A.M. Today was the turkey hunt day for our family. We all ran in the Earn Your Turkey race. Sarah and I ran 4 miles, Benjamin and Jenny did 1 mile, Julia 800 meters, Joseph and Jacob 400, and William 100.
We use this race to motivate our children to train. It awards turkeys to the top 5 finishers in the 4 miler + age division winners for all races. Thus the children have a chance to bring some turkeys home. There are very few races that allow the children to earn something real rather than just a ribbon or a trophy for their efforts. When we announce that the dinner was earned by a little child he feels very special, but more important, he learns to believe that he has the ability to provide for a family.
Opportunities like that are rather sparse, though. Children are expected to just have fun, which is silently defined as a non-productive entertainment. It cannot be something real or else it is no longer fun. Is it then a surprise that children do not grow up feeling a responsibility to provide, and we find many 20+ year old adults still living with their parents?
If it was not for the children's experience, to set an example for them, I would not have showed up at the starting line. I've had issues with the foot that made my training less optimal, and then as if that was not enough I got sick at the end of the last week. I knew I was going to run poorly. But I always tell my children to run their best even if the day is bad, and that best appears to be pathetic. Always be humble enough to take what your body is willing to give you regardless of how slow it is.
From the start I tried to run with Ted, and somewhat was able to hang on. First mile was 5:28. It felt like 5:10. I hoped it would be 5:20. Second mile was 5:36. I was pleased with is somewhat, except that it took all of my energy. It did not feel like it would, but fevers have a tendency to literally fry your neural drive for up to three weeks after they are gone. This one, of course, was no different. After 2 miles I had no juice. I hopelessly lost contact with Ted, and death marched my way through a 6:07 mile. Jeff likes to say "Ouch" at this point of a story. In the last mile I tried to pick it up, but there was not much I could do. I managed a 5:53 mile. As if running slower than 23:00 and getting beat by a master recovering from a knee surgery was not embarrassing enough, Amber Andrews went by me in the last 200 meters as if I were standing still (well, "as if" should be removed as I was standing still, 86 second quarter in the kick is standing still). So now I have the dubious honor of not only having been chicked by Cheryl Harper, but also by her daughter.
Nevertheless, there was a reward for the embarrassment. No, they did not give turkeys to the runner who embarrassed himself the most. But it just turned out that every male between 35 and 39 ran even slower than I did, so I ended up with a turkey. I was happy that even in my out of commission state I was able to contribute to the turkey hunt.
Amber finished in 23:02, Ted got 22:45. The race was won in 19:35 by Cameron Levins , with the second place 19:39 by Danny Moody. Our Tyler Cannon was third with 20:46.
After the race was over, Ted and I ran back and met Sarah. We ran with her to the finish. Her time was 34:51 by my watch. Actually my time was 23:04 by my watch, but it is officially 23:05 due to a start confusion. They said there would be a whistle and then the gun. However, some people started with the whistle. I started with the gun.
Then our 13-month-old William marched through 100 meters in 3:38. He cried the entire way. He liked walking in practice, but racing is different. It would have gone better if the race started when he wanted to start, but that is the nature of racing. The race starts when the race director starts it. William will learn this in years to come. For his efforts he earned the youngest participant prize - a turkey. William, the turkey hunting baby!
Then Joseph won the 3-4 year old 400 in 1:44. I paced him through that. They allow you to hold the kids hand in those races but you are not allowed to drag. Dragging is defined as being in front of the kid. Holding a hand for a kid can be a huge advantage if you've practiced it, and we have. So Joseph can fly holding my hand without me being in front of him. I think it is very valuable for kids to train with a fit adult holding their hand until their brain matures enough to hold a steady pace. The hand teaches them rhythm, and also helps them improve their economy because they realize that they can coast at a fraction of an effort if they just do not fight the fast pace, but go with it.
Jacob did not have a very good day. He fell a few times, then walked a few times. Benjamin was pacing him since I was with Joseph, and he was not used to it. He still finished in around 3:25. He will do better next year.
Then it was Julia's turn. I paced her. No holding hands, she is too old for that. She was racing 800 meters in the 7-8 division. Her competition was Rachael Blackburn. Same as two years ago. Rachael is 8, Julia is 7, so that makes it hard for Julia. When Rachael gets a year older, then Julia has free reign in her age division, and Jenny is a year older than Rachael, so we have a double-turkey from Jenny and Julia. Otherwise, Rachael gets the turkey, and her family can use it as they have 10 children.
It was a very exciting race. Everybody started very fast. I held Julia back a bit, but not enough. We went through 200 in 45. But even with this fast of a start there was a group of girls ahead of her. By the quarter the pace slowed considerably. Julia was 1:40 at the turnaround, and she had caught up to the lead pack. She passed them and tried to pull ahead. That dropped everybody except one girl. Then I knew that girl was Rachael.
Around 500 meters Rachael made the patented Blackburn move. I've seen that move before. That is how Rachael's brother Jacob dropped Benjamin in a number of races. Blackburn children do not have a kick, but they make up for it with long surges. Julia lost contact, the gap quickly grew to 4 seconds, and then it pretty much stayed that way to the finish. Rachael got 3:28, Julia 3:33 - a new PR for the distance.
Then it was time for Benjamin and Jenny's race. I asked Tyler to pace Benjamin while I paced Jenny. Benjamin won the 9-10 age division with 6:08, and in fact beat everybody else except one 12 year old boy. Jenny struggled, but still managed 4th place in 9-10 division (girls) with 6:54. She is only 9, though, so she was racing older girls. However, the race was winnable, the winning time was only 6:29, and that could have been within her range. But we have not done enough specific training. Mostly because it is so difficult to convince Jenny to dip into that zone. But after this race, she had a change of perspective, and we made plans to practice running race pace on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
I was particularly happy with Benjamin's win because he has been struggling lately. But apparently our efforts to bring his endurance back were successful.
Then on top of everything we won a dinner (turkey, bag of potatoes, a couple sweet potatoes, and some stuffing) in the largest immediate family content. We were able to do so not so much due to the large size of our family but more so because we were able to get 100% participation.
Additionally, Joseph won a turkey in the raffle. Normally I consider raffles bogus, but this one was different. The prize did not exceed the earned prizes, and with the entry fee of only $6 this was in essence a disguised reward for getting a large family out. It was pretty much guaranteed for a family of 8 due to the laws of probability. We would have won another turkey as well because they were giving it to the runner who had finished the most marathons, but they said we already had too many turkeys.
Now if they had an award for the most frequently mispelled/misprounounced last name, we would have gotten one. Somehow every one of our children became a Packer instead of Pachev, and the error persisted through all of the announcements in spite of numerous corrections.