The morning started out as many Oregon mornings in the fall do…cloudy with a strong chance of rain. Being a true Oregonian means we hardly gave the weather a second thought, though I DID switch out my tank top for a short sleeve tech shirt. This was a very special race for my husband, Robert. After supporting his wife’s race addiction all year (yes, I mean me!), he finally decided to taste a little of the action for himself. This was to be his first timed 5k ever, as well as it will the first race we ever ran together as husband and wife. Special race indeed…
You see, my husband suffers from a rare disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. This genetic disease causes all the joints in the body to fuse together, so eventually you become a “stone man”. The few people who have it are usually much older, around 70 yrs old. He has had it since birth. His SI joints in his hips are already fused, as well as bones in his feet, and he’s only 26 yrs. old. Though he currently takes a multitude of medications as well as a monthly hospital infusion to keep his immune system low to fight the disease, the doctors have stated that one of the best ways to prolong his quality of life is regular exercise. Do you see where this is going? 🙂
So, after months and months and months of driving me to packet pickups, races, as well as watching my body transform and become stronger, as well as my OWN health improve, he decided he wanted to start running. I helped him train a little, but he was dragging his feet a bit this past month, so he went into this race rather unprepared. However, he refused to bail out on the race, so, regardless of his pain level and partial training on board, we left the house.
When we got to Blue Lake park, the first thing we noticed was how organized everything was. We paid a small $5 fee for parking, and instantly noticed all the runners gathering under the covered picnic table area, which we discovered was the packet pickup. A friendly volunteer handed us our bibs and tech shirts (which were very beautiful, but oversized so we had to exchange them), and we headed over to the start line.
The first to go were the 15k runners, and as we cheered them on, I could tell my husband was getting nervous. I gave him words of encouragement as we stood in the corral waiting for our turn to shine. Then the countdown began for us 5k runners…3…..2……1…..and we were off!!
My job during this race was to pace my husband, but as his adrenaline kicked in at the start, it wasn’t easy! Like most people, Robert bolted out of the gate with energy and a smile, but I knew that could only last a short time. I reminded him to stay next to me as I slowed down to keep him running. Sure enough, the adrenaline was wearing out and he was close to walking. I reminded him to control his breathing and we were able to get a little more distance before he needed to walk. Considering the pain he was in, I was proud that he made it that far!
At the halfway point, I was surprised to see a water station waiting to give us some needed refreshment! Robert took two glasses before he was ready to run some more.
Finally, we reached mile 2! Robert’s smile has now faded into a face of pain as he informed me he was nauseated. I insisted that we walk 1/2 a mile at this point so he didn’t lose his oatmeal breakfast all over the rest of the course. We all have run races and know that mound is always there, but we don’t actually wanna see them while we’re racing past it.
Now Robert got his second wind as he could see the finish line. With a spring in his step, we started running together to the finish line. He sped up a little ahead of me, teasing me that he was going to sprint me to the finish line, but since he knew I gave up my opportunity to PR to help him, he smiled and slowed down. Hand in hand, we crossed the finish line!!! With Robert’s first race medal dangling from his neck and a face riddled in pain, he calmly turns to me and says, “That was fun. When are we doing it again?”
Race addict #2 has just been born.
Overall, it was a beautiful race through the park with a quarter-mile on the back road. It never rained on us during the race and didn’t start down-pouring until our ride home. The volunteers were very helpful and friendly, and great hotdogs, soda, and cookies were all ready for us to enjoy after the race. Great food, great memories, and great weather made this a great race!