Sunday, November 1, 2009

Komen Race for the Cure - Second Race for Second Base

This is actually my eighth Race for the Cure- my first in Austin. But this is my second race in less than a month that benefits the boobies.

The morning started off a little atypical for me:

1. I didn't visit packet pick up prior to the race, so I had to get my bib number and timing chip that morning instead of having it all prepped the night before.
2. I was running late- even with the extra hour.
3. I didn't rest the day before- I ran 8 miles for my long run (my longest distance without stopping to walk so far).

Given this, I was a little frazzled when I arrived and didn't have enough time to take my race shirt back to the car before the race started. So, I ran with it :-).
I warmed up by trotting from my car to the race site and I could tell that my legs were t-i-r-e-d. They felt heavy and uncoordinated.

Although I was on the Texas Hospital Association team (Protectors of the Holy Girls) I wore my Red Licorice gear. It stood out in the sea of black and pink. I looked around but couldn't find any of the other "Protectors" but I saw lots of clever t-shirts. "I'm With Survivor," "Protect Second Base," "The Rack Pack." I was amused because I just finished Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk where the protagonist learns many colorful euphemisms for breasts (several more colorful than others) and this was like a PG rated extension of that theme.

The run itself felt alright- not my best feeling race, but I reached two milestones. First, I set a new PR for non-triathlon 5k (36:38 - 11:44 minute miles) beating my last timed effort by 2:26! Secondly, this was the first 5k where I never stopped to walk. I ran the whole way! For many of my athletic friends, this is an everyday occurrence, but for me, it represents a goal that has taken two years to reach. Sure, I have been running over three miles without stopping for the last few months in my training program- but I'd never run a full timed race until today.

The race allowed the timed racers (about 1700 people) to leave a half hour before the majority of the participants (thousands- in the past as many as 20,000). This was wonderful! We didn't have to battle our way through the crowds to maintain a pace. Another first for a Komen Race- hills! I was not really expecting hills... These weren't killers by any stretch but my already achy legs protested grumpily.

A little after Mile 2, Marion and Jen, two of my Rogue training buddies, caught up to me. They were looking very strong. We chatted for a bit and they continued on at a clip that was just a little faster than I wanted to go. A little ways from the top of the last hill, Adam, one of my Red Licorice teammates, gave me a cheer and let me know the finish was just a half a mile away. I checked in with my legs- were they ready to kick it in yet?
Mmmmm.. not just yet.
I hit the top of the hill- now? Eh... not yet.
I rounded the corner and could see the finish line and the 3 Mile sign just ahead and my legs said- Do it!
Now, it wasn't an out and out sprint- it wasn't even a stride pace, but my legs kicked in and I finished strong.

The finish line funneled runners around to the food vendors where we loaded up on Yoplait and Lara bars. With each stop at each vendor booth, our schwag bags become heavier and heavier. Light up key chain, water bottle, magnetic picture frame- I became a consumer zombie. MUST TAKE FREE STUFF EVEN THOUGH I DON'T NEED ANY OF IT.

Finally, after the race, the Protectors of the Holy Girls regrouped at Mighty Fine Burgers for cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes. And I must give props to Jen for drinking a milkshake in record time without suffering from brain freeze. Seriously- it never had a chance.

As I write this, I realize that the last time I participated in the Race I was still living in Sacramento.
My Mom was diagnosed in February 2006 with breast cancer and I did the Race that May- and so did she! In the middle of treatment she and my Dad walked the gentle loop around the Cal Expo Fairgrounds.

So again, today, I raced in her honor- and for my friend Marion who continues to kick my butt during our runs.