Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sean Astin's Inaugural Run3rd 5K Report

Submitted by Sean Astin, @SeanAstin

Oh, What a day. Our Run3rd 5k on April 11 was a bona fide, legit, 100% success. Race Directors Mindy & Kris Przeor have shown their quality, and it is the very highest. Industry leaders take notice, these two rookies delivered a world class event right out of the chute!

Now, if you forced me to pick from the dozens of life memories we created this morning, this would have to be the moment of the day for me. Kaleb is a very special boy with special needs.

Halfway through 5k run along the nicely appointed desert scape surrounding Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Arizona, young Kaleb (9 years old), was running in the wrong direction.

We got to know each other a little before the run, when I was chatting with a bunch of the elementary school students who'd come out to run. He was always the first to raise his hand and his answers were razor sharp and imaginative. In a word, Kaleb was memorable. I did not however, expect to see him running the wrong way, well over a mile into the race. He had to have run the 1st mile in under 8 minutes.

"What's wrong Kaleb?" I am terrible with remembering people's names, but for some reason, not with his.

Photo by Linda Iroff
Through tears and a little genuine panic, he replied "My heart feels like its going to explode." I'm not sure where he thought he was going for help. If he retraced his steps exactly, it would be maybe 9 minutes back to the water station. He wasn't in analytical mode though, he was a little kid, whose native confidence and fearlessness drove him into this tough spot.

Full disclosure, Kaleb was not the only person to fail to heed my pre-race warning about not starting out too fast. Once again, I broke my own rule and hit a 8:29 first mile. Too quick for me these days. Bonk. Well, not bonk (new word for 'hitting the wall'), but breathing way way to hard. I've got the Boston Marathon next week, should I hit the panic button? No. Long distance runners are a savvy bunch, just breath, think about the future and your breathing will find its comfort zone.

So there we are, Kaleb and me, stopped on the 3.1 mile track catching our breath. A hard lesson I've learned too many times. But, the kid was providing me cover to take a 30 second reset, so under the guise of responsible grown up behavior, I snuck in a few deep cleansers. I don't think anyone saw.

Reassured that the Run3rd man from that movie was standing with him and talking to him, Kaleb stopped looking around feverishly for someone, anyone that wasn't me. Don't let me overhype it, people were passing us and wishing us well, no drama, just a scene played out on 5k routes all over the world. I don't have a son, but if I did, this would be one of those unforgettable, indelible memories.

"Let's do this together," I say, turning and starting back up. Not a slave to the power of suggestion, Kaleb considered and consented. Off we went. After a minute or two of trying to gauge what the heck we were gonna be able to pull off here, I rotated my wrist, fired up my Garmin satellite watch and set it for Galloway. Of course, I'm talking about the walk/run technology that Jeff Galloway pioneered.

"Ok Buddy, we're gonna run 30 seconds and then walk 30 seconds, does that sound ok? Can we do that?"

Not a quick answer. Again, through delivery room sized heaving, he evaluated the question. It became clear to me once again, that if people who don't have special needs took a page out of Kaleb's playbook, this ol' world would probably be in even better shape.

"Ok. Yes. We can," he said, and that's it. That became our pattern for the next 1.5 miles. The books all say that you should be able to carry on a light chit chat as you run. I never can, until today. Here's how some of it sounded…

Kaleb: Wouldn't it be great if a Robot could run instead of us?
Sean: Yeah, then the Robot would get the medal
Kaleb: Yeah.
Sean: Do you think Robots want to win medals?
Kaleb: I don't know.

Kaleb: My feet hurt. Why do they have to make a 5k so long? You know what would be great? If they had hover boards. Wouldn't that be great?
Sean: That would be awesome. You know what I would do if they had real hover boards that really worked?
Kaleb: What?

Sean: Ok buddy, let's pick it up. We gotta earn those walks. It's gonna take way too long if we trot. No no no, don't sprint, just a.... perfect, we can hold this pace right?

Kaleb: (totally in the running groove now) Yeah.
Sean: I would take my hover board and ride it from my house to the stadium. Then I'd get off of it and run the race. Because, I love running.

Looooonnnnggggg pause....

Kaleb: You know what I'd do If they made a real hover board?
Sean: What big guy?
Kaleb: I'd ride it right now.
Sean: Yeah?
Kaleb: Yeah, I'd right it right now, until my feet stopped hurting and then I'd run again.

It went on like this until we stepped off of the pavement and onto the track within sight of the Finish Arch.

Well, guess what? It turns out that Kaleb has that same thing that all real runners have, a burning fire in the belly to blaze across the finish line and obliterate any competition crazy enough to stand between us and glory.

Photo by Bert Jones Photography
Kaleb lowered the boom, dropped the hammer, hit the after burners… This special 9 year old boy, who's thinking is as clear as Stephen Hawking and his heart as big as those breathtaking mountains in the distance, finished his last one tenth of a mile in olympic fashion. 
I matched him measure or measure, but I'm pretty sure his hand, nose and feet crossed the finish line before me.

Not one to stand on ceremony, Kaleb made a beeline for his Dad I think. I had a great chat with him before the race, coincidentally, or not, depending on how you feel about these things.

But, I reached out and grabbed him. "Oh no you don't, we ran this thing together pal, you better look at me for a second."

That's the moment you see above. I will treasure it always.

All in. Knowing that many people ran their first 5k today, for some, the first organized race of any kind today, creates of feeling of such deep fulfillment that it's hard to put into words.

I had an idea. Many people breathed life into it. Today, 400 people were walking around with #Run3rd shirts on. Many people didn't know it's my silhouette on the logo. They just know the concept. Totally surreal to see that take place. And yet it was real. I'll post more pictures in awhile, but to the supporters, to the volunteers, the sponsors and the runners themselves, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I really really do #Run3rd for YOU!!!!!

Respectfully and excitedly yours,

Photo by Bert Jones Photography

Originally posted on Sean Astin's Facebook page

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