When I signed up for this race about five weeks ago, it was a bit of a leap of faith that my foot would heal enough for me to do it. The surgery and then a series of colds raised havoc with trying to train, and I got in only about a half dozen training runs and walks. But I am in better shape than I thought, walking and running 12 miles today - more than double any distance I have traveled on foot this year. That included walking from where I parked to the staging area and then to the start of the race, doing the race, walking back to meet Robin's entourage - more about that later - and completing the rest of the race again with them, and then walking back to my car. My legs are plenty tired this afternoon, and I know they will be sore tomorrow.
I dedicated this race today to our good friend Judy, who passed away in January from multiple myeloma, and to my dear sister Ann, who is battling a relentless metastatic breast cancer. I wore their pictures during the race and thought of them often. I wish Judy were alive and that Ann were healthy, but wishing does not do too much. So I tried my best to honor Judy's memory and Ann's courage with my feet today.
This was the seventh straight time I have run this race, and it is always such a lot of fun. Richmond is always so pretty this time of year, and is rocking with the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams in the men's Final Four! Part of the race goes through the VCU campus, and there was a lot of Ram Pride in evidence among race participants and spectators. I wore my Team in Training pride with my Seattle race shirt, and a TNT tattoo on my cheek. Here are photos from the day, and an explanation of the Monumental Grit of the title.
Monroe Park is the staging area for the race: I always love the costumes that people run in. I saw this fire hydrant and dog on the race course later. VCU Ram Pride on display at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart! The beautiful Cathedral of the Sacred Heart - I went in after the race and gave thanks for being strong and healthy enough to run today, and said a prayer for Judy's memory and for Ann's health. Springtime in Richmond is always amazing, as shown by this magnolia in the park: Minutes before the start, I show the photos of Judy (left side of my shirt) and Ann (right side of my shirt) on my shirt: My friend Kristi saw me and we ran and walked together. She can walk at faster than a 12 minute pace, and had to slow down so I could keep up with her. Kristi and I are both Hodgkin lymphoma survivors and Team in Training marathoners. A rowdy band of Viking raiders: The start is so close. It was cool and blustery, and I could not wait to get running: I think this building must have signifcance to VCU, because this guy got a lot of cheers from fans: Kristi zips along with a beautiful cherry tree to her left: Happy VCU fans cheer us, who may even be happier tonight, depending on how the Rams do against Butler: At the half way point, my good friend Bill (Judy's husband and widower) and their grandson Sean were there to cheer me on. I posed with them and tried to pull out my shirt to show Judy's photo (no, I am not pregnant!). I much appreciated them coming out to cheer for me today. This is the coolest monument on Monument Avenue, in my view. It is to Matthew Fontaine Maury, the "Pathfinder of the Seas." Richmond is the only city on the east coast with the Picasso exhibit, and these two celebrate that: When I finished the race, in 1 hour 18 minutes - not bad for two months after foot surgery and a lot of colds - Kristi and I hung out for a little while and enjoyed a bagel and a banana. Then I decided to walk back along the race course to find Team Robin. More about that later, but along the way, I snapped a few photos of the sights. This one is a statue at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, and is called "Rachel Weeping for Her Children," in memory to the martyrs of the Holocaust. It always is moving to see this statue and to reflect on the horrors that it memorializes. Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart alertly watches the races as they head to the finish, less than a half mile away: You can even find a Barbie Doll at the race! More than an hour since I finished, and the runners and walkers just keep on coming: Now about the monumental grit - well, what else can you say about a lady who loses her leg mid-thigh to bone cancer last August, and manages to walk a 10K with a prosthetic leg? This woman is Robin Yoder, and she is a huge inspiration to so many of us. She had bone cancer at 18, and the radiation used to save her leg and her life caused a new cancer 30 years later. This time, amputation was the only realistic choice for this triathlete, and 8 months ago, she lost her right leg. Many would give up, but not Robin - she was determined to walk the 10K. She had to totally relearn how to walk, and gain back her stamina. She fell a couple of times, including shortly after I took this photo. Refusing help, she slowly stood up on her own, and kept going. She had a lot of friends supporting her, many wearing special shirts that said "Because We CAN-CAN, Robin CAN-CAN." There were designs of ladies dancing the Can-Can on the shirt. There were at least a few tears sprinkled among the loud cheers when Robin crossed the finish line and embraced her son and husband. It was my privilege to join Robin's group and re-walk about 1.7 miles back to the finish line. I will never forget it. Go Robin!