Exactly one year ago, my dad and I started our tradition of running 5Ks together. My dad, who runs the newspaper Chicago Chinese News, is one of the hardest workers I know who barely makes enough time to sleep. When I started my fitness craze (now a lifestyle) the summer before college, I started pestering him more to exercise and eat healthy. Even though I worked out and played a few sports in high school, I didn’t really start paying attention to staying in shape until then. I started to drag my dad to the YMCA more often, and I personally started to push myself in running. After I ran my first 5K race, the 2012 Turkey Trot in Naperville, I persuaded my dad to sign up for the St. Patrick’s Day run in 2013 with me. Although the first run was hard, I was really proud that he relentlessly kept going and finished! At that time, it was only my second race I had ever run too, and we were both surprised by the frigid cold morning air. It was a much bigger challenge than just running inside on the track! Regardless, Naperville 5Ks are really fun and easy since the course is set in downtown Naperville in familiar terrain. There are no real surprises for me to worry about and I can just enjoy the run. Following our first run, we then ran the Chinatown 5K last July which took place, of course, in Chinatown Chicago. It was quite the opposite experience since the weather was so hot! Yet we still both finished with better times – plus the opening Lion Dance was pretty exciting to watch!
This year, I was once again able to convince my dad to sign up for the Naperville St. Paddy’s Day 5K with me. I find that running 5Ks may well be the best motivator to make my dad carve out 30 minutes to an hour a day for some form of exercise so he will at least try to be ready for them. When I live at school all the time, it’s harder for me to just grab the car keys and say, “Come on, we’re going to the gym!” But still, I try to keep my dad motivated since it helps me stay healthy as well! Since I go to the rec center almost every day, it’s easy for me to remember to send him a reminder text or call to exercise as well. The length of 5K races also work out very nicely – not too long so that it becomes too exhausting, but long enough to be a challenge.
We ran the exact same course for the same race this year, so I think we were both more confident and prepared this time (aside from the fact that I was still freezing cold! I’m just too spoiled from the nice indoor track we have at UIC). In fact, we both beat our personal records for 5Ks! I haven’t run a 5K in what feels like a long time. The last race I ran was actually way back in November (the Perfect 10 10K at Navy Pier) and then before that I ran a half marathon. I meant to take a little time off of running races in order to just work out without training, but I realized that I actually really missed the adrenaline that can only come from race days. After taking a few months off, it felt nice to ease back into things by running a 5K this time! I’ve been working out pretty frequently by running 40+ minutes, so the 5K felt alright to me, and I tried to expend more energy to run a faster time. I was surprised to find that my time was 24:50, which was a good 30 seconds lower than my best 5K time before! My dad also beat his time last year by over 5 minutes as well, so I’m so proud of him for keeping up with an exercise regimen even with his crazy busy work schedule.
It might be ironic since my family has never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day before, but now my dad and I may have a reason. Hopefully we’ll continue this tradition for years to come and keep signing up for races together.