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.