Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Race Report- Stars & Stripes Veterun 5k

I first heard about this race in 2011, which also happened to be its inaugural year! Rob works for Clark CSM and created the logo you see above. The first year I ran with him and his boss Glenn. Rob actually wound up being my rabbit and I PR'd, even though the course is challenging with lots of rolling hills. This year I was way slower, but I am getting ahead of myself here!

Rob & Me - 2011

Glenn & Rob- 2011

I signed up for the third year in a row thinking that Rob would run with me again, but he couldn't. According to their FB page, the race is organized by 5 or 6 families from the Honeoye Falls area, with a ton of help from their friends and the Rochester community. The families all have ties to the military in some way and really wanted to draw attention to the true meaning of why we have off of work or school for Veterans' Day. Proceeds from the race entry and sponsors go to support Honor Flight, which is a program to honor those who served by flying them to Washington DC to see the monuments created for them. According to their FB page they were able to donate $21,050 from the first two years of the race.

This years shirt was by far my favorite.

In addition to supporting a great cause, I love that I can take part in a community event that feels like a small town family fun run. They have always started the race by thanking the Veterans in attendance and they discuss the experience of Honor Flight, which I didn't even know existed until I started participating in this race. This year they also read a poem written by a veteran who was able to participate in the Honor Flight program. I would be lying if I told you I didn't tear up and think about my own family members who have served. I also enjoy that they tend to have young people sing the National Anthem and then everyone walks en mass to the start line and the gun goes off. There is something very ceremonial about the start of this race and I just love it! I feel like I am part of something bigger.

Inside the lodge keeping warm.

The fireplace is a nice touch!

Rob's logo- awards I assume.

I realized when I was pulling into Mendon Ponds that I forgot my Garmin and we all know that when you don't record it on your Garmin, it might as well have not happened, so I was bummed! I also know how hilly this course is and so I was worried about not being able to keep my pace in check. 

Listening to the MC

So cool, and he kicked my butt!

The gun went off and I started running, up hill. I felt like I went out too fast and when I got to the 1 mile mark there was no one reading splits, I am not sure if anyone was supposed to be, but this just reminded me how dumb I was for forgetting the Garmin. I continued on to the rolling hills and slowed at the water station. I also pulled over a little after that because I had a rock in my shoe. I feel like this happens more and more to me, especially at Mendon Ponds. Since the course is an out and back eventually the leaders zoomed by in the opposite direction and I was able to cheer on some familiar faces. There was definitely more walking breaks on the way back and I just tried to make sure I stayed even with the people in front of me and tried to not let any one pass me. This worked really well until I was going back and forth with these two young girls and they totally killed it on the downhill towards the finish line. Oh well. I officially clocked in my worst Veterun 5k time, but I am not in the same running shape compared to the previous two years. If anything, it is fantastic motivation to try to improve for next year!

I love the downhill finish, kinda makes
up for the uphill start, kinda! 

Happy to be done and have another 3-peat race!

The Tom Wahl's food truck was there this year and every runner got a free lunch! It smelled so good. I decided to skip the line and meet Rob for a healthier lunch. Even though Mendon Ponds is a killer course it pales into comparison to what a lot of service men and women have experienced in training and combat. So I can suck it up for a wonderful cause. This race is so well organized and truly feels like a family/community effort. I love that most military members represent their branch in clothing or uniform and that the race results even list their branch and time served, really cool. 

One more thing that really hit home for me was when it was mentioned to go up and thank and shake the hand of any Veteran that you may see out at the grocery store, post office or out to eat. The speaker said that will make their day more then we understand. I witnessed this over the Summer when I was at Dunkin Donuts, because where else would I be. I saw a gentleman go up to a man who was wearing a hat saying he had served in one of our wars. He thanked the gentleman for his service and shook his hand. In that moment you could just feel how proud that Veteran was and he just beamed. When I witnessed that, I thought how much a simple, easy gesture can really make someone's day.  

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