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May 22, 2006

Heart & Sole Race Reports

Last weekend our family spent the morning in Salinas for the Heart & Sole Races. This race always conflicts with the Carmel Valley 50K trail race, and most years I select the trail run for my weekend event. But this year I was happy to skip the trail race for a couple of reasons:
1) My son wanted to try another 5K, this time with me accompanying him instead of his Mom, and...
2) My employer is a sponsor of the Heart & Sole. It’s never a bad idea to put in some face time at a company charity event. Plus, it’s always amusing to see your co-workers and supervisors walking around in running shorts.

Since I wasn’t running the race competitively (well, sort of...you’ll see), I thought I’d keep a diary of the events for a race report blog post:

8:10AM (all times PDT): My son and I turn in our registration forms, and my friend Mike is working at the table. When my son is out of earshot, I lean over and half-jokingly ask Mike, “So how does the under-10 competition look?” OK, maybe it was one-quarter-jokingly. I’m pretty sure I was joking a little bit.

8:30: The Annual Heart & Sole Race is underway! For all but two people, that is. Despite peeing just ten minutes earlier, my son is crossing his legs and bending his knees throughout the National Anthem. Finally he tugs at my shirt, and we head over to the porta-potty just as the star-spangled banner was yet waving. So much for getting a jump on the field.

8:31: My son exits the porta-potty, and our race is underway!

8:44: Mile 1 completed in 12:05. When we were training, the farthest the kid ran continuously was 1600 meters. So when I ask if he needs a walking break, and he shakes me off, I’m more than a little impressed. The kid has his game face on.

8:50-8:55: I notice we are slowly gaining on a young-looking boy running alongside his iPod-wearing mom. Without even realizing it, I start accelerating to reel him in, leaving my son a few paces behind. I gradually slow down to my son’s pace again, and nonchalantly say, “Hey, that kid looks about your age.” No response; the kid is either focused or oblivious. Either way, we’re still jogging.

8:56: Mile 2 completed, total time 24:00. Pace holding steady. We’re still jogging. And we finally pass iPod mom and her kid.

9:00-9:04: We’re actually reeling more people in now, mostly very old men and a group of fifth- and sixth-grade girls. We’re also getting passed by the first 10K runners who are coming around the course a second time.

9:05: A young-looking boy catches up and runs beside us for a while. Before he moves ahead of us, I give him an enthusiastic “Nice job, keep it up,” followed a few seconds later by “So, how old are you, anyway?” You know,...just trying to be friendly.

9:08: We see the finish line and my son hits the jets, as I look over my shoulder to see if any other little kids are gaining on us. It’s good news: we’re in the clear. I can relax now.

9:09: We cross the finish line in 37:14. For my son, this is a 6-minute PR over his time at the Big Sur 5K 3 weeks ago. At this rate, he’ll be running sub-20 minutes by the end of the summer.

9:10: In the finisher’s chute, a 40-something, overweight Hispanic woman comes in behind us, and tells my son, “You were my inspiration to keep going!” Apparently she had been only 5-10 yards behind us for the last two miles, but seeing as how she wasn’t a 10-and-under male, I didn’t seem to notice her. This was her first 5K, and my 7-year-old kid helped her finish. How cool is that?

10:15: Heat 1 of the Toddler Trot features my 4-year-old daughter blasting away from the competition for a decisive victory. OK, there was only one other 4-year-old kid in the race, but still, my girl looked awesome. She’ll move up an age division next year, but she’s left behind a 4-and-under course record that could stand for years. I need to write more about her soon.

10:20: In Heat 3 of the Toddler Trot, my 2-year-old daughter jumps out to an early lead and gradually pulls away for another convincing win. Both of my girls have trounced the competition this morning – I feel like Venus and Serena Williams’s father at the 2001 US Open when both daughters reached the final.

