Back in high school my brother Joshua (almost 3 years younger) suffered a major back injury while lifting weights. I cannot remember the specifics of the injury, but he ruptured a disc in his back causing severe pain for months until he had back surgery to repair it. Rehabilitating his back for several years, he was finally able to get back to day-to-day activities along with low-impact fitness such as biking and running. However running is something I thought he would never do again.
Fast-forward 20 years later to 2018 and Josh began to show interest in trying to run again after attending the Lake Placid Marathon to support me. It was great to share much of the running knowledge I have learned over the past 6 years and to help him ease into running. Knowing that a goal would need to be set so he had something to strive for, we both found a local 5K race close to his home to participate in. Running along the same course as the Catch a Pig 5K that my family participated in last year (an out and back on the Ma and Pa paved trail in Bel Air, MD), the Third Annual Brightview Age is Just a Number 5K looked like the perfect race. The 5K benefits Harford County, Maryland’s Office on Aging’s Senior Emergency Fund and would be right down the road from Josh’s house.
The goal we set for Josh would be to simply finish the race without stopping to walk. We would not be worried about pace, time, or any of that. This would also give him a little over 2 months to train and get ready for the race.
I hit the road early that morning to make the 2.5 hour drive out to the Baltimore area to meet up with Josh before heading over to the race starting point with an 8:30 a.m. start time. The weather was really nice for an August morning…warm, but clear, sunny, and no humidity! As soon as we arrived we were complimented on our Team Running Riddles racing shirts, and then did some pre-race mobility drills to get loose.
We lined up to the start and I told Josh that he would set the pace, and I would just run along side him for encouragement and talk to keep his mind off the race when it got tough. After the starting horn, I let Josh start out and then settled in next to him to see what pace we would be looking at. As we neared mile one, I could see our pace was around 9:50 – 10:00 minutes per mile. At this point I secretly thought to myself that finishing under 30 minutes would be attainable if we kept that pace…so I decided to maintain that pace throughout the rest of the race to help Josh towards that finishing time.
After the turn-around point and hitting mile 2, we were hit with two significant inclines. Josh kept steady and I encouraged him to take small quick steps up the incline moving your arms back and forth in a straight, smooth line. It was getting tougher, but I continued to talk, trying to keep his mind off the most difficult part of the race. I was really impressed at how he was doing and knew we were going to be close to hitting under 30 minutes. I told him not to look at his watch and let me worry about the time.
As we neared the finish line I could see the clearing ahead and caught a glimpse of the clock reading 29:40. I told Josh to “hit the gas and sprint!” and he took off in front of me…crossing the finish line with a time of 29:57!!! I came in two seconds behind at 29:59.
The Newest Member of Team Running Riddles
Josh’s wife / my sister-in-law Katy and 1 year old daughter / niece Ellie were there to greet him at the finish line. I gave him a granola bar as his “reward” and congratulated him on an amazing run for his first-ever 5K. Not only did he finish without walking, but achieved a great time as well. It was a wonderful experience to run with my brother, and I hope we can do it again sometime soon (I’m already prodding him to try and do a half-marathon with me one day haha). Until then it is great knowing that he is now an official part of team Running Riddles!