Race Report: Penguin in the Park 5K

Last Friday was a father-son adventure! Ryan and I headed out to Decatur, IL to meet up with several of our friends from the W.I.S.H. racing team (We're Inspired to Stay Healthy), including my running partner Mike and his wife Liz, to run in a 5K race sponsored by John "The Penguin" Bingham. We were also going to be meeting up with my daughter Laura who lives down there because of Millikin University.(which is John's alma mater).

The 3.5 hour drive with Ryan was very fun. We made good time and had the chance to visit Laura's office, stop by packet pickup to get our bags and bibs, have dinner with Mike and Liz, and then go see the movie "John Carter". And still be in bed by 10:30pm to get a good night sleep before the 9AM race start.

On Saturday morning, we both got into our running gear and headed to the dining room to have a simple breakfast before Laura picked us up to bring us to the Fairview Park for the race. To our pleasant surprise, The Penguin himself showed up for breakfast and ate with us. How cool was that! I have met him several times so John wanted to learn more about Ryan. We all ate our cereal, bananas, and toast while we had some laughs. After John left, I asked Ryan if he knew who John was. He said "No, I just figured it was one of your running friends". When I told him that John was the race sponsor, Ryan was very impressed and even more excited to run the race.

We got to the park around 8:15am and immediately hooked up with the rest of our team. And after a few minutes, John came over to say hello. It turns out that one of our team members, Jim Welch, was going to be pacing John during the race.

It was really awesome of have WISHers running with us who knew Ryan from the Disney World Marathon Weekend in January. They treated him like one of the team rather than just 'my kid' and Ryan really appreciated that. I also met up with a friend John (a different John) and his daughter which was very nice -- John has lost a bunch of weight as well and has taken up running to improve his fitness. I drive 3.5 hours from home just to meet up with a bunch of friends to run with. Go figure!

The race started and we were off! Running with Ryan meant no chance at a PR time, but what it offered was much better -- a great shared experience and bonding time with my son. We ran a 3/1 run/walk strategy which was good for Ryan since he didn't really train for the race. There were several hills on the course, which took us through a very pretty, green park with a couple of bridges and sections with both asphalt and limestone.

Ryan did pretty well. He was plagued with side cramps on and off but he kept on going. The walk breaks were helpful in that regard. But our run segments were at a good 10:30 or better pace. When we got close to the Finish Line, Ryan announced we were sprinting to the end. I kinda let him go at first, but then thought I should catch him. But I ran out of road. Ryan crossed the Finish at 33:18, with me right behind him at 33:21. I was very impressed with the time, given that this was Ryan's first chip-timed race! He was quite pleased (as he should be)!

After the race, the team headed to the Griswold Gym for a post-race meal which was quite tasty. That was where we got our official finish times. Ryan got a copy of John Bingham's "The Accidental Athlete" and John autographed it for him. Laura was at the finish line and came to eat with us. She even got some video of our finish which is somewhere on YouTube/FaceBook.

After eating, we got cleaned up and checked out of the hotel. Then we went to see "The Hunger Games" (good movie), and then went to see Laura's new 2-bedroom apartment, which was very nicely appointed and comfy. Then we got a snack at a local coffee shop, and finally drove back to the house. It was a great day, a fun race, and a memory that Ryan will cherish. I know I will.

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