The Elachee Nature Center is located in Oakwood, Georgia. Their mission statement is "Promote Environmental Understanding through Education and Conservation". Located in the 1,500 acre Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve it offers lots of cool stuff like a Nature Museum, Nature Shop, Birthday Parties, Classroom Complex and plenty of natural walking/running trails. It's a hidden treasure that my family loves. I've written about the Chicopee Mountain Bike trails on many occasions. I know them like the back of my hand but I'm sorry to say I've never run on the Elachee trails. Because...I don't like to run. But my daughter...whom I love very much...does.
|Me and Molly before the race.|
Molly just said "Eww...Daddy!" and we moved on.
We arrived late and missed an opportunity to park near the start. We had to park a mile away in a church parking lot and jog down to the start. I think it actually helped. After we registered we started looking around at all the vendor tents and bumped into Mike Stabler. He's beyond old school. When I first started riding I would join groups and he would always be there. He was on every Beach Ride I ever did. Organized by Northstar Bicycles the Beach Ride is held almost every year. Around 30 or more riders embark from somewhere near Oakwood and take two days to ride to the beach. So I've spent many miles with Mike Stabler. He's a great guy. But these days he's only running.
We started stretching a little and spotted Johnny Garner and some others we've seen at some of the Dirty Spokes races. Molly told me how crazy it is that we see Johnny everywhere we go. I told her he lives in a tree somewhere in the woods. She hasn't turned all "teenager" on me so she thought that was funny.
It turns out the the first mile or so is the easiest. After you cross the suspended bridge it goes up hill. I think a lot of folks pushed hard in the beginning and when it turned up they started hurting badly. Molly kept a steady pace even on the climbs and we slowly closed in on a lot of people.
After the first climb I could tell Molly had developed a cramp. She was breathing too shallow because of it. As we ran down a long hill it was hurting her. I kept telling her to breath deep or it wouldn't go away. She did and it slowly went away. Then we crossed another, smaller bridge and began to climb again. This is where she made the most of her training. With the cramp gone she flew up the mountain, passing at least four other runners.
After that she was at her limit. I kept encouraging her and telling her we were almost done. Once we saw the 1 Mile to go sign she felt better. Seeing there was only a mile to go let her know she could make it. She widened her stride and we flew across the ridge line toward the finish.
I stopped short and stood by waiting to take a picture of Molly's first solo 5K race. She's been training for weeks. I was very excited for her. When she crossed the line I heard volunteers saying "First girl, first girl!". I thought to myself "She may have won in a kid's category!"
We sat on a curb and cheered as other runners came in. It was a beautiful day for a run. After a while we started seeing the 10K runners finishing. Those folks are amazing.
We decided to go ask the timing guys how Molly finished in her category. They were really friendly and happily told Molly that she'd won the Women's division. Holy crap! I tried to remain calm. I told Molly not to count her chickens before they hatched. But in my heart I was dancing a jig. "We'll just wait and see when they present the awards".
|Molly Hayes - 5K Women's Division Winner|
On the walk back to the car I let Molly call every body on the earth to tell them she'd won. My Dad was working at the dealership in Oakwood so we drove by there to let her tell him in person. She calls him Granpa. He was as excited for her as I was.
|Victory Celebration at the Waffle House!|
On a side note: I was dragged kicking and screaming to a place in Gwinnett called The Melting Pot. It's a goofy, fru fru, fondue serving place that was very expensive. Probably because it takes 2 hours to eat there because you basically cook your own food. There's 4 courses. They place stuff on a burner in the middle of the table like cheese or chocolate. You dip your food into it. For dinner they bring you little bits of meat you stab with a long fork and stick it in the pot to cook. You can see how long it must take to eat a meal this way. I was very full. It was very good. My only suggestion for you is to make sure you like the people you go there with. Fortunately I had fantastic company that made time fly. Our waiter, Patrick, was very entertaining as well (aye, Greg?). My only regret is not fighting to have "Flaming Turtles" for desert. I really liked the name. I think it could be a great Mountain Bike Race Team Name. "Team Flaming Turtles!" Yeah, baby!
Well that's all for this edition of Chad's News. Join a ride this weekend. The weather is fantastic!