Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Running – or sloshing – in the rain for a good cause

With Amy Willard before the run
According to a post on the the Hot Chocolate Run's Facebook page, it was apparently the first rainy Hot Chocolate Run in the event's 15th year history.

In the morning, a friend pointed out that I didn't have to go. I had already raised the money, after all.

I said, in effect, that if everyone thought that way, nobody would be there. (And think of all that hot chocolate going to waste.)

When I ran the Hartford Half Marathon in the fall of 2002 it was on another rainy day. I felt a little under the weather. I remember my mother telling me not to go. I went anyway. At the time, leukemia might have been brewing. But I felt pretty good, except for feeling silly when my friend Mike and I got there and got soaked while waiting, while the more knowledgeable runners had made makeshift ponchos out of garbage bags that they discarded when the race began.

I didn't feel so good this year. And it was only a 5-K.

Contrary to last year, when I trained for the Hot Chocolate Run so that I would feel OK on the hills, and then wrote about it for Women's Running, I didn't train this year. 

I wasn't even planning on going, but when I told Marianne Winters,  the executive director of Safe Passage, that I wasn't in shape, she said that it didn't matter because the Fun Run, was, well, fun. In the old days I would have signed up for the race with the "real runners," but that was then, and this is now. 

I know Marianne through tennis, and it was over snacks at a tennis match that we had talked about my participating. It was as a way of supporting her great work that I did my first Hot Chocolate Run with other tennis teammates three years ago.

And then there was one.

Amy, from that original group, was running this year. We agreed to meet before. It was fun to go together. She has a great smile that ... cliché alert...brightened the day.

Due to the cold and rain, it was difficult to figure out to wear. I put in contacts that I'm trying out. The idea was to keep from having rain pour onto my glasses. I put on a Gore-tex jacket to keep my top dry, and as for my legs, I figured they would get soaked anyway so I just wore the leggings that I wear to tennis. Then for headgear, the choice was between keeping my head warm with the red hat that you get for raising at least $150, or wearing a baseball hat and keeping the rain out of my eyes. 

Choosing the warm hat may not have been the best idea. The rain was coming down so hard that I was afraid the contacts would wash out of my eyes. Then my vision would be even worse than it was in rain-soaked contacts.

At least as an upgrade from the garbage bags of yore, volunteers had handed out ponchos for us to wear while we waited. 

We also went into a warm tent where trainers from Cooley Dickinson Hospital were rolling out runners' legs with a stick that is a torture device for tight muscles. I got mine done because just on time for the run, my plantar fasciitis decided to act up. This irked me no end. I have a couple of the sticks at home. I guess I should have been torturing my calves for maintenance, but, alas, it's hard to get motivated when there are so many other things to think about. In any case, it helped a little.

As I was going up the hills, I remembered why I had decided to run on some hills before last year's run. I've been doing intermittent three-mile runs but they are mostly flat.

I leaned into the first hill. Then my back cramped, and after a while, I had trouble standing up straight. I thought maybe I should switch to a walk for a while. Other people were doing it. When I tried to switch gears, I wobbled a little. It was easier to run, albeit slowly, that to walk, because it gave me better forward momentum. A woman asked if I needed assistance. I thanked her and said I didn't. We trotted alongside each other for a bit. That took my mind off being uncomfortable...for a few minutes.

By the time the hills at Smith College came, near the end, I was feeling a little bit screwed. I was bent over. I tried to coax myself into standing up straight. I told myself, "Pretend you're walking the dog!" Down the home stretch, I was going slowly enough to have a conversation with two police officers near the Academy of Music. I said I couldn't stand up straight. They asked if I needed help. I said I just wanted sympathy. They laughed.

Obviously I made it. Hot chocolate with marshmallows never tasted so good. I was soaked and cold But so was everyone else. 

I got a new mug. 

If you contributed to my fundraising page, thank you!

I love how the website is set up so you can see where the money goes, for example, a $30 donation can help provide resources, support and hope for a survivor calling the 24-hour hotline; $60 can help support a survivor's first counseling session, and so on.

The event broke records and raised $628,527.

I don't seem to be any worse for the wear except for not being happy about my heel.


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