Most of us have a friend or family member who has been affected by breast cancer. In fact, statistics show that 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. (Source) When I was in college my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has now been cancer-free for over a decade.
In 2004 I ran in my first Race for the Cure 5k in Little Rock, Arkansas. I had no idea what I was getting into but I was immediately overwhelmed by the size and entire atmosphere of this event. Little Rock has averaged over 34,000 participants the past few years making it the 4th largest Race for the Cure 5k in the country. There is a unique positive energy about this race that promotes strength, survival, and hope.
|Photo courtesy of KARK|
The first year I participated I had a 3-month-old at home so my main concern was running and getting back home to nurse her ASAP.
|2004- wearing my first RFTC shirt several hours after the race|
Over the next several years (basically from 2004-2012) I was either pregnant or nursing a new baby around the time of RFTC. I knew I wasn’t running for my fastest time but that wasn’t what was most important. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now. My younger sister Tara started running it with me and it became a yearly tradition.
|2005- pregnant with Anthony|
|2010- 6 months pregnant with Ashton|
|2011- Tara & I a few months after we each had babies|
|2012- my fastest RFTC to date- 19:15|
Last year I was in excellent race shape and ready to break 19 minutes at RFTC (Race for the Cure) for the first time ever but pulled a calf muscle the day before doing some strides after a shake-out run. I was so sad to miss it and after the race several people from church (who I didn’t even know followed my running) asked me why I didn’t race.
This year I’ve been recovering from plantar fasciitis so I didn’t plan to run it. I had several friends and family members ask me if I was racing and every time I questioned my decision. Friday night (the night before the race) after getting two texts in a row I asked John what I should do. He knows how much I love this race. Just because I wasn’t in “race shape” was it really a good enough reason not to support a cause that is close to my heart? It was time to get over myself. I checked online and sure enough it was not too late to register so I went for it. The time on the finish clock was not what was most important. I just needed to be there.
Saturday morning I was up at 4:45 and met my friend Natalie who was driving at 5:15. I was able to get my shirt, bib, and chip in plenty of time and then Natalie and I jogged about 1.5 miles to warm-up. Temps were in the mid 40’s which is the coldest weather I have run in since April!! It felt wonderful! (The 40’s are my favorite racing temps.)
Once again my goal was to run strong and not feel any foot pain! (Do I really have control over the foot pain?) I thought that trying to average a 6:15-6:20 would be a reasonable goal pace. Natalie was shooting for a similar pace so I thought we’d stick together as long as possible.
Mi 1- 6:12. A little fast but I felt good. Up until this point I was running along side Natalie and we passed several women to position ourselves 2nd and 3rd overall.
Mi 2- 6:17. I still felt good and hoped I could hold onto 2nd place.
Mi 3- 6:24. Big incline from mi 2-2.5 up the bridge. I loved the cheers from runners on the opposite side. I heard several runners- including my sister and a former XC teammate shout “Go Tia!!” which was so encouraging as I tried to push myself up the bridge. Right around 2.8 I was supposed to make a left but kept running straight. Apparently I wasn’t watching the signs in front of me and the lead runner was too far ahead so there was no one to follow. The police at the intersection was not watching so I didn’t realize I was heading off-course. When I finally realized my mistake I had lost a few seconds so I made a sharp left to get back on course. Another runner- not Natalie came up and caught me. We were running side by side until we hit the mile 3 marker. Then she started to kick. For a split second I thought about just letting her have it. I was tired and ready to be done. But then the competitor in me took over and I KNEW I was not going down without a fight.
Mi 3.13- 0:43 (5:25 avg. pace)
From the mile 3 marker to the finish I sprinted my heart out. Hands down the best I have ever finished a race in my life. I never kick that hard. I talked myself through it by telling myself “YOU are a competitor. YOU can run faster and harder than this. YOU know how to push at the end of a race.”
|Huge thanks to Natalie’s husband Jay for snapping these pics of the finish!|
I finished one second in front of 3rd place female. I think this is my slowest 5k in years but when I finished you would have thought it was one of my fastest. I was so happy. I needed this!!
Official Finish time: 19:37. Official results can be found here. And I have to say congrats to Natalie for finishing 4th and going sub 20 for the first time at RFTC! 🙂 She’s one of the ones who convinced me to race it.
A few after race pictures…
|The tradition continues… Love my little sister Tara!|
|So glad I was able to meet up with my former college teammate Britney after the race!|
|Sporting our awesome Kroger headbands!|
I’m SO glad I decided to go for it. I knew this race wouldn’t be a PR or even close to a PR but I needed to run it and to experience a race that I love for many reasons besides running. Race for the Cure is about women coming together to support each other. Breast cancer affects everyone. We all need support, strength and hope.
A Few Facts about Race for the Cure in Arkansas: Source
- 75 percent of the funds raised at RFTC remain here in Arkansas to provide breast health research, diagnostics, screening, treatment, services and education for uninsured or underinsured women.
- The remaining 25 percent goes to fund national research to discover the causes of breast cancer and, ultimately, its cures.
Why Race for the Cure needs your support in Arkansas: In this state there are 25 counties (1 out of every 3) that have no fixed mammography services. These are the women who are least likely to get a mammogram and it is the hardest for them. The funds raised in Arkansas Race for the Cure help make the following programs possible:
- Free mammograms and diagnostics
- Medical treatment for qualified breast cancer patients who cannot afford care, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation
- Support services including support groups, assistance with finding financial resources, prescription refills and transportation to medical appointments
- Education about the warning signs of breast cancer, methods of early detection and the latest treatment options
- Cutting edge research to find a cure for breast cancer