Monday, April 12, 2010

Run for a Cause

As y'all know, I participated in the Race for the Cure 5K on Sunday, April 11th. It was an amazing event and there were a lot of take home lessons from not only the process of getting ready for it, but from just being there.

But first, the specifics: Finished in 34:20 which averaged an 11 min mile pace. Not only was that a personal best for me, it's also 4 minutes faster than my first 5K! (and as you see some of the photos, I probably could have finished faster but who care... I had a need to document everything. ;)

::does the happy dance::

Now for the general recap/thoughts/insights (cuz you know I've got a lot ;):

I'm not gonna lie: I really, really hated getting ready for this race. Up until about a week ago I was a lot more focused on me, my 'training', my struggle than the bigger picture. At several points I really thought about not doing it, but didn't want to let my friend, A, down.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes the buddy system really works!

It was her first race and I wanted to be there with her and run with her, even if it was only for a few minutes. If I quit/dropped out, I would have missed out on not only the overall experience, but the chance to bond a little more with her. Besides, she would have dragged my butt out of bed anyway, so why say no? LOL!

Once I stopped focusing on the memememe of the process, looked at the bigger picture, then changed my perception from 'training' back to 'working out with a purpose', it all fell into place and I _really_ started to look forward to race day.

And what a day it was!

I got my stuff ready the night before and between A & I we finally figured out how to put the chip on our shoes. Seriously - the directions were either written for a 2 year old or a MENSA member! It was quite amusing watching us trying to figure it out but eventually we did what looked reasonable and seemed to be ok with the computer system so guess we did ok.

I got all decked out that morning, rechecking everything to make sure I had what I needed:

We got to the site a little before 7 am and got to hit the booths for some spiffy swag.

Lesson Learned: Always bring along a Sherpa! LOL!

I was sooo grateful that one of my awesome SparkFriends, Barbara, came out to support us and offered to hold the bags for us because I was _not_ looking forward to figuring out how to manage it during the run.

The best part of the morning was things like this:

The Bra-brella just totally made me giggle and the bra/b00b related puns were everywhere! Where else can you literally let your undies hang out and be totally fine with it?! There were men sporting sax-ahy silky bras (in a 'supportive' way, rather than mocking ;), women with bra banners, etc, and a sea of pink everywhere I looked.

We met up with the rest of Team Fights Like A Girl and they all totally rock!

Salina (on the far right in dark pink) ran her first 1/2 marathon a couple of weeks ago so for her, this was easy peasy. ;) And here she's sporting her mad stylin manicure:

We all joined in the warm up and I was able to snag this photo of some of the race training participants as well:

I can't remember most the names but the lady in the bright pink "Survior" shirt is a total rockstar! She started with the training group in the 'beginner' group because she wasn't sure if she could do it... and ended up moving up to the 'advanced group' and literally running circles around us!

Thing is, when I saw her that morning, the BIG picture of the event really hit me.

All along I knew that it was for a good cause, yeahyeah raising money for cancer research, blah blah, a lot of races are to raise money for stuff, lets get going.

But when you are at an event that is so focused on a single issue, and surrounded by people who have been effected personally by that disease, it is immensely powerful. When I saw my training buddy there, standing proud in her bright pink shirt, she was more than a survivor, she was victorious! She had shared a bit of her story before so it wasn't a surprise, but seeing her suddenly made the thousands of bright pink shirts pop out of the crowd.

Lesson Learned: Doing something for a cause you believe in will motivate you like nobody's business.

This is one event, in one city, and this was probably only a small percent of the men and women who are living to tell the tale. I realized that this wasn't just about raising awareness, this was about making a stand and I was doing my small part to help others fight that battle.

We hit the start line in time for the count down and we were off!
Wow what a rush! The course was all on surface streets that had been blocked off for the event so it was a nice wide path! Along the way there were lots of groups of people cheering us on like these folks:

There were even cheer squads from the U of A and from some high schools. I felt like I had my own cheering squad!

I was extra surprised at how I did and I managed to keep up with Salina for most of the race because I kept focused on her and another couple that were at about the same pace. They were easy to spot in their pink camo shirts with their 'names' on the back: Ramb00b and Pvt. McTi!!y. LOL!

The last 1/2 mile was the worst - my knee was feeling a bit tweaky (I was grateful I taped it!), my shins were getting a bit sore (past due for new shoes!) and I had to go to the bathroom (Lines were too long before the race!), but I pushed through. The result was a slightly astonished look on my face to see my time as I crossed the finish line.

Shortly after I crossed it, I saw a hand reaching out from the crowd to give high fives to the finishers. I raised my hand in response but the second we made contact, I stopped.

I turned to see a beautiful woman there in a bright pink shirt. She grabbed my hand harder and we gave each other a big hug and at the same time we both said "Thank you for being here!" to each other. Tears were running down our faces as I walked to the end to see Salina & Barb waiting for me.

It was one of those moments that could never be planned, duplicated, or believed until you experience, and left me speechless.

Lesson Learned: Never under estimate the power of the smallest gesture.

In that moment, I felt her struggle, her uncertainty, her faith, and confidence. And at that moment I really, really got why I was there, and why I know I'll do it again.

I know that I said that I probably wouldn't do another race, but at the time, I didn't have a good reason.

Now, I do.

It made me realize that whole runner vs. Runner argument I've been having with myself is a moot point. It's not about the chip time, or my placement, or my collection of bibs, or my overall mileage that matters.

It's about being there. It's about showing up to help the greater good and let someone know you care enough to do something silly like run 3 miles in honor of them, their families, their friends.

Oh yeah, and having a little fun in the process.

Though next time, I may have to wear a cape. :)
What cause are _you_ willing to walk/run/ride/get up and move for?

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