I’ve experienced a nice string of running PR’s over the last six months thanks to fantastic friends, an awesome trainer, an understanding family, and a whole lot of hard work. As wonderful as four consecutive crushing record runs have been, there has been something else that I’m far happier about: The discovery of a new running partner inside my own house!
Carl began running with me in August as I led a group of beginning runners preparing for their first 5K race. He quickly progressed from run/walk intervals to running non-stop, and from there his distances and speed have only continued to improve. While his recent focus has been more in the direction of strength training and Tae Kwon Do, he still gets in occasional runs.
While we talked about running a race together, we didn’t follow it up with action and ultimately missed out on the best opportunity. We spent too much time deciding which distance to run during Grand Fork’s first half marathon weekend, and ended up not getting into any of them because they had all filled up. Last week, we finally decided to run the 5K in conjunction with the FM Mini Marathon, and I got us registered in the nick of time.
Saturday morning saw us leaving Grand Forks at 6AM to be in Fargo and ready for the 8AM start. Heavy traffic around Scheels Arena and a muddy parking lot caused me some concern, but we got our packets picked up and were lined up and ready for the race a few minutes prior to 8AM. Unfortunately, we had to wait outside in the cold wind until the race started late at 8:20!
I told Carl that I would just follow his lead and we would run at whatever pace he felt comfortable running at. Carl knew that the most common mistake runners make is starting out too fast, so he did a great job of taking it easy for the first half mile, before gradually speeding up. He had his i-pod going, but at a volume where he could still hear me, and others around us. He gave me a “thumbs up” when we passed the first mile marker and I told him our time had been 8:41. He must have still been feeling strong, because he continued to pick up the pace!
We reached the turnaround point; a bridge we ended up going over and under prior to heading back. I was hoping that Carl wasn’t pushing too hard, because he seemed determined to keep passing everyone in front of us! Our second mile was at 7:59, and I had my doubts that he could continue for another mile at that fast of a pace.
About that time, Carl took off as though he had been shot from a cannon. I wondered where this energy was coming from and he later told me that the song “Party Rock Anthem” had come onto his i-pod. The song, he said, reminded him of the month he spent in Jamestown this summer, and he suddenly was running for his cousin Jacob, and that gave him the motivation to speed up. We continued at a 7:00 pace until the song stopped, then slowed back into the pace we had had been holding prior to “Party Rock Anthem!”
I could tell Carl was tiring, but he continued on as we neared the finish line inside Scheels Arena. The encouragement of spectators during this final segment seemed to give my son the motivation to continue, and we finished mile three in 7:41. We carefully navigated the steep incline leading into the brightly lit arena and saw the finish line dead ahead. Carl sprinted ahead, completing his first 5K in 25:07, and I trailed behind, a second later, ready to share in the joy of my son’s first race finish!
We slogged through the mud and upon finally finding our way out of the parking lot, decided on celebrating with omelets at the local IHOP restaurant. The syrup for the pancakes was sweet, but not as sweet as sharing this incredible victory with my only son, who was floating in the clouds after his tremendous finish. By the way, Carl completed his first 5K exactly 5 seconds quicker than my first 5K back in July of 2009: I couldn’t be more proud or happier for the next generation of Lindlauf runners!