I knew there would be a ton of people having been there two years ago. But I was completely amazed at the sight of it all. It's a wee bit overwhelming. David and I got in the pack of people and waited on the horn to sound off the beginning of the race. It probably took us between 8 and 10 minutes just to reach the start line from where we waited, and we were moving along at a very slow walk. Just past the start line, the road opened up, and we were able to pick up the pace to a jog. We ran the first mile, and then I had to slow back down to a walk. The whole time I was running, David was running in circles around me, turned around running backwards, and laughing hysterically at how slow I was. Note to self: DO NOT EVER RUN A RACE WITH DAVID AGAIN.
I walked a little, then ran a little more, walked a little more, ran a little more, but we did finish the race running which was painfully UPHILL and that's just downright unfair. All in all, I was proud of my efforts and performance. I haven't been feeling well over the last few weeks, so to be able to run half of it was satisfying. By the end of the day, my shins were hurting pretty bad, and I was glad I took those walking breaks. Besides, it's not really a race that's performance driven... everyone is walking or running with a higher purpose in mind, so there's not a ton of pressure to run and run fast.
There were moving parts of the morning, and the most emotional for me was way unexpected. As we stood in the huge mass of people waiting on the start of the race, the announcement was made that a lady would sing the National Anthem. I stood there as she sang, tears streaming down my cheeks, listening intently to the words of a song I'd heard so many times before. But in that crowd, surrounded by a sea of pink, the lyrics took a different meaning. I can't say that I will ever feel that way about the Star Spangled Banner ever again, but on that morning, it sounded like a song of triumph over cancer. And it was just beautiful.
When we crossed the finish line, we started scanning the crowd for my mom and Madalyn. We looked and looked and looked. For 20 minutes we searched. And finally, just when I was as near a panic attack as possible for me, we found them! But it was so late that we had already missed the mile walk. I hate it that the four of us didn't get to do that together, but I was so thankful to find them in the crowd! Next time, we will set an EXACT location instead of leaving it up to chance to find one another.
It was a fantastic day, and it was great to share the experience with my kids who don't fully understand how much their life has been touched by breast cancer. And, in some weird way, it helps to be one on the midst of that large crowd of people knowing that most everyone there has been affected by cancer as well. It helps to know you are definitely not alone.