Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Girls on the Run 5K Race Report and Weekly Wrap-Up

This race report will be a little different as it wasn't a race for time or placement on my part, or on the part of my middle daughter Kaia. First, though, I'm pleased to be able to blog about my return to a regular running routine after the ankle sprain.

I did make it back for a follow-up with the guy on the sports medicine team at the orthopedic doc's office, and rather than getting reamed for running Boston, he said that he would have to call Bryan, the PT, to thank him for fixing me up and getting that ankle ready for a conservative marathon run just in time. That's what I love about the doctors I have seen in this town when running injuries crop up. They all live and play here as well, and try to get patients back out on the roads and trails as soon as is reasonably possible. I was also relieved to be told that it is normal for my ankle to look like the cankle it is right now for some time after a bad ankle sprain, lasting as long as a year in some cases. I don't care if I've got Frankenstein's fat foot if it's not indicative of further damage.

Following the ortho appointment, I went on to have my first business-as-usual running week since the injury. I was able to get in three "early show" runs this week on the paved routes we like to frequent at o-dark-thirty, with an awesomely fun run in the rain on Wednesday featuring not one, but two skunks, and an ensuing chase by one of them. You really get to see how fast you can run when the adrenaline kicks in from the fear of being sprayed. It was a combo of "Oh S#*^!" and laughter as we ran away from the charging animal. I also made one of the weekly evening trail runs with our local running club, which was great because I wound up meeting and running in with a woman that another running buddy had mentioned recently as someone I ought to meet, and try to run with at some point. I like to run alone some of the time, but there are times when it's great to log the miles with others. We chatted away and I never once thought about how hot it was, or that I wasn't all that familiar with the route the club was running that day. We made it through, and kicked back with the rest of the club members at the Beer Cooler of Awesomeness in the Tabeguache Trail parking lot.

Friday brought the beginning of my middle daughter Kaia's Birthday Weekendpalooza. She recently turned in a coloring page at a local store to be entered for a chance to be a Junior Weather Forecaster with our local CBS affiliate, and we got the call last week asking if she'd like to come in and do it. I'll be the first to admit that I don't watch any of the local TV news broadcasts, but after seeing how cool their weather guy was with her, and getting her out of her shell, I might tune in on occasion to these guys. He gave us a full station tour, and really got Kaia at ease to do her spiel. They pre-tape it, so after a few go-rounds, she got through one or two broadcast-worthy weather forecasts. I'd link it up but it'll be a few more days before they upload it to the website. For now, here's one or two shots of Kaia and John, their meteorologist (they have a real one...not just a weather man):

I'd like to note as well that this station has regularly made it out to local road races, and that one of their on-air personalities is a regular speed demon at a bunch of the short distance stuff in the valley. Running doesn't tend to get a ton of media coverage unless someone dies in a marathon, so it's nice that they've been out for things like the Mike The Headless Chicken 5K, and other quirky local races.

Moving on to today-Saturday-it was time for Kaia's official birthday, and the season-ending Girls on the Run 5K for all of the Western Colorado GOTR programs plus the newly formed program in Moab, Utah (I saw Ranna, race director for the three big Moab road races, with the Moab group). They do hold it here in Grand Junction, and the course runs around Long Family Memorial Park and Central High School. It's not particularly scenic but it's a good place to hold an event for 1400 girls and their families.

This was Kaia's first "official" Girls on the Run 5K, but I think she's probably done about a dozen short distance races since she was four ranging from a mile to 5K. I was really just here today to hang out and enjoy the run with her, and that we did. This is an untimed event, and every girl gets a #1 bib. While at a certain level, I'm not wild about the whole "everyone's a winner" idea, I know that's the way in for a lot of these girls who NEVER thought they could do something like this. It takes the pressure of competition off, and quite frankly, the little girls who are more competitive go ahead and race all-out anyway. For others, it may not lead to a lifetime of running, but the training process disguised as fun games and completion of the 5K at the end of the season become a springboard for many to try new things without fear, or selling one's self short. My own running journey started with Team Tiara/Solemates, the fundraising leg of Girls on the Run, and I know I owe part of where I am today as a runner and mom to the program. I'd highly encourage anyone with an area council and interested daughter to check out the program.
This wound up being the first time in several years that it was not cold and windy for the season-ending race (Kaia's older sister, Alexis, went through the program too). It was pretty warm, but I didn't really care as it wasn't a big race day for me. Kaia was pretty excited, and just ready to have fun. Her coach is my son's first grade teacher, and we regularly bump into one another running the local trails, or and at some of the longer distance trail races.

When it was time to start, my plan was to just follow Kaia's pace, but give her some encouragement to keep RUNNING whenever she got the urge to just walk. It's a fine line-I don't want to push hard, but also want to encourage her to go ahead and run the thing, because she's put in the training and and should get to enjoy the payoff and know that she CAN do it. As it turned out, we did run about the first mile before picking up one of her classmates who was having a really hard time and not really enjoying herself. While Kaia could have gone ahead, she was pretty adamant about wanting to stick with this girl, and see it through with her. K is just not a cut-throat competitive kid by nature anyway, but this is just kind of who she is as a person, and something I admire, frankly. She could have been running her own race, but wouldn't leave her friend's side. The way she pulled her along would never have worked if an adult had been doing it, but it was going over really well for one friend to pull and nudge the other along today.

Our school's coach was waiting at about the 2.5 mile mark to run each girl in when she saw them, and did pick up Kaia's buddy at that point to run in with her. By now, another girl from the school who was a bit of a runner had joined us, and we all trotted the rest of the way in together. I'm not really sure what the finish time was, and I don't think any of us cared. The girls were beaming coming through the finish chute as they picked up their medals and moved along to get the all important water bottles, bread, and chocolate milk. From there, we meandered back to our school's gathering area/sign, visited with some of the other girls and families (boy, you know you live in a running-friendly city when two of the girls had raced in Vibram Five Fingers) before heading out. This was probably about the 10th time that one of my girls has completed either the fall or spring season GOTR 5K, and it's fun to be there every time.

From here, I'm going to keep easing back into that regular running schedule, and start doing some base-building for the fall races. I've got a pretty aggressive time goal in mind for Imogene, and think I actually have to tools this fourth time around to shoot realistically for that goal. Even if I don't hit it, that goal is going to help me in training to focus on getting in the long miles on hilly trails, and getting that POSE running to be second nature. For now, though, it just feels good to be back, and off that injured reserve bench.

(New Emerson School GOTR, Spring '11)

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