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Yesterday I did my second 5k. Because ADDICTED, y’all. I chose the Komen Race for the Cure 5k, though I was a bit conflicted. I lost a lot of faith in Komen with the Planned Parenthood debacle. Not just because I’m fiercely pro-choice (and pro-sex ed), but also because they do so much good work for breast cancer screening. But then I thought about Kim. Did you guys know she did the 3 Day Walk? It was during her first bout with the cancer. She was still getting chemo but did the walk anyway. It landed her in the hospital with pneumonia. She did it though. And she also made special pink ribbon cookies at the bakery where she worked to raise awareness/funds for breast cancer research:

Image from Grand Central Bakery’s FB

The Komen foundation was important to Kim. And while I have no idea what she would have said during the PP issue (though I can imagine she’d be none too thrilled), I know she would have liked the idea of me racing for the cure. And I like doing things I know Kim would have liked, so I signed up. Plus, 5k!

I learned some lessons in the last race, namely Be Brave and Eat Carbs. (A phrase which is now in the running for next year’s Words, after this year’s Make it Happen.) My nerves were better this time, which made the Brave part almost easier. There was no terrifying need to eat ALL the graham crackers for days before. I was pretty chill, actually, up until Saturday night when I turned out my light. In the dark, it hit me why I was racing this particular 5k and I tried to picture what Kim would say to me but then I couldn’t remember her voice. So instead of getting a good night’s sleep before a race, I decided it would be more fun to cry a lot. (This is a pre-race warmup I neither recommend nor want to repeat.)

After my self-indulgent emo version of Sleepless in Seattle, I woke up at 5:30 Sunday morning and IMMEDIATELY ATE A BAGEL. Well, half a bagel. Because nerves. But I ate the bigger half and was generous with the almond butter. I did my traditional pre-race shower (with lots of dancing), tamed the tatas, and stretched while the dog wandered the yard eating grass. (I abstained because I’ve been told to avoid greens before a race.) I packed up my post-race bag and jogged to the bus stop.

After arriving at the Seattle Center, I found iWill’s car and did some more stretching. iWill was off running the streets of Seattle for his pre-5k 15 mile warmup. He finally wandered my way and we took our traditional pre-race War Eagle photo.

The next thing I knew, the horn blew (heh) and we took off.

Here’s the thing about running a Komen anything: PINK TUTUS EVERYWHERE. So there were a lot of people to target/pass. In our first 5k, iWill helmed the targeting duties. This time, I was totally on board with the game. The race was a perfect dance of picking off sitting ducks, one by one. Also, PROGRESS happened guys. Please to see:

Me: TATER TOTS!

iWill: Huh?

Me: That restaurant over there. They have the best tater tots.

iWill: LOOK AT YOU TALKING ABOUT TATER TOTS WHILE RUNNING!

Me: Right?? I bet I could totally talk about doughnuts! NO I CANNOT DON’T SAY DOUGHNUTS OMG I MIGHT THROW UP.

iWill: You’re killing your pace, btw. You might want to slow it down.

Me: YOUR FACE SHOULD SLOW DOWN! BECAUSE LET’S DO THIS BITCH.

(Again, all race-recap conversations are approximations.)

The race was going so well, y’all. I was killing my pace, as iWill pointed out. I felt strong. The carbs were working a magical spell!

And then.

Oh you guys. And then. The course took a turn for the uphill. A LOT of uphill. ALL THE UPHILL.

Me: Um, hill.

iWill: I know! Keep going! You are crushing our last 5k!

Me: HILL. HILL. HILL.

It just kept climbing, guys. It was ridiculous. But I dug my feet in, kept my stride short, quick, light, and pushed forward. Finally we reached the top of the climb and hit the turnaround point. I was strong! I was invincible! I was WO-

iWill: Um, maybe a better goal would be to finish at or around your last 5k time.

Me: Wait, what? (Looking ahead) OH FUCK ME.

It was another hill. A slow, steady climb. Again. At this point my breathing got raspy and asthma-y, but I kept going. I am determined to finish my 5k races without walking. So I ran, slowly, unsteadily, but ran up the hill. And we got to the top of the incline and were just about a half mile from the finish, with 6 minutes to go to meet my first 5k time. 6 minutes, a flat half mile stretch? I HAD THIS.

Me: I HAVE THIS!

iWill: Yeah you do!

I picked up the pace and dug in deeper. For an extra push, iWill suggested we pretend every step crushed cancer cells to tiny little pieces. It was perfect because fuck cancer. We were charging ahead, about to round the last corner before the finish line. Then iWill attempted more motivation.

iWill: Who is Auburn’s rival?

Me: ALABAMA!

iWill: This run is Alabama! The people ahead of us are from Alabama! Are you going to get beat by rednecks with no teeth because THAT IS ALABAMA!

Me: AUBURN IS IN ALABAMA. WHY ARE YOU BEING MEAN TO ALABAMA?

iWill: Wait, what? I thought you were from Texas!

