Many people around the country feasted at a BBQ over the weekend and most probably enjoyed some fireworks, too, but many runners celebrated in true running style by adding a road race to the mix.
At the end of an amazing 4th of July weekend, only one word comes to my mind, "Whew!" Actually, it's more of a sigh.
I raced Saturday morning at the Lutz Independence Day 5k and then again that night at the Kiwanis Morton Plant Mease Midnight 5k in Dunedin.
The character of each race was distinct; the Lutz race was part of a very traditional, red, white, and blue, small town 4th of July celebration. The race would be followed by a parade, of course, but by the time the parade started, most of the runners were sitting down to breakfast somewhere.
My first snapshot is a snippit of conversation with a mom and her two very young runners. Both were wearing race numbers that were as wide as they were. The boy was not yet three, and his sister looked to be no older than five.
We asked the mom if it was his first race, and she said, "No, it's his second." He was so tiny, so adorable, and so excited. Clearly, not intimidated by the race, the crowd, or anything else. This little one was ready to run. He would do the one-mile kids run. His mom said he ran the whole thing last time, and the look on his face said it wouldn't occur to him to do otherwise.
Big sister, clearly a veteran racer, was also decked out in red, white, and blue, including a whole collection of patriotic barettes in her red hair.
Turns out that is one excellent running family. Dad, Thomas, was 4th overall, 1st in age group, mom, Sarah, PR'd, and took 4th in her age group, Izzie, 11, won her age group and was 2nd overall in the 1 mi. with 8:35, Emelina, 5, won her age group with 10:06, and Oscar, on those tiny 2 yr old legs, finished in just 19:13. Impressive!
It had been raining for most of the last 48 hours, so we weren't surprised to feel a few drops during the race, but that cooled it off a little; although, it was still in the 90's.
At 9 seconds over my PR, I was satisfied with the race and happy to take home a unique 4th place trophy.
That was Part 1 of my 4th weekend. From there, I headed home to relax, nap, and inbibe in a couple cups of coffee before heading over to Dunedin for Part 2, the Kiwanis Morton Plant Mease Midnight Run.
Wendy arrived at the race site 15 minutes before me and texted me, "Ready to run in the rain?"
I replied, "I'm a swimmer, remember?" Actually, I was thinking, only half kidding, "Maybe that will give me an edge." I pretty much grew up in a pool, and I mean that literally.
Standing at the starting line, I reached for my Nano to dial in my 'FAST' playlist, but, uh-oh, a blank screen. I had just unplugged it before leaving. It would be no big deal to run without it, but this meant my Nano was broken, and that was serious.
One mile into this race, I was a whole minute slower than in the Lutz race, so I knew this would be a slower race, but it's not all about new PR's. This day would absolutely be a great speed workout, no matter what my time.
At around the 1 mile mark, I heard a mom running nearby call out to her son, running just in front of her, to see how he was doing. Of course, he was doing fine. He looked to be 7 or 8.
Not long after, the little boy started to pull away. This time she called out, "Want to slow down Big Guy?"
I loved his response, not because it was anything profound, but because of the classic expression, the tone, so familiar to any parent, so typical of a child responding to mom. Just a one-syllable word, but it had about three syllables the way he said it.
That said it all. He was having fun; he was having a blast, and the only thing that could ruin it for him would be if he had to hold back.
Everyone within earshot laughed, and a few made comments. One man even intoned, "Moooooom!" in exactly the same expressive multisyballic tone the little boy had used.
Even more laughter then. That was better than the music on my Nano.
My finish time? Two minutes slower than my morning time, but, go figure, I took home a 2nd place plaque this time. The hardest part of earning it was waiting until after 1 a.m. for the awards ceremony. I was one tired girl by then, but it was great visiting with the other runners and comparing notes.
My friend Karla Turner PR'd in the 10k. Woohoo! I know that was worth staying up for.
Another friend Kevin had done the same races I did, and he had exactly the same finish time in the midnight race as he had in the morning race, 16 hours before, right down to the second.
Actually, many had done two races that day, and many, like my daughter Wendy and Linda Rush, had done two races that night, the 5k and 10k. The 10k started 50 minutes after the 5k. Wendy and Linda both PR'd in the 5k. Linda took 1st place in her age group in the 5k, breaking 21 minutes for the first time. She took 4th in the 10k, even though she ran that as more of a training run. Still, she carried home two plaques.
Cynthia Parlante and Letty Simmons were there, too. Cynthia is in the middle of intense triathlon training, and Letty did the race as part of her prep for her first half marathon, the Women's Magazine Half, in November.
Some people had even done the Lutz race that morning AND the Midnight 5k AND 10k that night, a pretty good workout, I'd say. Yes, a lot of people were doing a lot of racing and running over the weekend. I get a thrill just being around so many lovers of life, so many likeminded, outdoorsy, athletic, adventurous people. That gets my heart beating faster just like the running does.
I rolled into bed at about 3 a.m., after setting my alarm for 6 a.m. for Part 3, the Run Tampa Group Run.
At 8 a.m., Sunday, 15 of us met for the Run Tampa Group Run. Of that group, Kevin, Karla, Velma, Karen, Diane, Linda, Wendy, and I had all done a race the day before; so, for most of us it was to be an easy recovery run. However, with many people training for marathons and longer in the fall, several people still did a long run.
We set off to run our various distances in a misty rain, but a few miles later, it was pouring. No lightning, so the rain was cooling. I had planned to do just a 5 mile recovery run, but by the 5 mile mark, I felt great, so, deep into conversation with my good friend Sandy Graham, I knocked out 8.5 before heading for dry clothes, eggs, and grits.
When I got home, my husband hadn't even made my half of the bed, knowing I'd be needing a long, sweet nap, and, of course, he was right.