Sunday, September 12, 2010

Race Day !!! (by Aaron)

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

In 2008, thanks to some great friends in Kansas, we learned about road racing and just how fun it can be to get together with friends and train for a race. We are on opposite sides of the world this year, but we have new colleagues here who decided to run with us.

Back in May, Joanna and another SITAG mom started walking together. Not long after, the other mom found an exercise program called Couch to 5K. Pretty soon, she and Joanna started training together just to be healthy. Around June we saw a poster advertising a half marathon here in Honiara. The event included a 10K, 5K, and a 2K fun run. With our great experience before, we decided that the whole family would train for the September 12th race.
This included a little bit of uncertainty of how well we would be able to race train in the village, but thanks to a little soccer field in the village, our family was able to get out and train, sometimes dodging tree roots and frogs along the way. Joanna and I alternated mornings and Sarah, Benjamin, and Olivia would run with one or the other of us.

We got the idea to include some of our colleagues here in Honiara, knowing how fun it was to run with friends. At first it looked like no one would join us, but by the time we returned to Honiara in August, three other families were training as well.

So, after months of preparing, the big day finally arrived. I couldn't believe it. Joanna and I were slated to run in the 5K, and Sarah, Benjamin, and Olivia were running the 2K. Several of their SITAG agemates were running with them (and one dad to keep an eye on them). We all had no real aspirations for greatness. I was wanting to be able to run and have my knee do better than last time. Joanna was shooting for 44 minutes. Sarah, Benjamin, and Olivia, I think, were just out to have fun. I decided to register Joanna and myself in the more mature age category. Thus, we competed with only 30-39 year olds instead of the open category which would have pitted us against teens and twenty-somethings, too.

Now for the celebration. When Olivia started out, she was great. The throng at the start got her a little bit flustered, but she quickly recovered. Unlike her sibs, though, she had no running buddy. Benjamin was with her for a minute, then I decided that Olivia was more important than proving something about myself. So for the first kilometer, Olivia and I ran side by side. I encouraged her all of the way, knowing that she would have to make the turn for home and run her last kilometer alone. Man, that was hard, leaving her. I was pretty sure she was going to walk the whole way back. But when I heard her story later, she said she decided to just run until she got to the fence, then she would know she was almost finished. Turns out, she finished 4th in her category, girls 2K. I am so proud of Olivia for finding strength inside of her that she may not have known was there.

Benjamin won one of those awards that is priceless. He and three other boys were a running machine. As Olivia and I approached the turn-around point, who are the first people we see coming at us from the other direction - Benjamin and his SITAG buds. They were looking good, too. One of the boys was a little in front of Benjamin and the other two. Turns out, that boy won first place (way to go!). The reason Benjamin's award is priceless is because it comes in the form of the honor and respect his parents give him. Coming to the end of the race, two of the boys gathered steam for the big finish. We know that Benjamin had plenty of zoom in him, but first hanging back with Olivia and then deciding to stay back with a slower friend, Benjamin finished 4th by one second. I am so proud of my boy for the selflessness he showed today!

Sarah is not the greatest athlete, but she always has a great attitude. Unfortunately, she seemed to wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Come race time, all was fine. She and a buddy were at the start hand in hand, ready to go. The race starts, and all of the sudden
we look down the road and Sarah is coming backwards, basically stopped and saying something about bleeding. She was holding her hand out, and I hear Joanna telling her to just keep going. This was all within the first 20 meters or so. I was too busy getting Olivia going that I really didn't think much about Sarah after that.

At the end, I see my amazing #1 child with a huge scuffed up knee and a couple of spots on her hand. But she was all smiles and talked about the race. Turns out she and her friend (who stayed with her despite the spill) were in the top three. We are so excited for her, especially with her literally rough start.

I met my goal of having his knee feel okay. You know about my first kilometer already, the rest was okay. I had to walk a couple of times, I was hoping not to. But that is okay. I ended up third in my category. Crazy. Another SITAG buddy got first, so I have someone to catch now. :-)
Joanna was great. I am so excited for my best girl. She stayed true to her training plan and finished strong. I was able to run beside her in the end. It was so awesome to cheer her on and see her do so great. She got first place in her division!

SITAG racked up lots of great finishes - I think the crowd was ready for the SITAG crew to leave.
What an amazing morning!


Abi's Blog said...

Love the photos! That's awesome that all of you were able to do so well. Congratulations, Choate Family!

quilt-n-mama said...

Sounds like you had an awesome time! We can't wait to run with you all again when you are back in the State Next time!
Had a great training day yesterday on this end, it was o encouraging that I held my pace average the entire session! Just praying I cross the finish line come Oct. 23rd:)
Loved the pictures and we were cheering for you from KS:)
gayly for our crew

Anonymous said...

Never did I think I'd see the day when my big sis would be first in a race! ;-)

Seriously, I'm really proud of you guys for making your health a priority and making it a fun, family-focused process, too. What a beautiful example you've set for the kids, Aaron and Jo. I hope we can get our rears in gear and raise a healthy, active child like your four (and yeah, we could do with a little more physical activity!).

Melissa (that's AUNT Melissa to your munchkins!)

Choate Family said...

Don't be too impressed. The race here was quite small and slow :-) If you need proof, the results should be up soon here (

Maybe you can join me in a race when I come home on furlough!


The dB family said...

What an awesome day you had! God has made you a beautiful family both inside and out! Way to go everyone on doing so well!


Ann said...

I love it! I'm so proud of the whole clan!

Nahna said...

How proud I am of you all. The true character of your family shows through in this account of the race day. Thank you for posting.
Hope to skype with you before you leave.
love to all.

S and J said...

Loved reading about this! We too are hoping to get more healthy here in our new place of service.
Your kiddos are really growing up!!
Love ya,