I got up and went to meet my friend, the one I started on the Couch to 5k running program. Three months ago, she selected this day, this race, as her target for running and completing her first ever 5k. She wasn't completely finished with the program, hadn't yet run 30 minutes straight, but she was determined, and in running sometimes, that's all it takes.
She selected the Race for the Cure here in Raleigh. A race this year that registered 25,000 runners/walkers/run/walkers. The environment is wonderful at these races, lots of crowd support, runner support, and the survivors. Wow. If you can't get inspired here, you are a soul-less pit.
We watched the road fill with other runners behind us, for a full quarter mile, women lined up. B lost her mom five years ago to breast cancer. I knew she was battling more than nerves before a race, saw her eyes linger on mom-daughter pairs and couldn't think of one thing to say. I watched as women lined up all around us with names written on them, the names of women lost, women still fighting, women they hope will never have to fight.
Her plan was to run intervals, 10 minute runs, 2 minute walks. She wanted more, but she didn't want to disappoint herself so she set her goals low, and I knew, hoped she'd be able to run every step.
At 7:50, we started, dealt with the massive crowd and then broke out and ran. I knew we were running much faster than she had ever trained 2 minutes into it. I told her to set the pace, and I'd stay with her. She did. At 8 minutes I could feel her losing speed, her breathing getting labored. We walked at 10, about halfway up the first hill. She was winded and as I looked over to check on her, disappointed. We topped the hill, and saw our first mile marker, and our time. I didn't say anything, but mentally noted that were almost a full two minutes ahead of her 'average' pace. We ran again. More hills, and in 5 minutes and at the bottom of another hill, she needed a break. We walked up the hill, ran down it and more. We didn't make the full 10 minutes and I saw her disappointment in herself grow. She said "I didn't want to walk this much". I don't know what got her up again, words of encouragement, the kids with supersoakers shooting at us, the B52's blaring from someones porch, the wonderful volunteers at the water stops, or if she just found something down deep where those things live. Whatever it was, she picked up her head, and got to stepping again.
More hills, more struggle, not enough water, but she kept stepping.
At the last half mile mark, I wanted to cry, she had worked so hard, and I could see the emotion rise in her when she realized we were almost back to the start.
At the quarter mile mark, her tears came but she ran faster, and harder, finishing strong and a full 7 minutes faster than the girl had ever completed 3.1 before.
Here's to you, B, to a run you can be proud of, and for being the kind of woman that sets a goal, fights for it, even when it's hot and hard, and doesn't quite come out the way you had hoped.
Youur mom isn't the only person who's proud of you.