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Race Recap: It’s A Wonderful Run 5K


I’ve blah blah blahed about my last race of the year and having a specific time goal and blah blah blah. This past Saturday was the BIG blah blah day, and I’m going to try to make this as quick (read: painless) as possible.

Due to cold, cold temps, just Madylin and I made the trip east to a tiny nook in Seneca Falls, New York named Bedford Falls. Yes, like the movie. MY HUSBAND was very nervous about Mady running a 5K alone in the dark but I felt pretty comfortable because 1) I’ve been running road races since I was 15 and in all those many, many years since, I’ve seen tons of kids even younger than Mady running 5Ks solo, and B) This seemed like such a community event, she would never, ever be alone (especially since the field of 2000+, I predicted, would include a goodly amount of walkers). But we struck a compromise–Mady would wear my new blinky light AND carry my cell phone in my Nathan Shadow Pak. MY HUSBAND, like a truly trustworthy husband, can track the exact location of my  phone through Steve Jobs science. I had also spent the entire week drilling “race safety” into my daughter’s brain–about staying on the course, not going out too hard, walk if you need to walk, et cetera–and she insisted that she was READY.

Going to get our 5K on!

The trip to Seneca Falls was just about an hour. Parking was a BREEZE–we were maybe a tenth of a mile from packet pick-up at Hotel Clarence and about a quarter-mile from the start. Since it was 28 degrees I was greatful to be in close proximity to warm places. Packet pick-up was one of the best organized I’ve seen. The ballroom of the hotel was set up in a U-shape and there was a station for each-letter of the alphabet. Instead of having to wait on line with all the A-M’s, we just cruised right up to the table and grabbed our bibs and the really awesome long-sleeve tech tees. Since we arrived so early we went back to the car to play Words With Friends keep warm. At 4:00 we pinned our numbers on, left extra jackets/gear in the car, and headed to the start line (with a quick potty detour at the hotel). Because I couldn’t just leave Mady on the side of the road, I didn’t get to do a warm-up at all. For a 5K, I like to get in 15-20 minutes but it just wasn’t happening this time and I didn’t really stress about it. Whatevs.

We jogged over to the starting line which was on the George Bailey Bridge. Yes, appropriate. There was a map of the course and I went over it with Mady pointing out the turns and mile markers. I then showed her the pace signs and explained that she would be lining up between the 10:00 milers and the walkers. We puttered around and took a few pictures of Santa, the fire department (who walked the race dressed in full gear), and the bagpipers, and soon the announcement came that it was 7 minutes until race time. I saw two moms with jog stollers surrounded by a bunch of kids Mady’s age. I told her to stay near them at the start and she would be safe, but suddenly her eyes filled with tears. She tried to tell me it was the wind, but I know the difference–I’m a mom! I assured her that everything was going to be ok, gave her big hug, an even bigger kiss, and we parted. But I was really nervous. She had seemed so confident up until that last very minute. What if I made a big mistake letting her run alone? But I also reasoned that her first solo 5K had to happen sometime, and this was the perfect event for it–community-oriented and extremely family friendly. [Insert weary-mom sign here.]

Mady shivering at the race start!

After some pre-race thank you’s and announcements, the REAL Zuzu was there to start the race. Instead of “Ready, set, go!” she shouted “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his WINGS!!!” and we were off! We swarmed down the bridge and made an immediate right-hand turn. I was cursing myself for lining up just in front of the 8:00 milers because I was jammed in behind people who didn’t follow the pace signs. Luckily it thinned out pretty quick. The combination of the cold, wind, and lack of corrective lenses made it really difficult for me to see, but that weirdly improved once the sun finished setting.

The start of the race on the George Bailey Bridge

The course was GREAT! It was mostly flat with a couple of inclines through residential streets. The houses were all lit up and the sidewalks were filled with spectators ringing bells and singing carols. One house had a fire pit set up and was blaring the theme to Rocky over huge speakers! My favorite part of the course was the inspirational street messages. People had marked the course with chalk and washable paint with messages for their friends, family, and loved ones who were running. Even though “Go Lumpy!” and “Run Daddy!” were not for me, I found them uplifting all the same!

