Think of this before you read on: In 1879 Charles Elliot Perkins(head of Burlington Railroad at the time) purchased the Gardens 240 acres with the intention of building his home on those acres, next to his rich and famous friend in Glenn Erie, General William Jackson Palmer. Perkins later added to the property,which is now 480 acres but never built on it, preferring that the Garden become a Park open to the public, free of charge, for eternity. His children respected this wish when their Father died, and, there we have it. The beginning of the magic of community in this amazing event. I just think that is so cool. (by the way I am not a historian so feel free to correct me if any of this is wrong)
I always heard, even as a teenager 30 plus years ago running in my first Garden Races, that this was really a community event. It took a few more years, however, for this to really soak in, and now it is almost all I think about when I come to this event.
Today, 3 generations of Foster-Greenbaums came to the race. My parents, Phil and Julie Foster, ages 76 and 78, and 14 year-old son Mike came along this year. My parents no longer run the event, but support in any way they are asked to do so, for they have grown to love the running community. My son Mike, running his first 5k roadrace, got to see first hand that, yes, hundreds and hundreds of people do get up very early for this event, and it is worth it (Mike becomes a bit nocturnal over the summers, so I was a proud mom that he got out of bed for this.)
As I ran the race the concept of community began to unfold before me,the way it does every year, yet every year is just a little bit different than the one before. I saw many kids I knew at the High School Aid Stations, all of these kids getting up early for the cause of rasing funds for the High School teams that they run on. There were also some teens running the race alongside me. I know when I was a teen, running made a big difference in my life, and I often wonder if I'd have gone down the wrong path without it, so I have a special place in my heart for this group.
Though I did not bring home any hardware(awards) this year, this year was more special than in years past. I Improved my time 35 minutes over last year, when a deabilating injury had me wondering if I could even make the cutoff of 2 and one half hours. I was wondering if I'd run again, ever, and I did run the whole way this year. I felt good. Healthy. Grateful. I kept my goal of sub 8:30 miles in the back of my mind as I read my splits at each mile, which ended up closer to 8:20's. My son Mike got an award in the 1-14 year division in the 5k, where I don't think the 1-4 year olds gave him much competition, but the 5-14 year olds did(I don't think any 1-2 year olds should be allowed to run personally, but that's just my opinion as my brain tries to wrap around that agegroup bracket).
Moving forward, I am happy to put the focus of my training back on the trails. I was very weak on the uphills today, so I think I will start visiting the incline stairs more regularly. The incline offers me a way to keep that old injury from last year at bay, when I was unable to do any high impact activities(yes, that did include running)--In fact, training on the incline actually allowed me to have a decent ascent time last year without doing any run-training at all.
Thank you, race directors and volunteers, for continuing to make an already community-oriented event even more-so by adding the 5k run, expo, and chip-timing!
I think that Charles Elliot Perkins would be quite pleased right now...
As always, continued health and luck in your training everyone!