Barry and Braden's PR Times

Thursday, April 21, 2016

2016 Fly Like an Eagle 5K

Out of all the non-Grand Prix races on the schedule, there is one that holds a special place in our heart...the Fly Like an Eagle 5K. What makes it so special is that it not only is a hometown race, but it also benefits the Vilonia Cross Country program coached by John Allison. We see Coach Allison all the time on the Grand Prix circuit and we're glad to have gotten to know him over the past year, since last year's Fly Like an Eagle race. Braden will be a future member of the cross country and track teams, and because of that, my wife's business (Innovations Hair Studio) became a proud sponsor for this year's race.

The race last year wasn't really the best experience, race-wise, for us. I was recouping from an injury from the Capital City Classic 10K and couldn't run and Braden got strep throat the week of race. Despite being sick, Braden wanted to run because he had the opportunity to run with the cross country boys and he wasn't going to let sickness stop him. Unfortunately, it turned out to be his worst race of the year when he struggled to finish with a time of 32:03, but he was thrilled to have ran with members of the team.

This year, Braden was looking forward to having a great race and after having an outstanding run at the Heroes for Hope 10K the previous week, I was thinking he would have an excellent chance to get a PR. The only downer for Braden was that he found out prior to the start of the race he wouldn't be able to run with the cross country boys because they had a track meet the day before.

There's not a whole lot to tell about the race because Braden had a Garmin malfunction, but he did tell me he started out at a very quick pace for the first mile, before experiencing some side stitches on the second mile which slowed him up a little. At the last mile and change, he said he picked up his pace again and finished with a flurry.

When he crossed the finish, he threw up (of course), and finished with a new PR of 23:13, knocking 10 seconds off his previous best! He came in 1st place in his age group of three and 22nd out of 128 runners overall, his average pace was at 7:29 minute per mile and his age-graded percentage was 73.95%. An added bonus was when papa Bernie himself set a new PR as well with a time of 25:05 and he finished 3rd in the Grand Masters division.

After giving it his all for his 5K race, you'd figure Braden was done...but he wasn't. Once the 5K race ended, they had a 1-mile Eaglet run and he wanted to run that race as well. After getting permission from Coach Allison to run the race, Braden proceeded to go out and run a 6:51 mile! He came in second to a 12-year-old, but what made it more impressive was that he ran that quick of a race after running a PR setting 5K earlier! It's almost hard to believe, but I think Braden is on track to have an even better year than what he did last year as his times have been improving after each race.

Braden's next race will actually be a fun run. His school is having a Color-A-Thon 5K and he's been begging to run in one of those races where he gets color thrown all over him. His next competitive race will be in a couple of weeks at the Toad Suck 10K in Conway where he'll look to defend his first place finish from last year.

On a side note, I want to mention and thank all those whose photos I use for the blog. There's a lot of times I wish I was behind the camera to get shots of Braden running, but obviously that is difficult since I'm running with him. Usually the only time I take photos is after the race, so I depend on others to provide the photos. So a special shout out to David Meroney, Marvin Fisher, John Allison, Charles Redditt, various other CRC members and lastly nana Larson and my wife Cindy. It is really great seeing the photos of us running and being able to utilize them.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016 Heroes for Hope 10K

After having some issues the previous week at the Capital City Classic 10K, Braden looked to improve on his performance at the Heroes for Hope 10K in Conway, and what made the event even more special was that the race was on his 8th birthday. Little did he know, for a present, he was going to run a little further than he anticipated!

For the first time in a long while, Braden was pretty much on his own for this race since I was out of town for military training and his papa Bernie (along with the rest of the family) was down in Florida for the funeral of his great nana Larson. This meant my parents were responsible for the race day logistics of getting him prepared and ready to run. My father rode his bicycle around the neighborhood while Braden got in a 5K training run and he informed me that Braden was seriously fast, especially while going into a head wind that made it difficult for my father to keep up. I had to laugh as I mentioned to my father that I had been telling him for quite a while that Braden was a fast little dude!

