Saturday, June 03, 2006

Race for the Cure With 49,999 of My Friends

This morning I joined my SO and 49,998 of our closest running friends (for the day) in the Susan G. Koman National Race for the Cure. As mentioned before, this was my first running race since a very weak attempt in my high school track and field career. It was a 5K or 3.1068559611866697 miles (now those hate letters from mathematicians won't be sent for rounding too few digits) and I think I did pretty well for myself by finishing in under 28 minutes for a pace just over 9 minutes/mile. If I was really into my racetime, I'd make the excuse that the first 1/2 of the race was spent zig-zagging through the crowd so it was hard to concentrate on a good pace, but I won't because it was just good to get out there, help a great cause, and I'm thankful nobody in my immediate family has had to deal with this disease.

I will gladly show-off this t-shirt logo.

We found a snug parking space along 6th and D and used enough quarters for our 2-hour maximum. We did a quick run from the runner's start to the walker's start and some assorted stretches before it was time to lineup. It was hard not to be inspired by the mass of people and those with pink shirts and pink signs declaring whether they were running in "Memory of" or in "Celebration of". At the start, we stood next to a girl whose sign said that her stepmother and two best friends' mothers were survivors. The sign also said she was running for every woman who is diagnosed in the future. How do you not get goosebumps and chills after reading that and the other signs of support? When I wished all of them good health, she proudly mentioned that her stepmother had just finished her last treatment. It certainly gave me zero reason to complain about being tired at the end of the race - as if being tired after a 5K is one of life's real legitimate pains.

Good times in the District.

After Condoleezza (who sadly lost her mother some 21 years ago to breast cancer) said some words and we had a group stretching session, it was finally time to race. With dark gray clouds overhead and a solid breeze, we were off and running, or at least trying to avoid stepping on anyone around us. My SO is a world-class crowd zig-zagger and she quickly put some distance between us because the second she'd make it through an opening, it would close and leave me lagging. I pressed on without the pacesetter I've had during any of my once- or twice-weekly runs and concentrated on my own lane changes. I was able to keep her in sight (thanks to her colorful bandana from last year's race that everyone seemed to want this year) until the end of the race.

Last year's race didn't offer much elbow room either.

A few times I used the sidewalk to avoid the backs of other runners' shoes, but this didn't work much better with so many people running alongside. I felt like I had a good pace going until I realized I hadn't seen the first mile marker. Apparently it was at the first water area, but my oblivious self didn't notice. I kept wondering how far I had to go until I finally approached the 2-mile marker in a few seconds under 18 minutes. As we crossed to other side of the mall, I got as close as 3 people behind my SO and was going to finish with her until she made a dramatic move all the way from the far left to the far right to pour water on her head. Before turning down the final straightaway, I saw a blue finish line sign and assumed it was the end so it was time for me to sprint.

After making the final turn, I kept looking for that large blue sign declaring the end of the race. I told myself it had to be soon, it had to be soon. Actually, it wasn't the finish line. It was a sign for some folklife festival also taking place. It was a hard way to learn I should consider wearing glasses when I run. Eventually I realized my sprinting occurred juuuuuuuust a bit too early and would have a nice struggle to the finish. I made it to the end and somehow met up with my SO to hit up some of the freebies for our hard work. I made a nice dent at the water and banana table before drinking a yogurt smoothie and eating a bag of chips. We also grabbed a few scarves and pins to pass to our female family members. I got an airbrushed breast cancer ribbon on my left bicep and picked up some press-on tattoos because I'm hardcore like that - and of course it was some more free shwag. After that, we made it back to our car about 30 minutes after our meter expired without any tickets to be found.

DC, Chicago, wherever...just give it a shot.

It was a good race that was really a great experience. With so many participants, many of which were survivors themselves, it's definitely something worth doing every year hereafter and that's just what I want to do.

1 comment:

michelle said...

Great job!!! I ran the race today too for the first time and even though it was tough, it was so much fun and so inspiring to be around all those people.