This past weekend I participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. It is an event that was started back in 1985 that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.
Normally it is a 24 hour event at a local track, where individuals and teams continue to circle the track to honor and raise money for the cause. For some reason, this years’ Capital City addition was cut short down to 21 hours. There was a dedication opening ceremony with cancer survivors who went onto the football field and told of the type of cancer they beat or were dealing with.
I really didn’t have any expectations in terms of how many miles I was going to go on the track. I brought a cooler filled with ice, water, gatorade, black bean burritos, pickles and also brought chips and bananas. We had a team of 12 walkers and runners in our group. Most of them are in a local running group.
The afternoon was somewhat warm and sunny, and a breeze. I had never been at that specific track, so it was new scenery for me. My plan was to run a few miles at a time, then walk a lap. After about every 6-8 miles, I’d change direction. With other participants on the track, it was easy to stop and walk and chat with people. Every hour or so, I would stop by the tent we had set up, and cooler to replenish. As the day turned to night, the illumination ceremony took place. This is where bags with candles in them are placed around the track in honor of lost cancer victims. People are able to donate money to have their loved one’s bag placed around the track. The candles would burn throughout the night and into the next day to the end. After roughly an hour, the organizers then turned the track lights on.
At some point during my running/walking, I decided I would go 31 miles the first evening, go home and get a few hours sleep, and then wake up and do another 31 miles the next morning to make it an even 100K. At the end of the first night, I felt good enough to run the last few miles at a faster pace. It felt good to change the speed of my run. I went home feeling good, but tired, since it was almost midnight.
After a restless sleep, I woke the next morning and headed to the track. Some of our group stayed overnight, with a few only resting little during that time. What determination they had!
I started where I left off the night before, but at a much slower pace. I noticed it seemed it was taking more effort than normal early on. The volunteers had made complimentary bacon and eggs for the walkers and runners. It smelled delicious, but running, bacon, and eggs just don’t mix together. So I “suffered” through the smell.
I continued to run a few miles, then walk a lap. Sometimes I’d walk with a few teammates and we’d talk about past races or anything in general. Eventually, the miles dwindled down. My right hamstring started to tighten at some point. I did some stretching and shortened my stride a bit.
The event was ending at 1:00pm and I had a few miles to go to reach 31 miles for the day. If I’d continue my pace, I’d be able to reach the goal. The monotony of the track was really starting to get to me, though. Luckily there was a walk way right outside the track fence. I went outside the fence and circled around for the last few miles. I hopped back onto the track and completed the 31 miles at 12:54pm.
I had a great time at the Relay for Life. To date this year, our team of 12 has earned $4,073.30.