Monday, October 3, 2011

The Gift Of Running

I went for a weekend of fun being this my last week of “resting” before Houston training. A fun weekend equals to back to back 10K races, Saturday and Sunday; nothing to shoot for other than a tempo run, and to meet friends and new people. On Saturday I would run Project Athena 10K race in Redmond, and on Sunday I would run Pace Race 10K in Kirkland. 

I confess that I was planning on going to “another” race... then I read the stories on Project Athena's web site. This organization helps survivors live their adventurous dreams, with entry fees, airfare, coaching, and specialized equipment, in an attempt to help them reach their goals.

I had no idea what this race would entail. The opening ceremony was all about the survivors. They told a short story of each survivor running the race. At this point when I heard the stories, I thought I still got it easy with my breast cancer, because what others have endured had no comparison. Cynthia, the main featured survivor suffered the tragic loss of her two teenaged children, Chrissy and Carlos, 1.5 years apart, in 2005 and 2007. Project Athena had inspired her when she needed it the most, and she would be running her first 10K. While I was listening to this, I thought about giving my run to Cynthia and accompany her throughout the course. I asked her coach if I could run with her by her side and she said “of course”.

We started the race, and there we were Cynthia, Melissa (Cynthia’s coach), Amy, a young girl that has had too much at her young age, and me. We ran, jogged, walked, pushed, to the next post, to the next “blue garbage can”, to the guy with the red shirt (oh wait, that’s a moving target), to where the photographer is, to the overpass, to the bridge, and little by little we advanced a quarter of mile, half a mile, a mile, two, three, four, five, six. And Cynthia got to the finish line, and she wasn’t last which was one of her goals. It was a moment that I would never forget. I thought I was giving and I was the one receiving the gift from such strong woman.

As I told the foundation creators: "I went today to what I thought was another race, but I became so inspired by your foundation and by the amazing stories that were shared in the podium, that have nothing but gratitude for what you are doing. Stories like Cynthia's are extremely tragic, but it's beautiful to see what you've done for her and others. From the bottom of my heart, thanks." 

And this foundation was in certain way the answer to my need to give back what others have done for me. I offered my support to help other survivors in Western Washington to achieve their running goals and to run the race of their dreams.

With Cynthia.
From left to right: Melissa, Cynthia, Me, Amy
On Sunday, being in a happy bubble for the beauty of my Saturday’s experience, I went to run Pace Race in Kirkland. I saw my co-worker Brian and we chatted for a while, mainly on the surprisingly low number of runners.

I went simply for a run and a hilly workout (Kirkland is very hilly). Temperature was 50F, perfect. As soon as the gun went off I settled my heart rate for a hilly 10K which is higher effort than a regular 10K. Surprisingly, I felt good throughout all the race and never ran panting or hyperventilating. The race was fantastic, I ran the first three miles which are mostly uphill very good and had a fantastic downhill at mile 4. This mile, three years ago, cost me the quads which are obviously way stronger now. I finished in 58:18 and got second in my age group.

Mile 1 – 9:46  – HR 167
Mile 2 – 10:10 – HR 170
Mile 3 – 10:04 – HR 174
Mile 4 – 8:44 – HR 177
Mile 5 – 9:02 – HR 180 (98% of max heart rate)
Mile 6 – 9:04 – HR 183 (all effort)
Mile 6.2 – 1:25 – HR 188 (!!! This is 103%)

This was a successful weekend with great results, especially Saturday, when I thought I would be giving, and I was the one that received the gift. All these living experiences are nothing but a consequence of The Gift Of Running.

2nd in my age group
With Brian

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