I did it again. I lost a friend I was pacing mid-race. But this time, my running partner blessed my zippy feet. Before Saturday’s 5K race through Haddonfield, NJ., Meridith had asked me to pace her. BUT, only on the condition that IF we lost each other, I would race to the finish.
Our happy group for the Haddonfield Running Company’s Adrenaline 5K included two first time 5K-runners, not-so-silent Bob and Jay, Mer’s husband. Friends, Brandi and Megan, and their respective trailblazing husbands, Sean and Matt, rounded out our colorful group.
We arrived at Haddonfield HS about an hour before the 9 a.m. race. We had access to the school to use the bathrooms and keep warm. We sure did, as temps dropped into the mid-30s Saturday morning.
Brandi showed us her dual watches, however, neither one worked properly during the race. Bummer!
Soon enough, we lined up outside the school on Kings Highway and before we knew it we were off. No, really, we had no idea the race began until people around us shuffled forward.
Within the first quarter-mile, we saw two firefighters donning full turnout gear – one man hauled a fire hose and the second carried an American flag. We thanked them for their service and waved as we passed by.
We passed some other interesting characters, including a dog in a green tutu, and another canine – a senior golden retriever named Birdie — running the race.
Sean, in the red shirt and orange cap, paced his wife Brandi in the first mile as Brandi aimed to break her personal 5K record. She waved him on mid-race.
I started the race alongside Meridith and tried to stay just in front her, to force her to chase me through the streets. But it wasn’t Meri’s day. I turned back more than once to see her smiling face nodding. But shortly before the first mile marker, she grimaced and waved me on.
I rounded a bend, onto Washington Avenue, and picked up my pace. But oh, there were obstacles. Mini-Cooper-sized potholes. You really had to watch your step as you ran, for fear you might turn an ankle in one of those potholes.
As the runner pushing a stroller in this photo said, “We come to Haddonfield for the schools, not the quality of the streets.”
I headed down a hill, taking full advantage of gravity, rounded a few bends, passed by a water stop and ran up a small hill near the high-speed rail line. I was passing people left and right (thank you, running partner Ray for pushing me to run hills each Tuesday night!).
Ultimately, I sprinted that last mile. I ran to the finish knowing full well it was not my best or my worst time. I received a medal and stalked the finish line to snap photos of Meridith. She rolled in a few minutes later – grinning.
Like me, it was not her best run nor was it her worst. She joined me at the finish and we waited for her husband to appear. And the flurries started to fly.
Soon enough, we spotted his blue jacket in the distance. He was approaching – fast. We yelled – not that he could hear us. But he sprinted, realizing he could surpass his time goal and flew past several runners.
He finished just under 39 minutes and was soon surrounded by his fan club (seen above and to the right.) Well done, group!
Megan, Meri, Brandi and Vic at the finish. Most 5K races don’t reward finishers with medals, but the Adrenaline 5K has a pretty kick-ass medal…which doubles as a bottle opener. And we put those medals to good use at the Haddonfield Running Company’s Sweet 16 Party back at the store, 121 E. Kings Highway.
There was quite the variety of beer – ranging from Guinness to microbrews to Coors Light. The store put on a pretty stellar post- race food from a local catering company, Apron.
And of course, there were sales. Oh yes. And we shopped. (Really, we needed a few things.) We visited with friends for a pretty great day. Thanks Haddonfield Running Company. We’ll be back.