You want to talk about inspirational? Holy shit, now that was one hell of a race.
I have had people tell me on more than one occasion now that I have been an inspiration to them and helped to get them motivated to start moving, lose weight, and get into shape. But let me tell you, the quick and dirty version of my story is that I was a guy who got fat and then fixed the mess I was in. It was a long hard process and has changed my life forever, but what I have done is absolutely nothing at all compared to some of the people I met this past Saturday morning. People who, through no fault of their own got Cancer. And beat it. Beat. Freaking. Cancer. I have an entirely new respect for the disease, its victims and survivors, and the Livestrong foundation as a whole. It is SO MUCH more than the cool, slick Nike marketing ploy that I always kind of suspected it was. This is completely shame on me, because I never did my homework on it, I just saw people wearing the yellow wristbands and clothes and assumed it was one of those deals where it was a huge marketing thing for Nike that just happened to benefit people since there was a charity attached, but never realized the full scope of things till now. THESE people are the real badasses. I have absolutely nothing on them. I just had to provide some props to everybody I had the opportunity to meet on Sat at the Livestrong Challenge Philly 2012, starting first and foremost with my friend Dan. Also, I need to mention my brand new friends Jack and Diane (yes, just like the John Cougar Melloncamp song). No, they are not a couple, even though that would have been AWESOME. They were not even at the race together, we all just happened to be standing in the same general area in the corral as we waited for 20+ minutes before they turned us loose on the course. Schedules didn’t line up so I missed Dan both before and after the race, but I was an unofficial member of his annual team here at Livestrong: Team Forget Chemo. Dan is a cancer survivor and one hell of a nice guy. Admittedly I did not become friends with him until after he had already gone through his fight, but I can tell you that he uses this race as an annual way to celebrate another year cancer free and to help to raise money to help others fight this horrific disease. As for my new “friends”, I got a chance to chat with these 2 people standing near me in the staging area before we all started running. That would be Jack (testicular cancer survivor) and Diane (I want to say pancreatic…could have been prostate… cancer survivor, I apologize if I got that one wrong though). To hear the stories of their fight and life post- cancer was pretty amazing. I am proud and definitely a better person for getting to meet and spend some time chatting with you. They seemed genuinely interested in hearing my story as well, about the weight loss and the blog and everything, but even as we were talking, I had the overwhelming feeling like my experiences are nothing compared to what they have each had to go through in their own way. It was fantastic to get to know you a little, even if it was only for 15 or 20 minutes. I hope you were able to remember the web address and check this post out. Keep in touch and keep it up!
As for the race itself, it went great. My admittedly ambitious goal was to run a 10K in under an hour. I have not seen the official results yet, but my unofficial results (from my Nike+ watch) put me at 10K in 1:00:36. Ahhhhh! 36 seconds! If I just would have pushed a *little* harder I might have been able to shave it off. Oh well, next time. This is not a point to complain about, I did manage to shave off several minutes off my previous best time, and I feel amazing about that. The course was really nice and flat and I felt really strong through the bulk of the race. I was trucking along, feeling comfortable and settled into to a good pace. And then, just to serve as a reminder that no matter how good and confident you feel, there is always someone out there who can completely blow you out of the water: all of a sudden at around mile 4 I get passed by a little woman pushing a double stroller. Double stroller! Whit 2 kids in it! I’m sure if she was just running by herself she would have smoked us all, but she was really nice and her kids seemed to be having a great time too.
The thing about this race is that it seemed to have a bit of a somber tone to it. There were a lot of people running “in memory” of someone else. Either a parent or relative or friend who they lost to cancer. There were a lot of other people running “in honor” of someone else as well, not running for someone they lost, but for someone who is in the fight right now. I read that as “running because they can’t”. Which is amazing and inspirational, but also a sharp reminder of how fragile we really are and a reminder to really appreacite what we have in our lives and not take things for granted. Ok, I can sense this post taking a turn to the much heavier side of things and I want to steer it back to the lighter, so I’ll end this line of thought like this: So all in all, things were a little bittersweet but the event still had all the hype and energy that I have come to know and love from these races. My time was great, not exactly my goal but still damn close, and I felt great all the way through and then even after the race as well.
I’ll post again later in the week, big milestone coming up for the blog and I will hopefully have some fun news to share with everybody. Until then, have a good week, and take it easy.