After a long stretch, runners made the final turn on to main street. This was amazing! It was so beautiful and blazing with Christmas lights. The streets were lined with people cheering and it reminded me of the NYC Half Marathon when you leave Central Park and enter Times Square–the same energy but in a Norman Rockwell setting! I looked at my watch and saw that it was 21:and change and I was nervous I wasn’t going to make my sub-23:00 goal. But then the 5K gods shined upon me! As I approached the 3-mile mark, I saw that the 0.1 was downhill! I hustled my booty toward the finish and crossed in 22:37! I was so happy! I felt that I couldn’t have ended a great year of running on a better note! But I didn’t just stand around congratulating myself–I had to double back and find my Mady!

I walk-jogged backwards on the course keeping an eye out for her. She ran her first 5K in August in 44:11 so I figured she’d finish about the same time. But then–there she was! I was shocked! She looked really good–totally comfortable. I started cheering for her and she came over and yelled “Mommy! I’ve been running the whole time!” I was just so proud! I jogged alongside her chanting her name. I told her the finish line was just up ahead, down the hill, and that I’d meet her there. I then practically knocked down families and senior citizens as I hurried along the sidewalk to get to the line as she crossed. She finished in 34:32–a 9:39 PR! Atta girl!

I collected her from the chute (where the women around Mady were congratulating her on such a good race), and we headed inside the rec center gym for the post-race party. Mady’s eyes practically bugged out of her head when she saw two tables piled high with bagels. The kid LOVES bagels! She was also not used to running that long and was starving. She ate her bagel, half of mine, some Christmas cookies, and then was hunting around for more food! We stayed for the awards ceremony because she wanted to see “what the fast runners look like.” How cute is that? And at 6:00 we headed back to the car for the drive home (which, of course, included a coffee-hot chocolate-double chocolate chip cookie stop on the thruway).

Bagel with cream cheese!!!

It was a great race–definitely my all-time favorite 5K. The directors and volunteers did an amazing job planning and organizing. In 2009 this race had 400 runners, and this year it had 2049! Of course there were a few “glitches” like gun timing instead of chip, but the race committee had no idea It’s A Wonderful Run 5K would be featured in the November Runner’s World causing entries to almost triple last year! Other than that, the race ran so smooth and the small-town, holiday spirit made it a memorable event. Madylin and I will absolutely be back next year!

5K gals!

See you next year!

Official Time 22:37
Pace 7:18
Splits 7:23, 7:20, 7:12, 0:42
Age Group 5/125
Overall 172/2049

Official Time 34:32
Pace 11:08
Age Group 47/88
Overall 1195/2049

10 Comments leave one →
  1. 12/12/2011 8:06 PM

    Yay for you and Mady! My 9 year old told me that I completely ruined his turkey trot 5K because I made him slow down when he got to far ahead of me, and he couldn’t get back into the race. Maybe I should have just let him run it alone. She is adorable, and looks so proud. And 5th in your age group is awesome!

    • Suzanne permalink*
      12/12/2011 8:16 PM

      I was nervous to let her go but she did it and did great! I think if I had run with her I would have been micromanaging (nagging) her the whole time!

  2. 12/12/2011 11:03 PM

    How do you know “go lumpy” wasn’t for you?

    • Suzanne permalink*
      12/13/2011 9:00 AM

      Did you write it?

      • Lorie permalink
        12/13/2011 9:22 AM


        • Suzanne permalink*
          12/13/2011 12:51 PM

          Awww, you call me Lumpy!!!

          • 12/13/2011 1:05 PM

            It’s a shame that I drove all that way to make a sign and didn’t even get to see you run.

            • Suzanne permalink*
              12/13/2011 1:14 PM

              Yeah, what’s up with that?

  3. 12/12/2011 11:10 PM

    And great job to you and Mady! Though if she wants to know what a fast runner looks like, all she has to do is look at you!

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