10:25: The buildup to the eagerly-awaited Salinas Valley Fruit and Vegetable Dash (pictured) has all the odds-makers guessing. The carrot clearly has the best runner’s physique, but the chili pepper has been a bundle of energy all morning. The zucchini has a score to settle after everybody has mistakenly been calling her a cucumber all morning. And if you read this blog at all last week, you know who my family was cheering for.

The race was a tightly-contested affair, with contact amongst the runners and several lead changes to keep the crowd buzzing. The grape bunch surged to win by a belly at the line, just edging out the strawberry and the chili pepper. Results will become official after the grapes submit the obligatory urine sample and pass the drug screen.

10:30: Heading back to the car, I check the age group 5K results. My son was 5th in his 10-and-under age group, behind one ten-year-old, two nine-year-olds, and an eight-year-old. Not a bad showing for the kid – and he has three more years to conquer this division if he keeps at it.

10:35: Best aspect of the Heart & Sole: every kid in every race gets a medal. As our family walks back to the van, my kids are wearing medals (or, as my 4-year-old princess predictably calls it, her “necklace”) and talking about the good time they had at the race this morning. My wife and I tell them how proud we are of everybody, and they’re all talking about doing it again next year.

The medals on these kids are merely an outward sign of what their parents already knew: they’re all winners to us.


olga 5/22/06, 9:53 AM  

Aww, this is so great! Really, how fantastic is it that all your kids got to race, loved it, and as an icing on a cake, did so well? Tell them all my best congratulations, keep it (myself soon to be there). Loved the recap!

matt 5/22/06, 10:05 AM  

this sounds like a great family event. you must be really proud of your son's effort and performance :) i look forward to events like this with my son. thanks for being such an inspiring dad...it was really cool that you skipped the trail run for this race.

matt 5/22/06, 10:08 AM  

geez...how could i forget to mention your daughters' performances, too. wow...you must be in heaven as you beam with pride today. congratulations to all of them!

stronger 5/22/06, 12:34 PM  

I bet the 2 yr old race was the most exciting. How does a 2 yr old make it to a finish line with no distraction?

backofpack 5/22/06, 12:34 PM  

Whoo-hoo! The Donald family brings home the hardware! That had to be way more fun than a 50K!

It cracks me up that your seven year old runs at a pace that is pretty typical for me! I've only got 41 years on him - imagine where he'll be at my age.

Now that I think of it, maybe he'll be writing about how he gave up a 50K to run with his 70-something Dad in a 5K...he'll be the one looking behind to see if any other 70ish runners are creeping up to take his Dad's glory...

Deene 5/22/06, 12:50 PM  

how cute! the whole family with medals. when my kid ran her first race is was twice around the block at a run called 5280, now at 5k's i have similar behavior as yours when we run together.

angie's pink fuzzy 5/22/06, 12:58 PM  

aww, how sweet!!! I'm glad your kids all enjoyed themselves!

Scott 5/22/06, 1:28 PM  

Congrats to your son for a great race. So great that you can run as a family.

susie 5/22/06, 2:37 PM  

I smiled through this whole post. This would have been my perfect family outing!! Congrats to all, especially your son with a 6 minute improvement.(And Dad, way to hold back!)

Anne 5/22/06, 6:13 PM  

What a delightful day for your family -- even if the strawberry lost to the grape. Somehow I don't think anyone was disappointed.

Darrell 5/22/06, 10:11 PM  

What a great day and a big "way to go!" to all the little runners in the family. The kid's races are so much fun to watch.

robtherunner 5/23/06, 9:39 AM  

So let's get real Donald. I know you have been looking at the upcoming race schedule to see when the next 5K that you might be able to talk your son into running is so keep us posted. Sounds like a great day at the races.

Kim 5/23/06, 12:40 PM  

Wow! That kid's gonna have some wheels on him. :) Sounds like a fun day.

It's a great local race. It was the first race I ever ran back in 2001. We didn't head down for it this year though...I totally forgot about it...but it conflicted with *Fiesta* here anyway.

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