Thursday, March 18, 2010

Race Day

I am not sure why it is so hard to write about this day. I have been meaning to since Sunday afternoon but all of the thoughts, emotions, experiences and accomplishments of the day remain in my brain in a wonderful jumble that can not quite be organized into words that are adequate to convey what it is that I think and feel.

How do I tell the story without making it all about me? I mean really, where do I begin? I guess I'll start at the very beginning. (I hear it's a very good place to start.)

It was on the night before the race that I finalized my running playlist. I added some R.E.M. for Chip, who was not able to make it, some Relient K for ElemenoB who was going to be tending the kids while we ran and some Michael Buble for my dad - among a handful of other great running tunes.

Early the next morning I awoke to the sounds of Coolister's crutches as he made his way up the stairs. I couldn't imagine what he was doing up at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday since he normally slept in as long as possible. It turns out that he was just wanting to come cheer us on from the stands - you know, offer up some family support for his dad and I.

How thoughtful. We all loaded up and headed out.

The temperate weather surprised us. We were expecting a cold, windy rain but instead found mild weather that was perfect for running.

Once we arrived at the starting point I realized that I had missed a few calls on my phone. Two calls were from my longtime interpreter friends, Clint and Amy, who were both there to run the 10K as a show of support to me. It was just a few minutes before the starting cannon for the 10K when I tried to call back, to no avail. I have to admit that with over 2,000 runners present (and just as many spectators) I knew that my chances of finding them were slim to none, but we headed to the starting line to look for them anyway.

Another of my missed calls was from Jason and it was then that I realized that I had forgotten my camera. Jason had offered to come and take pictures of the race for me but it seemed vain to take him up on it so I hadn't responded one way or the other. Well, wouldn't you know it... the next thing we knew we ran into Jason, camera in hand. I was so grateful that he knows I am vain enough to want pictures for this very blog post.

Pictures like this...

This is Allen and I as we were waiting for the 5K to start. Completely un-posed, too. At the appointed time, we found a place in the sea of runners behind the starting line and before we knew it the starting cannon fired. It took us a full minute and a half before we were even able to cross the starting line. (Before I go on, let me apologize in advance for how shy Allen is around the camera...)

The crowd was so massive that there was no way I could even think about running until about a block into the race. It was frustrating at first, that is until we had reached the half mile mark and already I was feeling ready to walk. Because the race started out on a long, gradual hill it was quickly wearing me down. I was about to slow to a walk when I saw the first sign on a light pole. It read: GO GERB! I wish I had pictures of the signs which some mysterious friend had placed around the course, but this will have to suffice:

SO AWESOME! I was touched to know that someone would take the time to not only make signs but to go around and post them at strategic points throughout the race. I made it another good stretch of road then slowed to a fast walk for about a half block before picking up my pace again. When we had reached the point where we were about a mile into the race I spotted Coolister on a grassy hill and called to him. Jason had loaded our eldest manchild up in his car and sped over to this point of the race for some more photos.

I probably only walked a total of 1/4 mile because the signs and photo ops kept me going. And Allen was amazing, encouraging me the whole way. I even gave him permission to go on ahead a few times but he stayed right with me.

As we neared the finish, Allen even offered up a little prayer on my behalf...

I told Allen at this point that I wouldn't be able to make it around the track at the finish without walking. I had already pushed myself beyond what I thought I could do and my legs were not going to cooperate any longer. However, I was surprised. So many dear friends were there cheering me on! First Jason with his camera, then Allen's sister Rachel & her husband Jeremy who we didn't know had run and finished ahead of us. My friend Natalie surprised me with cheers from the sidelines, and Coolister encouraged me through the finish line. I found a second wind that I didn't even know was there.

I also didn't realize that Allen had purposely fallen behind so that I could cross the finish line before he did.

Did you know that the proceeds of this run go towards cancer research? It was no accident that this was the race I chose to conquer. There were so many parallels that ran through my mind as I worked my way through the course. They kept me going and brought me strength.

We finished 908th and 910th at around 35 minutes. But I was not running for rankings or time.

I was running because I can run. I was running to remind myself that I can do hard things. I was running in memory of my dad who died from brain cancer 9 years ago and in support of my friend Jes who amazes me with her strength in battling cancer now.