The conditions on the day of the race were breezy and cool. I had noticed at the previous race Braden was getting a little hot wearing his long shirt and pants, so I instructed him to wear his shorts and sleeveless tank for the race, but to wear a jacket before to keep warm. Since it wasn't a Grand Prix race, I told him to position himself close to the start line so he could get off to a good start. He told me he wanted to break under 50 minutes and he felt great about his chances.

Braden told me everything was going good and he was a part of the lead pack at the first quarter of a mile. That's when things apparently went wrong. The lead runner and the rest of the lead pack (including Braden) didn't turn when they were supposed to and went one street further before turning. Apparently the race officials didn't mark the turn or have any one placed to give directions, which subsequently caused the confusion. Because of the error, Braden would end up running an extra .17 miles. My parents texted me to tell me what happened and my only hope was that it wouldn't ruin his placement in the standings or cause him to put up a bad time.

Braden's splits for the first 3 miles were the following:

Mile 1 - 7:30 minute per mile pace
Mile 2 - 7:52
Mile 3 - 7:39

From what I could tell from the Garmin, Braden slowed up a little over the next couple of miles before speeding up and bringing it home the last mile and change.

His last 3.2 miles and extra distance were the following:

Mile 4 - 8:12
Mile 5 - 8:14
Mile 6 - 7:47
Last .37 - 7:26

Braden crossed the line with a finishing time of 50:00 (an 8:04 pace), which equaled his race goal, but if it there had not been the mess up at the beginning of the race, he would have most likely finished with a time of around 48:40, since his Garmin registered a 7:51 pace. He was okay with his time, but in the same respect was irritated because he knew it would have been better if not for the error.

Braden not only finished 1st in his age group amongst two other boys, but he was especially happy to find out he finished 5th overall amongst 56 other runners! With his new age, the age-graded percentages he's used to are now a little more difficult to obtain. Last year it took until August before he was able to break the 70% threshold, but his running has improved so much that for this race he had a percentage of 70.72% (could have been 72%) for his first race out the gate. It's really exciting to watch him grow and progress at the pace that he is and I can't wait to see (from a distance) what his 8th year will bring!

Below is the video of Braden finishing at the 9:40 mark:

The next race on the docket for Braden is the Fly Like an Eagle 5K in our hometown of Vilonia. Braden is excited about this race because it gives him a chance to run with some of the high school cross country boys and he is looking to redeem himself after having his worst race at this event last year because of being sick with strep during the week leading up to it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 Capital City Classic 10K


Anytime there is a race, it is usually an instance where Braden and I are excited and geared up to run and compete. The Capital City Classic 10K was a race that was bittersweet on many levels.

On a personal level, I knew the Cap City run was an event I was not eagerly anticipating. I will be deploying in the near future and the Classic was most likely my last race with Braden for the next year. If everything works out okay, I may be able to run a couple of more races with Braden before I leave, but it’s not a guarantee. This is something we knew was coming and we’ve tried our best to prepare for the inevitable, but something else happened as well.

Braden’s great nana Larson, who is also papa Bernie’s mother, had a series of strokes that had basically incapacitated her to the point of being sent to hospice. Early in the morning on the day of the race we received the call that she had passed away and I had to make a decision on whether to tell Braden. After careful thought, I told everyone to hold off telling Braden until after the race because I know how emotional he gets and I didn’t want it to affect his run.

The Capital City Classic is a Grand Prix championship race and Braden set a goal to run it in 50 minutes. It was a pretty solid goal since his best 10K time was 47:39, but it was also his first 10K of the season (even though he’s ran a 15K and the One Hour Track Run). The weather was in the low-40’s at the start, but the winds were nominal, so Braden wore his cold weather outfit. The weather lately has provided challenges in what to wear because it’s a little too cool for short sleeves and shorts, but yet it doesn’t take long to warm up during the race and it becomes too hot for the long sleeves and long tights. We got to the start line, said our normal prayers, and dedicated our race to his great nana.
We got off to a fast start and it didn’t take long for Braden to pull ahead of me. Here lately I’ve been able to hang with him for at least a mile before he starts to separate, but this time he pushed out ahead after the first quarter of a mile. By the end of the first mile he had a sizable lead on me and he was looking very good. His first mile ended at a fast 7:20 minute per mile pace.

