Fall Color Run Benefiting the Thin Blue Line of MI & the Fallen Trooper Memorial

Race Name: Fall Color Run
Distance/Type: 5k
Race Location: Northville, MI
Race Date: October 5, 2013

Finish Time: Around 45 minutes (Official finish times have not been posted)
Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): ??/?? & ??/??

Mark’s Finish Time: Around 26 minutes
Mark’s Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 4/7 & ??/??

Thin Blue Line         MichiganStatePolice

5k’s — a race that once you start running longer distances you tend to forget about.  It seems like when you are training for a half marathon or a marathon that running a 5k literally becomes no big deal.  I mean — let’s think about this — we literally run at least a 5k each and every day that we go out for a training run.  Racing also isn’t as cheap as one would think it is, so paying $20-40 to run in a 5k really gets expensive after a short period of time.   In order for me to run a 5k now-a-days it has to be for one of two reasons — First, I will always run a 5k with someone who is just “learning” how to run and wants to get into racing!  I love doing 5k with other family members and friends  who cannot go longer distances.  And secondly, I will run a 5k when I truly believe and support the cause/charity the race is benefiting.   This race just happen to fit both criteria this year!!!!

This race is unlike any 5k race I have ever ran before — and it is a race that Mark and I will run in each and every year from now on.  This 5k is a race that benefits the Michigan State Police Fallen Trooper Memorial Fund and The Line Blue of Michigan — two charities that are close to our hearts.  Most recently here in Michigan we recently lost the life of Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield.  That made this race extremely emotional as his family was there to honor him and run with everyone.  

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(Left) Mark and I. (Middle) Jennifer, my sister-in-law, and I. (Right) Jennifer and Mark.
Before the start of the 5k race.

The pre-race ceremony began with a Chaplin saying a prayer, everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance together, and then a bagpipe player played Amazing Grace.  After that everyone took off for the starting line.

Mark started near the front of the pack and Jennifer and I went towards the end of the pack — which has always been one of my favorite places to start a race, lol.   I had such a great time running this race with Jennifer.  As we walked/ran we were able to chat and enjoy each other company.  All morning it had been pouring down rain; however, just before the race started the rain stopped and the weather was perfect for the race.  It was not too cold, not too hot, and overall it was the perfect fall day in Michigan.

Mark finished 4th in his age group — the highest group finishing spot he’s ever had.  This 5k course was no easy course and is probably one of the most challenging 5k courses I’ve ever ran.  Half the course is ran on a single person trail that goes up and down some pretty decent hills.  Running on a wet trail course for me can be dangerous!!  For those who know me know that I am not the most graceful person so once you get a wet trail course and add in rocks, large tree roots, pine cones, etc — it could really equal disaster!  Luckily, I survived without injury!!

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Jennifer, myself and Mark after the 5k race.

This was a great race that supports two great causes.  Being the wife of a police officer I know that on a daily basis each and every time my husband leaves for work there is a chance that he may never come home.  I am grateful for his serve as well as grateful for all the other men and women who serve in uniform.  Their jobs are not easy and being the wife, husband, son or daughter of a law enforcement officer is not easy either.  So far this year 86 families have lost a loved one in the line of duty and our hearts and prayers go out to each and every one of their family and friends who remain behind!  (Statistic is from Officer Down Memorial Page.) 

Howell Melon Fest

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Race Name: Howell Melon Fest
Distance/Type: Meghan 5k/Mark 10k
Race Location: Howell, MI
Race Date: August 16, 2013

Finish Time: 31:26:6
Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 14/26 & 332/595

Mark’s Finish Time: 58:32:1
Mark’s Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 5/7 & 105/156

The Howell Melon Fest is a race that I look forward to each and every year.  It is not a huge race nor do runners get a finishers medal, but for this race none of that matters.  I enjoy running in the Howell Melon Fest because I grew up in Howell and it’s nice to “go home” and run a race with family and friends.

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My Dad, myself and Mark before the 2013 Howell Melon Fest Run.

I initially signed up to run in the 10k; however, since I have been struggling with my IT Band I have only been able to run about 3-4 miles before my IT Band begins to flare up.  So, instead of pushing myself to far I dropped down into the 5k.  (Luckily, after switching shoes and taking it easy for a few weeks my IT Band has really improved and now I can get back on track with my marathon training!)  Mark and Dad were both running in the 10k.

