Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mountains for Breakfast

Since I was cleared to start running, six weeks after giving birth to my little cupcake, I threw myself back into training and racing.  And, please don’t misunderstand my use of the word ‘race’.  I enter races.  I’m not fast, nor will I ever be a contender.  I compete against myself…oh, and talk a lot of shit through the process.  July 14th marked the day that I got back on the saddle so-to-speak.  I continue to train, when time permits, and I happily enter races – six races to be exact.  I recently ran the South Mountain 10 miler.  Yup, the words ‘mountain’ and ‘miler’ are married with the number ‘ten’.  This race proved to be a milestone (no pun intended).  I never entered a ten mile race before, nor had I ever entered a race with as much elevation.  I bullied a new friend into signing up for the October 30th race. 

Strangely enough, a slow moving front clobbered the East coast with ten-plus inches of snow.  Unsure of the road conditions and staying mindful of freezing cold temperatures, the race director decided to postpone until November 13th.  Thankful for the change, I stayed snuggled in my toasty home while I fought off a nasty cold.  During this time, I struggled with the possibility of having a wheat allergy.  What a lifestyle change!  Ordinarily, I embrace the pre-race pasta dinner; it’s ritualistic.  The food impossibilities consumed my thoughts and I barely ate much of anything for dinner.  I did get some good options for the morning, so I felt confident that fuel wouldn’t be a problem.

Damn, it was cold.  It seriously took me two years to figure out appropriate dress for the four seasons.  Again, I got this one right.  I met Kevin at the starting line and within five minutes we were off and running.  The 5K and 10 mile race started together in what seemed like a flash mob, but Kevin and I stayed in the back of the pack just chugging along.  Five minutes, or so, had passed and I noticed a woman in front of me with these huge, gorgeous chandelier earrings.  The purple and pink stones, matching her knit hat, bobbed with her stride.  I couldn’t imagine running with all that hardware.   I can be a little chatty during races, so I picked up my pace to compliment her on the earrings. 

Just before I caught up, she yanked off the handmade hat to expose her freshly shaven head.  She stood even taller to display the pink ribbon printed on her shirt.  I pulled along side her and commented on her beautiful earrings.  She responded, “I wear them to accentuate my bald head.”  She continued the conversation by telling me about her chemo treatment for breast cancer – she’s about halfway through.  “Today is a good day for me, so I’m running the 5K.”  She’s a runner.  She’s a fighter.  She runs a mountain every single day.  We soon parted ways and I wished her luck – luck in the race and luck in the fight.  I ran up Mountain Drive thinking of her. 

I’m honored to have run along side that woman.  The short conversation we shared put me in check.  I worried extensively about my dinner options while she pushes through every day, fighting for her life.  Unfortunately, there are too many people like her, but they’re the strong ones wearing their hearts on their sleeves with determination to beat the disease.  The fighters are my heroes.  They are hardcore.  Keep fighting – I’ve got your back.