When my friend, Michelle, told me about the 5K run in memory of Chelsea King I couldn't say no. I remember, viveldy, the search for her and the many many prayers for her. The sadness on the day her body was found and the blue ribbons tied on just about everything in the Poway/Rancho Bernardo area.
Getting to the event area was an adventure. I met Michelle and Preston in the Zoo parking lot and we were on our way. Preston said he knew how to get there so we followed. Maybe not such a good idea. He walked us down a road that was basically a dead end. He said we would get to the bridge then go up the hill. What he didn't mention is that it was a dirt hill, more like a very tall embankment. It also happened to be surrounded by a fence to which Preston replied " huh. that fence wasn't on google earth". So we turned around and weant a different way. We walked along the 163 freeway (it was closed for the event) then climbed an embankment and proceeded up a steep (paved) hill. As we were walking up said steep hill, Preston mentioned this was part of the race route. A hill? I didn't sign up for a hill.
As I stood at the start line, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Chelsea's parents and younger brother were at the podium during the opening ceremony. They each said a few words and I was blown away by the strength in each of them. They poured out love and thanks to everyone (over 6000!) running/walking. About 2 minutes before the race started, the MC asked us all to shout out "We love you Chelsea". I couldn't say it. I barely whispered it. Tears were in my eyes, my throat was tight and I was struggling not to sob. As we said that, I looked at Chelsea's mom. She put her hands over her mouth and even from a distance I could see tears in her eyes. I think this was the most memorable part of the day for me.
The race started and I was on my way. 30 seconds later the cord to my ear phones got stuck on a cone and I was tugged backwards. Luckily the guy behind me saw it and unhooked me before I stumbled. Stumbling at the front of a race with 6,000 participants isn't the safest thing to do. Mile #1 went by pretty quickly. I felt really good going into Mile #2.
The second Mile felt like it took forever to complete. We were running, running, running and I just prayed I would see the giant 2 soon. Around 2 1/2 miles I noticed a guy dressed in a banana suit. He was running along with everyone else. About a minute later I saw someone in a Gorilla suit, running after the banana. Michelle and I looked at eachother like "Well, that's something you don't see every day".
Mile #3 was killed. Remember that hill I mentioned? Yeah... it was the last 1/4 of mile 3. When I say steep hill, I mean steep. For those of you familiar with Mt Woodson...it was that steep. Running it felt like we were running in place. I didn't think it would end. The last tenth of a mile was a straight away. I kept a good pace but drank in the sight. Hundreds of people lining the path, cheering, celebrating. I couldn't help but smile as we crossed the finish line.
I only has 2 real goals for this race.
1) Run the whole thing
2) Beat my other times from my practice races
I accomplished both. My official race time was 35 minutes 58 seconds. 2 Minutes faster than my practice runs.
It really is an amazing feeling when you accomplish something like this. Pushing yourself physically to do things you never thought you could, being part of something so much bigger than yourself and having a small part in making a difference in some else's life. I am so thankful for this experience and for everyone that has encouraged me along the way.
|My dear friend, Kari, and I after the race|
|Michelle and Preston|
|That's me signing the Inspiration Wall|