Every race is personal.
I’m no where near the fastest person on the course; I run sub-8:00 miles in my dreams -- and, even then, it’s a miracle. Thankfully, I don’t race to win prizes or fame. Every race until today has been about proving to myself that I can push myself physically and mentally. Every race has been about competing against my previous self and about improvement. I had some of those thoughts going into the Global Race for the Cure. But, this race was personal for another reason. For the first time, I was racing for something else.
In one of my training updates, I mentioned that there was a post that I was struggling to write about my decision to run this year’s Race for the Cure. I continued to struggle, and I never finished it. The post – which is still labeled “Draft” – is about my maternal grandmother, who passed away in 2009 after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I have so many feelings about her, and I found it difficult to put them in writing in a way that did her justice. To put it simply, she was incredible, and losing her was difficult. Even two years later, it’s a little hard to go back to Connecticut and know that she won’t be there.
I ran this race in honor of my grandmother – in honor of her selflessness, in honor the support that she provided all of us, and in honor of her love. I ran this race in the hope that, very soon, we’ll be able to detect and treat breast cancer in its earliest stages – before it takes the women – and men – that we love. I ran this race to raise money to fund screenings, treatment, and education programs for under-served communities. I ran because I still have the chance.
I was out of bed at 6:45 -- once again confused as to why I was awake that early while stumbling around to make a quick breakfast and stab myself with safety pins while trying to attach the largest bib I've ever seen to my clothing. I took Metro to Chinatown and jogged down to the starting line just in time for the pre-race ceremony. The race organizers were so kind as to put pace signs along the runners start, and I nestled myself between the 8:00 and 9:00 crowd.
Once the race started, I quickly learned that the pace markers apparently didn't matter. I started to get just a bit frustrated when I realized that I would have to weave around runners and walkers -- walkers -- who didn't intend to move anywhere near the speed their position in the pace groups led me to believe. Then, I thought that my frustration wasn't in the spirit of the day. Instead, I did my best to find running space and settled into the race.
The course was a there-and-back loop along the National Mall. Other than the beginning of the race when I sprinted at times to give myself enough room to pass, I maintained a consistent pace. When I started to feel tired and hot, I thought of the reasons that I was out there -- which was more than enough to keep me going.
I didn't care as much about setting a record this time, but here are my stats from the race:
Previous Record: 27:48 (Love the Run You're With 5K, February 2011)
Gun Time: 28:41
Net Time: 27:34
Average Pace: 8:53
Best Mile: 8:48 (Mile 3)
After the race, I walked back toward the metro and had an excellent interaction with a construction worker, who was obviously hitting on me. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't engage -- and I'd probably roll my eyes and give him the "Are you serious?" stare. But, there were happy endorphins to enjoy so I decided to chat while I waited to cross the street. (My internal monologue is in italics.)
Construction Worker (CW): You're out exercising this morning?
CW: That's good. That's really good...that's how you keep that body! (He motions an hour glass figure with his hands.)
Alisha: WHAAAA? Okay, it's going to be one of those interactions. Just smile and nod. I like to keep in shape.
CW: I bet your boyfriend is really happy with you!
Alisha: Yep. Good. Letting him think that you have a boyfriend -- even though it's a total lie -- will end this conversation.
CW: (laughs) You don't have a boyfriend, do you? (Maybe I hesitated?)
Alisha: Uh...I do have a boyfriend! And, his name is George. George Glass.
CW: I bet he's happy. Is he happy? I bet he loves you.
Alisha: I hope so.
CW: Good. Keep up the exercise and keep that body. It looks good!
-The light changes-
Alisha: Well, have a good day! Did that really just happen?
It was kind of flattering to have someone compliment me -- even though it fell on the side of street harassment. But, whatever, I was in a good mood. Mr. CW, I'll give you that one. The next time, it's the death stare for you.