Let Me Run

May 22, 2016

Anybody out there remember me? I’m alive, believe it or not.

The knee is still shot. I thought I had turned the corner, but alas, no, I am hobbled yet again. Going back to see my doctor this week. Sigh. While I limp around and ice the swollen knee, allow me to catch you up on the last month or so.

Freemorewest 5K

On April 22, Laura and I jumped into the Freemorewest 5K. I think this is my only remaining streak race – if I’m not mistaken, I’ve run it every year since its inception. I’ve yet to run a decent time, but I’ve been there every year.

We showed up to the race site on Friday night, a mere four days after the Boston Marathon (which didn’t mean much to me but Laura was still pretty beat up). I’ll try to make this brief – Laura and Chad won the women’s and men’s races respectively (and scored a couple of ridiculously sweet prize packages – a free pair of shoes and a $75 gift certificate each! That’s a better prize pack than most of the biggest races in Charlotte.  If you want good prizes, look for races sponsored by Omega – those guys bring it!)

I, to use a Let’s Run term, hobby jogged it (~7:25 pace) until the final 25 meters when some guy tried to pass me so I sprinted, bad knee be damned. That was dumb, of course, but there is something deeply ingrained in my psyche that won’t allow me to just let somebody go. You might out kick me but I’m not going to lie down and make it easy for you. He edged me at the tape which infuriated me and left me desperately wanting to say, “Congratulations! You out kicked a 50-year-old on a bum knee!” But I didn’t. I gritted my teeth into a smile and shook his hand when he offered it. Luckily, Old Meck brought some kegs which helped soothe my battered ego a bit. And that was that – at least the streak lives!

Let Me Run

I find it a bit ironic that while I’ve been struggling through this knee business, I’ve been helping out with an organization called Let Me Run. It’s an incredible program that helps boys through running and it’s really helped keep me sane. It’s also funny because the name is basically what I’ve been screaming at my knee for about 8 months now.

I’ve loved helping coach, passing on the passion of running while also teaching life lessons to kids. For example, here is the credo printed on the back of every Let Me Run t-shirt (I wish more adults lived by such credos):

tshirt credo

Yesterday (May 21) was the culmination of months of training, a 5K for all the the boys (and their coaches, family, etc.) It was an incredible day.

I had a hard time with the early festivities – things started off with the running of the Charlotte Mile and I had been hoping to run it for a while. This year’s goals for me started with running the Boston Marathon (obviously didn’t happen) and then I’d hoped to get back to my roots and train for the shorter stuff which would’ve included this race and the mile in the summer track series. But alas, best laid plans and all that jazz. It was fun to watch and at least I was able to snap some cool pics since I couldn’t run:

 

They tricked me by finishing the opposite direction from where I was expecting so I whipped around a little late as Stacy crossed the line for the win…

 

Sarah Duffey, crossing the finish line in fourth place, makes sure Triple C Beer Runners are well represented in the ladies’ mile!

 

James Perez (seen winning the men’s mile here) and I would like to thank the lady with the Yeti for ruining all his cool pics…

 

…including this cool dab one after the win.

 

Aaron proving he's still got some wheels with a sub-4:40 mile

Aaron proving he’s still got some wheels with a sub-4:40 mile

 

Let Me Run Executive Director Paul Martino sneaks in a mile in the middle of running this show.

Let Me Run Executive Director Paul Martino sneaks in a mile in the middle of running this show.

Once I put my depression over not being able to compete behind me, I gathered up the boys from our school, Elizabeth Traditional Elementary school. Our coach, Jay Seago, just happens to also be the Charlotte-area regional director so he was super busy organizing the 5K which meant I needed to get the team ready for the big race. I gathered up the boys, handed out bibs and pins and t-shirts, and then took them to a nearby parking lot to follow our usual warm-up routine. I led them on our unity lap (again, bad knee be damned), and then through our dynamic stretching routine. Then a few minutes before start time, I snapped some pics in front of the giant metal head, Metalmorphisis (how have I never encountered this thing before?!? Crazy cool!):

Oh my god - you have no idea how much effort it takes to try and line up 9 excited kids for a group pic! Sorry Gentry, but this was the closest to getting the entire team in the photo!

Oh my god – you have no idea how much effort it takes to try and line up 9 excited kids for a group pic! Sorry Gentry, but this was the closest to getting the entire team in the photo I could manage! From left to right: Nathan, Gentry, Matthew, Warren, Alex, Michael, Harris, Korgis. Kneeling on front row: Timon.

Manteo Mitchell, the Western Carolina grad turned silver medalist in the 2012 Olympics (4 x 400 – I had no idea we had a local silver medalist!) gave the kids a motivational speech about how he broke his leg in the Olympic race and yet continued so he wouldn’t let his teammates down  (I have since learned that the team went to the White House where President Obama told Manteo that was one of his favorite stories of the Olympics – how cool is that?!?) I got emotional – holy crap, how did I not know this story?!? A few of the Let Me Run honchos said a few more words and then my buddy Paul Martino led us all in the Let Me Run mantra, “Let me be me! Let me reach out! LET ME RUN!!!” and it was go time!

Moments later, Manteo counted down from ten and then cried out, “On your marks, get set, GO!!” and the kids streamed out while I desperately tried to jockey for good photo-taking position with a horde of parents and spectators scrambling to do the same. But I got pretty lucky and was able to take the following action pics of the Elizabeth Traditional Elementary School Eagles (ca-caw!):

Matthew crushed it, running a 22:01. That is LEGIT for a 4th-grade kid!

Matthew crushed it, running a 22:01. That is LEGIT for a 4th-grade kid!

My favorite pic of the day! Alex flying while grinning and clearly thoroughly enjoying himself!

My favorite pic of the day! Alex flying, grinning,  and thoroughly enjoying himself!

 

Teammates Harris, Michael, and Warren worked together for most of the race (you may recognize Warren's mom in this photo)...

Teammates Harris and Michael (and Warren, face cut out of this frame on the far left) worked together for most of the race (you may recognize Warren’s mom in this photo)…

 

Ah, there's Warren!

Ah, there’s Warren!

Timon, with his dad trying to keep up!

Timon, with his dad trying to keep up!

 

Korgis, far left in the yellow tee. On our first day of practice, Korgis couldn't run a mile. But he worked his tail off until he ran a strong 5K. Soooo proud of this kid!!

Korgis, far left in the yellow tee. On our first day of practice, Korgis couldn’t finish a mile. But he worked his tail off and ultimately ran a strong 5K. Soooo proud of this kid!!

Harris’ mom Pat snapped some more cool pics:

Harris and Alex, 2 of ETES' fastest!

Harris and Alex, 2 of ETES’ fastest!

 

Harrs sports his award shades while Warren makes plans to have his iPad surgically attached to his body (I can't believe he ran an entire 5K without it!) They basked in the glow of their accomplishment for hours to come as they had a sleepover so they could recount their race into the wee hours of the night.

Harrs sports the shades he won for being named the ETES Let Me Run award winner while Warren makes plans to have his iPad surgically attached to his body (I can’t believe he ran an entire 5K without it!) They basked in the glow of their accomplishment for hours, even going so far as to have a sleepover so they could recount their race into the wee hours of the night.

It was just such an amazing day. I beamed with pride for our team, for Coach Jay, for all the kids and for Let Me Run as a whole. I’m grateful to have participated in such a phenomenal organization and look forward to doing it again. Maybe next time I’ll even get to run the 5K with the team!


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