I've been racing the Oak Park Race That's Good for Life 5k for probably 5 years now. Ryan's cousin and his wife (two of our good friends) live in Oak Park, so it started out as more of a fun get together the night before. Then we started doing the mother/daughter and father/son competitions and, well, now we're hooked.
This race is one of the fastest 5k's in the Chicagoland area. Flat, fast, and draws great competition. Many of my friends and teammates have their 5k PR's on this course, so it's hard to say no to it. Unfortunately, this race had to take back seat to the Shamrock Shuffle this year....every year this 5k is the first Sunday of April, but with Shamrock
Ryan and I talked on the way back and decided that we were going to suck it up and run the 5k. Would we be sore from the 1/2? Probably. But would it be fun to see if we could help our parents pull off a mother/daughter father/son victory? Absolutely.
I knew my mom and I had a chance at placing top three based on last year's results when I raced with bronchitis and we finished 4th. I also knew the top spot was virtually impossible to reach since mom had been unable to train for the past two weeks with taking care of my dad (long story short, he had foot surgery, it got infected, and every spare minute she had, she spent taking care of my dad. He's a tough guy, but it's VERY hard for him not to be able to move around much--he's the guy you see riding his bike to the train station, yep that's my active dad!).
Anyway, I told my mom I had no idea what to expect, but would be going for as fast of a time that I could run to help us out the best I could.
This is the part when I refer to my first sentence: running is a mental sport. I put it in my head that I raced many of the girls doing Race That's Good for Life a few weeks ago on DEAD legs at Shamrock Shuffle (Ryan and I raced the Double Oak Duathlon in Alabama the day before, drove back, raced on 2hours of sleep). If I could compete decently at an 8k, a 5k should be no problem. I told myself to stop being a wimp and just push as hard as I could so mom and I could be top 3.
And it worked!
We had a pretty good group for the first mile or so. We went through the mile at 5:42, which was much slower than 2 years ago, but also was something I was okay with.
Just before the halfway point, Pam and I opened up our gap a bit (I could hear the lady in the lead vehicle saying that) and we went through the 2mile in 5:47. I didn't have any idea what pace we were running and didn't look at my watch until the end. I saw our time on the clock, but didn't even compute our mile split (which is weird, since I am SO into that normally--it's the nerdy math teacher side in me).
With 3/4 of a mile to go, I decided to take off as I know Pam can kick. I figured, worse case, I would break 18 and best case I could maybe win this thing!
I definitely underestimated myself. Looking through my watch splits, I closed in a 5:33 and ran the last 0.1 at a 5:17 pace. I truly attribute that to my crazy encouraging teammates. It was UNREAL to see SO many guys in orange/yellow/grey singlets cheering for me (in addition to the spectators). Imagine running through a giant crowd and EVERY single person calling your name. That's what it was like. I have goosebumps just thinking about that moment as I felt like I was a celebrity.
I ended up running a 17:40, a 5second PR.
However, that wasn't even CLOSE to being the best part of my day. I shook the other females' hands until the clock hit 19minutes and went running back to find my mom. I cheered her in and pushed her to a sub-26 finish, which was what she was going for. She really started pushing hard when I told her we had a quarter mile to go and to kick it in, and that helped her get her goal time. Truly an amazing feeling. And one of my lovely teammates captured that moment:
Seriously in love with this picture.
Top three ladies.
Total no-no in racing. I failed.
The start of the race.
Check out that sea of red!
Oh...mom and I ended up getting 3rd. She is more motivated now than ever to get her butt back into running shape and wants to even win next year! It is incredibly fun for me to watch my mom get excited about racing again and truly made this race my favorite one to date.