Last Saturday began with an early morning 5K at the Stanford Pow Wow with my 11 year old daughter and her best friend. We arrived just in time to register and choose our souvenir t-shirts before the kick-off time. The race was a bit late in getting started, however, so I paced briskly to stay warm while the girls sat and chatted. I instructed them to stay together as they walked the course. The plan was for me to run my 5K and then go keep them company while they finished out their 2.5 laps around the Pow Wow block.
Eventually, officials gathered racers at the start line. A large group of young, maybe 5-8 year old, children dressed in Pow Wow t-shirts gathered at the front of the pack as we waited for the countdown. At the word “Go,” the pack of runners took off, with the little ones leading at a fast clip. Their energy was infectious and we adults kept the pace After about 50 yards, I looked down at my watch and gulped when I saw we were averaging 7.5 minutes/mile. I typically start out slowly, around 10 minutes/mile, to warm up and then speed up with each mile. This was far too fast.
We turned our first corner and I looked down again and saw that we’d sped up to 6’48″/mile. I would burn out too quickly at this rate, so said a mental goodbye to the young’uns and decelerated to a comparatively plodding pace. In no time, my watch buzzed to alert me to the end of the first mile. My legs were fresh and my breath even and steady, so I was surprised to see I’d taken just 8’15” to do the first mile. By this time, I passed my daughter’s friend, who upon inquiry replied that the two had separated at the beginning of the race. So much for my instructions.
Just after the 2nd mile I found my daughter who was looking a bit tired. Apparently, she was the one who’d decided to break the walking pact (probably also urged on by those sprinting little kids) and had run at the beginning of the race. She looked like she was ready to call it a day, so I told her it was ok to skip to the finish line and get a drink.
I forged on, slowed briefly, and then gave it my all in the last 1/4 mile, amazed to see that I crossed the finish line at 24’33”. This was a PR (personal record), cutting almost two minutes off my next best 5K time of 26’28” (which happened to be at last year’s Pow Wow). I had managed to do that third and last mile in under 8 minutes, and even earned a 2nd place finish for my age group. Here’s the cool medal I received, hand crafted by one of the artisans selling items at the Pow Wow.
We all headed home for the girls to play and for me to gather swim gear before leaving for my afternoon activity, an open water swim clinic in the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay.
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