2013 Run for the Son 5K Race Recap

Just Before Start of 2013 Run for the Son 5K

Just Before Start of 2013 Run for the Son 5K; the legendary Jack Ward on the megaphone.

Running races in the summer in the south is always a challenge and yesterday’s 27th running of The Run for the Son was no exception. It was hot and humid but that did not dissuade 378 runners and 98 walkers from braving the conditions. Hosted by First Baptist Church of Jackson with the help of The Mississippi Track Club, this race has also been known for it’s tough course with several tough, steep hills. This was the first year on a new course and I think it was a big success.  Here are my reasons why The Run for the Son should keep the new course.

1. It’s more interesting. The new course goes through part of downtown Jackson, maybe not some of the most picturesque parts, but it’s still better to look at than just running up and down Jefferson Street in to the Belhaven neighborhood. The section of the course that goes around the capital is my favorite part.

2. There are still hills, but they are better for racing. The course has a pretty steep down hill in the first mile, then you climb your way back up to the start, but it’s a fairly gradual climb. The only mildly steep climb is around the capital area.

3. Faster Times. Faster times are just more fun for everyone. The same runner won this race last year running a 16:47. This year he ran 15:53, nearly a minute faster. For myself, last year I ran 20:47 on fairly rested legs. This year I ran it one week after running The Big Butts 50k and ran a 20:01. I talked to a couple of people after the race who set new PRs. Having a PR-able course is a better draw.

Going in to this race, I really did not know how I would do having run a 50k trail run the week before. I only ran 5 total miles this week, all very easy and just walking around my legs felt fine. Woke up at 5:45am for the 7:30am race start. Had coffee, a pastry strudel and strawberries and put a banana in my bag. I also drank several glasses of water aware that the heat would soon be sucking water out of me at a rapid rate. I arrived at the race at 6:45, got my race packet and visited with a few friends, then started an easy warm up. I definitely still felt some heaviness in my legs during the warm up and ended up running about 1.25 miles at an easy 10 minute pace. I threw in a few short, fast fartleks, got a little water and headed for the starting line.

There is a group of runners called Johnny Love Running Machine (JLRM) in Jackson which is a loose affiliation of runners. I’m not sure how you get in to the group other than someone in the group recommends you to some of the founding members. I’d say the most consistent qualification is you just keep showing up. You don’t have to be super fast, but if you participate frequently and it is evident you are working on improving in the sport, you’ll eventually be asked to join. There’s no membership form or fee and as far as I know no list of members. The group forms teams for races where teams are allowed and yesterday’s race featured four, five member teams, the top three teams came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I ran with the JLRM team that finished out of the top three, but it was still a major motivation in even running this race.

Jack Ward, the legendary President of the Mississippi Track Club made announcements and then pointed the starting gun in the air and next thing you know we are running north on State Street. I had decided to shoot for a 6:24 pace for the race and had to slow myself down and not worry about getting passed early to conserve energy. After a couple of right turns we were heading down a steep hill on Jefferson Street so I just relaxed, leaned forward a bit and let gravity pull me down the hill. I passed a few people that had sprinted out hard at the beginning, but mainly I was just trying to be patient.

During the second mile we started climbing up slightly as we came around the south side of the Mississippi Convention Center. I started passing a few other runners I am usually close to and I was wondering if I had pushed the pace too hard. My first mile came in at 6:13, 10 seconds under my target pace, but the downhill had a lot to do with that. The second mile was 6:33, 10 seconds over my target pace so I was back on target and passing people. During the last part of the second mile I got passed by three runners, two youngsters and Greg Gearhart who is a super fast grand master. I tucked in behind Greg and tried to hang with him.

Downhill to the Finish in my Johnny Love Running Machine singlet

Downhill to the Finish in my Johnny Love Running Machine singlet

The heat, hills and my tired legs affected me on the third mile but no one was passing me. The final mile was 6:56 and then I pushed the last 0.1 at 4:52! I really did not want anyone to slip past me at the end. It’s a downhill finish which helped me get some good speed going in to the finish and I was able to hold off several other runners making a push at the end.

My 20:01 finish was not a PR, but was close and was satisfying given last weeks long race, coming in 28th out of 378 and 2nd in the 45-49 age group.

45-49 Age Group - (l-r) Pat Thomasson (2nd), Scott Stringer (1st), Bryan Lagg (3rd)

45-49 Age Group – (l-r) Pat Thomasson (2nd), Scott Stringer (1st), Bryan Lagg (3rd)

My JLRM team came in 5th place in the team competition behind the top three JLRM teams and a team from Bomgar. I also met Team Sparkle which is another group similar to JLRM, but more focused on females. They wear cute, sparkly running tutus over their running shorts. I think running groups are a great way to get more people involved in running and racing so I applaud Team Sparkle for making running fun! The two people I talked to from the team are training to attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon, so these folks are clearly serious….and fun. Follow this link for more photos from the race.