In which I run my first, and last, 5k

It’s time, once again, for our yearly tradition. Except this year, there was just one hitch.

If you recall, last year Sara promised Evelyn that she could run the 5k. Unfortunately, with Sara being hugely pregnant, the duty fell to me.


The racers, including Oliver in his “knight” makeup

I have to say that I had no ambition or desire to run a 5k, and I probably wouldn’t have even tried, except that if this tiny slip of a girl can do it, surely I can do it, right?

Of course, she had sweet headphones and a lightning bolt on her face, so it was kind of unfair to begin with.


Evelyn and I practiced a couple of times, first for 2 miles, and then for 3 the next week. So we were as ready as we were going to be, and we set a goal of 45 minutes.

The day of, Evelyn was so excited she woke up at 4 a.m.


At the end, Evelyn couldn’t be held up by her old, out of shape dad, and she whooped my butt.


I’m happy to say that we shattered our 45 minute goal, and I did not die, even if I wasn’t able to keep up with the little blond girl in the daisy print pants. Evelyn finished at 36:14 (11:41 per mile, average) and I finished at 36:38 (11:49 per mile, average).


Afterwards, while I was walking in circles clutching my chest and trying to breathe up all the oxygen in Chicago, Evelyn decided to go run the kids’ mile, for funsies. This was on top of the mile we walked there, and another home.

Kids, man.

Oliver also ran his very first race, running the mile all by himself. He was a little nervous at first, standing in the crowd at the starting line, but once the race got underway he was fine.


He finished at 12:38.

He was so excited after the race, and was telling us all about it. Some of the highlights:

  • “Sometimes I ran fast, and sometimes I ran slow, but I never jogged.”
  • “Did you see all those birds? All those birds flying? They flew right over me!”
  • “There was a dead dog in the road, but I jumped over it.”

Ba’scuse me?

We had some confirmation from a 3rd party that there was a bloody dead squirrel smeared all over the road (squirrel / dog, potato / potahto), and Oliver may well have jumped over it, because he was certainly able to describe it in great detail.

So, in the end, everybody got what they wanted: Evelyn got to embarrass her father, I got to not die, and Ollie got to jump over a dead dog.

Hooray for running!

Our Yearly Race

Sara pointed out the other day, that going to the Comer Classic is as much of a family tradition as pancakes and applesauce. This was our 4th year. Every year is a little bit different, but some things are the same. For example, they still have killer face painters.


(Ollie is a cheetah, because “they’re fast”)

The thing that’s different every year is how old the kids are. That first year, Ollie was a 1 1/2 year old. It’s a lot easier to manage the kids these days (even without the help from Grandma and Grandpa!). That let Ollie and I catch Sara a couple of times on the route.

Sara got a personal record for her race, finishing under 30 minutes…


…and Evie got one for her race as well. I could see that she was really working hard. She definitely left it all on the field.


This year Ollie got to participate in the (sort of lame) kids’ dash. Next year he has big plans to go up to the mile “like Evie”, except she has even bigger plans to run the 5k with her daddy. Uh….we’ll see about that one, sweetheart! Way to pick on the one person you can beat in a race.


Sara puts another half marathon under her belt

One of Sara’s college roommates had the brilliant idea of all meeting up again back at the old stomping grounds, and doing a race together. It was a lot of fun getting the four of them (and all the associated spouses and children) together for the first time in 10 years. Actually, come to think of it, Gregory was the only non-Purdue-ex-student among us (though I think he could be an honorary grad if Alexis would have just bought that “Purdue Boyfriend” shirt for him). We had quite a herd of children, and the lot of us together were more of a force of nature than a group of friends, but it was a lot of fun to cruise around and relive old times.

Only Sara, Phil, and Amy’s sister Mary opted for the half-marathon, though in Amy’s defense she is what can only be described as shockingly pregnant. This should not necessarily be considered a handicap though, since she and Alexis crossed the 5k finish line at the same time, but since her timing chip was pinned to her tummy, she ended up winning by a nose baby.

Sara usually runs in Chicago, which is the flattest of the flat, so she was a little nervous about running on all the hills. However, she was quite pleased with her time of 2:39:59, which was only 3 minutes longer than last time, even with the hills and the 5 extra minutes in the bathroom line (and that’s not even mentioning the freezing rain!)

Once again the kids and I tried to meet up with her as often as possible along the route. We did a pretty good job, but this was super-stressful, because it was very difficult to navigate through all the one ways, dead-ends, road closures, and tricky traffic situations along the route. We actually did a pretty good job of meeting up with her, but I was pretty tired at the end of it from getting both kids in and out of the car so many times, finding parking, and somehow dredging my brain for directions on streets I hadn’t used in 10 years.