After the race Coolister crutched his way over to us which made this, my favorite picture of the day, possible. Me, my man and my oldest boy. I love these guys.

I couldn't help but think that the only way this day could possibly be better would be if I was somehow able to find Clint and Amy. And then, wouldn't you know it...



Kristin Garlick said...

Congrats!! You are very motivating! Loved the pictures :)

Rachel said...

If I were a cryer I'd be blubbering right now. This story Gerb is beautiful and amazing. Your victory, your wanting to celebrate your dads life by running for him and others fighting the fight, Natalie making the signs and placing them around for you, Jason taking photos, finding friends......the whole story is so touching. I'm glad you wrote it for us. You're an amazing person Gerb!!

Corine said...

WOW! What a touching story. You are so blessed to have such great friends!! Congratulations!

Corine said...


Rebecca said...

Thirty five minutes of running? As inspiring as you are, I don't think I could do it. I'll keep considering, though, just because you make it seem so appealing. I'm proud of you, Gerb!

rorymckm said...

yay gerb! that is SO awesome about all those signs! what a blessed day and a wonderful thing, you deserve to feel so very proud! :) :) :)

Angela said...

Wow of course you made me cry. You are so wonderful. Way to go Im so proud that you made it. What a neat story. Congratulations!

Linn said...

This seriously made me teary! So, so fabulous and yeah for Jason and his photos! Thanks for sharing--you are amazing!

Kimm said...

YAY Gerb!! Love the photos!
I am a cryer, and I AM blubbering!! Thanks, cause I'm at work!! ha ha oh hi, deaf person excuse my tears...I just have AMAZING friends!!

Gerb said...

Kristin- You are so sweet. Thank you.

Rachel- It was an amazing day. My words can not do it proper justice. And... thanks.

Corine- Thanks so much! And yes, you're right, I am blessed with amazing friends.

Bec- Aw, shucks. Hey - you want to do one together? I need a new goal to keep running...

Rory- I almost started crying when I saw the first sign because I was so touched by the sentiment. Thanks for the comment.

Angela- You are awesome. Thank you.

Linn- Thanks. The amazing thing is that the chances of Jason finding us were pretty slim, but he did. I have some awesome friends.

Kimm- I TOTALLY used 2 of the songs from your CD on my running playlist and thought of you when they came up, so thanks for being there with me!

Gina said...

Mercy! I'm crying about a race that I didn't run. Awesome description of the day. I love being a part of your life through words. So great! And while we are at it, let's give a cheer for Clint and Amy too. Hip hip hoorah!

Richard & Natalie said...

Gerb, I got teary watching you head for the finish line and now I'm teary again reading about it. Running a race is something, but running it to honor your father and to support a friend that is something truly special.

Anaise said...

I think the part of this story that I find inspiring is that there were so many people cheering you on. People who went out of their way to encourage you. I want to be that kind of person.

I'm glad you had a great day!

Lori said...

Oh, Gerb--so proud of you! You looked amazing!!! I am so jealous that you have your blogworld of buddies out there to support and encourage you like that. What a blessing.

And it only took you 35 mins to run a 10K? WOW. That's amazing. Isn't that, like, 6 miles? That's better than a 6 min mile, and to keep that pace up is absolutely incredible. Especially without adequate training. YOU ROCK.

Lori said...

BTW...tell Jason I'm playing in a triples volleyball tournament tomorrow. Perhaps he could come and take some photos? :)

Gerb said...

Gina- And three cheers to all of you who make me feel so awesome, too!

Natalie- I just wish I could have found you afterward to give you a hug. Thanks so much for cheering me on and for everything else. You rock.

Lori- Well, don't be too impressed... my friends ran the 10K and Allen and I ran the 5K. So it was more like an 11+ minute mile. But I finished! ;)

I'll pass the word along to Jason. I can guarantee you he'd be there if he had his own plane.

Shannon said...

Amazing...and more this going to be a regular thing when I read your posts? Guess I'll have to invest in some Kleenex. Congratulations on finishing!

Simply Dee said...

GO GURL!!!!!!!

Gerb said...

Shannon- Thanks! It was an amazing day all around.

Dee- Thanks so much!

Chelle! said...

You are amazing!!! You are so inspiring!!! Oh my...I am so glad that I know you!!!