Me: I AM!

iWill: THEN WHAT IS UP WITH AUBURN AND ALABAMA?

Me: I CANNOT EXPLAIN MY LIFE TO YOU RIGHT NOW. RUN THE RACE, iWILL.

Couple in brown shirts on the sidelines: YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!

Me and iWill in perfect unison: SHUT UP SHUT UP NEVER SAY THAT TO PEOPLE RACING OR WE WILL PUNCH YOU IN THE FACES.

(Not really. But we did look at each other and complain about how it is not helpful to hear that until you can actually SEE the finish line.)

I was all set to sprint to the finish line as we rounded the last corner. And then we saw it. The final hill. The final hill in the last .2 miles of the race. The final hill that was STRAIGHT UP. Not awesome Paula Abdul Straight Up (oh oh oh) but like a freaking wall.

Me: NOOOOO. I THOUGHT KOMEN HATED CANCER! WHY ARE THEY ACTING LIKE THEY HATE ME?

iWill: The hill is cancer!

Me: YOUR FACE IS CANCER!

Head down, feet forward, dig dig dig. I charged up that hill as best I could, congratulating myself silently for the foresight I’d had to do hill sprints last week. (Okay, maybe iWill suggested hill sprints. Whatevs.)

I would like to point out here my self-restraint during the race. In my first 5k, I *may* have gotten a bit shout-y with my running app, the much-beloved iWill. I held it together in this race. I was cordial, friendly. I was Little Miss Fucking Sunshine, y’all.

Until.

As we pushed up the final hill, iWill decided it would be extremely motivating to turn around and run BACKWARDS up the hill, shouting at me.

iWill: ARE YOU SLOWING DOWN? DON’T SLOW DOWN! RUN IT BACKWARDS!

I didn’t yell. I didn’t even think. I just reacted.

iWill: OW.

Me: I WILL PUNCH YOU IN MORE PLACES THAN THE SHOULDER IF YOU DON’T GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER AND LEAVE ME ALONE.

(I’m only slightly sorry today.)

I blasted my music here. Ballroom Blitz was just starting and the opening riffs pushed me up the hill because while the hill was a freaking wall, SO AM I. I AM A FREAKING WALL, GUYS. I made it to the top of the hill and could see the finish line. I could also see 4 or 5 people ahead of me. Again, I didn’t think. I just TOOK OFF, passing one person, then the next, then a third, and finally overtaking a fourth person just as we crossed the finish line. I did it, y’all. This time *I* was the awful 7-year-old! Somewhere out there are 4 people who want to clothesline me in the next race they see me in! I AM AN ATHLETE! I WANT A TROPHY!

After the race, we celebrated with our happy-exhausted picture:

One of us ran over 16 miles. The other of us is me. I have zero excuse for looking this tired.

Then the race volunteers offered us water. iWill’s bottle had pink water in it. TOO FAR, KOMEN. Because what is that? I found a bottle of normal, clear water, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, and we’ll wait and see if iWill grows a second face or turns FAAAABULOUS or something after all that pink water.

We headed to Chaco Canyon for our post-race victory meal. I had a lentil burger and a veggie juice, which has a bit of special meaning for me. Sometimes after chemo, the only thing I could get Kim to eat was Chaco Canyon. I used to smuggle the lentil burger into the hospital for her. So it seemed fitting to celebrate this race with Chaco. Also, there was pie. Really delicious pie.

After lunch we headed to Gas Works to do some sunshine enjoying, lying in the grass lazing, which by the way, iWill? Should totally be a new post-race tradition. Sunshine, grass, and laziness. Let’s make that a Thing.

THEN iWill taught me how to make a blade of grass sound like a horn using only my mouth. (That is not a euphemism.) (Yet.)

Lessons:

  • I can always dig deeper. I need to continually push myself. For this race, aside from iWill’s great motivational techniques, I imagined Kim on her bike, riding to work with the wind in her face. I thought of how much she loved being active. And then I pictured her struggling to get up our stairs and it made me angry, which made me push harder. This was a good image for me. I’ll be using it again in my next race.
  • Carbs really are my friend. I think I might try a full bagel next time. Or maybe a half bagel with a half banana. WHO EVEN KNOWS? I think I could have used a bit more energy. You know, for all the freaking hills.
  • Make a packing list. I nearly forgot my race bib and timing chip. I also definitely forgot a non-tata-tamer-bra, so my abilities were a little too harnessed for many hours. I felt kind of like a linebacker. In a sports bra.
  • Teach iWill about college football and the SEC and other conferences. Because I mean REALLY.

Mostly though? This race was FUN. Like, while I was running. Like, I was running AND having fun. AT THE SAME TIME, Y’ALL. This is a new experience for me. Usually I just have fun when I stop. It was awesome and I can’t wait to do it again.

(Because ADDICTED.)

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