This past weekend I had a two-race weekend, the Aloha Run 5k and the 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb. Both were very different events, and I was glad I was able to complete both First recap: the Aloha Run!
I signed up to run this inaugural 5k race with my 9 year old son, D. For the past few years, we have run a few 5ks together, and we hadn't run together in some months. This race looked fun---along the water in beautiful Mission Bay, and it even offered a medal, which is rare for a 5k and something that my son was excited about. Over the last few months, they sent out emails asking registrants to vote on the medal design; it was narrowed down to a choice between a hibiscus flower (with a hula dancer on it, complete with actual swinging skirt) or a wooden tiki (you can look at the website for the actual designs; both were cute!) In the end, it was a tie vote, so the race said they would offer BOTH medals at the finish line, and each runner could have their choice. I was excited, as I had voted for the hibiscus and D had voted for the tiki. We would both get the medal of our choice! (By the way, they also had the medals made into keychains for sale, in case you wanted both).
Friday we drove to Road Runner Sports (my favorite store in the whole world!) for packet pickup. It was an easy pickup, with a very small expo. This race had 3 wave starts. The 7:30 a.m. start was for runners; the
8:00 a.m. start was for slower runners and run/walk people, and the 8:30
a.m. start was for walkers. We signed up for the 8:00 start, and noticed that each wave had a different color bib, which was cool. After getting our bibs, timing chips and cotton t-shirts, I splurged and bought D his own handheld hydration system. I got him the Amphipod Hydraform Handheld, which is really sleek and actually now I'm jealous of. Normally for a 5k I don't bring hydration, but I knew it would be hot the next day (it'd been in the 90s all week) and I definitely wanted D to have lots of liquid. I could have shared mine, or worn my fuel belt, but I'm glad I got him his own; he loves it and felt so empowered being able to drink whenever he was thirsty without asking me. It was a great deal, too. Not only am I a Road Runner VIP so I get a discount, but all race registrants got more money off on top of that. I also bought him a Gu---he wanted to try pineapple. I bought one for me too.
Unfortunately, due to my injury (I have a herniated disc) I have not been running too much this summer, and have not been able to train with D at all in months. We went into this race knowing it would be slow, and that was ok. After all, I don't do these 5ks for a great finishing time; I do them in order to have fun with my son and foster a love of running and racing in him. So it was with a mixture of anticipation and nervousness that we drove to Mission Bay early Saturday morning. We left the house at 6:30, and not a moment too soon. Even though we didn't start until 8, and it didn't take long to get there, parking was a nightmare (remember, one wave started at 7:30) and as it was we had to park 3/4 of a mile away. Not far, but in the hot sun with a tired and cranky 9 year old after the race, trust me, it seemed FAR!
The pre-race vibe was great. Lots of music, lots of booths. A man on stilts dressed in a tiki costume sent each wave off. As we lined up, a woman in a Hawaiian outfit came over and gave D and I leis. In fact, lots of people were dressed in Hawaiian shirts and hula skirts; I wish I'd have thought to dress up! Each of the three waves got their own send-off with the National Anthem, which was a nice touch. A few minutes before start time we each ate our new pineapple Gus. He loved his---I hated mine. Gross flavor! At 8:00 on the dot our wave got underway.
Our plan was to do a 2 minute run/1 minute walk combination. However, D soon tired (remember, he hasn't been training at all) so that deteriorated into a 1 minute run/1 minute walk. Toward the end, he was so hot and flushed (I've never seen his face so red!) that I let the walk breaks go on for longer. I had to push him in the middle, as he was very tired and wanted to stop, but he got through it! They had tons of entertainment! I'm used to no entertainment at all on
5ks. This one had about 5 acts (mostly hula dancers and steel drum
bands, all to match the aloha theme) crammed into 3.1 miles. And with
the out-and-back course, we got to see each one twice. Very cool.
There were only two things I didn't like about this race. First, there was only one water stop, which was at the turn-around at mile
1.5. Normally for a 5k that would be sufficient, but it was very hot and
humid. One more would have been nice....perhaps having a water stop at
mile 1 and 2. We were ok, as we each had our own handhelds (D had his
new Amphipod and I had my old Nathan handheld ) but the runners who hadn't thought to bring their own water were hating it. And second, the
course, while beautiful, was an out-and-back largely on one sidewalk.
With the slow runners still returning from the earlier wave, and then
later the runners starting in the later wave, it was extremely crowded
and congested on the course. I'm glad we weren't trying for a PR because
many times we were forced to walk, or even stop, as there was no place
to go with the crowds of runners in front of us.
At the end, he sprinted ahead of me. I came in 20 seconds later, and when I did they announced my name. We each got our choice of medal (me the hibiscus, he the tiki) and we began the long walk back to the car. He was so tired I ended up carrying him on my back for a good chunk of it. But he was happy, and thanked me for signing us up and running with him. That made it all worth it. Also noteworthy was that I was in very little pain during the race. I am currently doing a new treatment for my herniated disc (spinal decompression, which I will write about another time) and I think it's helping. Yay for me!
All in all, we had a great time. Hopefully some changes will be made next year (mainly with adding a water stop if it's as hot as it was this year) but for an inaugural race, they did a great job. And now D has yet another 5k under his belt!
Safety First (and second and third)
2 hours ago