting, he had a fever, and he expressed that he didn't think he'd be able to run. I asked him if he was sure he was going to drop out (considering he had never dropped out of a race before) and he started crying because he knew he was making a hard, but the right choice. I hated it for him and he was questioning why, for the second year in a row, he was sick during Little Rock Marathon weekend. My wife was out of town and I had to call my parents at 5:30 a.m. to take care of Braden while Bernie and I went to go run.

The 10K race for the first time was combined with the 5K and it was a two-loop course. For the most part it was flat and my strategy was to run with Bernie and take it easy since I had the half marathon the next day. His goal was to run the race in 55 minutes and I felt like it was going to be a comfortable run. Prior to the start, it felt strange because no one wanted to get to the front for the start. I knew we weren't the fastest runners out there, but we found ourselves a few seconds from the start line because everyone else was wanting to stay back.

We had no issues getting off to a good start and quickly settled into a quicker pace than what Bernie was wanting. I kept on asking how he was feeling and telling him what pace we were going and he was responding very well. Our splits for the first three miles were the following:

Mile 1 - 8:03 per mile
Mile 2 - 8:29
Mile 3 - 8:26

Everything was going okay until a little after mile 4. At that point we started running into traffic with the 5K walkers. I understand why the directors made the 10K a two-loop course, especially concerning volunteers and police support, but it was a real hassle trying to avoid the walkers. In a lot of cases there were walkers stretched across the road and it felt like we were running all over the road.

Despite all the walkers, we still were maintaining a pretty decent pace as we were able to turn it on for the last quarter of a mile that was all down hill to the finish line. Our last splits were the following:

Mile 4 - 8:10
Mile 5 - 8:36
Mile 6 - 8:38
Last .2 - 7:25

Bernie's total time was 52:27 as he set a new PR along with finishing 1st in his age group, while I finished a couple of seconds ahead of him and finished 7th in my age group. It was definitely a faster race than I had anticipated and I hoped I would have enough in the tank to do well the next day.

When we got home, I picked up Braden and a few hours later we decided he needed to go to the doctor. The doctor performed a strep test and sure enough Braden tested positive. After getting a few doses of medicine in him, he said he wanted to go with us the next day to watch me run in the half. When we woke up in the morning, Braden said he was feeling good and actually said he felt good enough to run a 10K...unfortunately, he was one day too late.

Did I mention how perfect the weather was for the race? It was spectacular and was probably the best running conditions I've had for a half/full marathon race...I just wish my performance would've matched the weather.

I really had no set goals for the race, other than to try to finish in the 1:50 - 1:55 range and since this was a new course, I didn't know how tough it would be. At the start line, I met up with a fellow Grand Prix runner and decided I would hang with him as long as I could.

The start of the race was clean and it didn't take long to settle into a casual pace. We crossed over the Arkansas River bridge into North Little Rock for the first three miles before having to cross back over to the Little Rock side. My first three mile splits were the following:

Mile 1 - 8:24 per mile
Mile 2 - 8:26
Mile 3 - 8:25

For some reason, it seemed the trip back over the river bridge was more difficult and steeper as I had to slow down my pace. Once over the bridge we started heading east over flat terrain to a turnaround point at mile 6.

Mile 4 - 8:52
Mile 5 - 8:40
Mile 6 - 8:38

At the 10K mark, my time was 53:29, which was only about a minute off from the 10K race a day earlier. The problem, though, was that I was starting to feel fatigued. My legs started to feel heavy, my back started to seize up, and my stomach felt cramped and empty. Coincidentally, the course became more difficult as I started to fall apart. Starting at about the mile 7 mark I was needing to walk on the uphills.

Mile 7 - 9:06
Mile 8 - 10:15
Mile 9 - 10:53

The last 4.2 miles was tough as I kept on feeling worse and the hills were more frequent. When I had to walk, I at least tried to walk fast, but it seemed like an eternity trying to finish the race. Thankfully at the 12 mile mark the course got a little easier and I was able to finish at a better pace.

