Turn The Trail Pink..... I threw the idea out there and YOU responded. Thank you so much for all the support. We all HATE cancer and it amazes me how many lives it has impacted. There are so many times throughout this past year that I have broke down into tears while reading about the destruction this MONSTER has caused. I am so proud to know there are such a high number of warriors ready to fight back! You are AWESOME.
This weekend was all about PINK. Pink is the "official" color of breast cancer awareness month and we represented well. I opted out of my usual Red Friday, in support of the GREAT KC Chiefs, and went with Pink Friday instead. Trust me, I am a dedicated Chiefs fan but some things are just way more important. To me, it was important to get in the right frame of mind and focus on the task at hand, which was breast cancer awareness, honoring those touched by cancer and FIGHTING BACK.
A quick rundown of Saturday morning and then I'll get to the 50k. The Ozark County Relay 5k for Breast Cancer Awareness is an annual event in our little town. We have some very dedicated and awesome people that work really hard to raise funds and they do a great job with the race. I showed up with the idea of "taking it easy" and saving something for Sunday. This was a great plan until we actually started the race. As we took off, I held back for about 30 seconds BUT I just couldn't stand not putting all my effort into it. Maybe I'm competitive and don't like to do less than my best..... uhhh.... no maybe about it. THAT is true. I ran hard and ended up with a PR for this hilly course by about a minute. (a minute is pretty BIG in terms of a 5k) Luckily, the really fast dude (Charley) actually did take it easy and I pulled off a victory with a finishing time of 18:11.
Some really cool things happened during this race. First, some great friends made the trip down from Springfield to support the event. They bypassed several closer 5k's and drove 1 1/2 hours just to run ours. It is people like this that make me proud to be part of the running community. They could have ran a more convenient event but, knowing how important this fight is to all of us, chose to show up and help out. Awesome character. Awesome.
Second, and probably the most significant event of the weekend occurred AFTER the race. A friend, whose wife is fighting cancer, commented on a towel that was on the side of the road at mile one. We all noticed the towel but he put it into proper perspective for all of us. He said, something to the effect, it was there to remind us that we can't throw in the towel. We MUST keep fighting. Very inspiring and motivating. Did I mention the towel was PINK? Yeah, I still have goose bumps.
On to the 50k..... I showed up with the pink tutu and it got a LOT of comments and looks. Imagine that. It was adorned with over 50 ribbons to honor those touched by cancer. My friend, Karla is a super warrior in the fight who found time in her VERY busy life to hand craft each ribbon. Without her, things would have been all screwed up. My wife stayed up late on Saturday night pinning each ribbon to the tutu- each one had to be in the right place and she did an excellent job. Without her, I would be lost.
Several friends were on hand to give me support and made me feel a little more comfortable about showing up decked out in pink. They all ran the 25k and had some amazing finishing times. The race started a little after 8 and we hit the first creek crossing shortly after mile one. I lost track of how many crossings there were but they ALL happened in the first 5 miles leaving us with wet feet for the rest of the race. Sweet. Around mile 5, I "thought" there was enough space between me and the pack behind to slip off the side of the trail. You know, coffee..... As things were starting to flow- a voice- "Girls don't stand up to pee." Busted. Fortunately, it was my buddy Charley (the fast dude from earlier) who was "supposed" to be taking it easy because of injury. It was great to see him and we ran up to mile 13 together. This was the point the 25k and 50k trails split. He went on to place 3rd overall in the 25k...... so much for taking it easy.
At the halfway point I guessed that my position was about 10th or 11th. I was right but things felt good so I kept a good pace and pressed through the hills. At mile 17, I passed one runner and started to feel like I could finish strong. Over the next few miles I passed 3 more runners but was starting to feel a little sluggish. Then, at mile 24, something AWESOME happened.
Coming off a VERY steep climb and really feeling like it was going to be a LONG way to the finish, I looked down at the trail. I almost stepped on it but managed to avoid it and turn around to pick it up. It was a ribbon from the tutu that had fallen off early in the race. The course was out and back, so this ribbon became unattached at mile 6. As I picked it up and looked at the name, a huge smile came across my face. It was a SIGN. The name belonged to Doug R...... (hate to use a last name here- haven't asked the family) Doug lost his fight to cancer and I did not know him. For that matter I do not know any of his family. This is what I DO know.
Doug's daughter was the first to donate online to this event. She told me that, "He was the kind of a guy who wouldn't turn down a patient-- no matter the time of day nor the fact that they couldn't pay." This is EXACTLY my kind of person. The kind that looks at the big picture in life and does what is right, regardless of his personal reward. We need more Doug's in this world. The idea that I found this particular ribbon at such a tough point of the course is not a coincidence. It can't be. It was a rally call. A reminder to stay the course and remember that this race was not about me or how I was feeling. It was about the FIGHT and honoring the real champions.
This was the moment that I KNEW the finish was within reach and would be a strong one. I kicked it up a notch, passed another runner and headed toward the finish line. Coming around the last bend on the trail, I caught a glimpse of another in front of me. He was quite a ways ahead of me and I tried to catch him. I needed another 1/4 mile- he finished 20 seconds before me. Can't win them all.... As I came down the last stretch, there were a lot of cheers for the dude in the pink tutu. Most were my friends that had stuck around after the 25k and it was really cool. I ended up in 5th place and had a finishing time 0f 4 hours 26 minutes. Very good for a chump like me that thought if I could hit 5 hours- it would be by pure luck. Turns out I didn't need luck, I had something better...... The wings of angels and true warriors.
One last thing before this turns into a novel. Thanks to everybody that helped support this effort financially. The total amount raised, as of now, is $405. This includes online, cash and checks. Thank you so much for opening your wallets- it takes money to FIGHT the monster and you have, once again, come through in a big way. There has been some suggestion of possibly running the Bass Pro Marathon, next Sunday, in the tutu. I am open to the idea IF we can make that total $500. Yep. I'm still trying.......
This is how it works-
I love to run but there are times when I would rather not. This is when the voices start. Chants, name calling, guilt and reverse psychology is how they get me up and out the door. I don't really mind the voices and have actually started looking forward to their daily calls. Together we have formed a running club that supports, encourages and competes with each other. I love these peeps. They are much more experienced, talented and tougher than I am. Pushing me out the door, through the hard miles and up the monster hills when I am feeling lazy or want to give up. Some people have "real" training partners, coaches and support crews. My team is ALWAYS with me and helps me to keep my eye on the prize and not veer off the track. Sounds crazy- Yeah, probably is.........