Saturday morning dawned breezy and cool, perfect racing weather. A friend and I had been trying to come up with a date we were both available to do the same race. I would say “do a race together“, but, that would be misrepresenting our intention.
My friend is speedy; I am not. Even though we would be running the same race, we would not be doing it “together“. I miss more frequent interactions with this dear friend, whom I taught right next door to for over 20 years, and look forward to any chance to see her.
Our common date was Saturday and the race was a 5K only 15 minutes from our house. The race was the Friendship Community 5K, a small race held in conjunction with a festival, complete with children’s rides, face painting, a pancake breakfast, auction, plant sale, art sale, and even a magician blowing balloon animals and doing magic tricks.
The Friendship Community is a Christian ministry “cultivating capabilities of individuals with intellectual disability and autism.” This ministry operates group homes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They focus on the abilities of the individuals they serve and cultivate personal growth and independence.
I was so happy to be able to help this very worthy cause in some small way through the race.
My friend and I, along with my husband Bill arrived shortly before the race, picked up our bibs and goody bags, visited the (indoor, yay!) bathrooms, and did a brief warm-up run. In my case, the warm-up run was very short, as in two minutes long.
There were plenty of our running friends in attendance and we chatted happily to pass the time before the start of the race.
One friend, in particular, talked to me about her love for arm warmers. She is the second friend to recommend them to me within a week, and now I think I must buy some. This was the perfect morning to use arm warmers – cool before the race, but warm once we began running.
Shortly before race time, we lined up at the starting line, had a brief prayer, and were off. The race began on grass. I was slightly nervous about running on grass, due to the uneven footing, but my worry was unnecessary; running on this short, well-groomed grass was fine, and lasted for less than half a mile.
After the grass portion of the race, we ran on a gravel path that led to the parking lot of a nearby dairy. I was feeling good, enjoying the variety of surfaces, and running according to my pre-race plan, which was to run at a comfortably hard pace.
We turned around at the dairy and retraced our steps back to the start line, then veered off for a loop on the paved roads of an adjacent retirement community. Some residents were outside, cheering us on, and the encouragement was definitely welcome by this point of the race.
Even though the course was fairly flat, I was running out of gas, and I was very glad to see the finish line in the distance. I passed a younger woman with about half a mile to go, but the small hill before the finish line got the better of me and I wound up taking a short walk break, during which the woman passed me.
I tried to summon a burst of speed before the finish line, but could not catch her and finished a few seconds behind her (and behind Bill). My speedy friend finished second woman overall, passed on the last hill by a young Amish woman.
We swallowed our disappointment, along with some delicious pancakes at the nearby pancake breakfast, included in the registration fee. When we finished breakfast, the awards ceremony was just beginning.
I insisted that we go to the award ceremony. My friend was the second woman finisher; she undoubtedly would win something. Sure enough, she won a medal and an envelope containing cash, which she promptly donated back to the Friendship Community.
Bill won a medal for second in his very competitive age group and I got first in mine. We were both happy to have finished almost a minute faster than another 5K we ran last week.
Later in the day, after a shower, some yard work, and a little relaxation, we returned to the festival with our daughter-in-law and two grandsons for some festival food and fun. I even purchased some art made by members of the Friendship Community.
I heartily recommend this race to anyone in the area. It was extremely well organized, the goody bag contained lots of cool surprises, the festival was a real plus, the course was mostly flat and run on a variety of surfaces (which I like), but best of all, the cause this race supports is phenomenal.
Friendship, a festival and a 5K – a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning in May.