This was Mark’s first year running in the Howell Melon Fest and he learned that this track is no walk in the park – no pun intended.  The race starts off on a nice and easy with runners heading downhill (awesome, right!) but then about 3/4 of a mile into the race all hell breaks loose.  At that point the track turns into the cemetery by Thompson Lake in downtown Howell and goes back along the lake where you end up running a half mile on a single wide off-road trail path followed by an other half mile on a gravel two track road, where you head back towards downtown Howell.

When you hit the off-road path you really have to go from running to a quick jog as you watch each and every step you take.  Holes in the path, massive rocks jutting out of the ground, huge pine cones, loose wood chips, massive tree roots half exposed, etc are just some of the dangers you will encounter throughout this portion of the run. Luckily for me I only had to run through this once, whereas the 10k runners had to do this twice — as the 10k route is just a double loop of the 5k course.

Mark and I started the race together and ran the first 1/2 mile together before Mark took off (of course he runs faster than me, lol)!  I was really worried about how my knee would feel but after the first mile my knee felt great and I was able to pick up a little bit of speed.  I ran what felt like a quick second mile, until I hit the hill coming out of the park towards the end of the second mile.  Although I was able to run up the hill, I did end up having to walk for 20 seconds in order to catch my breath once I reached the top of the hill.

Around the 2.5 mile point I begun to have some bad runners stitch in my right side, which was painful.  Knowing I was running a good race I mentally forced the pain away, buckled down and told myself I was going to finish strong.   Finishing strong in the Howell Melon Fest is not an easy feat — as the race ends by running up the same hill we ran downward to start the race.

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My Dad, myself and Mark after the 2013 Howell Melon Fest.

It still amazed me how there are races in which I still learn that running is more mentally challenging than it is physically challenging. Forcing myself up the hill at the end of the race was a huge mental challenge for me.  My legs kept begging me to stop running and walk; however, I forced myself to give it everything I had and run as fast as I could the last 1/10 of a mile.  Although I did not PR I felt great and in the end I had what I consider a great finish time.  Mark didn’t PR either; however, he was happy that he was able to keep his time under 60 minutes for the 10k, specially with the course conditions.

Dad didn’t PR either; however, he did take 3rd place in his age group!

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Dad with his 3rd place medal!

We had the best cheerleader/sweater hold for the race as well!  Mom didn’t run the race this year due to a calf injury — so she came along to cheer-lead — and to eat my Melon Ice Cream!

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My Mom!

Mason State Bank 5K

Race Name: Mason State Bank
Distance/Type: 5k
Race Location: Mason, MI
Race Date: May 3, 2013

Finish Time: 31:04 
Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 16/33 & 357/786

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Everyone who knows me, knows how much I love the little town of Mason that Mark and I live in. It is such an amazing town with beautiful parks, a historic downtown, great public safety services and we have tons of festivals and parades to enjoy all year long.

A portion of historic downtown Mason.

A portion of historic downtown Mason.

This year was the 25th annual running of the Mason State Bank 5k. I was hoping to run this race last year, but since I am nursing an injury I got while running in the Flying Pirate Half Marathon I was not able to. This year, there was no way I was going to miss it. I mean, let’s be honest… How can you miss a race where the starting gate is only three blocks from your front door? Plus, all of the proceeds of the race go to the Mason Public Schools Foundation!

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Welcome sign for the Mason State Bank 5k. Directly behind the sign is the start/finish line on Maple Street.

One thing that I love about this race is how it is a night time run which means I do not have to get up extremely early in the morning. I normally run all my training runs after work, except my long runs on Sunday’s which Mark and I do together in the morning before he goes to work — so racing in the evening is always fun for me.

The Mason State Bank 5k is one of Playmaker’s Greater Lansing Race Series for 2013.  For Mason being a little town they have an amazing turn out at the race with over 780 runners!! The beginning and end of the race are on Maple Street right next to the beautiful historic Courthouse.

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The starting and finish line of the Mason State Bank 5k.

