Throwback: Finish Line 5K, 2 June 2013

What: 5K

Where: Cambridge, Massachusetts (course map)

Who: Me and Elissa, with moral support and anti-fainting assistance from Drew

Benefited: see recap

Time: 42:17

Photos: (click to open larger versions)
Photo with * courtesy of GetFit@MIT; with ** courtesy of Elissa; without courtesy of Drew

Ready to rock!

Ready to rock!

Crossing the starting line with smiles on our faces and hope in our hearts

Crossing the starting line with smiles on our faces and hope in our hearts

Finally made it!

Finally made it!*

We survived... and the ambulance wasn't even for us!

We survived… and the ambulance wasn’t even for us!**

Recap: There was a lot of emotion tied into this race. It had been originally scheduled for April, as a celebration of the finish of MIT’s GetFit program, and a way for all us participants in the 5K for Beginners training class to put our new skills to the test. Then the Boston Marathon was bombed, and as if we weren’t shaken enough, MIT police officer Sean Collier was killed on campus. The race was postponed to June, and instead of being just a celebration of the end of GetFit, the race became a way for the community to come together, run for Boston, and honor Officer Collier.

Not long after the Exeter 5K, I suffered an injury to my back, shoulders, and neck – a result of a lifetime of bad posture. It hurt to move my head, let alone run, so my training with Colin was put on hold indefinitely. The voice of reason in my head told me not to run the Finish Line 5K, but I wanted so badly to be a part of the event and run for Officer Collier that I did it anyway. Physically that was a mistake, but I’m glad I was able to take part.

If I thought the heat at the Exeter 5K was bad, I was in for a surprise. By our 10am start time, the temperature had reached the upper 80s, and the humidity made it feel like it was in the 90s. Most of the course was on sidewalks without much shade, and there was one endless, straight stretch that had no shade whatsoever, and all you could see were heat lines coming up from the asphalt. Despite the heat, there was only one water stop (which we passed twice, since the course was a loop), but it was right before the Sahara-like stretch of doom. It was rough.

Drew, being the good sport he is, was wandering back and forth near the loop turnaround so that he could take pictures and cheer us on. When we passed him at the end of the first Sahara doom-stretch, we called out to him, begging for water. We were half-joking, but by the time we had made it around the gym and were headed back the other way, he was running after us with two ice-cold bottles of water. He’s the best!

I wore my Collier Strong shirt during the race, which got me shout-outs and words of thanks from the police officers along the route. However, as my neck/shoulders started to cry out in protest and my lungs refused to take in all the oxygen I needed and my face turned beet-red with effort and sun and my legs began to wobble, I felt like I didn’t deserve to be wearing the shirt. The runners who were pushing themselves and not stopping every few feet to walk… they were Collier Strong. At one point about halfway through the race, as I was struggling and barely walking, a sergeant yelled out, “Come on, Collier Strong!” and put her hand up for me to high-five. However, she kept walking backwards so that her hand was like the carrot of motivation dangling just out of my reach. Hopefully my pathetic attempt at running to give her five didn’t offend her.

Elissa and I fought our way down the final stretch, which painfully included a few sets of stairs. I remember feeling like I might not make it, but one of the volunteers at the top of the stairs was yelling encouragement to us, saying “Look at you, best friends running together! You’re so close! You’re almost done!” There have been so many times that volunteers or onlookers have given me the push I need with their cheers and applause, and I’m so grateful for that. It makes me want to attend races just to cheer the runners on!

The joy of finishing and getting juice and our medals only lasted a short while; on the car ride home my shoulders and neck seized up again and I could barely move. It would take more than a month of physical therapy and impatient waiting before I could get back running again, but it was worth it.

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