Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mildred's Trail Dash ~ Double win!

Life is full of surprises. The good ones are worth holding on to- which is why I still post in my blog from time to time!

Summer schedules have made getting in any long runs hard for me to do. Similarly, I haven't been able to get to the track often, or even maintain a base suitable for doing any significant speedwork. Despite all of those excuses, sometimes a girl needs some excitement, which is why I decided to enter a smaller local race that was held July 9th. 

Mildred's Trail Dash is a fundraiser for the Mildred Kanipe Memorial park in Douglas County (Oakland), Oregon. The park includes almost 1,100 acres of land, including pastures, creeks, rolling hills, orchards and forests. Historical structures include a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse, a farmhouse, and outbuildings.

The park has run into some financial difficulty since county officials recently determined that all county parks have to prove themselves financially self-sufficient or be shut down and sold or logged to cover the operating costs. The location is a little out of the way for me, but I always enjoy coming to the park and would be very sad to see it shut down. I was happy to help by running!

With my husband working the 4 pm to 4 am shift, I had to figure out what to do with my kiddos if I was to race. My oldest quickly decided he wanted to race too. We talked about whether he wanted me to run with him and whether he'd be OK with me running a 9k while he did a 5k. He was fine with different distances, so that was settled. 

My middle son (9) decided to stay home and watch documentaries while dad slept. The youngest (7) wasn't sure what to do! Five kilometers on the road is a long way for him still, and this was on a trail with mud!

I put in a last minute phone call at the park and asked if my youngest could be a "helper" at the race. The woman who answered was SO kind and offered to stay with him and find some jobs for him to do so that the oldest and I could each run at our best efforts.

Before we started the race, the race director, Mike McCarty, briefed all the runners about the courses (the 9k and 5k). As he spoke, it started to rain heavily. After a few days in a row of this, it was going to be a muddy adventure!

Finally we all lined up at the start line. For the first time, I had one of my sons next to me at "go" time! And we were off...

About 400 meters into it there were three men ahead of me and I saw my son just behind my right shoulder. I tried to huff some advice to him, "Don't try to stay with me! You have to pace yourself. There's a lot of race to run!"

"I think I can hold this pace, Mom," was his reply.

What can you say back to that in the middle of a race? I didn't want to demoralize him and figured he'd have to learn his own 5k lesson. 
I just said "OK."

Another 400 meters went by, and I saw the top 3 males missed the trail and took a wrong turn. I let them know, and they quickly scampered back down to the singletrack. 

We started the first big hill and things started to get really fun! There was enough mud that NObody was going fast. I passed the first mile marker and felt like I was working for it, but wasn't dying yet, which is good when you are racing 9k. I had lost sight of my son, but could still see the #2 and #3 runners when we weren't weaving through trees!

After clearing the top of the hill, there was a nice downhill stretch which was LOTS of fun in the rain. Slippery rocks, mud, wet grass and cows in the middle of the trail, all added to the excitement! I was grateful to have my Adidas Terrex Agravic shoes with the super-grippy lugs. My kiddo though.. he was wearing a pair of road Asics from track season.

At the bottom of the hill there was a turn followed by a sign for the 5k/9k split. I knew there was a woman not too far behind me, and I just tried to keep my effort level up. I am glad I have kept in decent hill shape and done the few track workouts I have done in the last month!

We all kept following the orange flagging and markers until reaching the next volunteer. She was standing in front of a flagged area and ushered us up the hill. I wondered why the markings were behind her, but having never done the 9k, just took her directions to go right. Up the next hill we went, through trees and ferns and mud, past signs with no words on them-- unless you looked backwards. I kept getting closer to the 3rd male, but couldn't quite catch him!

Finally, we were running downhill trough similar terrain, except muddier and straighter. Then I started to see a few runners running the opposite direction on the same loop. Apparently we had been asked to go the wrong way, but slower runners had done the course before and knew where to go. When we passed the volunteer again, she had moved out from her spot and everyone was running the loop clockwise, even though the first 5 ran it counter clockwise! I kept apologizing, telling people I was told to go that way as I passed them.

Little by little I could see the third male getting closer. We had a final uphill and I thought maybe I should not go full blast, so I could have a bit more for the downhill. When I reached the top we were shoulder to shoulder. 

It was a bit awkward running side by side.. I hoped to have a bit more leg speed, but he picked up his pace.  I kept with him..until the last 600 meters. When we reached the pond and the finish line was in sight, he dropped me like a hot rock! This proves one of my sayings to be true: Never get in a sprint with a teenage boy. (I lose every time!)

As I crossed the footbridge to the last few yards, I saw something that made me smile. This young man:

My son was waiting next to the finish line when I crossed at (42:43 on the Garmin- NOT a great 9k time for me, but a good one for the conditions and the course loop reversal!).  He also shared the news that he had placed first male in the 5k! I was so surprised, thinking he might have faded and walked the last mile, but I guess he used a combination of walking the uphills and running as hard as he could the rest of the time to earn a solid placement.

"One girl passed me on the hill, Mom. I think she was in high school," was his report of the race. 

I told him that was OK, and that he did GREAT. I couldn't have been more proud!

Sporting a bit of mud from the trail on the Adidas.. 

Super kid. I can't wait to see if he ends up racing too!

After catching my breath and giving my oldest son a BIG hug, the next task was to find my seven-year-old. He was casually walking around the pasture area taking 645 photos of the peacocks that roam the park entrance. 

Deb, the race organizer, told me he had been super helpful! This was the best news. I had been a little worried he might not have had a good time.

A few days later when he received a letter in the mail, he was so surprised (and my heart was touched). It was a note thanking him for his help, and rewarding him with some cards for free french fries at McDonald's. What a score!

We had to stay for the awards, and my oldest was thrilled at receiving a special water bottle as well as a gift card to Subway sandwiches.

I got a matching water bottle and gift card to Denny's, which I awarded to my youngest. (He has yet to redeem it, but we will have a special lunch together soon.)

Post race thoughts:

I've never wanted to push my kids into running. If they find other passions, I will support those fully!  I just don't believe you can force the love of something on someone, and I definitely want them to love what they do.. However, If I am being honest, I do hope they will each find the joy of running on their own. 

This day was a turning point.

It was such a moment of pride for both of us that I can see a future where one of my kids wants to run, enough to want to run with me. If that happens, I plan to make the most of that window of opportunity for as long as I am blessed with it. The moments go by so fast.


  1. Way to go Rauch Family! How fun for you both.

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Jodi! It was a wonderful day. 💚

  2. What an event, way to go!

  3. What a great time for you two! Special congrats to your son!

  4. That's a great post Raina. Very cool that your son enjoyed it, and not only that, won! Well done to him. Also that your youngest was appreciated for helping out. And not a bad result for you too!

  5. Oh wow Raina. I'm way out of the blog world these days and a bit behind but sometimes simply Google your site for updates!!! This made me smile so big!!! I LOVE the picture of you two!!! Pure joy in his face!!!

  6. What a great post Raina and it I'm so glad your kids had a great time. In today's electronic world it's hard to involve your kids and this made me smile. Take care. @orrunner68 Don

  7. Congrats to you both. Glad you succeed in involving your son. Beautiful photos with .. great smiles.

  8. Your family had a happy time! Your kids are great and cute! It's wonderful that they love to run, just like their mom.


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