I'm in a phase of life in which I really love running. As a result, I find myself entering more and more race events - they give me a chance to run, with the added benefit of hanging around with friends, most of whom are cheerful and as excited about the race as I am. This weekend started off with my 22nd race of 2011 (30 if you count the summer park races and aquathlons), and once again I enjoyed it tremendously.
This morning's race was the inaugural "Breeze in the Trees 5k", held in the beautiful pecan orchards of the Green Valley Pecan Company. The race was sponsored by Tagg Running Events, and was inspired by their outstanding Pecan Classic race held in the fall. It's summertime and we're in Arizona, so this race was only 5k whereas the fall race is 8.5 miles.
The start time was 6:30 a.m., so the sun was up, but the trees provided a wonderful shade canopy that we don’t experience in many places here in the desert southwest. I spotted a few tractors chugging along while warming up, and the pecan shells mixed into the dirt made the farming theme complete. We were blessed with perfect weather this morning, just the type of cool crisp environment that one wants for a summertime race in this area.
Two of my sons answered the alarm call early with me to make the hour’s drive out to the pecan farm in Sahuarita. Jason came along to run the race, and Brad joined us for cheering support and also to take pictures. Here’s one of his first shots, taken about a quarter mile into the race. At this point I had worked my way up to 5th place.
Jason started further back in the pack, as he prefers to pace himself right from the get-go. (That’s a very wise racing strategy, one that I would likely be smart to implement myself!)
I’m only 2 weeks out from the San Francisco Marathon, so I ran a bit cautiously, by which I mean that I tried not to make any quick pace changes or hard muscle pushes. Fortunately this course was very flat, so there was not much need to push up hills, and I didn’t need to work much of a kick to hold my place at the finish either. I got into 3rd place around mile marker 1 with a split of 6:05, and held on to that position for the rest of the race. My finishing time was 19:18, and I was 1st in my age group.
Jason held steady and knocked out a nice 31:06. That’s a few minutes slower than his PB, but he was happy after I explained to him that a dirt course always slows you down a bit. I’m so proud of him, especially considering that his athletic interests are in swimming and the running is almost an afterthought – he really does not train for running much. He also won an age group award today, getting 2nd place in the 12-and-Under category. We both received very nice handmade medals – they are glazed-clay pecan leaves!
Brad ended up taking over 100 pictures, which I’ve uploaded to an album on my FaceBook page. I thought they came out pretty good – maybe he has a future career opportunity as a Race Photographer?
We’re lucky in the Tucson area to have several outstanding Race Directors, and they all work hard to find ways to keep their races unique, fun, and widely appealing to all levels of recreational runners and walkers. Steve Taggert, his wife Liz, and their daughter give a huge amount of their time and energy to put on many excellent Tagg races. This morning we had a pancake breakfast to enjoy after the run, and the race also raised some funds for the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance.
So I loved running the Breeze in the Trees 5k – I guess you could say I’m “Nuts About Running”.
Unrelated side note – Pam is back from the Anasazi Training Camp – yeah! She got some good high-altitude trail running in up there.