Damon Runyon 5K
I did it.
I ran the Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium this morning. It was my first experience in competitive racing. Granted this was a run/walk for fun and to raise money for cancer research, but heading into this I did see this as a competition. In hindsight that was a big mistake. Nevertheless I am grateful for the opportunity.
Earlier in the week I received an e-mail from the Damon Runyon group with my assigned heat and time for the 5k. They assigned me to heat #4, which started at 10 AM. Each heat got underway every 20 minutes beginning at 9 AM.
The way the organization placed runners in their respective heats were based off the running time the participant provided upon registering for the event. To be placed in heat 4 was a nice assignment and the weather certainly made the run much smoother. It was nice to enter a venue that, while fairly brand new, still has history. Yankee Stadium is a venue that stands on its own. And as a loyal Mets fan, even I had to be impressed with the new Yankee Stadium.
The last few days I have prepared myself for this event. Of course preparation has been ongoing since last month. Within the last week I kicked my cardio up ten fold. Yesterday, I took an unorthodox off day on Saturday. It was nice to relax, get errands accomplished and prepare for the race.
This morning my father and brother accompanied me to Yankee Stadium. The ride their was peaceful and quiet. A nice conversation broke out between my father and me during the ride. It was ideal. The quick ride from New Jersey allowed me to calm my nerves. Bonding with my father was great. We rarely get to bond nowadays.
After arriving at the stadium, my father and brother wished me luck. They headed to a designated area for family within the stadium and I headed into my assigned heat. For the interim I stretched and turned the music on iPod up. As the first four heats were allowed to enter the concourse, we were greeted by a few guests.
As media partners of the run/walk, WNBC anchor Michael Gargiulo participated in the event. I am sure he did well. Alongside him was the President & CEO of the foundation, Loraine Egan, who announced to the crowd a total of $715,000 has been raised. Above them were two Yankee greats, Ron Blomberg and Mickey Rivers. They all had kind words to the crowd. Above all they wanted us to have fun and to remember why we were doing this. The message was loud and clear. We were running for cancer research. Many were also running in memory or in honor of someone who was stricken with the disease.
I ran in honor of a colleague. She was stricken with breast cancer last year. Her journey was painful. For months her presence was sorely missed around the office. Upon her return she returned a fighter. A year after her diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I am happy to say she fought it and her cancer is in remission. I pray for her continued and constantly improving health.
The first three heats were on their way. Heat four walked into their positions. We received our instructions from a volunteer. Then the countdown begun. I did my best to get my Garmin watch ready, but the GPS system would not properly work. I presume the thick walls in Yankee Stadium obstructed the GPS. Regardless, I did have a magnetic strip strapped to my shoe. Within a day or two I will receive my official time.
Well as the volunteer counted down to zero, we all were ready. We counted as well. The second we uttered “zero”, we were on our way. The Yankee Stadium Concourse was our first trek. We had to run the concourse twice. From the moment I started I knew I was off. But I refused to stop. My problem? When I run alone I tend to pace myself, but running in an event like this I raced to out beat others. As I struggled in my first race, I did not allow that to deter my goals of finishing the race running. I refused to walk.
After completing two rotations around the concourse, we went down into what I call the bowels of the stadium. That was an interesting run. As I ran I got to see many retired numbers on a wall. Along the way I was able to touch #23 (Don Mattingly). Two rotations then it was the moment of truth…I ran along the outfield wall and along the backstop for two rotations. What a dream come true.
How many get to say they ran along the outfield and the backstop at Yankee Stadium? I was mesmerized. I caught many runners in awe. Most stopped running to enjoy the view. I admit the thought crossed my mind; however, I was on a mission. I continued with my run. As I ran towards home plate, I spotted my brother and father sitting in the Delta Suites. They waved, I waved back. But not for one second did I stop. Seeing them there was special and memorable.
After the second rotation it was a long climb to the upper level. The challenging part of the run was climbing 64 steps. Very exhaustive. Again, while I was a bit slow, I refused to stop. Upon reaching the top I picked up where I left off. I ran. It was exhaustive but I pushed myself.
Another stair case made the journey arduous but I sensed the finish line. After running around the upper level the easiest part of the race occurred. We had to run down ramps. At that point I gathered my strength and managed to feel great. At the last ramp I saw the finish line ahead. To my joy and emotions I crossed the finish line.
I did it. I received my medal. Reflections of adversity crossed my mind. The past was just that, the past. The weight loss, the countless surgeries were minor obstacles. At this point, I finished. I was exhausted, sore and elated.
My next race is scheduled for September 3o. The Tunnel to Towers 5K race is on my mind. Training will resume the day after tomorrow. Scheduled off day is in the works.
I owe a special thanks to those who supported me in this endeavor. To those who donated thank you. Your donation will go towards to cancer research.
Until next time. Be safe and well.