Komen Race for the Cure: Progress
September 17, 2008

Today I ran 5K. Not the 5K, but 5K all the same. I'm pretty stunned, frankly. Deep down, I definitely thought I'd be stopping to walk at least part of the Race, but unless we have a Spare the Air day on Sunday that sears my lungs and excites my asthma, I don't think that's going to happen. (Knocking on every piece of wood in the apartment.)

[At left: Minneapolis September sky taken from my parents' backyard]

I signed up for the Race for the Cure nearly a month ago, and ever since then, I've been slowly building up my stamina and increasing my distance. Even when on a trip back home to Minneapolis, I kept at it. I didn't let the huge sticky buns, ice cream, beer, or burgers weigh me down. I wanted to do my supporters proud.

Although I grew up a few miles from it, I have never run around Lake of the Isles. Walked, yes. All the time. Run? Nevah! My first day home in Minneapolis, I ran the lower path of Lake of the Isles, which was 2.6 miles/4.18 kilometers and two days later, I ran the upper path (2.97mi/4.77k) in the spitting rain. As my unofficial coach, Dr. Mathra has plotted my routes according to whatever I wanted to run that day. He made sure I got a new pair of running shoes, and he made me take days off to yoga stretch my burgeoning shin splints.

During my first Isles run, Dr. Mathra chilled by the lake in the sunshine, listened to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and waited until I got to the 2/3 point. "Twenty-four minutes! You've been going twenty-four minutes!" he shouted, egging me on as I ran past. On the second extremely wet Isles run, I had to wear my usual timepiece -- my iPod -- under my old Mt. Holyoke sweatshirt, so Dr. Mathra sat in the mini-van, proofreading a paper and keeping track of my time.

Sam and I have been keeping each other posted on our progress over on Twitter. Her updates have spurred me on and pushed me just as much as Dr. Mathra's route-plotting and the heartwarming donations from my supporters. Sam and I want to be able to run in tandem on Sunday and now we both have a pretty good idea that it will work out. In fact, after posting the results of my Isles' runs, I got a direct message from her exclaiming, "Yay - I think we are going to be perfect running partners!" We really will be. (You know, just as long as we don't talk to each other, which takes excess breath and energy I might not have.)

Four more of our friends will also be walking to support the cause and after it's all over, we're going for a large brunch to celebrate. (Preferably outside so Sam and I don't put everyone off their feed.)

It's been great to have a goal to work toward and measure out in small increments at every attempt. I'm sure it's why I've been able to run further and longer than I ever have in my life. Aside from my one year in high school track, every time I tried to run for any significant amount of time, I just pooped out. I'd run for 5 minutes and walk for 2, then run for 3 and walk for 5, but any longer than that and I was beyond tired and incredibly sore the next day. I realize now that I was starting out way too fast. This time, I kept my pace slow enough that I wasn't gasping for breath. If my pace increased to the point where I was seriously winded and yearning to end it all, I didn't stop. I just slowed until things returned to normal.

Even after the Race for the Cure is over, I'm going to keep running. I'm going to increase speed and distance. I'm pretty sure I will never love running, but just like the old adage about why the guy bangs his head against a brick wall, I'm going to run because it just feels so damn good when I stop.

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