A Fast Start to 2021

What a start to 2021 with a race supporting a great cause and time spent with team, friends and family. Saturday morning in Fort DeSoto, Florida was the site of Ronnie’s Run, a run race raising awareness for alcohol and drug abuse organized by Sean and Jeanne Keeney. Here I will share my experience of a wonderful day kicking off the new year.

I run this race to support my friends, Sean and Jeanne, in bringing awareness to alcohol and drug abuse. I chose to run the 5k distance as it matches the distances I will be running in upcoming duathlon races. I’m regularly attempting to calibrate my current fitness and find new ways to get faster. Since my duathlon season ended I have put the hard cycling training aside and focused on run specific training so I was looking forward to see what I could do at the race.

What also made this a special race was having a great group of teammates competing with me. My daughter, Morgan, who is home on winter break from the University of Virginia Law School was racing along with Lauren Nolan, Dylan Nolan, Dan Radde, and Michael MacDonald.

I arrived at the race early as I always do. It’s a peace of mind thing for me. I scoped out the area and asked a few questions to confirm course nuances. The race start time was 8:00 AM and we began our warm up at 7:30. While doing our warm up we covered some of the course logistics and gained our visual queues when coming in for the final half mile. We also discussed a significant head wind facing us for the first 3/4 of a mile to start the race. We completed our warm up, had our pacing strategies in place, and were ready to roll.

For me I was attempting to go out a bit faster than normal based on recent training tests and experiment to see if I would be able to maintain a faster pace once I got into mile two. I also had the realization the faster start could have been compromised with the big head wind we would face.

The horn went off and I was able to shield some of the wind running behind one of the fast teenage runners and that lasted for about .45 miles before I had to jump out and pass. It was like hitting a brick wall when I made the move but continued to cut through it. At a half mile I was just off the pace I was targeting at that point and after one mile I was 10 seconds off the pace I set. I was comfortable with that knowing the wind impacted it greatly and I would hopefully benefit in the next half mile after we made a turn back with a tailwind.

In mile two I was hitting my target but I was beginning to slip in the last half of the mile beyond the desired pace. At 1.85 miles my stomach was beginning to turn as well. I kept my typical mantra up, “keep chugging, keep chugging….give yourself a chance…” as I was entering mile three. My pace was above my goal and I fought to make some dents in the pace but I needed a bit more than a dent at that point.

As I approached 2.5 miles my stretch goal time was now out of reach. I continued on as I was now considering my second goal time was in jeopardy. I like to have a stretch and second goal for each run race. It was in serious jeopardy as I ran around a couple turns and then into the finish. I crossed the finish line and about puked with the stomach issue that came on earlier. That’s was a great sign as it meant I continued to press on.

After about 10 seconds I jumped out and ran back to the course to cheer our remaining racers. Michael and Dylan had already finished and unfortunately I had seen Dan with a quarter mile left standing cheering us on as he had to pull out of the race with a calf injury. So it was Morgan and Lauren to cheer and that I did. Morgan came around the turn and looked like she was running strong. Then Lauren came whipping around the quarter mile turn looking smooth with a very fast turnover. She also finished strong.

After the finish we began reflecting on what we experienced. The first mile wind resistance seemed to dominate the challenge side of the conversations but the strong efforts of the team really stuck out as we celebrated. We felt bad for Dan who had to pull out during the race but it was the right decision to make in preventing something more serious from potentially occurring.

I talk about how powerful and positive this running and multi-sport community is often and it played out again on this day. Coming out to simply support us was my sister, Jamie, and friends Bob Brown and Lachlan Shiver. We felt their support throughout the morning…

I find it one of the coolest things to be able to compete in races with Morgan. It’s something we began doing seven years ago and those are memories I’ll never forget. It’s an activity we can do together that promotes overall health and we support each other doing something we love…what a combination!

After Michael and Dylan came in finishing as the overall winner and second place respectively, I placed eighth and won the Master’s category, Morgan placed 11th overall and was 3rd overall female beating her Turkey Trot time by 20 seconds (21:08), and Lauren placed 19th overall, 6th overall female and won the Master’s category (fastest over the age of 40) as well.

Lauren, who was competing in her 2nd 5k ever, ran a speedy 22:59, beat her first 5k time run just over five weeks earlier at Turkey Trot by 2:21. She has been putting in a lot of training so it wasn’t a surprise she was faster but 2:21 seconds faster and 19 seconds faster than a stretch goal time I proposed was simply astonishing. I cannot wait for her to share more of her story in a near future blog as you will be able to see what is possible if you put your mind to it. She is an incredibly strong lady with a mission.

After we finished and I was able to see my actual time I realized my watch malfunctioned during the race giving me false paces. This had never happened during a race and impacted a few others on this day…crazy. What this meant was I was running a bit faster than what my watch was displaying. When I thought I was slipping during mile two I really wasn’t. With how things played out late in the race I finished 10 seconds off my stretch goal time and if I had known I was that close I would have pressed harder to get it. You never know…

So even though it was a missed opportunity I did however run my second fastest 5k time ever with a 19:09 and five seconds faster than at Turkey Trot just over a month ago.

The stories and celebration continued on for a bit. I was able to spend the morning with great people and be a part of inspiring efforts. How could I beat that for the second day of the year?!?! I find it rewarding to be able to push my body and mind to the limits as I learn so much about myself. I also find it incredibly rewarding to support those I’m around to achieve whatever they set their mind to accomplish. The environment around these races and all the training meet ups are spectacular and motivating.

Find a goal and go for it. Find people to support you in it and support the heck out of your circle right back. It’s a win-win situation in life. Live life now…

– Add Health to Your Life

Featured Blog Photo:

  • Top Left – Dan, Lauren, me and Morgan pre-race getting ready for warm-up
  • Top Center – Morgan celebrating 3rd Overall Female
  • Top Right – Leo joins us post race for a picture…thank you for the support Leo!
  • Bottom Left – Lauren, me, and Morgan prior to the race and before Dan ran up…ha
  • Bottom Center – Lauren and me celebrating Master’s wins
  • Bottom Right – Michael and Dylan celebrating Overall and 2nd Place Overall finishes respectively

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