The kids made signs to hold, and they both did a really good job. Sara came up with the idea of offering high fives to the racers and it was a HUGE hit.



I don’t think any of us were prepared for the amount of high fives; it was somewhat staggering. It really did seem to give a little boost to the runners, and even when we didn’t get the signs out of the car people would say, “There’s the high five kids!” One lady even risked life and limb crossing traffic to give us an extra high five.

In fact, the kids made the cover of The Exponent, the school newspaper (more pictures available in their gallery here).

Photo via The Exponent

All in all, it was really a lot of fun being at Purdue. Mostly if we go back there we just go to campus, but this time we were all over town, which brought back a lot more memories (“Oh, remember when you lived here?” “Wait, I remember this place, so and so used to live here!” “Didn’t this used to be…” etc.)

In fact, I guess it really was a throwback because as soon as we got back Sunday night, I had a nightmare that I was late for a physics lecture in EE 129 and when I got there I found out they were having a test I hadn’t studied for. I asked the professor if I could retake it and he started quizzing me with questions about how to draw different molecules. “Oh no!” I thought, “I totally don’t remember this being in the lecture!”

Yes, I guess we’re never too old for the old “test I didn’t study for” nightmare.

Good times with good friends, and I was very proud of Sara. Overall, I give the weekend a high five.

Evie’s Race

If you recall, last year at this time Evie was preparing for her first race. As you also may recall, Evie was intensely disappointed with her first race. She had taken the race preparation very seriously, and the race organizers very obviously had not, and Evie is not one to miss something like that.

Well, Evie obviously wasn’t the only one who felt that way, because this year they introduced a “real” race for kids, and Evie was much obliged.


It was a one mile race and it was for real. There was a course laid out, and a biker in front to clear the path. The kids had timing chips in their numbers, and entire legions of fans cheering at the finish line. In other words, it was everything Evie hoped for. After all, these are kids of runners, and they know what a real race should look like.


(Look at that runner’s stride…she’s a natural!)

Unfortunately, Evie wiped out on the final turn, skinning her knees and hands. I hadn’t seen her fall. Right at the finish line she was all grins and I was hugging her and telling her how proud of her I was. “I fell down, but I got right back up and finished the race!” she proclaimed. I gave her another big hug, but slowly her face crumpled and she started crying. “It huuurts!” she said. She was just feeling all the feelings – pride, pain, happiness, adrenaline – and it was just too much for her little 6 year old body to contain.


(She made me take this picture)

This was the race I was hoping for last year. I have to admit, I got a little teary eyed seeing her recognize that this was the real deal, and seeing how proud she was. She finished her mile in 11:08 (about the same as the average 12 year old according to some chart Sara found online). She looked so grown up drinking her after-race water with her medal around her neck and her number pinned to her shirt (you know, despite the Monarch butterfly on her face).

She did so great, and it was a great moment in her life. I’m glad I could share it with her.

2013_10_06_9999_45(Yeah, Sara ran a race too or something)



Over the weekend, Sara completed her first half marathon.

In the past six weeks, Sara completed three increasingly hard races, going from a 5k, to a 10 mile, and now to a half marathon. Even though a 10 mile is basically just as impressive, I think there is something especially psychologically satisfying about a half marathon.

One difference about this race, however, was that it was coooooold. It was about 26 degrees at the start of the race, and it felt like it, even with wool socks and long underwear. I saw a guy with literal icicles hanging off the bill of his hat, where the sweat had dripped down and frozen. At one point Ollie was staring at his gloves and said to me, “Why are my hands so cold??”

The good news is that we didn’t have to stand around in one place too long. The course was such that we were able to leapfrog Sara and meet her at about seven different locations (not counting the time I hollered “Let’s go Sara!” out the window as we drove by in the car). We would cheer for her as she passed, then hop in the car and drive to another location further along. This worked out perfectly, because it gave us something to do, and we were able to warm up in the car in between stops. And we ended up making it to more places than we planned on, so I think we were able to surprise her a few times.

Do you notice that she’s always smiling in every running picture? Like she’s out for a nice afternoon jog, rather than finishing 13.1 miles?

It ended up being a great day despite the cold, and everybody kept up their good mood (more or less). Sara finished in 2:36, and was only a little sore the next day.

I’m very proud of her. She started running as a hobby, but half marathons are serious business. I think Sara would be the first to tell you that she never would have imagined she’d be crossing the finish line in a big race. And certainly running a half marathon is something I could never do (or a quarter marathon, or even an eighth of a marathon).

So congratulations Sara! Your cheering section is ready for your next race!