During the second mile Braden was still looking great while the distance between us widened. At this point I was thinking he might break under 50 minutes and it wouldn’t be long before I didn’t see him anymore. His second mile finished at an 8:03 pace.

At mile three, things started breaking down for Braden. I started to notice a lot of other runners passing him and the gap between us was closing instead increasing. As I was catching up to him I could hear him crying out in pain and I knew something was definitely wrong. I got next to him and tried to push him along, but he seemed to be getting worse. His third mile slowed up to an 8:36 pace.

We got to the point to where I asked him if he needed to stop or walk just a little bit and he said he felt like he had to throw up. He basically coughed and spit up but that was about it. We got going again and ran for about another quarter of a mile before he had to stop again to try to throw up. This stop was a little longer than the first one as papa Bernie passed us by. I asked how he was and he said he was okay then I told him he had some catching up to do. Throughout the ordeal during the fourth mile, there was a lot of other runners encouraging Braden, and it's situations such as this that makes being a part of the running community so special. Braden’s fourth mile was his worst at a 10:03 pace.

After going through his issues on mile 4, Braden started to ramp up his pace to what he was running earlier in the race. He started to re-pass those who had passed him up and once again, started to pull ahead of me during the fifth mile. He was looking strong as he passed Bernie and the gap he had over me at the beginning of the race was once again restored. It was great watching him get faster but yet feeling bad for him knowing the stoppages at the fourth mile messed up a potentially great run. I was too far back to see him cross the finish line, but based off his Garmin his time got quicker over the last 2.2 miles.

Mile 5 pace = 8:05

Mile 6 pace = 7:59

Last .2 pace = 7:25

Braden crossed the line with a total time of 52:10 and I know if he wouldn’t have had his issues, he would have broken under 50 minutes. His age-graded percentage was a respectable 72.17% and it was his second fastest 10K. Most importantly, he finished 1st in his age group, picked up the full 30 points for the Grand Prix, and increased his lead in the standings.

I came in 30 seconds after Braden and finished with a time of 52:40 while Bernie barely missed setting a PR with a time of 52:47, finishing 2nd in his age group and is still in 1st in his age group in the Grand Prix Standings.

Arkansas Grand Prix Standings after the Capital City Classic 10K

Even though I don’t get an age group award most of the time, I get rewarded by watching Braden get his and it is the little moments like these that I’ll miss while I’m gone. I will have to make a point to say that Braden has got to be one of the luckiest kids I know, especially when it comes to door prizes after a race. Prior to this race, he had won $225 in running store gift cards, a $25 Target card, and a $20 restaurant gift card. Well, our family had incredible luck after the Cap Classic. First Braden won a $20 gift card to Rock City Running, then Bernie won a $20 gift card to Rock City, and then I won a $50 gift card to Rock City! I definitely put those gift cards to good use and I have yet to pay full price for any of Braden’s running shoes; especially since the running stores really don’t have anything for him other than to special order his shoes.

Later in the morning, Braden was told about his great nana and why we held off telling him prior to the race. He, of course, was very sad and said he would dedicate his next race to her as well.

Now begins the hard part about being away from Braden. I won’t be there to train with him, prepping him for race day, or trying to hang with him as long as I can before he leaves me in the dust. He truly is my inspiration and I admire the abilities God has given him. He has an awesome support group and I’m thankful for those who will try to step in to make sure he continues to train well and improve on his race times. I’m just glad I’ll be able to communicate often and may even be able to Facetime into some of his races.

Braden’s next race will be the Heroes for Hope 10K on April 9th in Conway. It will be on Braden’s 8th birthday and I foresee him improving on his time from the Cap City race. Even though I don’t want my little man to grow up anymore, he can’t wait to get a growth spurt so he can run even faster than what he does now…he’s a fiercely competitive runner!