Eleven years ago, my aunt Lynda died of ovarian cancer.
As a preteen, I spent a week each summer with her- the highlight of every summer. I bought new clothes and shoes for school because shopping with her was somehow cooler than shopping with my mom. After all, she was that cool aunt, with a cat, dog, and a pretty sweet swimming pool.
I loved exploring the Charleston area with her. We always went out to Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream Cafe; my hometown didn’t have an ice cream shop, so it was a real treat. She also introduced me to Old Navy (my favorite store as a teen) and late-night pancake breakfasts at Perkins. We even went ice skating, and while I spent most of the time falling down and stumbling over my own feet, I loved sharing that experience with her.
In growing older, you never know how many experiences you’ll get to share with someone, so I make them count more than ever now.
When I discovered the Pajama Run 5K last year, I ran in Lynda’s memory in the beautiful city she loved. I couldn’t let that opportunity pass this year, either. Ovarian cancer and other cancers “below the waist” are taboo in conversation and have fewer fundraisers and awareness efforts, but they still take way too many lives too early- including Lynda’s.
Four weeks off a marathon and with little speedwork, I wasn’t expecting a PR or a breakout performance, but sometimes the beauty is in knowing that when you hit the pavement and toe the start line, you’re a part of something way bigger than yourself.
I got to the race a bit early and did my usual warmup, noticing the crowd was off. Last year’s race had more people and publicity, along with more sponsors. The race was pretty no-frills, with a cotton white short-sleeved shirt; last year’s was long sleeved (that race was in December) and minimal refreshments and promotion. I’m not sure what went down with the sponsors, but I got the feeling that the race organizers had to quickly make backup plans, and the nice organizers and volunteers did the best they could.
I saw my friend Rocky (aka, Run with Forrest) and we took a few pictures. When the opportunity to Run with Forrest arises, you just can’t pass it up. He will be at the James Island Connector Run next weekend, too!
Without much fanfare, we were off. The course starts at Joe Riley Park, runs down Lockwood Drive, then turns (you pass the start/finish), around The Citadel with a loop around Hampton Park, then back to the Joe Riley stadium for the finish. It’s more like 3 miles instead of 3.1, definitely a little short.
I ran an effective race, leaving my Garmin at home because it’s just a 5K and the watch distracts me in short distances. I ran the tangents and tucked in behind another lady (the Master’s Female winner) for the first two miles. I stayed behind her, mentally and physically drawing off her speed until we were about 1/2 mile from the finish, when I made my move- and sped up a bit after passing. I kept running the tangents and staying close to the curb- looking out my peripheral vision to see if she was behind me.
There was no big clock at the finish to see my time when approaching- maybe that’s a good thing. Lately I’ve been preoccupied over time, so I’m trying NOT to look at numbers and just listen to my body instead, especially post-marathon. I sprinted across the finish- no real need to kick, then turned around to see the clock (the finish clock was on the side of the finish where you can’t see it).
The finish clock read 21 minutes- definitely *not* what I expected. Knowing the course is short and my true 5K time isn’t in the 21s, my new goal is to get there with some speedwork and hills/garages.
I hung out with my runner friends Mary Legare (2nd place female overall) and Katie (3rd place female overall) at the finish. They had donuts and Gatorade, some oranges and bananas, typical race refreshments- no beer, coffee, or actual meals. Before the awards ceremony, they held a dance off between the guys and girls who wanted to participate; none of us did but we watched the contest.
Our awards for placing were mugs and coupons for TrySports Mt Pleasant. Placing first in my age group, I was stoked to win something useful- medals are nice to wear the day of the race but mugs and pint glasses are great because you can use them each day and remember your accomplishment, instead of just displaying or looking at them.
This year’s Pajama Run 5K was a nice community race but not a big event like last year. Refreshments and parties are nice, but I also remember them honoring a cancer survivor last year- something like that would have added to the race, especially seeing one lady in the run wearing a survivor’s shirt. I went up to her and gave her a big hug, but I think it would’ve been really nice if the organizers had recognized her during the ceremony.
After the race, I treated myself to a PR Cupcake from Cupcake Down South. The “candy bar cupcake” was a delicious way to celebrate breaking 22 minutes and officially kicking off some new winter running goals.
As a TrySports Mt. Pleasant athlete ambassador, I received a complimentary race entry; however, all opinions expressed are my own, as I was planning to run this regardless. TrySports Mt. Pleasant sponsored this race, and I am grateful to represent a store that cares about supporting causes such as cancers below the waist.