The Komen Foundation has taken a hit in the past handful of years. But regardless of how you feel about them as an organization, I will always think fondly of them because of my aunt and my father. In 2011, my aunt was just completing her first go around of chemotherapy for breast cancer- which she beat strongly and proudly. As a support and remembertance to her I ran in the 2011 Eugene Race for the Cure 5k. While it wasn’t breast cancer specifically, in 2012, my father got news that he had Melanoma and we added another member of our family to the list of cancer victims. In 2014, my aunt’s breast cancer returned, she started chemotherapy and shortly thereafter my father started radiation. My story is sadly not unique, but I thought it would be important to recap what a magical experience the 2011 event was for me. I remember it to this day. Stay tuned afterwards for 2017 registration information.
As I reached over to slam off my 5am alarm, I remember thinking to myself, “Why, oh why, am I up at this time of the morning”. I knew full well I was driving 70 miles to run 3.1 and then hitting the road again for 70 miles home. It hardly seemed worth it when you thought about it in terms of numbers. However, the reason I was up this early on what would have otherwise been a lazy Sunday, was that I wasn’t just participating in any race. I was heading to Eugene to run in the 2nd annual Komen for the Cure 5k.
I, like many others out there, know someone affected by breast cancer. My wife’s aunt lives in Phoenix and is a runner as well. I remember she once told me over a Thanksgiving feast that running in a Race for the Cure was just “different”. I, of course, answered with a typical, “I can imagine that it is”, but I never really understood the truth and power behind that statement. That is, until Saturday.
I arrived at the University of Oregon when the morning was still pitch black. However, the Autzen Stadium parking lot was already bubbling with excitement. Booths were up already, and volunteers were directing both traffic and runners. Bands were getting warmed up on the stage and the radio was pumping out top-40 hits for all us early birds to hear. In the land of the green and yellow, pink was the color of the day and no one was ashamed to flaunt it.
Somewhere in between seeing team names like the Ta Ta Crusaders, chatting with cancer survivors, and seeing smiling faces everywhere, I realized that my finishing time in this race didn’t really matter. Sure, I may have ended up with a near PR, but in the big scheme of things what was really important were the people and the cause.
Maybe that’s why I ran such a great time. Perhaps it was because, as I stood there at the starting line and glanced behind me to see a sea of pink, it clicked that I didn’t need to stress.
I didn’t need to feel anxious over getting out of the block.
Or starting too fast.
Or playing “cat and mouse” with that one runner who just runs a little better pace then I do.
Or pacing myself for the final stretch.
No. None of that stuff mattered. I ran with a clarity and a feeling of peacefulness unlike any other time I have run this year. It was as if knowing that whatever happened on the course paled in comparison to what this day and event meant.I was initially planning on writing a brief review of the organization (great), weather (dry and perfect), and the race course (flat and well-marked). But now, after sitting down to write this post and hammering out the above thoughts with little effort, I determined that all that really can be said is that you need to run this race. You need to register and experience this. You need to volunteer, your time and/or your money. You need to see how it feels to really run for a cause. Because, as I now know, this race is indeed “different”.
And regardless of how you feel about Komen, just remember that the people fighting Cancer are bigger than any race and any organization.
Race for the Cure (Eugene)
8:30 a.m. – 5k Fun Run
8:35 a.m. – 5k Fun Walk
8:45 a.m. – 1-Mile Family Walk