Saturday, November 1, 2014

Day 32

Today I ran in the LUNGe Forward 5k, a fundraiser for the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina. My mom's battling lung cancer for the second time right now, and I can tell you it's no picnic. (And if you feel like helping someone with lung cancer who could really use some help, consider this.)

Along with all the other runners and walkers, we collected almost $130,000 in donations for this event.

For my last 5k, I walked as part of a team. Today I ran. I wanted to really push myself. 

The only problem? I got there late and missed the start. I'm almost positive the materials for the race originally had said it was in Cary, but that was out-of-date because I discovered this morning that it was in the North Hills area, which is an extra 20 minutes away. So by the time I got there, the race was already underway. I was seven minutes behind before I even started. Not that I was running for time, but I didn't want to be dead last.

Plus, it was about 42ºF and raining when I left the house. It did stop raining for the race, but the air was still chilly and the road was wet. But too bad, it was time to play catch up. 

So my first goal was to catch the pack. I found them after about 5 minutes, trailed by a police car. Thankfully there were a lot of walkers, so they weren't too hard to catch. Once I caught the tail end of the pack, I decided I wanted to pass as many people as possible. I'm not in good enough shape to run the whole way, especially on some long inclines, but I ran until I couldn't and then walked until I could run again.

Then I decided my next goal was to not let anyone pass me. I wanted to keep moving up. But as the route wore on, the combination of jogging and brisk walking was starting to take its toll, and ambitious people started passing me. I did get passed by a handful of people. The guy with the stroller passing me was a blow. But then I remembered that anyone who passed me had to be someone I had already passed first. So, like, it cancels out, right?

I continued to alternate between walking and running, but the stretches of running were getting shorter and the walking was getting longer. But if a volunteer along the route said any words of encouragement, I decided I had to start running again, at least for a little while.

At last I got to the home stretch. And about 200 yards from the end of the route, you turn a corner, and there's the finish line right out in front of you. I decided to do an all out sprint to the end. I mean, I figured there were people on this 5k who didn't even have two full lungs, people who had been to hell and back just to be alive at all. I could run 200 yards.

I did it. I almost threw up at the end, but I did it.

And somewhere right after I started sprinting, the free t-shirt I had gotten for participating in the race fell out of my pocket. I was completely oblivious. And after nearly collapsing at the finish line and spending a good 10 minutes trying to get up and walk again, I wandered in the general direction of my car. And I heard somebody say, "There he is!" and I looked around me to see who she was talking about. She was talking to me -- she had my t-shirt that I had dropped.

Sometimes people are awesome. The t-shirt isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I'm really glad I got it back. And if anybody needs me, I'll be right her. For a while...

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