The Ukrop's Monument Ave 10K holds a lot of symbolism for me. 4 years in a row, it's had a big impact on my life.
The first year, 2007, was the first time I ever tackled it. Amanda and I ran it together, and while I vowed never to do it again because of all the damned walkers who insisted that they should be in Group A, Amanda decided that it was an event that she would do annually. We really did have a great time running it, and we ran into a bunch of friends afterward, and it was really just a lot of fun. I fell off the training wagon shortly thereafter, figuring I was done.
But not Amanda. It was when she was first starting to prepare for the 2008 race that she realized Something Was Wrong. An initial run outside saw her get no more than 4 blocks before she came home with a racing heart and feeling very ill. She decided to skip the race and gave her bib to her friend Kim Thies the night before being admitted to the hospital. The race was run the same day our hell began in earnest.
Last year, the race was 3 days after her death. I'd just returned from Texas the night before, had just told Alastair that his mother was gone, and we spent the night with my dad, who lives on the 10K route. We got up the next morning and cheered on the runners, several of whom were running in Amanda's memory.
This year, because she loved that race so much, I decided the best way for me to commemorate the anniversary of her death was to run the thing myself. I'd put down a pretty good pace in '07, and figured with 3 months to train, I'd match that time.
Two months into training, my back decided that running was not my friend. I hurt so bad I could barely walk, and had to give up running for 3 weeks to get the pain back under control. With two weeks left before the event, I started again, managing only 3 miles the first run, and just over 4 in my last training session. I was devastated. I went into the race yesterday very upset that I was going to fail her memory. She'd endured so much pain just to survive, and I was going to let a little pain prevent me from doing something to honor her memory. It was sickening.
The whole race I felt off-pace, and when I got to 4 miles, it became a misery to put one foot in front of the other. At 4.5 miles (roughly), I stopped to kiss my boy, who was sitting once again on my dad's porch. It was a serious struggle to get going again, and at 5.2 miles, after getting a sip of water (and choking on it badly), I gave up and walked a couple blocks.
People look at you strangely when you stop running and start walking, especially in some of the faster run-groups--I actually got a couple of scornful looks. I really could have used some encouragement, and I found it thinking about Amanda. I picked my feet up and ran again, promising myself I'd walk again before the finish line. I never did, and ended up crossing the timing line 6 seconds faster than I did in '07. My final time was 52:11, and as soon as I crossed the line I started crying. It's really really hard to cry when you can't inhale, and I felt like there was a stone on my chest. But I'd finished, and I'd done it for her, and I was so upset and just couldn't get the emotions out.
And I'll do it again. Absolutely.
I really appreciate all the support of my friends who contributed to my fund-raising efforts. All told we raised $790 for Massey Cancer Center. Whenever I felt down and out in the race, I'd think about all of you and your support, and it gave me strength to push just a little bit farther.