Running on gluten-free carbs…

Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run – Louisville, KY (August 25, 2012)

Me crossing the finish line of the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run – Louisville, Kentucky

Me crossing the finish line of the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run

Place: Louisville, KY

Date: August 25, 2012

Time: 25:49

It was early in the morning when my alarm went off prior to my first race back from injury.  Let me tell you…I was ready to be back to it.  After doing a fun mile run (my local running store hosts the BlueMile BrewMile at local breweries/pubs) to test out my new orthodic inserts on a short run and…get back to running with others, I was hungry for this race.  And I woke up feeling really good, really rested, and ready to take on the hills of Iroquois Park in Louisville, Kentucky.  This particular park is known for its rather large hills.  I’ve run there a few times and every time…the hills kick my ass.

That Saturday morning…I was feeling quite confident.  I found a little saying on Pinterest as I was relaxing prior to eating some cereal and heading out to the park.  It said:

Turn a setback into a comeback.

It was spot on how I felt about this race.  As I mentioned in the previous blog, this is the second time that I’ve run the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run.  Last year…I was coming back off of a stress fracture and horrible runner’s knee.  This year…a torn plantar fasciitis.  Honestly, my goal is to run it next year without making it a comeback race.

But…technically it was a comeback.  And I promised my podiatrist, my mom, my roomie, and my friends who cared that I would take it easy.  I had ever intention of doing that.

My roommate and I arrived at Iroquois Park about an hour before the start of the race.  I grabbed my Cashew Cookie Lärabar, my iPod, and my iPhone and we locked up the car and started toward the amphitheater.  When we rounded the corner, we were in for a shock.  People were everywhere.  There were lots of booths set up for the health fare and such that accompanied the race.  One of Louisville’s food trucks was there as well.  The giant 10 foot colon was inflated and inviting people to walk through it.  And the crowd was awesome.  So many people were milling about, checking out the booths, seeing what was being offered, and talking with those around them.  The atmosphere was uplifting.  And at the 30 minutes pre-race mark, I cracked open my Lärabar and nibbled on it.  It was right around this time that the executive director of the Colon Cancer Research Project, Andrea, welcomed all the runners, walkers, and teams.  And she introduced other speakers, who proceeded to give short speeches.  Then…they called all the colon cancer survivors in attendance up to the front.  It was so moving.

My roommate said she was going to head up toward the start line to get a spot, so she hugged me and wished me luck before setting off.  And a moment later, the organizers told the runners to head toward the start line, as we were to lead the line of people so the walkers would be safe and not get run over.  U2’s “Beautiful Day” was playing over the loud speaker.  And I was taking steps toward that starting lineup.  And that was when a slight bit of fear set in.  I felt like I was about to hyperventilate.  It was all in my head.  I knew it was fear of getting hurt again, not being able to do this for awhile.  I really wanted to get past this fear I had of the one sport I have ever found joy and love in.  With a few very deep breaths, I set my iPod, focused on Bono’s words as he sang, drew meaning from that, and then listened to the race director give instructions on how we were to navigate the course.

Then…a moment later, I hit start on my iPod and we were sent off with a whistle.  With a deep breath and a slow exhale, I flashed a peace sign to my roommate as I stepped over the sensors at the start line…and was off.

Navigating Iroquois Park at a decent pace is really not hard.  Especially since this race starts us going uphill and has us end going uphill.  Yeah…it is evil.  So, I just worked on running a smart, good race.  It was warm out, so I wanted to take that into account when I set my pace.  I also didn’t want to push too much at the beginning and have nothing left for the hill I knew I’d face near the end.  Most of this run was actually done going uphill.  There were some downhill parts, but mostly uphill.  Trust me…it is possible.

My first mile ticked off and I was actually running better than I anticipated.  I felt good.  I was able to breathe without laboring too much.  I tell you, the two weeks I spent not running due to injury had messed with my fitness levels.  I felt so out of shape when I returned.  And running slower is not easy for me to do.  But I understand the importance of doing it…for the benefit of my heeling foot and to prevent further injury or further aggravating an injury.  I wasn’t too worried about my pace.  My goal was simply to come in faster than my comeback time from the previous year, which was 30:52.  It holds the distinction of being my slowest 5K race I have ever run.  I was already off to a better start, despite my initial trepidation.  I think a lot of that was all in my head.

I focused a lot of attention on the uphill climbs.  I had people pass me, but I didn’t  care.  I was not ready to push like I used to, and fight up that hill.  I was having enough of a fight trying to do so without straining a tendon.  With a half marathon coming up the following weekend, I didn’t want to do irreparable damage on a 5K.

Before I knew it, Mile 2 was in front of me and I was holding a decent enough pace, even passing some of the people who had passed me up on the hills.  But they caught me again as that steep hill hit.  I knew it was coming, and I had managed to conserve enough energy to propel myself up it at a slow, steady, decent pace.  I didn’t care who passed me, I was getting up that hill safely.  And that’s what I did.  And when it leveled off, I could see the edge of the parking lot coming up, and that meant I was almost to the finish line.

I didn’t look at my watch or waste any time.  I just kept on running.  I wasn’t sure exactly how much further I would have, but soon, I could hear people.  And then I saw my roommate waving at me, cheering for me.  The finish line was right there.  I just had to get over the line.  And according to the clock, I already smashed my previous time from the year before.  I crossed, breathing hard, and immediately heading over to the cold water being offered.  I grabbed a bottle and Cathy came over and found me, already telling me how well I had done and that she couldn’t believe I ran it in sub-26 minutes.  I surprised myself.  And I felt good…if not breathless and really hot.

Afterwards, I worked my way over to the Earth Fare tent where I received a banana.  I love a banana after a run and this tasted so good.  We settled in at one of the picnic tables and I went to go get more water from another booth.  While there, I found orange slices and grabbed one.  I ended up splitting it with Cathy…then went back and got one more for each of us.  Crazy delicious.  It was just what I needed.

After a few moments of re-hydrating, I decided to go and look for a friend of mine that I used to work with, who was supposed to be walking at this event.  I stood around, cheering on those heading to the finish line, hoping we’d cross paths.  But I never saw her.  And when I look at the official results, I don’t see her name on there…so I guess she didn’t make it to the race that day.

After the finish line was taken down, the awards were to be given out.  Even if I know I’m not getting anything, I tend to stick around and cheer for those who do.  And it was to my extreme shock that I ended up placing 3rd in my division.  I happily went up and received my medal for that honor.  I couldn’t have been happier.

Talk about turning a setback into a comeback.  I’m really tempted to take that medal in and show my podiatrist.  Maybe I will.

So, as it stands the official results for the Walk Away From Colon Cancer & 5K Run are that I finished in 25:49, was 72/684 overall, and 3/54 in my age division. Totally pleased!!!  How could I not be.  I missed two prior races due to not being able to walk leading up to this, was very nervous and tentative in my training runs…and then…I manage to surprise myself.

It was a great morning for a great race.  One that benefited a fantastic cause that is near and dear to my heart.  Next year, my goal is to run this race without having to make it a comeback from injury race.


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