I decided late Friday night to participate in a 5K that my sister was volunteering for. My sister got involved with a charity group called The Arms Forces that raises money for and helps veterans with "invisible" wounds like post traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries and any other non visible injuries. My sister isn't a veteran, but she is a stroke survivor and has been looking to help those that are going through the same issues that she has had to face. This group worked with the Toledo Express Airport and the Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing to put together a 5K that took place on the runways of the airport.
This was the first year for this race and I really didn't know what to expect or how many people would even show up. If I had to give them a criticism it would be a lack of advertising, I didn't know anything about it till Friday when I found out my sister was involved. Anyway, I got there about an hour before the race and was surprised to see how many people were already here. There was even a bus that brought in a load of people as well. Check in was fast and efficient and where I got a water bottle, t-shirt and my bib. I found my sister and my nephew and we talked for a little while before I headed back to my car to get ready and do a light warm up run.
The festivities started about a half hour before the official start of the race which normally I wouldn't complain, but do to the cold temperatures I was getting cold standing around waiting. The head of The Arms Forces said a few words and thanked a few people and then handed the mic off to the Commanding Officer of the ANG Fighter Wing. Once they were both done speaking the costume competition came next. There were some creative people that showed up and the adults seemed to have way more fun with it than the kids did.
We finally moved over to the start line for the presentation of colors and the singing of the National Anthem. While I was standing there watching I noticed this cute little girl that turns out to be the granddaughter of the race director. She was all dressed up like a fighter pilot and standing there with here mirrored sunglasses with here hand on her heart during the National Anthem. Now for the coolest thing I have ever seen at a race, once the National Anthem was finished, six 180th Fighter Wing F-16 fighter jets did flybys to salute us and the cause we were supporting. I am a son of a civilian pilot and I have always been a plane geek, going to air shows and what not, so this was particularly exciting to me.
This was my first race since the Glass City half marathon way back in April and I really wanted to run it hard and see where I would end up. Without sounding like an arrogant ass, I kind of figured I would set a new PR as long as I had a incident free run, but I just didn't know what time I would get. When they started the race they had the air traffic control tower give us permission to head out just like if we were a plane waiting to taxi out and take off, then they fired the pistol and I took off like I was shot out of a cannon. When I got maybe a quarter mile in I glanced at my watch and saw I was at a 6:30ish pace, I thought to myself HOLY SHIT, and quickly thought I was going to burn out before I hit the first mile mark. I don't know if I subconsciously started to slow up a little bit or my body just couldn't hold that pace. For the remainder of that first mile I would occasionally glance at my watch watch seeing that six minute pace slip away and when I crossed that first mile I missed a sub 7 by .06 of a second.
I settled into a good rhythm but my pace slipped a little further into the 7s, which I expected. At this point I told myself I didn't want to drop below a 7:30 for the last two miles. Mile 2 was solid, but I think I played it a little safe and held a little back. The majority of mile 3 had a light head wind that wasn't horrible but just enough to make me have to work a little harder to just maintain my pace. The end of the course was a little weird with a hairpin turn that reversed my direction from west to east. After that turn we ran about 400 yards to a ninety degree right turn, run another 150 yards to another ninety degree turn for the final point one of the 3.1 total. I found it really hard to maintain a nice pace and I probably lost a little time in the turns.
When I crossed the finish line I stopped my watch at 22:20 and looked down to see it and couldn't believe it. I knew I was having a good race, but not that good. Once I passed through the finishing shoot I grabbed a powerade and a half a bagel and started walking back along the course cheering on the other runners and walkers while looking for my sister and nephew. As I mentioned earlier, my sister is a stroke survivor, she suffered a severe stroke that left her with multiple mental and physical challenges. One of which was a left leg that wasn't fully functioning and required lots of physical therapy to get her to walk again. I bring this up because walking is not easy for her and the fact that she took on and completed 3.1 cold miles and smiled while doing it was awe inspiring to me. Yeah I got a PR and crushed the shit out of my previous 5K time, but that doesn't compare to the joy I had seeing here cross that finish line knowing all she has gone through to get to this point.
When we got back to the finish line, they were starting to announce the overall winners and the age group winners. Because of my age I usually never place because I am still in a fast age bracket, so when they called my name I was kinda shocked. I officially finished with a 22:21 at a 7:13 avg mile pace I was 17th out of 293 overall and 3rd in my age group. To compare my previous 5K PR was set back in April during my Run-iversary, I finished that race with a 25:54 at a 8:21 per mile avg. For those that placed, they gave out mason jars filled with popcorn and a custom made dog tag. First place was a full size jar, 2nd place was a little smaller and 3rd place was a little smaller than the other two.