A Pink Ribbon Mother's Day
Sunday, May 13, 2012
So, a few months back, my 88 year-old grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She elected to try whatever treatment was offered, saying that even if it gave her two more years, it is worth it. Coincidentally, every year our local Pink Ribbon Run is held on Mother's Day, and goes right past her house. I've always wanted to do participate, and in light of recent events, I decided this year was going to be the year.
So for the past couple months, I have been training under the Spark People Walk Your Way 5k program. I come from a family of runners, but running was always something I found difficult and didn't really like. I had the choice to do the 2 mile Family Fitness walk, but, that route did not go past my grandmother's house, so I decided to do the whole 5k, even if it killed my previously mostly sedentary behind.
So I trained, and I was excited. I was determined to follow through. Even when it was hard because two weeks ago I also started doing the 28 Day BootCamp and doing both was really taking a lot out of me. But I pushed through because I had already told my grandmother I was doing this in her honor. Then came Thursday, when I picked up my race packet. I went back to my Jeep and sent my best friend a photo of my shirt and my number - and it finally felt real. Then the nervousness started to creep in, and by last night, the night I should have been falling asleep early, I laid in bed with a million thoughts swirling through my head and butterflies having a free-for-all in my stomach. "What if I can't finish?" "What if I'm the only one walking the 5k?" "What if I finish last?" "What if I collapse on the street halfway through?" Finally, sometime after midnight I feel asleep, only to have my alarm jerk me awake 6 hours later.
I didn't know what to expect. I got ready, said good morning to my kids and then drove over the race sight, which was at our local beach, about an hour & a half before the start time. I wandered around, taking things in and going out on the beach for a few stretches and some simple yoga moves. I saw the start line for the 5k and saw how they had it marked off for people to start at however quickly they could run a mile...6 minute milers here, 7 minute milers next, etc. It stopped at the 10 minute mile, which made me even more nervous because I'd been averaging just over a 16 minute mile. I pictured a pack of runners and then far behind, little old me, toddling along, pathetically clutching the bouquet of pink tulips I'd brought to hand my grandmother as I passed by her house.
I listened to music, I stretched and I watched as more people gathered at the start line. I got in line myself towards the back. Suddenly, it was go time. The race started. The crowd I was in started to jog, so I jogged along with them. As we ran along the first part of the race, there were crowds and crowds of people, cheering and clapping - it was truly awesome! I thought, OK, I can do this...I can even run a little - something I had not even considered until I started the race.
So I walked...and then I ran. I had a moment of disorientation when I thought I was further along than I actually was. And then, I was getting close to my grandma's, and so excited to give her the flowers, that I REALLY ran. I could see her, standing at the end of her driveway, watching for me. I ran up, handed her her flowers and wished her a happy mother's day while she kissed me on the cheek. One goal down, and a third of the race done. All I had left to do was finish.
I walked from there, and it got a little rough at the halfway point. I had walked that far plenty of times, but I guess because I got over-enthusiastic and hurried, I kind of shot myself in the foot. "Slow and steady wins the race" kept spinning through my mind but was somehow not translating to the rest of my body. There was a water checkpoint at the half way point and I downed the entire cup - that turned out to be a big mistake as I discovered a little bit down the road.
I met some cool people along the way, other women that like me, wanted to do the whole 5k but for whatever reason, weren't running the whole way. And I kept looking behind me, because even though I was pretty far down the line, I wasn't the last person.
AS I was nearing the end, I desperately wanted to run again. At the last half mile point, I tried to start running, and suddenly my inner alarms went off - that really didn't feel good! I slowed back down to a walk and could feel the water I drank a few minuted before making it's way back up. I was gagging and coughing, but I would not stop. I thought, "NO, not now, I can't stop to throw up now, I'm SO CLOSE". I kept walking and eventually the gagging stopped. Then, there it was...the finish line. And I started to run, and did not stop until I heard the beep of my timer chip as I crossed the mat. As I came in on the last stretch, there were people lining the walk (including my best friend), cheering and clapping and man, that felt good. After I crossed the finish line, a man handed me some water and said "good job". I ran and hid behind a tree as I started to gag again - I sat on the ground and desperately tried to get control, I SO did not want to throw up in public - although, after 2 pregnancies, it wouldn't have been my first time. I was able to keep it down though, and after a few minutes my friend sought me out to make me walk around and shake it off. She even brought me my favorite iced latte and took photos of me in my "race gear". Usually, I hate photographs of myself, but today, it was ok. I don't look like I want to - yet - but I can see the difference from a month ago or so, and that's allright.
So, I did it! I finished, and I actually beat my own time, because instead of 16 minute miles, I did 14! Not a big deal in the world of the fit, but a HUGE deal in my world. And hopefully next time, I will be more fit and it won't be as hard.
Today was a good day. I completed the training program and my first 5k. I honored my grandma in a way I never had the guts to before. I started day 15 of the Bootcamp Program. I crossed over into Level 8 on Spark People. And I discovered that I really, really like the supportive atmosphere of the Pink Ribbon race. I don't know if all races have the same good vibe, but I think I might try some more and see...