Madison, WI – Komen Race for the Cure: A Race Report from the Heart

Komen Madison Race for the Cure

Most of you have probably participated in a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K event.  If you haven’t, you should.  It is always awe-inspiring and for this girl, it is also a tear-jerker experience every time.  I love watching the survivors running in their bright pink t-shirts.  Thousands of people come out to support them and other loved ones who have battled breast cancer.  Most participants  proudly list those whom they are there to support on their backs, fronts, wherever they can.  It is all about celebrating those who are fighting, and honoring those we have lost to this awful disease.  

I have done our local Race for the Cure every year since we’ve lived in Madison.  Typically, my family runs on my friend Tania’s team.  Tania is  a six year breast cancer survivor (can we get a woot woot in the house?!!).

Jake (4 y.o.) and I running RFTC in 2007

Unfortunately, 2 weeks prior to the race, I received the devastating news that a dear family member had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She is only 32 years old.  She is married and has young children.  During the last two weeks, she has had to take in the shocking news, get tested almost daily for other potential bad news, meet with a whole battery of doctors, swing through the ups and downs of each part of diagnosis, break the tough news to others, and essentially get used to the fact that her family’s otherwise normal life had just been violently upended.  She begins treatment this week.

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that this year’s Race for the Cure hit really, really close to the heart.  I looked forward to toeing the line in her honor.

However, I will readily admit I was scared to race the 5K.  I haven’t run anything near 5K pace in months.  I have hardly run at all during the last four weeks.  I am definitely softer around the edges than I’d like to be.  Mix in the psychological pressure I unwittingly placed on myself to run well and guess what:  I was worried that I would disappoint.

Of course, I knew she wouldn’t care how fast or slow I ran.  I knew no one really cared about that.  But I cared.

Why We Are Running

After a terrible night of sleep, the boys and I got up bright and early Saturday morning for the race.  My husband unfortunately couldn’t run due to injury, so instead he took photos and cheered us all on. We met up with our teammates and after 20 minutes or so the race was off.   It was a super slow start even though we were only 10 rows back from the front (gah!), but I was able to hit my stride pretty quickly once I was able to break out of the crowd.  I thought my son James would be right at my side during the start, but he wasn’t.  I didn’t worry about that though.  We were each running our own races.

James at the start of the race!

The first mile clicked off around 6:50 pace.  Per normal, I slowed the second mile.  By quite a bit.  I looked down and my lap pace was 7:38.  What?  Admittedly, I kind of suck at 5Ks.   When I saw my pace had slowed so much, I wanted to give up.  I thought maybe if I stopped for a minute, James would catch up to me and I could just run it in with him.  But then I thought about my loved one who has been poked, prodded, tested and devastated repeatedly in the last several days.  She is starting chemo on Monday.  And that is just the beginning.  She can’t give up.  She won’t give up.  How can I even consider quitting now when it is only a silly 5K and I DO THIS FOR FUN?!   As you can imagine, my strides picked up then and there.

Mint coming down the home stretch to the finish!

I ended up running in at 21:33, which is pretty decent for me (and good enough for an age group win).    I was thrilled when I saw the clock.  I overcame the pull to call it quits and I did not disappoint.  I turned around and my ten year old son was right there behind me with a 22:11.  Rockstar.  A few minutes later, my youngest boy strolled in with a great big smile on his face.  Then, my friend Tania and her husband finished.  It was the first time she had ever run the 5K distance non-stop.  It was by all accounts, a huge success.  We also raised $700 to fight breast cancer!

Big smiles at the finish!

It is so easy to get down on your training and to want to give up.  But sometimes it is so important to channel those who have much more difficult struggles ahead of them than we do.  I was so blessed to be able to find real inspiration from my family member out there on Saturday.   She has a long fight ahead and I know she will find the strength, courage and mental toughness she will need to kick cancer to the curb.

Team Mint Post-Race

With that, I give you an important Salty Public Service Announcement:  Ladies (and men):  Do self exams.  Now.  Tomorrow.  All the time.  Breast cancer can creep up fast.  No matter who you are or what stage of life you are in – cancer does not discriminate.  The statistics are scary.  So stay on top of your health and take action if anything changes.  Please. And.Thank you.

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Mindi is a serial marathoner. She is a private practice attorney, wife and mom of two awesome (and super fast) boys, ages 12 and 14. She coaches Girls on the Run and is a big advocate of youth running.

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8 comments

  1. Thanks – I love the analogy to horse racing – both to road racing (running) and fighting cancer. Dig in, pick them off, and get it done!

  2. Love this entry. IT made me think of something fun to share with all your running pals. I’ve always been a massive fan of horse racing – it just hits all my passionate spots. Nothing is so awe inspiring as a come from behind victory in horse racing though. A horse who breaks from the gates, gets roughed up in the pack – jostled and bumped and shaken, and then somewhere around 3/4 of the way through finds their stride and starts picking off the others one by one to surge forward and gamely stick their nose out to make it under the wire first. That’s how all this stuff is – dig in, and start picking off your challengers one by one – then stretch your nose to the wire, and get it done :-) Thanks for everything – looking forward to many more years of this stuff –

  3. Thanks so much ladies!!

    And for clarification on my racing Salty, I fortunately did not run the entire 2nd mile at that pace. I caught myself relatively early on (.3 in maybe) and readjusted. :)

  4. I echo Salty – it sounds like your friend has all the tools she needs to wade through this dark place and come out on the better side of it. So sorry that any woman has to face this devastating disease!

    And, I love that you made this personal and reminded us that it could be any of us. As a woman who had “a scare” last year, I experienced only a few days and only a portion of the fear that so many of our sisters have to face. It inspired the blog below: “Feel Yourself Up.” I was lucky in the diagnosis, but it was still a MONTHLY SELF EXAM that caught the problem. Thanks for the poignant reminder on such an important subject.

    http://www.starstrees.blogspot.com/2011/08/feel-yourself-up.html

  5. I hope your recently diagnosed friends beats it! How awful!!! But how great she has you as a friend and supporter! And congrats to Tania for being cancer free for 6 years. WOOT WOOT!

    As for your race, you crack me up. 5k first mile, marathon pace second mile :) You must have really rallied that last mile with all that inspiration around you. Great job!