Bluebird 5K – Labor Day, September 3, 2018 (Tallahassee, FL)

I know, I know, it’s only a 5k, but it was the first race after my poor showing at Southern Discomfort in July, and I was eager to do a race no matter how short the distance. On Labor Day weekend I was supposed to be in Manchester, TN, for A Race for the Ages, a race I had signed up for almost a year ago. I was devastated about missing that race, but I knew that – given my recent stress fractures –there was no way I could do a 71 hour race successfully. That left an empty weekend – and I correctly figured that a 5k was better than watching reruns on television.

This race, along with an accompanying 1 miler, is a fundraiser for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). It was begun several years ago to commemorate Brookie B., a young woman who died by suicide. The cause was special to us since our son Ben also died by suicide when he was 25. Since this is a community event designed to raise suicide awareness and prevention, it was possible to do the races with or without chip timing, depending on preference.

My whole family decided to race – my husband Darcy did the 1 mile race (and finished first in his age group!), and my son and our dog Shadow who did the 5k with me. Shadow is a black lab mix and very friendly. While we waited for the races to start, she made a lot of friends, especially with young children. The one mile event began at 8 am and Darcy took off. At 8:30, we lined up for the longer race, with David, Shadow, and myself at the rear. We had all opted for chip timing and I was eager to see if I had regained any of my ‘speed’ after being sedentary for so long.

The courses were trail so I was already at a disadvantage but the 5k was mostly grass, akin to cross-country, with only a few areas of rocks and roots. Still, in those areas, I had to slow down and pick my way carefully over the tree roots and stumbling blocks. David took off running with Shadow and I figured they would be waiting for me at the finish line. Imagine my surprise when – around the halfway point – I came upon them. David was standing patiently while Shadow stretched out comfortably on the dirt, taking what was a well-deserved break. It was only a half mile to the next aid station where we all drank our fill. That rest break and some water gave Shadow renewed energy and she took off eagerly, with David in tow. I followed closely behind and the 3 of us finished within minutes of each other. My time was 49:33, a personal worst for a 5k, but not so bad if I took into consideration attention paid to the trail and the dog.

All in all, it was a good race for a great cause and will probably be on my calendar for next year.