yesterday was mother's day, so it felt fitting to share my race recap of the mom race 5k that took place on may 3rd. mom stands for mind over matter, and the race acts as a fundraiser to work towards erasing the stigma around mental illness and suicide. julie is the race director and she lost her mother to suicide after a long, heartbreaking battle with mental illness (read the full story here). in tribute to her mother, and to support and give tribute to others, julie has organized this race 9 years in a row. proceeds raised help fund crisis intervention programs, brain research, and suicide prevention programs. this is a worthy cause, and if you know me or have been following my blog for awhile, you might guess that the story behind the organization is very personal to me.
for two out of the last three years, i was clinically depressed. this past year and a half, i have been crawling out of the depths of my struggles and at the end of this month, i am thrilled to say that i will be working with my doctor to slowly ween off of the anti-depressants that have been extremely helpful in getting me back to a place of stability. may is national mental health month and this race meant so many things to me. in a way, the race marked my freedom. it was a celebration of the hell i went through and how i was finally close to being me again. at the same time, the race was sobering. there were around 1,200 people who showed up for the race. many of them wore shirts with the faces or names of those they'd lost to suicide. seeing so many people who have lost someone they cared about was a bit like seeing my own mortality. i had this weird image in my head that this could've been my memorial race. what if i hadn't been able to make it through the struggles with my demons? while i was not suicidal during my battle with depression, it is scary to think about how fragile your own life is. knowing i had been to an edge that i had never experienced before, a darkness that can't be defined or controlled, made me feel so thankful that i was alive and able to be at the race that day.
but above all, this race was important to me because i wanted to help others. i never would have been able to sludge through my battles if i didn't have a support system around me. it breaks my heart to think of the people out there who are struggling with mental illness or other battles and don't feel like they have anyone to go to. i hope, if there is any message i can send, that everyone knows there are people out there for you. people out there who will help. your life is worth it. common ground is a crisis support line in michigan, but there are crisis lines all over the country and they are staffed by volunteers who are there to listen and help. no judgement.
personal and public service announcement aside, let's talk about the race.
race morning came and it was yet another dreary and rainy day. i am sick of racing in long sleeves and longer pants, let me tell you. but that didn't stop my enthusiasm. i turned my fundraising packet in nice and early, met the race director and said hello to a colleague of mine and then waited for about an hour for the race to start (yeah, brandon and i got there that early).
the race took place in a cute park in royal oak, michigan. all race activities were housed in a little building that we all hovered around for warmth!
one of the things i was excited about was the MOMorial. this is a board that is full of pictures and words around the participant's inspiration for being part of the race day. we were encouraged to bring photos of someone close to us that was coping with mental illness, a loved one lost, or someone we were honoring for mother's day. i didn't want to post a picture of myself, but i did want to have part of my inspiration on the board, so i wrote a little note (pictured below).
|my note among the photos|
the race was an out and back through a neighborhood behind the park. brandon and i lined up close to the start and with a "ready, set, go!" we were off! i went out way too fast. by the time we got to the first mile (which seemed to take forever), i knew i was in trouble and wouldn't be able to sustain my pace. i forced myself to not think about time - i hadn't even looked at my watch (#winning) and tried to run by feel. the course was a bit hillier than i expected, with the majority of the first half being down hill and the majority of the second half being uphill (with a sneaky killer hill about a half mile away from the finish line).
|before the start|
by the time i reached a little over 2 miles, i had to slow things down. i was gassed. since this was my first short distance race in almost a year, my race strategy for pacing was a little rusty (and obviously, my endurance)! i didn't let it get to me though. i was going into this race knowing it would be my baseline time as i got into training for the rest of the year. by the time i hit a quarter mile left to go, i was really pooped. i had no energy left to kick in a finish. my focus was on trying to maintain whatever pace i could and just get across the finish line.
i have to mention that along the course were signs with facts about mental illness and suicide. each time i passed one, i felt i had to push a little harder because if someone else was out there fighting, i could fight harder, too. i love that the race included information along the way to remind us of why our gathering together was so important.
|finish line picture from photographer chelsea tischler|
when i saw my time was 26:09, i was beyond delighted. i was convinced, going into this race, i'd be running in the 28's, given how my times have been during most of my runs. to hit my first race of the year on no real training at 26:09? that was a huge accomplishment. consider my running confidence restored - i can be speedy again! brandon dominated his race, with a time of 23:37. he is my speedy inspiration. if i could run a pace like he does for my goal race in september, i'll be pretty happy (that would be a nice pr).
|another happy finisher!|
we stuck around after the race because they had some really awesome raffle prizes (including a $750 grill)! i also wanted to see how my fundraising efforts panned out. turns out, i was the top individual fundraiser! julie acknowledged my efforts in front of the crowd and i got an awesome, awesome prize: a box of love bars! 25 cents of every love bar sold is donated to "stand up to cancer." not only is the cause great, and the company local in michigan, but the bars are freaking delicious. the gluten free peanut butter is out of this world!
i feel honored to be the top individual fundraiser. i couldn't have done it without the support of everyone in my office :) thank you!!
|posing with my prize|
|the love bars that made it home that day and all but one has yet to be eaten...|
overall, this was a great event. when a cause hits home, i am not sure there is much that could happen to feel sour about an event like this, but despite the rain, a huge crowd turned out and it seemed like everyone had a great time. i ran an awesome time, i feel good about all i did to help the cause and i'm really proud of everything julie is doing to honor her mother and help others. it doesn't get more wonderful than that.
and, since it was mother's day, after all... i love you mom!