Sunday, May 31, 2015

5K Fever!

Yesterday my daughter and I ran a 5K in our town at a local elementary school. 'Tis the season when 5Ks are sprouting up like grass...they are everywhere and are a terrific way to have fun, get some fitness and support worthy causes. Yesterday's race, the HMS (Hazardville Memorial School) 5K caught my attention because the race director, Scott, is a running buddy of mine here in town. He was on hand to support the race my daughter's school held last year, so it was the least we could do to support his efforts at his kids' school. 
Scott did a fantastic job as race director. Everything was well publicized and organized. We decided to walk to the starting line of the race from our house (only about a mile from where we live) so we wouldn't have to deal with parking. It was a perfect morning, overcast and pleasant without too much heat. We arrived at HMS and picked up our numbers and goody bags. We were pretty early, so we just relaxed in the back yard of the school near the playground area. My daughter was more than happy to have a new playground to try out. There were plenty of volunteers around to help out with everyone's questions. After a couple of quick bathroom stops for us, we were ready to run! 
One fun thing that occurred prior to the start of the race was that I got "recognized" by someone who recently read my blog! That was really cool. So I made a new friend in Rachel (Hi Rachel!), and we chatted a bit about how fun running is. She had a friend in tow who was running her first 5K. We had a lovely pre-race visit, and Rachel was kind enough to snap a photo of my daughter and I prior to the start of the race. 

Pre-race photo of us taken by Rachel.
Finally, it was time to begin, and all the 5Kers were directed to the starting line. I had to laugh that my little 7 year old was front and center, adamant that she toe the line. My little competitor! On the starting command, she took off like a shot and was the frontrunner of the race until we exited the school's driveway and turned on to our first sidewalk. So awesome! She was doing great and running strong. I knew we wouldn't keep up her fast pace for too long, but I knew we'd likely best our previous 5K time that we ran a year and a half prior. 
Toeing the line.
The race route took a couple of turns through area neighborhoods and returned back to the school parking lot where there was a water stop, then we were out for a second loop before finishing. My little buddy and I ran most of the time, but we took walk breaks whenever she needed to catch her breath. Many of the other runners provided us with encouragement along the way. One person even told my daughter that she was a "rock star" for her running ability. That comment went a long way in keeping her motivated to the finish. Thanks to all the runners who gave us some kind words along the way.
My little runner looking strong on the route.
When we got to the driveway of the school, all we had to do was run through the parking lot and then back in to the back area of the school where the finish line was. I encouraged my daughter to pick up the pace to finish strong, and she did! As we came across the finish line, everyone was cheering for her and even shouting her name. How they knew her name, I have no clue, but it was a kick that she had such a terrific fan base. As we crossed the finish line, I checked our time on my Strava app, and we finished in 34 minutes! We crushed our previous 5K time of 49 minutes, improving it by 15 minutes! A new PR for my little runner! I was so proud of her!
We walked to the recovery area for cold waters and some fruit snacks for her. We had a great race and now could bask in the glory of finishing. We chatted with some of our running friends who were at the race as we waited for the results. The first male and female finishers were recognized and then the participation medals were handed out. It was a great morning. On our way out of the school, we stopped to chat with a few 169 runners. These are folks who work on running races in each of Connecticut's 169 towns. I thought it was awesome that this little school race attracted them. Kudos again to the race director for all the publicity. We had a nice leisurely walk home, which was a perfect way to cool down. 
Rosy-cheeked 5K finisher!
On our walk home we talked about how fun the race was for us. We also decided for sure we'll be back for it again next year. I can't wait.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sweet, sweet spring running

Newly budding tree
The sweetness of spring running is one of the loveliest, most uplifting feelings a runner can experience. I have been enjoying the terrific spring running weather here in Connecticut lately. Spring was late to come, but now that it is here, it is just perfect. Things are budding and bursting out all over. We’ve had a couple of steamy days lately, but mostly the temperatures have been moderate and the skies filled with sunshine and happy clouds. I had the extreme pleasure a few weeks ago of trying out a new running route. It was the first weekend of May and the local kayak/canoe race was taking place that day. I opted to run near the river route to check out the goings-on. Not much was happening as I passed by because I was running early and the finishers hadn’t come down the river to the finish line yet. The terrific thing though was that the road was shut down to traffic, leaving a lovely, winding country road all to me. This road is hilly and cars tend to fly down it and around the swerving corners, so it can be treacherous for runners, walkers and bikers. But not this morning. It was all mine, and it was spectacular! I almost didn’t even mind the major hill leading up to the Collins Creamery. Almost. 
"Flocked" front yard along the way
I continued along the route and decided that the day was too gorgeous to ignore. I took out my cell phone so I could document the beauty around me. Trees were blooming, flowers were sprouting up everywhere, and I couldn’t help but smile with every footfall. I don’t normally hold my cell phone while running, let alone take photos, but I decided to break that rule for this day. Included in this post are the photos I took along the way that day. Much of the area is a residential neighborhood, but some farms still exist, too. The views were just lovely all around. 
Farm vista
I encountered some other runners as I got to a paved walking/biking path in my town. It was great to see other folks out getting their daily dose of sunshine and fresh air. Flowers were sprouting along the path as well as one of my favorite signs of spring in this neck of the woods: skunk cabbage! The paved running path features a large downhill followed by the requisite large uphill. Again I didn't mind. I just kept plugging, bounding along on my merry way.
Daffodils on the paved path.
Even the dandelions looked cheerful!
Substantial downhill portion of path.
Followed by uphill...reduce speed, indeed!
Farm tractor along the way.
Skunk cabbage.
Next, I passed by our local middle school where a huge line of traffic was backed up. I yelled hello to a friend as I ran past the stopped cars. It was fun to know that I was going faster on foot than on four wheels! As i finished up the last bit of my run, I encountered a house that was being renovated by a local charity group. What a perfect day to be volunteering on a house project. Happy emotions were everywhere! 
Flowering tree in front of middle school.
Home improvement in progress.
Tobacco barns and happy clouds near my house on the homestretch.

Spectacular forsythia hedge!
As I think about my other springtime runs recently, I think about the luscious scent of the lilacs I pass in the tree farm I run by. I think about the high school athletes on the track, baseball and softball fields I pass. I think about the gorgeous horse farms and distant hills I see on one of my routes. I think about how lucky I am to have all this beauty and and expansiveness around me. I try not to think about the headless doll that was on the sidewalk where I was running the other day. Yikes!
Creepy headless doll on the sidewalk. 
Spring is special. I’m convinced it is the best time of year to run. Soak it in! I sure am. 
Happy running shadow selfie!