The Let’s Help Alex 5K was organized to raise funds to help Alex offset the bills he will compile during his battle with Kidney Disease. Cheryl, a friend of mine who also happens to be Alex’s sister-in-law, recommended the race as a nice, low-key 5K, and I jumped at the?opportunity to run with my son and niece at a venue only 10 minutes from home.
On race day, my son decided he didn’t want to run (he claimed he was worried about thunderstorms coming, but I think it had more to do with the lack of t-shirt or swag). He is 10, after all 🙂
So I dropped my son and daughter off at my mom’s, picked up my niece Amber (who was still game), and set off for Voorheesville High School. We ran into Cheryl right away, and I was thrilled to find several friends running as well. The majority of us were running for fun, and I really enjoyed the non-competitive atmosphere. While the race was no-frills, it was providing age-group awards. I was hopeful that Amber would receive one, as she appeared to be one of the only teenage runners and I thought it would help boost her confidence and keep her motivated. Yes, at 13 she is already taller than me!
Since it was nearing 80 degrees and the humidity was at 97%, I made sure to hydrate well before the race. There would be two water stops on the course — at miles one and two — perfect for a day like today! The course began on the high school track, and it was awesome to see runners and walkers of all ages and abilities participating.
Amber and I chatted about her goals for the race, beyond finishing. She wasn’t exactly sure of her 5K record, but knew it was in the high 30s. I suggested we go for a goal of 35 minutes, and adjust as needed given the conditions. She agreed.
After a few short announcements, we were off! ?I encouraged Amber not to hold back for me — I wanted her to run her own race. We’ve been working on her endurance and while she still needs to work on pacing, I’ve learned one of the best ways to learn is from experience! ?I also went out to fast (trying to keep up with her), but was able to slow myself down about a half mile in.
The course had rolling hills, but the country roads we traveled were beautiful. My training group coach used to tell us hills were good during a race — they allow you to work different muscles and?avoid fatiguing one particular set. While I can’t say that I enjoy going uphill (my hill mantra is “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”), there is nothing like the feeling of coasting downhill!
I caught up with Amber just after the first water stop at mile one — she was ready for a walk break. I followed her lead for the next mile and a half — we did downhill sprints with uphill walks. By the middle of the third mile, she was spent, but still on track for the 35 minute goal. We agreed to do an easy jog with walk breaks until we reached the track, where we would sprint to the finish. We ended up doing more walking than jogging.
Upon reaching the track,?we geared up for the final sprint — but I was out of gas and had only one slow speed left! I encouraged Amber to go on and give it everything she had. She finished in 36:06 with a personal record!
I was thrilled to see Cheryl entering the track just behind us, and even more excited that she scored a personal record too!
We decided to wait for the awards presentation, since I was sure Amber would receive a medal for her age group. Not only did she receive one, but Cheryl won her age group, and I placed second in mine! I never would have guessed I would place, since my age group is so competitive! We proudly wore our medals and posed as my friend Vince (who also took second in his age group) took our photo. I don’t look at all happy and proud 🙂
While the weather wasn’t ideal (Cheryl and I noted we were dripping more after the race than we usually do at hot yoga!), the Let’s Help Alex 5K was a well-organized, low-key event for a great cause on a beautiful course.
On the way home, Amber said she wanted to try to beat 30 minutes for a 5K by the end of the summer. That was really the icing on the cake!!!!