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Smokey and the Bandit
Friday 13th has the stigma of a bad luck day and this happened to be the culmination point of the Let Me Run group that Jacob had been running with. This is a group of 9 & 10 y/o boys who get together twice a week to learn life lessons and build their running skills ending with a 5k race. The race this spring was to be the Twilight 5k. I had agreed to run this race with Jacob. This being a race that I was not going to race hard, I decided to run as a bandit (to run without paying the entry fee). The bandit idea did not bother me much. However, as race day came I become more and more uncomfortable about the idea. Would the ominous bad luck day combined with karmic misgivings be taken out on Jacob’s performance?
At 5:30 the family headed towards the starting line. Angela took Lily and Jacob in the car and I decided to run the ~2 miles there. We said our goodbyes and parted ways. As I ran towards the Charlotte skyline, a thought crossed my mind: “I bet Jacob did not grab his race bib.” But since I was running down the road with no communication device, I tried to examine how best I could contact Angela. The best idea I came up with was by shooting a flare into the air (The sad part is that is true). As I ran along trying to figure out where to get a flare my thoughts were suddenly disrupted by “Hey Sexy!” As a car passed a young lady was shouting at me, and it was not my wife. Nice ego boost. I gave her the two fingered gold pro wave and carried on.
Shortly after I arrived at the chip pick up area, Angela nor Jacob nor Lily were to be seen. This confirmed my suspicion that Jacob left his bib. As I waited around for the family to show up I looked at all the runners and really wanted to race. The energy before a race starts is infectious. While waiting for Ang and the crew to show up I saw my mom, dad, and sister (Amanda). We hang out a few minutes and found Ang who confirmed they had returned home to pick up the bib. After Jacob got there, he grabbed his chipped and met up with his Let Me Run group.
The remainder of the time was spent waiting for the start time. We finally moved over to the starting line at 6:50ish. There are not a whole lot Friday night races in Charlotte so is a pretty cool event. I talked to Jacob as we were in the starting corral and asked if he was nervous and he said he was not. But he was calm and arms were crossed so he was either nervous or in the zone because Jacob is only calm when he is asleep. We separated a little from Jacob’s group but that was okay because we planned to do this together. As we waited for the start I tried to blend so as not to be called out for being a bandit.
Finally the race started and we were off. We crossed the starting mats and gigantic American flag suspended from the ladder of a fire truck and we were on our way. We had planned to run between 26:40 and 27:20 so I wanted to lock in around 8:40 for the first mile. As we weaved through the crowd I looked down at my watch and we were cruising along at a sub-8 minute pace. I told Jacob we should slow up a little bit and to my surprise he listened. I scanned the sky for flying pigs and used my best judgment to confirm hell had not frozen over, yet Jacob had actually listened to me. We locked in our pace and were rolling. As a few kids passed us I told him not to worry because we pass them around the two mile mark. One thing to note, children are infamously bad at maintaining a pace. We hit the first mile at 8:46 a little slower than the plan but that was alright because the next mile was mostly downhill. I told Jacob this and said let’s let it go a little bit and put in a quick mile. It was in this mile we started passing Jacob’s Let Me Run buddies. As we passed each one, Jacob was sure to say hi. I am not sure if he was just being friendly or if this was to make sure they knew Jacob was passing them. I like to think it was the latter because I to wanted to see how many people we could pass. We completed the 2nd mile in 8:36 which was nice. But now came mile 3 which started with a big hill to climb and then leveled followed by another hill and then a slight downhill followed by yet another uphill. Pretty tough. At this point in the race last year, I remembering thinking I may die. Jacob handled it well, but many others struggled. There were lots of people walking through this section. We slowed a little bit on the section but Jacob pushed through. As we came up the final climb, we saw Ang, Lily, Mom, Dad, and Amanda all there. They were cheering as we turned on to Tryon for the final stretch. Jacob kicked it and man does he have a kick. We finished the last .15 at a 5:56 pace for a Smokey 27:09 (PR for Jacob by 49 seconds).
After the race, Jacob thought he was going to throw up and I told him that is the way you are supposed to feel after a race. Overall a great race. The bad Karma of being a bandit and Friday the 13th couldn’t keep Jacob and me from having a great time and smoking the course.