I took off for downtown around 6:20 pm –and once there I jogged around a few blocks to warm-up and then found a place the stretch towards the end of the starting gate. This is one race I doubt Mark will ever be able to run with me, since he always has to work the event — and I was hoping I would be able to at least see him before the race. With 5 minutes left till race time Mark was busy and I was not going to interrupt him so I took off and went to line up.

Waiting for the race to begin!

Waiting for the race to begin!

 The race began at 7:00 pm exactly. It took me about 30 seconds to get across the starting line. We took off down Maple Street, headed down towards Rayner Ponds, ran a loop back through the subdivision and shot back out Columbia Street, down to Barnes Street where we headed back up a “hill” towards the finish line on Maple Street.

As I talked about in my article “The Basics of Running: Speed Training“, I have never been a very fast runner. I have gone through the past three years of running with the mind set of: Just make it across the finish line. My finish time has never been that important to me. Although I normally finish with a somewhat respectful finish time, I know for a fact that I can do better! Well this year is different! I am working very hard to improve my speed. The one thing I have not publicly told anyone — but my Mother — is that this year, is my year to PR.  I am really hoping that I can set new PR records for 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon. (I was able to knock one distance off that race when I PRed the Martian Invasion 10k earlier this year, knocking 5 minutes off my finish time!!)

I was REALLY hoping that I would able to set my new 5k PR during this race! My current PR for a 5k is 28:46, which means I had to run faster than 9:10 miles in order to set a new PR. Was it possible? Yes, as long as I was able to really push myself!  My training runs have been between 10:45-10:00 miles, so I knew racing at a 9:10 pace was possible.

When the race began I took off on the slight downhill on Maple Street and knew   I was going to have somewhat of a rough race. My legs felt like jello (oh, no!), my strides were awkward and choppy, and I was struggling to keep the pace I wanted since I was having the urge to run with the crowds. (I can tell you from experience running with the crowds NEVER ends well!) Luckily I was able to calm myself down and settle into a nice steady pace.

I hit the 1 mile mark at the clock read 10:15. I knew it took me 20-30 seconds to get across the starting line when the race began, so I knew I was close to where I needed to be in order to PR. About .25 miles after the 1 mile marker when the loop course came back together I noticed Mark driving the lead car come around the corner with the race leader right behind him. Mark stuck his yellow folder out of the window and waved at me as I ran/he drove by.  From 1.5-2.0 miles I struggled maintaining my breath, but I pushed myself on.

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Mark in the lead car!

I hit the 2 mile marker and the clock read 20:00 flat. Although I had knocked time off from the first mile, I knew that running the next 1.1 mile (with a large hill at the end) faster than 8:46 was almost impossible. I hit me like a lead balloon that I was not going to PR this race and that really took the wind out of my sails. Ugh! I beat myself up for the next 200 yards then told myself I was not going to throw away a respectable finish time just because I was not going to PR. So I put my head down and pushed on.

I ran by Steve who was at the corner of Columbia and Rogers but he was too busy talking to notice me. The next block at the corner of Columbia and Barnes I saw Don who pulled out his camera and snapped a picture of me waving at him. I rounded the corner onto Barnes and took off up the hill towards the finish line. Let me tell you what, I was mentally swearing the whole way up the hill! 🙂 With 1 block left on the hill I looked up towards the top and noticed Mark standing up there waiting to watch me finish. I waved — he waved — and I pushed on rounding the corner onto Maple Street while Mark stood there clapping and cheering me on. As I ran those last 20 yards towards the finish line the PA announcer announced my name and my town (Meghan Reckling from right here in Mason!). I smiled and pushed myself the final few feet across the finish line. Although I did not PR — having a finish time of 31:04 means I ran 10 minute miles which for me is great!

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Finisher Photo from the Mason State Bank 5k.

I grabbed a bottle of water, took a few minutes to stretch and headed back down where I had last seen Mark standing. He had moved down the block and was getting ready to lead the Kid’s 1 Mile Run so I stood there and cheered on all the kids running.

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The start of the Kid’s 1 Mile Run.

Overall the Mason State Bank 5k is an amazing race! I know, I know — since it is in the town I live in and run through every day, of course I think it is a great race! Definitely a race I will be running on a yearly basis.