A Pre-Race Stretch

Race day is almost here. Tomorrow morning, after 12 weeks of training, I’ll line up with my fellow Cancer to 5K teammates to run the Goblin Gallop.

It will be my first race since the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in April 2009, and my first 5k since November 2008. I’ve run my fair share of races over the years, though, and truth be told, I probably didn’t need 12 weeks of training to get ready for this one.

Well, maybe not physically, though Coach Bob kicked my butt on more than one training run. But boy did I need it mentally. As I write this, I’m tearing up a bit, and it’s not due to pre-race nerves. As you know, I’m not usually short on words, but I find it tough to explain how wonderful this group has been for me.

Before this summer, I had spent a lot of time running away from my identity as a cancer survivor. But in CT5K, that designation is celebrated, and recognized for all the challenges it brings with it. In my fellow runners I’ve found a new group of friends with whom I can talk about the anxiety of a weird pain and the agony of waiting for test results, and then about shin splints and what stretches to do to prevent them. There were lots of funny chats while running around the track, and plenty of encouragement on those brutally hot and humid morning runs in the late summer.

This group is the result of the dedication of two volunteers, Coach Bob and Holly. Holly started CT5K after her own cancer diagnosis, and she works tirelessly to support all of the runners, to keep the program going, and to expand it to reach more cancer survivors — first this fall with several at-home runners across the country and a group in Howard County, Maryland, and next spring in New Jersey, too.

But Holly can only reach so many runners without additional support. I have hesitated to use the blog for this purpose in the past, but Cancer to 5K means enough to me that I’m ready to do it. We all have lots of worthy charities looking asking for our support, but I’ll add another one to your list: The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. (It’s the parent organization for Cancer to 5K.) If you want to donate, you can designate Cancer to 5K as the recipient of your donation on the second page.

As for me, after tomorrow’s race, I’ll have the Turkey Trot on my calendar, and then I’ll be looking toward the Cherry Blossom in the spring. And I hope to be back running with my CT5K team, gearing up for next year’s Survivor Harbor 7! (But sleeping in a bit on Saturdays in the meantime.)

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2 thoughts on “A Pre-Race Stretch

  1. I run too! I had the opportunity to join Team Survivor, an organization that focuses on helping cancer patients and survivors reclaim their physical selves through training and races. I didn’t do it. Partly I still resist being called a cancer survivor even though I am. But a lot of it was because this group was (and probably still is) heavily affiliated with the Danskin women’s triathlon series.

    Nothing wrong with that, but I co-authored two books on triathlon with Sally Edwards, the spokesperson for the Danskin. I know myself, I like to help people and I resist being helped. I’d have ended up helping people who suffered a lot more than I did, and that wasn’t what I wanted.

    I dunno, I still struggle with even telling people I had cancer. Writing about it was easy, but it was hard to hit the Publish button. When I lived in Seattle I did an annual 5K that was an ovarian cancer fundraiser (Swedish SummeRun) and wore a survivor shirt, but other than that I just tend to keep quiet about it. I guess I’m still struggling to figure out how to deal with it, because I do not want it to define my life.

    It sounds like you found a great group to be part of. I’ve started running again this year and am thinking of races for next year, so maybe I should look around for opportunities around that as well.

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