Our family just returned from a wonderful trip to Sun River, Oregon, where we combined a family reunion with a huge sporting event called Pacific Crest. Over the course of three days a plethora of races for every age and skill level are hosted and I think we had a family member participating in almost every race.
My Uncle Jeff has had MS for many years. At one point when he was so sick he could hardly get out of bed, he decided to conquer MS instead of letting it conquer him. He set out to train for and complete a triathlon and slowly but surely, he did just that. Six years ago he discovered Pacific Crest and had a vision of family coming together to play and exercise. He extended an invitation to all of us to join in the fun. This year our grouptopped 40 participants and we blended siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, grandchildren, step-relatives and friends for three days of activity, encouragement, exercise, relationship building, sunshine and good food.
The weekend kicked off with the kids Splash, Pedal and Dash on Friday afternoon. Staged like a real triathlon with transition areas, timing chips, bib numbers, and an announcer calling out their name as they cross the finish line, there is no minimum age. If you can pedal a bike, you can race. This year the course was cut short due to construction, but it didn't dampen the spirits of our kids. Nerves and smiles were out in full force as we cheered our kids and their cousins on to the finish line.
Last year Paige was such a pipsqueak that she could hardly get her pedals to turn on her bike. I ended up pushing her the entire mile of the bike portion and even with my help she finished third from the bottom for her age group. This year, on race day, biking (with training wheels) clicked for her. She pedaled the entire bike course and only semi-crashed once. She was over-the-moon proud of herself for finally being a bike rider and she moved up the leader board significantly with a 12th place (out of 36) finish in her age group.
Alli waited in line to start the splash with my Aunt Jacque and was paired with a little boy named Luke. When the volunteer gave Alli and Luke the all clear to start, she cleared the wading pools in seconds flat and left poor Luke in the dust. She flew across the finish line in 9th (out of 75) place for her age group.
Kaitlin has always been our silent competitor and I'm hoping my running partner when she gets older. She has great stamina, determination, and stick-to-itiveness. She finished 17th out of 77 in her age group and as always, had a smile on her face the entire time. Grandma Marcy snapped an awesome photo of Katie flying by on the bike, a look of pure enjoyment on her face.
Grant was disappointed that the course was so short this year and finished the entire thing in four minutes and 38 seconds which gave him the 12th fastest overall time out of all 544 participants and made him the 9th fastest dude overall. He was very stoked to be in the top ten dudes and his placement made him glad he participated even though the course was short.
Cousins Nicole, Ryan and Sydney also competed as did several of the children of my Dad's employees. Our group of fans cheered and celebrated each kid and it was heart-warming to see them beaming for photos with their medals after the race.
Saturday was the half-iron triathlon. Team Zadok consisted of Uncle Jeff swimming 1.2 miles, tagging off to my brother Shane who biked 58 miles up and over the summit of Mt. Bachelor, and then tagging off to my Dad who ran a full half-marathon. Given the fact that my Dad had an organ removed less than two years ago, we were an emotional bunch of fans when he crossed the finish line. Cousin Nick normally does the entire half-iron tri by himself, but he took the year off this year. He was up at the lake for moral support and biked his way back down the mountain to the transition area.
I ran my half-marathon while they were relaying. Last year I tried to run this race with an undiagnosed torn meniscus in my knee and it didn’t go so well. I came up lame at the mile eight aid station and limped the entire rest of the way. This year was filled with surgery, recovery, therapy, and strength training to get back to race day. I had a time goal in mind for this race that I really wanted to hit, but I didn’t want to be so focused on achieving a goal that I missed the beauty of being able to run again or the stunning scenery that marks the course.
All glory to God, the race was perfect. I flew through the course, was able to hit my time goal (with ten seconds to spare) and enjoy every step of the run. It was a beautiful morning, there were great racers around me, I had some amazing praise music on my ipod, and I ran EVERY step without a twinge of pain. I got emotional shortly after I pass the mile 8 aid station. The enormity of God's healing and specific love for me washed over me like a tidal wave and I found myself choking back sobs of gratitude. I managed to get a grip though and finished in one hour, 45 minutes and 50 seconds. It was a personal best for me and 7th place in my age group. Since I will never be winning races, I was pumped to finish with a placement in single digits.
Sunday was an even busier day. My brother Shane and I were on kid duty at the finish line by 8 a.m. waiting for a hoard of 5K racers to cross the finish line. We cheered on Marcy’s 12-year-old nephew Caleb who killed the course in a record 21 minutes. My 11-year-old niece Maggie wanted to run the 5K in 36 minutes or less. She had a running strategy mapped out and while she was explaining it to Grant the night before, he decided he wanted to join in the fun. The race course isn’t closed so we let Grant bandit the race and run with Maggie as an “encouragement buddy” which means we were too cheap to pay for a bib number, t-shirt and medal for Grant. They finished in 35 minutes and 55 seconds. Kayla, my almost 13-year-old niece, didn’t want to run but she walked the 5K course with her mom, Katie (as another last minute encouragement buddy), and Aunt Jacque pushing her grandson Cade in the stroller.
The spirit of racing is so uplifting. I passed two marathoners, a husband and wife who must have been approaching 70 and in average (at best) shape, walking slowly down the course. The woman was carrying a cane and they were sweating and quietly talking. At the pace they were walking, it had to have taken them all day to walk 26.2 miles. I saw an Olympic triathlete, also pushing 70, come into the bike transition a bloody mess. He must have crashed on his bike and his legs and face were covered with blood, fresh blood dripping off his chin. He ignored all the gasps of horror and offers for help and ran right past all the spectators. I saw him cross the finish line blood caked to his body and that determined look still on his face. While we like to think we’re an athletic bunch, we’re just average people bringing our limitations and abilities to the table in the spirit of competition, good health, and family fun. So what’s stopping you? Get out there!