Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Race Recap: Samantha's Harvest 5k

Samantha & her dad.
Over the past few weeks I have been battling plantar fasciitis.  About 3 weeks ago, I raced a 5K and I completey crashed and burned; both physically and mentally.  If my foot could have talked that day, it would have said, "guess what, this freakin' hurts and I don't want to do this anymore until it feels better."  But then who listens to their foot?  Certainly not a runner.  I powered through the pain and, as you can expect, I had a sub-par performance.  I was bummed but not surprised.  The next day I gave my coach the low down and we agreed that we would put speed work on hold and focus on distance running since the short stuff (track work, tempo runs, 5Ks, etc) was aggravating my foot.  While I was totally on board with his plan and ready to shift gears, I had this nagging feeling in the back of my head that I needed to get one more short race in sooner rather than later to remind myself why I do it and what I am capable of.  I truly didn't feel the need to PR or put any added pressure on myself....I just needed to do it.  To my good fortune, I found the Samantha's Harvest 5K which was happening in nearby Reading, MA this past Sunday.  Perfect!  Samantha's Harvest is an organization that, in their own words, "works to raise awareness by providing funding for programs and organizations that directly enhance the lives of individuals with Down syndrome."  It is run by Samantha's parents and the 5K is one of the many events they put on to support their cause.  Samantha, who's 11 years old and has 2 older brothers, was at the race greeting runners and hanging out with a bright smile on her face.

Samantha, before the start of the race.
From the moment I got there, I felt different about this race, in a good way.  I decided I would forego my usual warm-up routine where I tend to hang solo, listen to music and stretch and jumped right into a conversation with a lovely woman named Kim who, like me, had been able to sneak away from her husband and kids that morning to get the race in.  We chatted for twenty minutes, hid our car keys together (not as if we really needed to), walked to the starting line together and then wished each other the best.  Getting in the zone before a race is great and often necessary for me, but just soaking in the kindness and good vibes of my fellow runners got me pretty fired up, too.  The weather was hot and the course was fairly challenging but the scenery was gorgeous and the many twists and turns kept it interesting.  As I headed down the final stretch, which happened to be on the Reading High School track, I could see little Samantha clapping and cheering for all of the finishers.  Really, there are no words to describe how cool this was.  In that one moment, my exhaustion was totally outweighed by the wave of emotion that came over me.  Talk about perspective.  Plantar what??  Once I had cooled down and had a chance to re-group, I stumbled over to a gentleman who was waving on the runners as they stepped onto the track to finish.  We started talking and he gave me a little more information about the Samantha's Harvest organization and all that it does for those involved.  Then he said something that kind of took my breath away.  "We try and do so much, and there is so much more out there we can do, but we also get pretty tired so we have to be conscious of that.  All of it can be pretty overwhelming but, clearly, it's worth it."  Right then I realized that I was talking to Samantha's father who was just laying it out there and being totally honest and open.  I have two kids of my own and I am overwhelmed on a daily basis.  I can't even begin to imagine what his days are like.  I told him I was thrilled to have found his race, that I would be making it an annual tradition, and that next time, I would try and bring a bunch of friends along with me.  He smiled and thanked me for coming.

Me & Samantha's mother, Lisa, at the end of the race.
When I left the race, I felt different and really good.  Not because I had run a time that I was pleased with, which I had.  But because the overall experience had been incredibly moving and totally invaluable for me.  Each race has a purpose.  Many of them are fundraisers.  That is not often the reason I sign up.  But, moving forward, you can bet I'll be thinking about it when I click to pay.  Many thanks to Samantha and her parents for helping me see the bigger picture.


Listen to this:
Champion Sound - Crystal Fighters  Champion Sound - Star of Love

No comments:

Post a Comment