The race director, Lynn Bullock, organizes the Run for Brighter Days in memory of her son, Jonathan, who committed suicide. This cause means a lot to me because my family has been touched by suicide. One night last week, my friend Melissa heard gunshots in her neighborhood, then found out the next day that a neighbor committed suicide.
Often, the topic of suicide is not discussed, but chances are you know someone who’s been affected- and that’s why races like this are important.
Proceeds benefit the Jonathan C. Smith foundation, which provides assistance for depressed teens in group homes. When the teens come into the inpatient program, they receive bedding and other items they need.
This race also raises awareness for organ donation. Lorcan Lucey, who runs many Charleston races, received Jonathan’s lungs, and runs this race each year. Jonathan’s spirit lives on at this race, every race Lorcan runs, and every Charleston-area race sponsored by Lucey Mortgage Corporation.
After driving from my parents’ house, I arrived at the race around 7:15 for the 8 AM start. I picked up my packet, went to the potty, talked to the volunteers and organizers a bit, then set out on the course to warm up. This year’s course was new because the race was moved due to October’s flooding. This course was harder than previous years with more gravel instead of sandy dirt roads, the sun was bright, and the humidity was high.
I knew it would be a hard run, but I have a 100% success rate at surviving hard runs, so it was okay.
The start was delayed until 8:15 to give everyone time to get to the race, and once we lined up, the race director, Lynn, spoke about the charity and about Jonathan. This way, we could all remember Jonathan and the cause while we ran.
Everyone posed for some pictures (no one wanted to stand on the line!) and we were off.
The first mile took us on a loop around the farm on a rocky dirt road. After about 100 meters, I found myself in 4th overall and stayed there the entire race. The runners ahead of me- Jonathan, Liz, and Jarrett- were running underneath those shady trees in a line. Sometimes shade > tangents.
This was my first trail race since my peroneal tendon injury, and I thought about my ankle A LOT. The left foot still doesn’t feel as strong as the right foot, but I can generally ignore it on the road. My main goal was not to twist my ankle! I don’t usually run trail 5Ks, so I had no time goals.
My first mile (7:13) was pretty close to where I was in the Publix Savannah Women’s 5K. This was definitely a harder course on the trails, and it was a much hotter day. The lady ahead of me, Liz, grabbed water at the water stop and took a few steps, but never let up on the pace.
We passed by the finish line arch, but had another 10-11 minutes to race. I hit mile 2 in 7:18.
After mile 2, the race got tougher. We ran through an open grassy field, then ran through some other trails in the woods. I accepted that I was slowing down- and I was at peace with that because I was giving the best I could on this day and in these conditions.
When it’s all said and done, the teens who benefit from my entry fee don’t care how fast or slow I run. They only care that runners show up, enter charity races, and support them.
Coming out of the woods, we ran through another long stretch of grass in mile 3 (7:49). My quads were feeling Thursday night’s BodyPump workout and hating me. I saw the finish line at this point but knew it was far away.
I tried to focus and think about Jonathan, Lorcan, and my cousin Norman who I was running for. I even had their names on my back.
We crossed the highway then hit the dirt road to sprint to the finish. I crossed the finish in 23:27, for fourth overall and second female.
After finishing, I congratulated Liz on the win, cheered for some other finishers, then ran a cooldown before the post-race festivities. This race has the BEST food each year, with delicious strawberries. How many races offer refreshments that were grown on the course? After the race, you could pick strawberries to take home.
I also chatted with four of my coworkers who ran. My company, ACS Technologies, sponsors the Run for Brighter Days each year, and as a remote employee, I love seeing my coworkers out at races. Several of us ACSers won awards and did a great job representing the company.
For placing, I received a beautiful medal, which I wore all day and plan to hang on my Christmas tree this December. Each year, this race is my way of remembering my cousin Norman and honoring Lorcan, who contributes so much to the Charleston area runners. It’s always great to run for meaningful causes, and hopefully my days on the injury list are done!
Race Name: Run for Brighter Days 5K
Location: Darlington, SC
Date and Time: April 29, 2017, 8 AM
Entry fee: $25-30
Course: Trail- dirt roads with gravel and rocks, some grass. Flat.
Swag: T-shirt, cinch backpack, cup
Post-race Food: Arby’s sandwiches, orange slices, bananas, strawberries, popcorn, sno-cones, water
Weather: 73 degrees, 94% humidity, 6 mph wind.