Family & Independence Day Recap

ImageI hope that everyone had a great day of Independence today here in the USA!  America celebrates July 4th in a multitude of ways, with fireworks, with anthems and reenactments, with food, drink and family.  I consider myself very lucky to live and be free here in the United States of America.  Today I celebrated with my family ( at least a small portion of my family).  We live far and wide, and it’s always nice to spend a little time together.

We got up bright and early this morning to run the Hilton Head Firecracker 5000 here in South Carolina where my Mom lives.  This is the first time running this event.  My two sons, as well as my Mother, we joining in on the fun, and racing, too.  This race is in its 28th year!  Because of construction, however, the race was moved this year to Jarvis Creek Park.  This park is literally less than a ten minute drive from my Mom’s house, so getting there was super easy.  Parking across Rt. 278 was plentiful at the Hilton Head school campuses.  The park, and surrounding areas were a perfect setting for a beautiful morning race.

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Picture above is myself, my Mom, and my youngest son.

The race was using strictly gun timing, which I am not a huge fan of, but whatever.  The race started about a minute late, as it took forever for the group of over 1,600 runners to get into position.  No warning, no countdown….  then…..  Firecrackers snapped and popped loudly to start the race.  My older son and I started not far behind the line, and quickly set out on this 82 degree morning.  Sticky, sunny and hot, my least favorite three words on race morning.  It is what it is, and we had to deal with it.  After all, we are in South Carolina, and it is July.  Shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

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I quickly passed my son right out of the gate.  He was having some stomach issues, which I hated for him, but we’ve all been there.  I completely understood that this would not be his day.  I usually have him ahead of me, sort of pacing myself, keeping my eye on him out in front, but not this time.  The route took us through beautiful low country roads, in and around Jarvis Creek Park.  I quickly found a good rhythm and began a good breathing pattern.  Steady from the start the crowd thinned fairly well by a half mile in.  I reached mile 1 at 6:48.  Ok, right on plan, I said to myself.  Keep moving.  As we headed out toward Hatton Place, there were a few sections that went through roundabouts.  Coming back on the first I spotted my older son, he was shaking his head to say, “this is a nightmare”.  I felt bad, but had to push on.  Approaching mile marker two, my pace was slowing, but not terribly.  I hit the marker at 14:10.  7:05 pace, which I was ok with giving the fact that I was gunning for a sub 22.  At this point I knew that if I kept on pace I could do it with a good push at the end.

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Mom pictured above – heading toward the finish.

After looping around mile 2 marker, we headed back, and it gave me another opportunity to see my boys.  This time I got to see only my younger son, who was looking really strong.  We made the turn back onto Pembroke Drive, and headed back to the Park to the finish.  I tried looking for Mom, but never caught a glimpse of her on the run.  I hoped she was having a good run/walk.  Soon enough I was at only a half mile to go.  I felt strong.  I knew that I could just pump it a little harder, and make my goal.  Closer and closer, I maintained pace, and kicked it up a notch into the finish line.  Garmin time 21:45.  I made it!!

I grabbed a few waters, and headed back to watch everyone come in.  I wanted to cheer on my kids, and then Mom, as well.  Not a shocker, but a first in 7 races together, my younger son crossed the line ahead of my older son.  Based on his complaining about abdominal cramps, I was surprised that he even finished.  He did though, not with a pretty time at all for him, but he did not give up, and still finished.  I am very proud of both of my kids, and feel very fortunate that I can share racing experiences with them.  Mom eventually came into view, and we roared with excitement for her.  She was doing it!  Racing for the first time at age 71, I have to hand it to her.  Kudos galore!  I quickly started to jog next to her to coach her to the finish.  She was thrilled.

Official results are now posted.  There were 1,632 runners.

I finished 113th overall, and 13th in my AG, with an official firecracker/gun time of 21:50.  Almost a sub 7 pace.  I haven’t had a race that fast since March 10, 2012.

My younger son had his second best time, my older had his worst 5k finish, but my Mother was the star of the day, coming in at 46:39, just over 15 minutes per mile pace.  She finished ahead of almost 200 runners.  Fantastic in my book!  Truly a family affair.

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Then it was off to the beach!!!!

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Good food and home made ice cream topped off the night, after some swimming, biking and even a couple sets of tennis.  Total exhaustion now, but a truly wonderful day.  Happy 4th of July everyone, from our neck of the woods in Hilton Head!

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