As a teacher and a blogger, I’m usually not at a loss for words, but today I’m feeling like I just cannot sum up the emotion, excitement and pride that I’m feeling after participating in the first annual Jogging for Judy race through Miles for Moffitt.
Today wasn’t about grieving the loss of my mom. Today was about celebrating her life, as if she had been alive, she would have been right there, dressed in orange, chugging along down the course with us. That’s the thing about my mom. If excitement was to be had, she’d either be the one making it, or joining in. My mom taught me how to live, and how to have fun. It’s the one thing I’ll always hold on to.
(My mom at the 2010 Purplestride race- Running for Daryl)
And Miles for Moffitt? Sign us up for 2013. The spirit of Team Judy is alive and strong and you will see us make an appearance in many more races benefiting those fighting cancer. My mom wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am overwhelmed at the amount of family, friends and co-workers who woke up VERY early on an absolutely gorgeous cool May morning to Jog for Judy. I knew we had about 40 runners in total who were signed up to do the race, but when you actually see us all together in one sitting, it’s a sight that brings a smile to my face. All of these people came out because I organized a team. All of these people came out because they loved my mom. All of these people are rockstars in my book.
(I love how the sun peeks through the trees at us overhead. My mom was a burst of energy- a ray of sunshine. I know mom was with us at that moment.)
The 5k race started at around 7:45. Unfortunately, because we were so busy socializing, we missed the official race start. Eventually, at around 8am, our group of chip timed 5k’ers made our way down to the starting line and began. There wasn’t a grand feeling of crossing that line, though. It was more of a “holy crap, I was supposed to take off 15 minutes ago, kind of feeling. Oops!
Either way, we were off. The race course took us around all of the main parts of the University of South Florida Campus. It was shaded, a bit hilly in areas, but otherwise perfect for a race like this. With a PR in mind, I started off strong- maintaining a brisk walk while I warmed up my legs. Remember that whole socializing thing? Yeah, well that took precedence over warming up too. Double oops. Within the first 1/2 mile my legs were burning, but I carried on and rounded past mile 1. I’m always grateful to the volunteers who stand out on the race course passing out water and cheering us along at different points. The Miles for Moffitt volunteers were no exception! If you ever get then opportunity to volunteer for a race, please do! You’ll gain a much better appreciation for what these volunteers do by seeing the race through their eyes.
I began doing more walk/jog intervals, when finally I felt like I was going to give up and just walk the rest of the way. PR or no PR, my post softball legs were achy, and I had just accepted the fact that I would walk it and enjoy the race. That’s when Jay (one of my best pal Meghan’s husband) popped up behind me and told me to pick things up. We caught sight of Mr. KKM and made it a plan to catch up to him since it looked like he was maintaining a good walking pace. It seemed doable, so off we went. I took off one of my ear phones so I could hear Jay’s
orders words of encouragement, and before we knew it, I was standing next to my awesome guy (who, by the way, has now completed his 4th 5k!) Jay stayed with us for a while as we continued to set mini-goals and walk/jog throughout mile 2, but eventually he took off to try to catch my brother and other Team Judy members ahead. Mr. KKM and I pretty much stayed together the rest of the race, maintaining a consistent speed (thanks to my playlist!) and pushing each other along they way. As we ended mile 3, I caught a glimpse of the finish line and decided to finish strong. One of my all time favorite U2 songs came on (perfect timing, I swear) and I crossed the finish line during the “Ohhhh, ohhhh, ohhhh, ohhhhhh” moment towards the end of With or Without you.
Although I couldn’t hear the cheers, I caught sight of almost 1/2 the team on the sidelines hooting and hollering as I crossed the finish line. It was truly a moment I’ll never forget.
(My brother Jason, me and my dad Rick, remembering my mom Judy at the finish line).
I know this is a tangent, but as I was writing this a mental picture of my mom running down the Fred Howard Park causeway by my side as I wrapped up the last 1/4 mile of my first triathlon, popped into my head. I kind of like to think my mom will always be running by my side in every race from here on out. Maybe it wasn’t the song that gave me goosebumps, but my mom’s presence. Either way, it’s a hope that I’d like to keep in my pocket. A hope that will make me be a better runner, knowing that my mom’s spirit is pushing me through.
After the race about 18 of us hit up the local Cracker Barrel for a much needed refuel. There’s just something about getting together for breakfast after a race that really hits the spot. We chatted and laughed it up at my mom’s favorite breakfast spot, then went our separate ways. It was the perfect ending to an unforgettable morning.
Thank you to everyone who participated, donated, or cheered for Team Judy. It makes me excited to think that there are so many of you out there who I can count on to keep my mom’s spirit alive. Stay tuned for our next adventure: the Making
Strides for Breast Cancer 5k in October! Team Judy will be ready!
Wanna see more pictures? Check out the slideshow below.