Yesterday was the great Thessaloniki Nighttime Half Marathon and 5K. I first ran this event last year and really enjoyed it (watch for the review later this week). Last night was the first time I ran the 5K (in fact, the first time I ran a 5K in a foreign country!) and it was certainly my proudest!
The Thessaloniki Nighttime Run
I ran the half marathon again and it was a surprising race for me. I went into it without much in the way of specific training for it. To add to that, I started yesterday with some stomach flu symptoms that really put a kink on my ability to be away from a certain type of installation for long periods of time. 🙂 Due to that, I was not expecting much but was surprised that I actually ran a pretty decent race in 1:38 (7:30 pace). I would have probably had a PR if it wasn’t for two emergency stops along the course. 🙂
The Really Great Part of the Night
But, that was definitely the part of the evening’s festivities that made me proud. The proud part came at the conclusion of my race when I hooked up with my family to get ready to run the 5K with my 5 year old son (this post is about the start of the endeavor). This was to be his first race and he was really, really looking forward to it. We had done some training over the last several weeks for it and he was ready. The bad part was that we had to walk a total of 2.5 miles to get to his start from where we had been, so that drained him a bit. Combine that with a start time that was past his normal bedtime (start time at 9:15PM, but did not cross the line until 9:42 due to the size of the crowd) and I knew it would be difficult to know how well he would do.
The race started and he took off with the biggest grin on his face. He got into a groove and pace and just motored along. I really wanted to get some video of him, but there were about 13,000 runners so the roads were packed with runners. Being nighttime, I did not want to leave his little side for even a minute in case someone ran into him. But, I was really impressed with how well he paced himself. When we would train together, I would normally run in front of him to help him a bit, but I told him that for the race, I would run next to or behind him to let him go at his pace.
One of the things that was fun to see was how his competitiveness came out. He would see some kid within 5 years of his age and he would speed up to pass him/her with a little glance over his shoulder as he passed to make sure they were not going to catch him. That happened time and again during the race.
He ran for about 1.75 miles before he had to take his first walking break. He took some water, walked for a minute, and then took off again. We took two more short walking breaks after that before we reached the finish. I had prepped him for that finishing kick as I told him what the scene would be like at the end. Sure enough, the cafes that were packed with people along the water’s edge began to empty as the patrons cheered on the racers. Combine that with the huge lights near the finish and the thousands of people cheering everyone on and it really made him excited. He finished with a nice kick and was beaming for quite a while.
His finishing time? 43 minutes which made for an overall pace of 13 minutes and 50 seconds. That was a great time for his first 5K and he is already wanting to run another to improve. In fact, he asked me when he can run a marathon with me – that won’t happen for a while. 🙂 It was funny, while we were running, he asked if I was 5 when I ran my first 5K. I told him, no, I was actually 24. He couldn’t believe that. 🙂
So, even though this was my slowest 5K, it was most certainly my proudest and one that I will remember for a longtime. I had always wanted to run a race with my kids but did not think this would happen for a while. He surprised me by asking if he could do one with me soon. It was such an unbelievable moment crossing the finish line with my son and knowing he was doing something he really liked and that we got to share it.