Despite the cold pre-spring chilly weather, there was a sea of green that filled the streets in Rutherford, New Jersey for the 7th annual Michael Cassidy Shamrock ’N’ Run 5k on St. Patrick’s Day. And I was among the 387 participants who came out to support a good cause, challenge ourselves as runners, and start the holiday festivities off in a healthy way—before drinking that green beer.

I was also not alone. Joining me was my 16-month-old son in the stroller, as we proudly joined the other moms and dads who pushed their little ones along the course as well.

This 5k was the first “real” race I participated in few ways. While I did do a fun run last spring, this was my official first timed race post-baby. It was also my first physical race to do with my son in the stroller. We have done two virtual races together, not to mention the countless times I’ve been out running with him throughout my typical week.

With that said, it felt really good to be back in the race atmosphere and be around other runners. It felt really special to be doing it with my son. Throughout my current half marathon training, I’ve had time for reflection during my runs and have been thinking about how I want my son to be able to be proud of me and one day know that he too can do anything he puts his mind to and works hard for. That’s why having him along for these small victories is very meaningful.

The weather was pretty cold and windy, but once I began running the weather wasn’t an issue and actually turned out to be great conditions for running fast in. It was the course that was the challenge, taking runners throughout the local neighborhood. This included lots and lots of steep hills. There were times I had to stop running and actually walk to the peak of these hills. I found ascending and pushing a stroller difficult, but welcomed the challenge and put my all into climbing them.

There were people of all ages running this race. An elderly man huff and puffed past me at one particular hill. Some ran together in pairs, some with their families. A father holding the hand of his small daughter running made me smile as this time I passed by, proud at the determination of the girl. There was lots of strollers, which was motivating for me to know I wasn’t the only one and that I could push on, quite literally.

Looking at the results from the previous year, I wasn’t expecting on placing in this race, but had a goal of finishing as close to 30 minutes as I could. I ran fast and hard, and have it my all. I finished in 35’06”, with a pace of 11’18” and was 256 of 387 overall. I was 129 of 222 for females overall, and 21 of 29 for my age group.

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This might not be the fastest for many, but I could not be more proud of this accomplishment.

I know now where I currently am at, where I need to go to reach my goals. This serves as a great way to get back into the race circuit, and was also suggested for that week’s half marathon training. It was a great morale boost. It also officially kicked off my race season, with lots of other 5k and 10ks planned leading up to and after my half marathon that is almost a month away.

The race was nicely organized, complete with bagpipes playing before and a medal ceremony after to award the top runners. A huge congrats to them on their impressively fast times considering the amount of hills. And all proceeds of this race went to the National Brain Tumor Society, and it feels just as good to be helping a good cause as it is to cross that finish line.

Of course me and my running buddy celebrated after at a St. Patrick’s Day party! Here’s to the next big race.

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