Who is Frank Kush? That was my question when I first heard of this race. He is a former ASU football coach, and is now an advocate for youth fitness. The race took place at Tempe Town Lake, a place I have wanted to run at since we moved here over two years ago. The lake is actually a dammed portion of the Salt River. The course starts at Tempe Beach Park, runs east along the south side of the lake, crosses a bridge to the north, heads west along the north side of the lake, and crosses another bridge to finish back in the park. I had a heck of a time finding a map of the course, so I'll include my map from RunKeeper below.
I registered the whole family for the race. The plan was for me to run under 19 minutes, turn around and meet Lani and the kids, take over pushing the stroller, and finish with them. That was the plan. Things didn't quite go as planned, however. We were running a little late, so once we parked the car, Lani told me to just go to the start, and they wouldn't do it. I felt bad for the girls because they were really excited to run.
So, I jogged to the start, picked up my number and my shirt. I made my way through the crowd as close to the start as I could, but got stuck behind a bunch of what looked to be high school kids. I figured it must be a cross country team since they were all right on the start line. Once the race started; however, I quickly realized that they were likely not a cross country team, and had to weave in and out to get past them. Once I did, though, I was able to settle in to about 8th place and find my rhythm. I really wanted to run under 19 minutes, but was actually hoping for a time around 18:50, so I was pleased to see my first mile right under 6 minutes. A little fast, but a good first mile. I was feeling ok, but was thinking I should have had more water before the start. After I crossed the bridge, I passed a couple people, and was caught by another. He and I ended up running together the rest of the way. By mile 2, I was starting to feel it, and really wishing I had some water. I couldn't let myself slow down though. I was not going to let this guy beat me. Coming across the bridge heading back to the park, he started picking up the pace. I wasn't ready for my final kick, but I stuck with him. After the bridge, there was a sharp right turn into the park. That's where I turned it on and flew right by him. I expected a race to the finish, but he wasn't able to stick with me. I was shocked to see the time as I approached the finish. 19:31. Was that right? I thought for sure I'd have been faster than that.
Once I caught my breath, I called Lani to see where she was at. Turns out, as she first got to the park, there was still a crowd at the start line just about to start. She hurried and got her and the girls' bibs, and jumped in the queue just in time. She didn't realize this because nobody said anything when she picked up the bibs, but this crowd was starting the mile run. On the phone, I told her to just turn around at the 1/2 mile marker with everybody else, but my oldest really wanted to run the right race, and they had actually gone about a full mile before they turned around. I eventually met up with them, and we finished the "mile" together. The girls both got medals for running, and they were both excited to finish the race (even though they spent a lot of time in the stroller).
After we got some water and fruit, we had to hurry back home. I later found out that I placed 4th overall, and 1st in my age group. That's kind of surprising, because I thought I counted about 5 people ahead of me. Maybe there were a few unofficial runners. My time was only a little disappointing, but at least it was faster than my last 5k, and I did the outkicking at the finish this time. Overall, it was a pretty good run.