After training with my friend Marti for the past month, we decided to sign up for the Richard Brodsky AIDS and Cancer Race. The 5K race took place in Oceanside, New York, at the Oceanside Park. As soon as Marti sent me the information, I sent it in with a donation. I felt ready to run a 5K.
The day of the race, I picked up Marti at her house and drove to Oceanside. We were there early and nothing was set up, so we stood around and waited. The race was a real grassroots effort. There were tons of bagels in paper bags and coffee cups still in plastic. Marti and I decided to go with the flow. We were just excited to run this race and start gearing up for the big race in January in Disney World.
Once they set up, they asked us to get online and get our numbers. Marti got her number: 717. I got my number: 668. We started to talk with another woman, Connie, who just started to run also. Connie was in her mid-to-late 50’s with married children and grandchildren. She was telling us that she just started running about a year ago and loves it.
When the race started, we were asked to go to the starting line. And off we ran. The first mile was torturous. My legs were aching and my body was just run down. The three of us—Marti, Connie and I—stayed together for the first leg of the race. By a quarter mile or so into it, we lost Connie.
Marti encouraged me the whole way. Since she already ran a few half marathons and the NYC marathon, I knew she was an experienced runner and I looked to her for guidance. Every time I wanted to slow down or stop, she told me to keep going. “You can do it,” she said.
After the first mile, the second and third miles felt easier. My legs felt less pain and I felt that I was in a rhythm. When my breathing got erratic and heavy, Marti told me to concentrate on slowing down my breathing. “Breathe in and count one, two, three, and breathe out and count one, two, three…,” she said.
At each mile marker, we were told our time and given a cup of water. Some of the volunteers cheered us on, but most were just there doing their community service time. On the second mile, a young woman didn’t take the full turn and cut across the field. When we asked the volunteers why they didn’t say anything, they just shrugged their shoulders.
We were a quarter mile away from the finish line. There were some runners who came in at times like 18 minutes, 20 minutes and 22 minutes. We could hear the announcer screaming out the runners’ times. Marti and I decided to sprint to the end.
I noticed a yellow flag and could hear the announcer saying, “Come on, you can do it. …” Hearing cheers made me run faster. I got to the flag in 37 minutes and was impressed with myself for being able to do it without stopping. I couldn’t have done it without Marti’s help.
It was 10 am in the morning. The volunteers started walking around serving sandwiches and wraps. I couldn’t eat much but decided to have a banana to keep my energy levels up.
We waited patiently as the announcer called the winners to come up and receive their trophy. After that, Richard Brodsky went to the microphone and called out numbers to receive prizes. It seemed like everyone was winning something. Marti won a trip for two to Fire Island. The woman next to me won a case of energy drinks. I ran to the bathroom and I could hear someone saying, “She’s in the bathroom.”
I came out and found out that I won a paper bag full of the bagels that were given out earlier in the morning. I decided to cover up my number and sneak into my car to go home!