My left calf muscle is burning, and I rolled out of bed very slowly this morning. But, I completed my first 5K yesterday finishing with a time of 38:31:31 placing 276 out of 463. With only three weeks to get ready for the race, I’m happy with my time although I do want to run a 5K in under 30 minutes.
Interestingly enough, Hoops for Life is the second toughest 5K in state of Missouri due to all the hills that make up the course. I didn’t know this little piece of trivia when I sent in my registration form. Silly me thought the slogan “A Tough Race for a Tough Cause” referred to distance not incline, but I survived!
It seems crazy to go from not running at all to attempting a 5K in just three weeks. I tried to find a training schedule, but all the ones I found were for 9 or 5 weeks. I ended up starting out with the Couch to 5K program only running six days a week instead of three and then the last week running under the Jonny method.
The Jonny method consisted of my younger brother literally running circles around me while he was wearing a weight vest and complaining about having to slowdown his pace. He would then tell me to run when I wanted to walk and say just a little bit more when my legs were screaming. But as my dad says (when he wants to see me get mad) “If it was easy, they’d let girls do it.”
The day of the race was gorgeous. Over 600 walkers and runners, most wearing neon orange shirts, participated to raise money for pediatric brain tumor research in honor of Sahara “Hoops” Aldridge. Sahara’s parents started this 5K after they lost their 13 year old daughter to a malignant brain tumor. While there was so much adrenaline and excitement surrounding the race, I couldn’t help but think how Sahara’s parents would feel after the last runner went home. Yes, thousands of dollars were being raised to help other people’s children, but Sahara was gone. She would have turned 18 this year.
Having the courage to bring something good out of a tragedy is one of the bravest things someone going through grief can do. It is easy to give in to the pain. It’s hard to move forward. I’m sure the families connected to the movie theater shooting in Colorado can attest to this.
Grieving is a lifelong process. There is a lot of attention at the beginning when the pain seems the most intense, but it never fully goes away. You learn to cope, to celebrate, to grow but you can’t ever go back to how it was. It’s a tough race, a daily race with very real pain, but that pain can sometimes turn to hope like it did yesterday when over 600 people’s lives were touched by a girl who most had never met.