On Sunday the Blair House guys run their first 5k race, and I am terribly terribly jealous about it. I still remember how it felt the first time I ran across a finish line and while I can rejoice in extending the distance or improving the time, I also know it'll never feel quite like that again. It was one of those breast cancer runs--but because it was Los Angeles and because Oprah was running it, it was of course outsized. And very very pink. I'd spent a year recovering from a horrible bike/car accident (I was on the losing side) including a fractured pelvic bone and a punctured lung and was running in honor of my grandmother who'd recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Between us, I was not entirely sure I could do the distance. Given the crowds it was hard to start off too fast or, frankly, finish too fast, but it did force you to run your own race. Whether you call it 5 kilometers or just over 3 miles, it feels long the first time you do it and you find yourself searching for those mile markers. But during the last half mile something happened: there were loads of cheering people as we rounded the UCLA campus and I found that I actually felt pretty good. Even with those hills--and if Westwood offers anything to a runner it's lots and lots of hills--my legs were strong and I was still running. When I saw the finish banner I thought, well I'll be damned, I'm going to do this! And seconds later, somewhat to my surprise, I did finish and got a little teary as I picked up my medal.
No one's affliction is any better or worse than any one else's, but many of these guys are overcoming problems much longer lasting than any single car accident. Nevertheless, they've been putting in the miles three times a week getting stronger and stronger. This Sunday they'll all cross their first 5k finish line, and I predict I'll get all teary all over again.