Running for a cause

I am a night owl. So, getting up at six in the morning can be a struggle. Thankfully, I don’t do that too often.

Yes, I could go to sleep earlier but when The Bourne Ultimatum is playing until 12:30 am, getting seven hours of snooze time goes out the window.

That’s pretty much how it played out this past weekend. I had every intention of getting a good night’s sleep the night before the CIBC Run for the Cure 5K run yesterday morning. I did get up at 6 am. Of course, it was dark outside. Sigh. Welcome to autumn. Things started looking better after 7am as I drove towards Shaw Park for the run.

Considering this was my first time participating in this event, I wasn’t sure what to expect. First order of business was trying to find a parking spot. Easy enough to find parking when you arrive there about 7:15 am. Then the big question was figuring out how to pay for parking using one of those parking ticket-issuing contraptions. Someone said parking was free. Then someone else had asked one of the organizers and returned with a resounding ‘You have to pay for parking.’ Thanks City of Winnipeg for not waiving the parking fees for one day. Oh, well.

Five minutes later, heading towards Shaw Park, you could hear music blaring and see all the kiosks putting the final touches to their displays before the participants and their friends and family slowly flooded the place.

When I woke up at 6 am, the temperature at that hour was eight degrees. It didn’t feel like eight degrees. Maybe more like three degrees. The 20km/h wind didn’t help. But everyone who had arrived was excited and quickly started perusing the kiosks for freebies and purchasing last minute items like gloves to keep the hands from getting too chilled. I had forgotten to bring gloves but decided to tough it out. Besides, once you start running, everything warms up pretty quick.

Shaw Park is home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team. I have to admit that this was the first time visiting the facility. I’m not much of a baseball fan. Sorry. But, I had a good look-see of the venue when I was submitting my donation forms to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation folks. I’m happy to have raised over $1,100 for breast cancer research.

On the way back to the meet-up location for my running group, I popped by a Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation display for breast cancer survivors. There were piles of shirts specifically for survivors to pick up and wear if they desired. The shirts were the pink versions of this year’s Run for the Cure shirt that 95-99% of the participants were wearing yesterday morning. I wasn’t planning on wearing the white Run for the Cure shirt but I saw the pink shirts. One of the volunteers asked if I was a survivor. Yes, I am. She gave me a shirt. I suppose it would be easy enough for anyone to lie to the volunteers about being a survivor but that would be dishonest and despicable.

I pulled the t-shirt over my hoodie and met up with my friends. They loved the pink shirt. I explained to them how and why I got the shirt. They were very surprised to hear I am a survivor but very happy to see how well I’ve done since the diagnosis and treatment. Again, being a cancer survivor is not something I regularly offer up as a tidbit about myself. I’ve never defined myself that way.

But yesterday, I decided to let fellow pink shirt-wearing survivors know I was one of them and that we are fighters by nature and out of necessity, and that we are here for each other.

After the pre-requisite speeches and a Zumba-inspired warm-up, the runners took off first at the blare of a horn that sounded like it belonged in a NHL hockey arena. A few minutes later the walkers marched off, too. There were no maps of the route made available prior to the run but it didn’t matter since there were plenty of route marshals banging tambourines and cheering on the runners and walkers. It was probably a good thing I didn’t know the route. I just kept moving and there were plenty of runners around me.

When I saw the finish line about 500 metres away, I had enough gas left to find a higher gear and make a run for the finish. It was felt great to be able to go into a higher gear. I guess I’m ready to try speed work. But I think I’ll wait until next spring to try that.

The pace seemed oddly fast. And it turns out I shaved some time off my fastest pace so I’m quite happy about that. Now, I can go back to my turtle pace over the winter.

After the run, the gang went for a post-run breakfast at The Original Pancake House where everyone except me fuelled up on coffee. I went for water and orange juice. Everyone went for orders of buttermilk pancakes, eggs and bacon. I had a dish called Deluxe Hangover Omelette which consisted of eggs, cheese, ham, tomato, green peppers and pepperoni with a side of hash browns and three buttermilk pancakes. Not sure if it’s good for hangovers but it was definitely tasty. I almost inhaled it.

Our group instructor took the opportunity to ask me how long I had been running. Prior to June, I had no training and made a point of balking at the opportunity to run when given the chance. For whatever reason, she was very surprised and commended me on my ability and fitness level. She said she never saw me struggle with the group runs. I joked with her saying she hadn’t heard me breath while I was running. Finding a breathing rhythm has been occasionally frustrating. But I’ve decided to let my body fall into a breathing rhythm on its own without me forcing it.

Regardless of my perceived breathing bugaboos, the instructor threw out the idea of training for a 10K race as my next step. She firmly believes I can tackle a 10K run. I’ll think about it. That’s another five kilometres to the five I’ve already run. Ack. Maybe I’ll work on my endurance over the winter.

Anyway, it was a great post-run meal and conversation. It was great to get feedback from the instructor about her observations regarding my progress over the past eight weeks.

Now, I can start winding down and create a new training schedule for the winter. It’s still a ‘no’ to outdoor winter running when the snow starts falling. No. No. No.

I think I need a hot bath with epsom salts.

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