Back in the spring, I mentioned that I had to leave Wyatt for a couple days but never explained why. My aunt had passed away after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer.
My cousins lost their mom. My mom lost her only sister and best friend. And my nanny lost her child. While I miss my aunt (she was really an amazing woman), I cannot begin to imagine how any of them feel.
I do know that pancreatic cancer an awful illness. If you get it, you only have a 6 percent chance of surviving five years or more. Of the top 5 cancer killers, it is the least funded.
Stats like this are pretty discouraging. Thankfully, there are some organizations- like the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network- who are hard at work trying to “advance research, support patients, and create hope”.
Earlier this week, I was contacted by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and invited to participate in the PurpleStride Charlotte 5k today. The 600 event participants for the Charlotte race raised over $84,000 for pancreatic cancer research! Incredibly impressive, especially considering this was the first year for the event.
I wasn’t planning on really racing the 5k. Rather, I just wanted to run and enjoy the experience. Right before the start, I listened to the opening ceremonies. The 11 pancreatic cancer survivors present were honored, and guest speaker, Dr. Sindram from Carolinas Medical Center, said he hoped to see more survivors here next year. I couldn’t agree more!
Then it was time for the race. I ran into my friend Caitlin, we said goodbye to our support crews (her son is only a couple weeks younger than Wyatt!), and headed to the start.
Once we got to the start, I could tell most people were planning on walking and not participating in the timed race. So- as you probably guessed!- my plans of not racing flew out the window. I immediately regretted running 11mi the day before and only having a 1/2 banana for breakfast.
It was such a beautiful morning for a run. Instead of focusing on my pace, I thought of my aunt and all the other people who fight so hard against terrible diseases. It really put things into perspective. Running up hills wasn’t difficult; it was cake compared to what the people whom we were running for went/ are going through.
Still, I wanted to kick butt and make my aunt proud. After the first mile, I was the lead female and I made it my goal to keep the lead.
Well it wasn’t pretty- my splits were 6:49, 6:48, 7:29- but I did it!
My finish time was 21:49 and I was the first female!
Thank you so much to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network for hosting such a great event. It was so encouraging to see so many people come together determined to fight and beat this horrible illness. I cannot wait to get more involved with your wonderful organization.
I’m sure I looked pretty cool when I stepped out on my first real run. I probably wore something really appropriate like a cotton tee and shorts, shoes that were not made for running, and a loose ponytail that I had to adjust every minute. I felt like an imposter and that all the other runners knew I was new with my slow pace and ridiculous number of walk breaks.
But here’s the thing I didn’t know then: no one cared.
We runners are a pretty selfish. We only care about our own appearance, own pace, and own goals. When I pass another runner, the only thing I ever notice is if he or she waves back.
This is just one of the many things I know now, but didn’t know back when I first started running. Over the past 9 years of my running career, I’ve learned the following:
1. Always carry water, cash, and an extra hair tie. It’s better to have water and not need it than to need it and not have it. I always run with a few dollars in case I need to stop for Gatorade or something. (After reading this story, I’m glad I do this on a regular basis.) And hair ties always break mid-run, always.
2. Sunglasses and a hat are a must. They shield you from the sun’s harmful rays and help keep you cooler on hot days.
3. Runners have a high risk of melanoma (source). Well, duh. We’re in the sun often so this only makes sense. Even though it’s sticky, smells bad, and is a pain to apply, wearing sunscreen can save your life. Wear it on every run.
4. Comfort trumps appearance. Back to my original point, since no one else cares what you’re wearing, you shouldn’t either. I’m much comfier running in spandex shorts even though they’re the ultimate fashion don’t.
5. The omg-so-awesome stuff isn’t for everyone. I’ve tried a lot of running “musts”: fuel belts, camelbacks, running skirts, artificially sweetened electrolyte beverages, group runs, 5ks. I’ve learned they’re simply not for me. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
6. Know where the bathrooms are along your route. Enough said.
7. The treadmill isn’t evil. Rather it’s a valuable training tool.
8. Stock a towel, a change of clothes, and deodorant in your car (when you drive to your run location). If you plan on running errands after a run, changing into dry clothes will make you feel more comfortable, and deodorant will help get rid of some of the stench. Besides, you don’t want this to happen.
9. Runs are unpredictable. Some days, I’ll feel on top of the world and I just know I’ll have the most awesome run. Then the run will suck for no clear reason. Thankfully, the opposite happens a lot, too.
10. It really does get easier. I used to think people who could run miles and miles without stopping had an innate ability to do so. In the beginning, I couldn’t even imagine being able to run one continuous mile. But I’ve learned that almost anyone can become a distance runner. It just takes the right conditioning and mindset.
What do you wish you knew when you first started running?
Hi all. I’m back from vacation.
I wish I could say it was amazing and that Wyatt didn’t get sick. Unfortunately, I can’t. That doesn’t mean it was all bad. Our family of three spent 9 consecutive days together without work commitments- beating our previous record by 6 days- and Wyatt enjoyed himself some of the time.
I have to be completely honest, though: I’m barely running. In fact, my longest run in the past 2+ weeks is 4.25 miles. Not exactly ideal for someone who’s supposed to be training hard to PR in a half marathon next month.
The truth is, I’m just tired. Really, really tired. Wyatt’s sleeping issues are hardly new, but lately I feel extremely worn out. I’ve been sleeping instead of running. Napping instead of working. Lounging on the couch instead of blogging. I just don’t feel up to doing anything (and no, I promise I’m not pregnant).
The reason I share this is because back in the spring, I had no issues training hard for races despite sleep deprivation. Several other new moms have asked me how I did it and I honestly don’t know. It has completely caught up with me now though, and I just cannot work out like I used to.
Each day, I hope I’ll get the urge to run. But it hasn’t happened yet. After the baby’s 5am feeding this morning, I was supposed to run 5 miles. Just like I was supposed to do a 10 mile long run this past weekend. Yeah, neither run happened.
I don’t want to force it because rest is clearly what my body needs now. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Obviously it’s normal to have ebbs and flows with everything in life, including your passions. But I just feel like this ebb with running has been building for the past few months, and I just want it to flow again.
How do you guys get out of fitness funks? My upcoming race isn’t motivating me, so I need some tips. Thanks!
*I just wanted to add that I feel a bit ridiculous talking about something so petty today. I hope you will all take a moment to remember the families who lost loved on on this day eleven years ago.