2014 marked the third straight year Doug, Jordy and I participated in the EquiKids 5K and One Mile Run with the Hounds. I love this event not only because it’s family friendly, but also because it supports one of my favorite charities.
Volunteering at EquiKids is one the most rewarding experiences I have on a regular basis, and supporting the riders in lessons and in the barn is always fun. The staff, my fellow volunteers and riders are all amazing people with huge hearts that make the EquiKids family one you’re happy to be a part of. Being a part of the EquiKids family makes running, and doggie dashing, on the second Sunday in May a can’t miss, incredibly fun event each year.
During the course of our adventurous Friday, Doug and I were able to squeeze picking our packets up at Running Etc in on our way to the Oceanfront Spring Crawl Volunteer Appreciation Party. It was really fast and easy, and since we had registered early enough to be two of the first 200 and, as a perk, received awesome tech shirts instead of cotton. Skipping to Race Day, Doug, Jordy and I got ready with breakfast and running gear, then piled into the car for our drive to the farm. I fueled up with my usual GPS E2 on the way, feeling good and ready to go.
The farm is usually fairly quiet when I arrive on my normal Tuesday afternoon, then fills up as the day moves on with activity and laughter from volunteers and riders alike. On Race Day, however, the farm bustles with runners instead of riders. It’s awesome to see all of the people, most of whom don’t regularly get out to the facility, support the program. As we pulled into the farm, we were pointed from one helpful volunteer to the next as we reached our parking spot in the grass. Surrounded by other SUVs, all of the sedans were being parked in the dressage arena. I thought this was a great idea, a good way to prevent someone from getting stuck or digging up the grounds.
We had arrived early enough to have plenty of time for every member of our party to use the restroom, or grass, walk around a bit and stash the fruit salad I had made for the Volunteer Appreciation Picnic in a fridge. In addition to the facilities regular restrooms, additional Port-a-Potties were installed for the day’s affairs and provided plenty of line free locations for everyone. After a quick trip to the Volunteer Lounge’s restroom, I ran a short warm up while the little ones were trucking adorably through their Half Mile Pony Run. During this short warm up I started to notice the humidity and wished I was wearing shorts. Oh, well, no time to change. A big group start, I hovered near the front as the 2014 EquiKids 5K participants lined up, listened to a few announcements and got ready to go.
The race went off as soon as everyone was in order, which was actually a little before the scheduled 8:20 Start Time. No lines at the toilets and an early start? It’s almost unheard of. I faced a bit of traffic at the Start with the start-fast-then-faders around me and some of the quicker runners having started behind me, but it sorted out by the time we hit the woods for our first lap. Twisting and turning as guided by volunteers through the woods, I was impressed with the levelness of the debris-free trails. There were small pockets of not-quite-mud that were easily avoidable and I felt good passing the Mile 1 mark.
A water stop somewhere between Mile 1 and Mile 2 was very well manned with volunteers sporting their EquiKids t-shirts and it was great to see familiar faces cheering me on as I ran my first loop through the woods. Leaving the woods at the halfway point, I noticed the air was moving again. It had been still and humid in the woods but I didn’t realize it until I was out of them the first time. Not looking forward to Lap 2. I picked up my pace after my watch beeped for Mile 1.5 and raced my way back into the woods with my sights on picking off two ladies I could see in front of me.
I caught one of the women at the Mile 2 mark as I kicked up one more gear to finish my last mile. I didn’t have the kick I wanted and my legs felt a bit heavy, probably because of a combination of cocktails Friday evening and the dirt course. All of Mile 2 was in the woods and it was hotter, more still and more humid that the last trip. Popping out of the woods just before the Mile 3 mark felt awesome and I passed the second woman I’d been chasing just before rounding the final turn. I ran hard, but still managed to smile, for the last 0.2 miles and crossed the 2014 EquiKids 5K Finish Line with a chip time of 24:17.
I met up with Doug and Jordy who were getting ready for their own race, chomped on a banana and drank an ice-cold bottled water. Watching the final 5K participants cross the line, I stretched out, cooled down and put on dry socks. Next thing I knew, dogs were pulling their people off the Start line and the One Mile Run with the Hounds was on. Doug and Jordy did a great job, taking two minutes off of last year’s time with the help of Jordy’s now repaired CCL tendon.
After the boys crossed the Finish Line, we munched pizza, drank a few tasty adult sodas and socializing with fellow dog owners, runners and EquiKids volunteers while waiting for the results and Award Ceremony. My chip time put me in 30th place overall and second in the 30-39 age group. While it wasn’t exactly the pace or race I wanted to turn in, I was happy to have a good run, especially on the dirt and mud and hit my goal of placing in my age group. And yes, I also know the margaritas and adult sodas I had Friday night didn’t help me out any. The Awards Ceremony went smoothly as both humans and canines hammed it up for the camera and I happily headed to the podium to receive my medal.
With the Awards Ceremony wrapped up, the indoor arena began to clear out and we moved tables to prepare for the Volunteer Picnic. It was nice to sit down and relax with my fellow volunteers, and Jordy definitely enjoyed his share of the widely varied, delicious offerings of the pot luck buffet. A successful day in the books for all three of us, I picked up my Volunteer Appreciation Gift (this awesome, thick beach towel) then met Doug and Jordy at the car.
Do you work with any charities? How often do you run on cross country courses?