Race #31 – Running for the Animals

Kelly and I, with some of our beloved family pet photos

Race #31 – Run for the Animals 5K Virtual Glow Run

The Cause – The Humane Society of Harrisburg

As an animal lover, this race benefits a cause near and dear to my heart! Our family has included numerous cats and dogs of all shapes, sizes and colors over the years. Each one was beloved. (See Race #8 – A Race for Canine Cancer.)

During this pandemic, shelters are facing many of the same crises they always face–but some new challenges as well: Potentially-higher numbers of kittens due to the decreased abilty to spay/neuter cats right now and potentially-higher numbers of animal surrenders due to pet owners falling on financially hard times.

Originally, this Mother’s Day weekend, I planned on running my first-ever race in Pittsburgh, the Susan K. Komen Race for the Cure 5K for breast cancer research. (As of now, it’s rescheduled for September 13, outside of my “50 for 50” time frame.)

So, the bad news/good news, is that I was now available to do this wonderful local run, virtually.

Another piece of good news: My 21-year old college athlete daughter is home, finishing her semester online, and running nearly every day with me. For this race, I gave her a challenge: Help pace me to set a 5K PR. Why not?

One of our neighborhood trails

Although I’m growing weary of running in my neighborhood during this pandemic, I know I shouldn’t complain because we are blessed to have numerous neighborhood routes at our disposal, with a great mix of hills, as well as neighborhood paths. One of our neighborhood loops is almost exactly one mile, with a gradual uphill in the first half-mile and a gradual downhill in the second half-mile, and some fairly level surfaces in between.

So my daughter Kelly & I set out early Saturday morning to do three loops to equal 3.1 miles. It was unseasonably cold for May 9–around 35 degrees!

Our first mile was almost exactly at a 9:00 pace, which we maintained. She was amazing as a coach! She reminded me of our “race strategy” and of my “running form” just when I needed to hear it–“Pump your arms a little more, Mom,” and “Lengthen your stride a little more, Mom,” and “Push just a little bit more, Mom, you can do it” and then at the end, “Remember to coast on this downhill, Mom, and after we pass the stop sign, go all out to the finish.”

Snapshot in time: Just seconds after setting my PR!

And although it’s not an official race time, we beat my 5K PR (set last fall at Race #10) by :10 according to my time (which I submitted to the race) and :15 according to my daughter’s watch.

During these challenging times, without any real races, it’s impossible to recreate an energy-filled race atmosphere, but the need to support worthy causes is just as critical. The least we can do is to give each and every virtual race our very best energy level. I’m so very grateful for my daughter who ran by my side and gave me a wonderful Mother’s Day gift–a new (unofficial) PR, at the age of 50. It was my 32nd 5K ever. Never say never.

When anyone tells me I can’t do anything, I’m just not listening any more.

FLO JO

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