When my coworker and friend got the news – that her precious and beautiful grandson was diagnosed with childhood cancer, it rocked not only her world, but so many others. To be quite honest, I didn’t know much about St. Jude, or even much about childhood cancer, and the fight these precious little ones put on every single day. That’s why when my friend asked me to join her for the 5k to support such a special cause, I didn’t hesitate.
The morning of the race was a cool and windy one. It was about 50 degrees and the wind was whipping pretty hard. Okay… so it wasn’t sub-zero temps, but it was cold. But really, I didn’t mind at all. It is November and this was one of the first days it actually felt like fall. So, Hubby and I dressed accordingly and headed out bright and early.
When we arrived, I was thrilled to see the community support for this race. Cheerleaders from our local college university were there, along with a couple of high school cheerleading squads. The race was extremely organized. We had no problems finding the tent for packet pickup and, of course, the tent with Cliff Bars, bananas and fresh hot coffee.
Before the race began, I met up with my friend. She had an entire entourage of friends and family who were there participating. Her mother-in-law had taken the time to sew every one of us capes, the same type of cape her grandson had worn on his very last day of chemo treatment. To say it was special to be a part of this would be an understatement.
So, we took off, running this surprisingly flat course feeling a little bit like grown-up super heroes. The course could have been slightly confusing if you weren’t paying attention. It was a fantastic route, but you most definitely needed to watch for the arrows painted on the ground and to the volunteers directing you where to go.
I could tell I was moving at a great clip. Usually, hubby pulls away from me near the first mile, but this race I managed to keep up. We only started to split apart about halfway through the race, but it wasn’t a big gap at all. Unfortunately, I didn’t even think to start my Runkeeper app. Looking back, I wish I would have – I would have loved to see my splits on this course.
As we finally made the last loop towards the finish line, the cheerleaders were lined up along with other participants, cheering everyone on. Since this was the only – and big, might I add – hill that we encountered, I needed every bit of cheering I could get. However, when I crossed the finish and saw my time, I was ecstatic. I had broken 30 minutes. For me, this was a huge feat. I managed to cross the finish line in 29:45, just under that 30-minute mark.
After the race – and after getting medals which I was completely surprised to see – we hung around and cheered the others on.
I will most definitely do this race next year and encourage anyone that comes across a St. Jude event like this to jump on board. It felt amazing to support those that are fighting for their lives every day.