Mile 10 - 11:14
Mile 11 - 11:44
Mile 12 - 10:36
Mile 13 - 9:45
Last .10 - 7:37

I finished with a total time of 2:06:49 (a 9:40 pace), which definitely was one of my worst half marathon runs, but I was just glad to have survived and complete the 10K/Half Marathon combo and receive three medals.


We all went to have breakfast afterwards and I just didn't feel good. After getting home I started feeling really bad and had to have the wife take me to the walk-in clinic where I was diagnosed with strep. In a weird way I felt pretty good about my race because I knew the reason why I had fell apart was because I was sick.

Overall, even though the weather for the weekend races was unbeatable, it stunk that sickness wiped out Braden and affected my running as well.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

2016 The Beat Goes On 5K

I thought our next race after the Valentine's Day 5K would be the Little Rock Marathon 10K, but with a break in our schedule, there was an opportunity to get in another 5K event. With the weather outlook looking good, I decided to sign us up for The Beat Goes On 5K in Benton.

Braden was wanting to improve on his Valentine's Day 5K race and the conditions were looking very good for him to do that. What I wasn't expecting was the hillier terrain would we have to navigate. The February temperatures were very nice, and by race time, it was in the high 40's with 5 mph winds. From the start line we saw there was an immediate hill we had to run up. One of our fellow Grand Prix runners said he had run the course before and mentioned the biggest hills were at the start and the finish, but for the most part the course had rolling hills.

We positioned ourselves toward the front and Braden said he would attack the first hill since we thought the course would "even" out afterwards. When the race started, we got up the hill, but didn't realize there was another hill right ahead. I was a little bit ahead of Braden, but it didn't take long before he caught up with me. We were going at a pretty brisk pace and I was already regretting attacking the first hills as my pace started to slow up at the end of the first mile. Our time after the first mile was at 7:22 and at that point I told Braden to go for it since I knew I was going to slow my pace.

We had a few rolling elevations on the second mile as Braden opened up a little bit of a lead on me. I could tell the hills were taking a toll on him as well as I started to close the gap a few times. I told him at the beginning of the race that he should beat me and as I was getting closer to him at the end of the second mile, I shouted that I was right behind and he better not let me catch him. He finished the second mile with a total time of 15:21 (5 seconds ahead of me) and ran it at a 7:59 minute per mile pace.

During the third mile, we both slowed up around the 2.5 mile mark, except I was slower than Braden. We were both getting tired, but I was encouraging him to push on as the distance between us increased. With a little more than a quarter of a mile to go the music was blaring. In my last blog, I mentioned how much Braden loved music from the Rocky soundtrack, so what do you think was playing? Gonna Fly Now...his favorite running song. I was laughing to myself because I knew he would turn on the jets once he started to hear the music. Even with a final uphill climb to the finish line, Braden came in strong with a time of 24:10. His third mile pace was 7:52 and the last .10 at a 7:16 pace, with a total average pace of 7:43.

Even though Braden initially was shooting to finish with a better time, we both knew his finishing time was pretty decent because the course was one of the tougher ones we had raced at the 5K distance. It was his third best 5K race and his age-graded percentage was a very good 75.65%. Overall, Braden finished 1st out of 9 boys in his age group, 41st out of 184 male runners, and 49th out of 457 total participants. I finished 34 seconds behind Braden, but what frustrated me was the fact that I got passed up in the last tenth of a mile to finish fourth in my age group.

At the awards ceremony, Braden received some very nice compliments for his run, but the biggest highlight for him was being able to talk with Leah Thorvilson. Leah has won multiple Little Rock Marathons and is also a five-time Grand Prix champion as well. He enjoyed talking running and the Grand Prix with Leah and she was very gracious in her time spent with him.

Braden with Leah Thorvilson
Our next race is the big one...the Little Rock Marathon weekend. Braden and I will run the 10K on Saturday and then I will turn around and run the Half Marathon the next day. I plan to run hard and will try to keep up with Braden the best I can during the 10K and will most likely not push myself too much in running the Half.