My Aunt Mary was the matriarch of the family after my gramma died. All the family gatherings were at her house, her kids are my favorite cousins, she was a mom to everyone. In the spring of 2007, she died of ovarian cancer. Usually, once you find out you have ovarian cancer, it's only a matter of time. Many people don't survive more than 5 years after being diagnosed, mostly because the diagnostic tools are so poor. It's not something that is normally screened for and there's no self-exam like for breast cancer.
Since Aunt Mary passed, my cousins have organized our family as team "Walking for Mary" to participate in Swedish Hospital's SummeRun 5k (walk), a benefit to raise money for ovarian cancer research. There is a 10k, 5k run, 5k walk. We all wear shirts with Aunt Mary's photo and we laugh and cry together as we remember our loved one. It's a sad event but also uplifting as you see all the family and friends coming together to celebrate loved ones.
And there are a LOT of teams like ours. After four years, we're starting to recognize other teams who participate every year: Team Lindsey (yellow jerseys), Josie's Posse (tie dye shirts), others. This year I spotted a new team/shirt that left me in tears. Team Queenie's shirts had a photo of a young woman on the front with the years 1981 - 2009 below the photo. And Team Leslie had a record 250+ people!!
In the past, I have walked the 5k with the family two times, run the 10k once, and this year I ran the 5k with my cousin (Army Doc!) and his 10th-grader cousin, T. Little cousin T took off like a bolt and it was all Army Doc and I could do to keep up. I new I couldn't maintain the pace for the whole 5k so I puffed, "Go ahead! I'll see you at the end!"
Both Army Doc & I dropped back and lamented all the beers and pulled pork we'd put away yesterday in my parents' back yard. After a while though, I settled into a groove and felt pretty darn good. Army Doc & I eventually caught up to little cousin T who had never run 3 miles before and was running out of steam. HA! Rambunctious youth!
There is a short but fairly steep hill about 3 blocks from the finish and I was determined to stay strong up that hill. As we started, I pushed up that hill in my cute running skirt and passed both boys, cousins T and Army Doc. I really think the skirt made me feel more powerful as I charged up that hill.
Do you think it's more demoralizing getting passed by a female in a skirt than a female in regular shorts?
I don't know, but it felt good mentally and physically I thought I was going to yak. I stayed strong to the finish and the boys sprinted to catch me at the end but we ended up finishing 1, 2, 3: me, Army Doc, young cousin T. Score one for the "old" folks!
After we caught our breath, we doubled back and met up with the rest of the family to finish the walk with them. One of the aunts had the biggest smile on her face. Last year, she could barely finish the walk. She was in so much pain throughout the walk and was literally the last finisher. She was even passed by someone on crutches! That was a wake-up call for her so this year, she showed up 63 lbs lighter and walking at a good clip. She wants to loose another 37 lbs by the end of summer. Next year, she'll probably be leading the pack! It was so great talking with her about her weight loss. She said she feels years younger, is proud, empowered, and is thinking she can now avoid a knee surgery she was putting off.
My goal was to run 8:00 min/mile and thanks to trying to keep up with those boys, I came really close, finishing in 25:25 (8:11 min/mile). I'm not sure how I did it (beer = carbo loading?) but I'm pretty damn happy.
I'm just bummed I forgot my camera in the car. I do have this one photo from the race:
Next up: You Go Girl 10k! Time to download a training plan...