The holidays are a great excuse to get together with family and run a themed 5k or two. So that is what we did! As Hannah looks to test the progress of her recovery from two torn ACL’s in the same number of years she had her sights set on running the Sutton Jingle Jaunt, a race in her hometown, and the Seekonk Chocolate Marshmellow 5k alongside some of her new friends at her physical therapist office. These races happened to fall on back-to-back days, but we were up for the challenge.
This would be the second time that Hannah, her father Keith and I would run in the Sutton Jingle Jaunt 5k. We signed up for the race the first year as a way to help Hannah work towards a full recovery from her first torn ACL and give us another reason to be back in Hannah’s hometown to spend time with her family for Christmas. It is starting to become a yearly tradition although we could all do without an annual torn ACL. The first year was also the first time either of them ran an entire 5k! Being the supportive father that he is, Keith ran the race alongside Hannah and had a fun time posing for pictures along the way.
They finished their first 5k in a respectable 33:56, with Hannah being 8 months post ACL replacement and some slippery conditions on the road. I ended up winning the race that year in 16:40, also good enough for the 25-29 year old age group course record but still a full minute off of the overall course record.
Fast forward 4 months and unfortunately Hannah tore her ACL again and needed another replacement. It happened at just about the same time as the previous year so she committed to racing the Jingle Jaunt 5k again as a gauge of her recovery to compare against the previous year. Her recovery went very well and she had been able to train a bit more leading up to this year’s race. Both her and Keith were poised for huge personal bests and improvements over the previous year.
The 2018 edition of this race had similar cold conditions as 2017, but without the snow. The dry footing gave Hannah the extra confidence she needed to run well ahead of her time from the previous year, finishing in 28:06 just behind Keith at 27:40. Nearly a 6 minute improvement! I broke the tape in 17:56 with a comfortable lead and being sure not to overreach my current fitness to leave plenty in the tank for the following day at our second race of the weekend.
Having a goal to work towards to is a great motivation for those days when excuses start to get the best of you. During one of Hannah’s physical therapy sessions she and the folks at the office decided that they would get together for a series of local 5k’s throughout the remainder of the year. As a way to promote the physical therapy office, Personal Best Physical Therapy, they came up with a team name and ordered t-shirts. They let others in on the action too and Hannah signed both her dad and I up for Team Besties and we were on our way to running personal bests with our besties.
Feeling the effects of a solid effort the previous day we toed the starting line of the Chocolate Marshmellow 5k. Looking forward to returning to the warmth of Seekonk Knights of Columbus hall and awaiting gallons of hot chocolate we set out on a fast and flat lollipop loop.
Whenever I race a new race or in a new town I always get excited and nervous about who will show up. When I was on the starting line I knew there were potentially a few others that could run with me so I set out from the gun to put forth an honest effort to see if any of them would join me. I was surprised when I put on a 10 meter gap to second place very early and even more so when that gap grew to 50 and then 100 meters. As we rounded a series of corners through a neighborhood at the 2 mile mark I could look over my shoulder and see that the gap was only getting longer and I knew that as long as I finished strong I wouldn’t get caught. Rounding the last corner into the finish line I was greeted by my parents who had come out to watch us run. It’s such a great feeling to have the support of your family at a race no matter how big or small.
Hannah, Keith and I all earned our hot chocolate with times of 28:14, 27:11 and 16:55 respectively. Keith improved his personal best set only the previous day by 30 seconds as Hannah kept it consistent just about matching her personal best also set the day before. I was happy with my effort and was glad to be able to be out there in front of and with my family. These races will finish of my racing for 2018. I will be focused on building up for an attempt to qualify for the 2019 Half Ironman World Championship for the next several months and hope that you will continue to follow me on my journey.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!