This is the second year that Josephine has run the Clark 5K and the first that Sam has run it. Amy Sarah and I ran it last year with Jo while Sam was a volunteer with Lisa. Here's an image from before the 2014 race.
A year later, we're all older. But, the same wonderful spirit of community was on display before the race began at 8:00 am on a beautiful Saturday in Belmont.
Judging by this picture, I wasn't sure if Sam was going to take it seriously. He said he wanted to run, but we hadn't gone on any training runs. In the past year he has played basketball and baseball, though. I wasn't sure what to expect from him.
Still, he lined up and showed absolutely no signs that he was unprepared. He had a good night's sleep. We'd had a good, light breakfast.
Josephine was ready as well.
Now, there's only one picture of Sam from during the race. Moments before we began I made sure to tell him to not go out very fast. I told him to resist the temptation to sprint out as fast as he could. I've been running road races since 2009, and my coach from when I was taking it seriously, Mark Lorenzoni, drilled it into my head to begin races as slowly as possible. Don't get caught up in the adrenaline. Have a plan. Know how far the finish line is and realize you can control the overall race if you know your own strength.
However, as the race began, Sam did in fact sprint out with the pack, which was okay. It was his first race. My job was to just run with him no matter what because running races is such a fun activity and I wanted his first to be a good experience.
For the first mile or so, I didn't even see him. I was just running the race and enjoying myself. Josephine had also sprinted ahead, but I passed her quickly. Amy Sarah ran with her for a while. The three of us had crossed the finish line more or less together in 2014, but this year would be different.
I caught up to Sam after a mile, as he had slowed down from the pack. I could see from him a distance, this little person just running the course, following everyone else. He kept looking back to see if he could see one of his parents.
I was looking at my son, Amy Sarah and Lisa's son, our son, just dutifully working his way towards a finish line. I didn't sprint up to him at all. I just watched him.
As we came close to Belmont Park, I got closer and closer to him and I began to yell out encouraging thoughts. I told him how awesome he was doing. I caught up to him and began to slow my own pace down so I could run with him.
I can't tell you how happy I was to see Sam just chugging along with absolutely nothing in his face to reveal that he wasn't going to finish. Look at the determination!
The above is from 6th Street as we came close to Champion and the passing under the Belmont Bridge. It was close to here that Amy Sarah had closed the gap, but not until we got to run into Lisa.
Sam only stopped three times. One was to get a water at Champion. One was when we bumped into each other (I've never run with someone less than half my size before!) and the last was to give Lisa a very quick hug! I think he got a lot of energy when she got to see how hard he was working.
Amy Sarah caught up as we got into Belmont. I ran on ahead so I could get pictures of the finish.
The official times aren't posted here, but these photos show he crossed at around 30:38. That's under ten minutes a mile!
And look, you can see Amy Sarah in the background, also working hard to cross the finish line! She beat her time from last year by a great margin!
After they crossed, I ran back to find Josephine. She was doing okay when I found her right outside La Taza.
I was also able to get a picture of Jo crossing the finish line at what I think was around a minute faster then her 2014 time.
So, Jo did better, I did better, Amy Sarah did better and Sam absolutely blew my expectations away in what he can do. He's a little boy who is determined to do well. And he had a great result.
I'm hoping we can make these kind of races something we continue to do. I love running and racing because of the amazing energy you get running along with everyone else. I've gotten away from it of late, but I'm already beginning to look forward to the next one!