Knobel 5k – April 2013

This was one for the record books… I’ll cut to the chase – this was the first time I had placed dead last in a race. It was kind of fun…

I was drafted to help represent the Psychology Dept. at this campus fundraiser – can’t really say it was a “race” in any real sense because there was no organization to the event or incentive to actually compete. I decided to use it as an excuse to get my family out. My wife would run with my older daughter, and I would accompany our younger daughter (10 years old). My daughters were facing the dreaded one mile fitness test at school, and seeing that they have maintained a steady “we hate running” attitude despite my best efforts to provide a positive (albeit sweaty) role model, I saw this as a fun, low key event where they could cover 3.1 miles and lessen some of their reservations and concerns about having to run one mile.

It was my younger daughter’s first 5k race ever – my older daughter had finished one previously, so I knew she had the mental and physical stamina to complete the distance. As expected, my wife and older daughter ran ahead from the start while my younger daughter and I hung back. We ran a bit and walked a lot. My tactic was to set lots of mini-goals – e.g. “let’s run to the stop sign and then we can walk again”. Needless to say, my daughter caught on pretty quickly and informed me that she couldn’t be tricked into running any more than she was willing to. That left me with only encouraging words to keep her moving. By the end of the first mile, we were in a competition for last place with another parent/kid combo. They would pass us as we walked a section, and then we would pass them as we began to run and they walked. Back and forth and back and forth we went. The course circled around the roads on the Denison campus, and there are a couple of substantial hills – my daughter hated those. I kept encouraging her along. By the halfway point, she wanted to stop. I had to add simple statements like “you will finish this race” to my rotating set of accolades. We shared a water bottle and trudged on.

We got to the two mile mark and suddenly our competition was nowhere to be seen – they seemed to have dropped out of the race. In fact, no one was anywhere to be seen. There was a final one mile loop (which included another big hill – yeah) that afforded us a view of the course nearly to the finish. There was no one on the course ahead of us. In fact, we were so far back that some of the people that passed us as we trudged along asked whether we were actually in the race… But my daughter was a trooper. I spent that last mile telling her some of the gory details about my 100 mile race which kept her interested enough to stick with me. We cruised along the back athletic fields and towards the finish, mostly walking but still jogging now and again. Then we got to the final stretch – my wife and older daughter were out there looking for us (but all the “race” officials had long disappeared). As they hooted and hollered, my daughter dropped the hammer and sprinted full tilt away from me. It caught me a bit off guard, but I sped up to follow. As I crossed the finish several feet behind her, she turned and immediately informed me that I had come in last place. Thanks kid. We finished in 58 minutes and 30 seconds.

Happily – two weeks later my daughter easily passed her mile fitness run at school. She went much faster than our blistering 20 minute/mile pace…


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