When asked what to do when you find yourself getting annoyed by other's inability to measure up to your expectations, a wise man once said "Just give them time. Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you." (Actually, this wasn't just some anonymous wise man, this was Randy Pausch. And this wasn't just a random quote. This is an excerpt from his famous Last Lecture. If you haven't heard it yet, you should. Just make sure you have a box of tissues handy and take careful notes...)
Since for as long as I could remember I had always been the solo runner in the family, the only one who runs, the only one who trains and the only one who's ever completed a registered race of any distance. This all changed last year when my little brother joined me on Thanksgiving for the Turkey Trot (read 2009 race report here). He ran well that day in completing his first ever road race. My parents were on the sidelines that day cheering and spectating for my brother and I. It was a bit surreal to race by my parents that day because I never imagined them there but it was extremely fun to have them see me running so well that day. (It was a PR race for me) Up until a few days ago, that remain the last time my whole family ever drove up together for the same race.
Imagine my surprise then when my brother announced a week ago that BOTH my parents would be joining my brother and I in running the Turkey Trot this year! Unbeknowedst to me, both of them have started running with my brother to get ready for this five mile race. I was skeptical at first because I had never known either of my parents to be much interesting in running, much less racing. So I contained my excitement and went about my business in the weeks and days leading up to the race. It was only after we all drove up to the start, parked, got our packets and saw my parents and brother pinning bibs to their race shirts, did I hear my inner voice go "HOLY @#$%, WE'RE ALL REALLY DOING THIS!" We took several pictures to commemorate our first family race and headed off to the start.
The conditions were a little brisky (40F) and there was a slight breeze in the air when the four of us took our respective places for this race. The preliminary race plan as my brother and I conjured up the night before was that I was going to run with my brother while my dad was going to run with mom the whole way through. Since the finish is right next to mile 3.5 of this 5 mile course, my brother and I would jump right back in with my parents after we were done so we could finish up this race together as a family.
My brother and I lined up somewhere between the 7 and 8 minute pace signs while my parents mozzied off to the back. (We projected them to run 11-12 minutes miles so we thought a finish time of an hour would be a good result for them!) After a few minutes of admiring the old, the young and everyone in between, there was a quiet "Go!" shout from up in the front, and we were off!
The plan for me was to pace my brother to a 7:30 start in mile one and then accelerate to finish every subsequent mile about 10 seconds faster. He has a tendency to be too conservative at the start when racing so my goal was to help him get off to a strong start. Unfortunately, this race was very crowded with no corrals and tight turns and despite my best intentions, we crossed mile 1 at 7:35. Mile 2 was better as the crowds thinned and we were able to make up ground gradually. I was aiming for a 7:20 for this mile, but my brother was cruising so I just ran along side and allowed him to dictate the pace. Mile 2 was passed in 6:50. After a turn into a mild ascent, his pace gradually slowed and he dragged behind me. We took some water at a water stop and I pressed him to maintain his speed. Mile 3 was done in 7:08. Mile 4 was a bit rough. There was a tough hill, we were passing by the finish and my brother was gassed. I tried some inspirational sayings but it sounded bland. I tried some power songs, but forgot the lyrics. It wasn't my best motivational moment to say the least. After it was over in 7:15, I counted down the meters from 1600 to 800 to 400 until we could see the finish up ahead. He kicked it in and blistered the last mile in 6:40 for 35:29 finish and a 10 minute PR from the race a year ago! He was absolutely spent at the finish but I think he did a fantastic job!
After we recovered a bit, we ran over to mile 3.5 and waited for mom and dad to show. We waited and waited. 40 minutes passed, than 50 minutes. We got worried. Luckily, the finish was just within footsteps of where we were, because as it turned out, mom and dad both finished their races in sub-52 minutes! They ran faster than even we gave them credit for. It was simply amazing!
The rest of Thanksgiving was spent with each of us regaling tales of the race from our individual perspectives. I was happy to run with lil bro for his massive PR. My brother was proud that we ran together as a family and is already scheming to recruit aunts, uncle and cousins to join us next year. Dad vowed he could've taken a few minutes off if he wasn't deliberately keeping it slow for Mom while Mom is already visualizing an age-group award in her next turkey trot (that is, after we found out she would've won her age group out right if she were a year older!). In fact, both my parents wore their turkey trot race shirts to Thanksgiving dinner with my extended family and for the rest of the day!
I am really proud of my entire family for their efforts in this race. Everyone ran their best. Everyone did well. Most importantly, they made me especially grateful for their health and happiness and the important role that running has played in each of our lives. Happy Thanksgiving one and all!