EDITOR'S NOTE: Our club is a family affair, with 55 memberships, 19 of those listed as couples (eight of the 19 couples listing children, too) and six more listed as individuals but including spouse or children in a family membership — 90 people in our energetic group. Bruce Oakley fills us in on a recent family outing (June 15, 2013).
Check out our archive for previous travels On the Road, and remember we invite you to share your own story, cause or advice with our members.
On the Road with Family
By BRUCE OAKLEY
White River Roadrunners President-elect
The White River Roadrunners flock was in top wing formation at the 2013 GO! Mile in North Little Rock (June 15).
The Tuckers, Pattersons and Oakleys put 10 runners in five different heats at the event, plus two in the support wing. And the grandest name in Roadrunners racing, Rusty Hinges, was flying solo, but brought the wisdom and example of the ages for our greater club family at this racy reunion of the statewide running family.
The GO! Mile is meant to be a celebration of and for the running community, and boy is it dynamic! Racers are separated into heats, with special attention for runners in their "First Mile" to those in the "Elite" crowd who can meet a swift standard (5:30 mile for men, 6:00 for women). Four more heats separate Women and Men into 39-younger or 40-older to race against their peers, then the youngsters run a "Mini-Mile" of about 600 yards.
The heats give families a special treat, a rare opportunity to run separately and cheer each other on.
Our group didn't have anyone in the "First Mile," but we have a couple of candidates to move from couch to flight wing of our WRR family for next time.
The first to run were Rebecca Patterson, Kevan Beth Tucker, and her sister, Bonnie Colocho, in the 39 and under heat. Bonnie and husband Andres came in from Memphis for the race, the day before Father's Day. Kevan Beth lives in Little Rock and came across the river for the Tucker gathering. Bonnie ran 7:21 and Kevan Beth toughed out a side stitch to finish in 7:37. Andres was out cheering before lining up for his own 39 and under heat, with Betsy and Tommy Tucker (Mom and Dad) and big brother Shane giving a yell at the finish line.
Rebecca ran her PR of 10:36, half a minute faster than her best Magic Mile in the Women Run clinic. She has been steadily improving again, moving on from a winter layoff after surgery. Husband Shawn Sr., son Shawn Jr., and daughter Erynn were making plenty of noise to match — and reward — her hard work.
The heats start on a 15-minute cycle, so Andres Colocho had just a few minutes to congratulate Bonnie before pounding the pavement himself, and Shawn Patterson Jr. was in the same boat giving Mom a hug. But that other Batesville family, the McSpaddens (Ken and Michelle), had the Mac's Race Timing Service clocks running, so "sentiment" gave way to "sent off" as the gun sounded and the young men went where the young ladies had led.
Andres, whose history is more soccer player than runner, turned in an entirely respectable 6:14, while Shawn, only 14, came in at 7:09. Shawn is gearing up for summer cross country workouts and has been keeping up with various Roadrunner groups during the offseason as he looks to move up the team ladder in the fall. The Tuckers report Andres, Bonnie and Kevan Beth are all feeling a little stiff and sore early this week after their hard runs.
Betsy Tucker enjoyed her moment as proud mother-in-law of Andres, then trotted over to the start for the 40 and over heat, where she found Suzy Oakley with her sights set on beating last year's time. Both ran fast first quarters, with Betsy at 1:30 (she typically is running well at 1:37 at the track) and Suzy at 2:05 (usually 2:15 is very good), and both looked comfortable and efficient as Coach Bruce cheered them on near the 600-yard mark. Coach was able to cut across the fields to see them again at the last quarter mile, and both kicked it in strong to the finish, Betsy making 6:38 for first in 55-59 and Suzy setting a PR at 8:46. Yup, Suzy beat last year's time by 12 seconds, which is admirable, since her progress must be very steady and measured. She has a heart condition and is under doctor's orders not to try "burst activity," so true speed work is prohibited. She has to work in moderation and gain through consistency and persistence — and she's still moving ahead!
So husbands gave their better halves big hugs, then Shawn Patterson and yours truly moved into the morning sun to run with the other old guys.
Rusty Hinges was there, ready as always — he's the only 70-something among the five Grand Masters (50+) who have run all 11 races so far in the 2013 Arkansas RRCA Grand Prix. He jokes it pays to outlive the competition. He ran 9:09 for first in 70-74.
Shawn Patterson matched Rebecca, making his own mile PR in 6:32, still giving Shawn Jr. a target in training with the home team — for the next few months anyway.
I gave it a pretty good shot, making the turn to the finishing 100-yard straight in second place, but couldn't hold off the pair on my heels and finished fourth by 3 seconds in 5:23. Taking second with a blistering kick was Mark Andersen, LR Catholic cross-country coach and former Razorback SWC cross-country champ from the late '70s/early '80s. He's a year older than me and said he hasn't run a competitive mile since '81. Now he is the RRCA Regional Grand Masters Mile champ!
He's one of the favored sons of the Arkansas running family, along with Gary Taylor, director of the GO! Mile and co-owner (with Frank O'Mara, another famous Razorback) of the GO! Running store. Gary noted at the start of the 40+ men's heat that it looked like a Legends tour of Arkansas running: Andersen, Tom Aspel (another overseas recruit from John McDonnell's early successes, now women's coach at Arkansas Tech), Bill Torrey (longtime director of and competitor in the biggest Little Rock races and owner of the new Rock City Running store), Joe Milligan (who has run every Grand Prix race for the past eight years and has run all 11 this year), and others unnamed here in my insufficient grasp of state running history.
It's nice to be the new kid in this big family, chasing legends. For me, the fast mile also took me back to a bit of the kid I once was — my best mile at age 13 was 5:28, winning the slow heat of the freshman mile at my high school conference championship. I ran 5:25 in a meet at 38, and I did it in a workout at 41, so I've turned the clock back a bit from the hospital bed in 2007. I still have some work to do to get back to the racer I was at 14, when I topped out at 4:54. Injuries from overtraining knocked me out after that, so I never found out how much faster I had become through that overtraining. Might be nice to run like that 16-year-old again, but I'll take this family life the way it is, thank you.
That brings us to the last racer of the day, with her running life still all ahead of her: Erynn Patterson, who will turn 5 this week. She ran in the Mini Mile, with Shawn Jr. holding her hand and pacing her all the way, and getting big hugs from Mom and Dad at the finish. She jogged the whole distance, earning herself ice cream — Mom understands the awards that matter!
What a joyful day for us all: Rusty Hinges, 1st Male 70-74; Betsy Tucker, 1st Female 55-59; Bruce Oakley, 1st Male 50-54; Shawn Patterson Sr., Rebecca Patterson and Suzy Oakley setting personal records; three families together on Father's Day weekend representing a larger running club family and joining in a festival celebrating the state running family.
It seems we may have some crazy uncles, but I don't think there are any black sheep in Roadrunners clothing! See you all at our next reunion soon — On the Road!