5K’s are really fun if you’re used to running longer distances. They also don’t require a lot of prep for me at this point. They’re quick and fun and you can just carry on with your day afterwards. I was very excited when Andrea Croak invited me via Facebook to the Becca Pizzi Family Fun Run 5K. They purposely made the race inclusive with a visually impaired division, so I knew some of my Team With A Vision teammates would be there.
Becca Pizzi is an amazing runner and was the first American Woman to finish the World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons, in 7 days, on 7 continents). She averaged a 3 hour 55 time over the course of the event and beat all the female competitors and all but two of the men. She organized the 5K to raise money for college bound seniors from her high school.
I was coming off my marathon and had been running some quicker, shorter runs to start switching my goal from endurance to speed. I have the BAA 10K in June that I really bonked on last year, so I’m hoping to do well this year. The night before the race Joe and I had a bottle of Rose’ which probably wasn’t the most conducive to setting a PR but I really was treating it as a fun race so I didn’t care.
I arrived at Belmont High School about a half hour before the race and immediately saw our crew holding up a Team With A Vision sign and went over to say hi. I was super excited to run into Erich Manser who had run the Boston Marathon using new technology tied into a camera attached to a pair of Google Glass. (To read more about technology driving accessibility check this out: “What the Boston Marathon tells us about assistive technology” It was fun exchanging battle stores with him and his sighted guide David.
I also was super excited to see Jen Buchanan and her guide dog Keating. Hopefully everyone at this point gets it that when a guide dog is working you can’t treat them like a pet. Jen was running the race with a sighted guide so I now had a new motivation for finishing the race fast. If I finished fast enough, I’d be able to give that handsome boy some serious back scratching.
The weather was perfect that day, somewhere in the high 50’s with no humidity. As we lined up I could tell there were definitely some serious runners in the pack. This meant I’d have lots of people pushing my pace and motivating me. I have an easier time maintaining a pace if I have someone to chase. The course was really flat and the only technical part was there were lots of turns as we wound through the residential neighborhoods surrounding Belmont High.
There was two female runners who were my pacers the whole time. About the 2.5 mile mark I passed one of them and kept trying to catch the second. I could tell she could hear my foot falls because any time I got close she would turn on the boosters. I was feeling pretty gassed as we hit 3 miles but she wasn’t slowing down so neither was I.
The dude in the yellow shirt had gas in the tank and pushed past me as we entered the track approaching the finish line. He immediately turned around to give me a fist bump and to say thanks for pacing him the whole race. We then both went over to the female runner who had smoked us both and thanked her for pacing us. I was right, she told me she could hear me behind her and that it pushed her as well.
Overall I was happy with my results. I was only 15 seconds off from my PR and I felt really good. Team With A Vision had 8 visually impaired runners compete, all who slayed the race. The most amazing was Christopher Kimball, who I believe is 17. Christopher was the first visually impaired runner to cross the finish line, but he also was the second place finisher overall among all of the runners! He ran a 5:34 pace and crossed the finish line in 17 minute 15 seconds! Looks like Team With A Vision has a whole new crop of runners ready to show everyone exactly how badass they are!
Photo credits: Andrea Croak