Once upon a time, five years ago, I registered for my very first 5K. It was crazy and amazing and hard.
And I was pretty much immediately hooked.
The Florida Striders Memorial Day 5K holds a very special place in my heart. As my first ever race, it remains a reminder of my ebbs and flows and progress and failures.
I have made it a point to take part in this race consistently since my first time in 2013. It’s gotten to a point where it wouldn’t be the start of summer without it. The cause is also a worthy one, and a reason why this race draws so many runners. It’s always beautiful to see all the flags and red, white and blue.
I had every intention of running alone this year. It’s a small, local race, and I didn’t think the boys would have any interest in getting up crazy early to spectate. Little man told me that he was interested in running the 5K, so we signed up him and Mr PugRunner, with the intention that they would run together.
The night before the race, little man decided he wanted to run with me instead of his dad. I really wanted to push myself for this 5K, but I also feel strongly about encouraging little man’s efforts, so I made the mental adjustments.
We arrived with plenty of time to pick up our packets, drop our shirts back in the car, visit the portapotties and line up at the start. This race always attracts a lot of day of registrants and the final headcount is always rather impressive.
There was a beautiful speech, honoring those who have fallen in service to our country, and after the National Anthem, the race began.
Unfortunately, we had a tough run. It was crazy hot, absurdly humid, and little man’s enthusiasm waned dramatically in the first half mile. It was a huge challenge to keep him motivated through the rest of the race, and I’m not so sure I did a great job of it. I know that he just wanted to be done (so did I), but it was really tough staying positive through it.
With just over a half mile to go, I saw Mr PugRunner starting to catch up to us and told little man that I wanted to finish strong. I figured he would run in with his dad, but shockingly, he found a second wind.
The last few minutes made for the highlight of the whole race. We got separated by a few other runners, knotting up in a big group, so I started calling out directions to him to keep him on track to the finish line. Another racer saw him getting edged to the side, and reached over to guide him back to the course. The gentleman was kind enough to stay with him while I got myself around the crowd, and urged him to a really strong finish. It was so thoughtful and kind and I got a little teary-eyed about it.
Sometimes I’m a sap. Although I think I was just really relieved to be finished.
There were lessons to be learned. Little man definitely should have had a banana or something a little closer to the race start. He was hydrated well, but might have needed a little more energy. I need to be more patient.
On the positive side, I love these guys so much. I adore that they support me in my activities, even if they would rather have been in bed instead of grinding it out on a race course.
How do you handle a race that falls apart quickly?
Has a stranger ever helped you when you’re struggling?