Saturday, December 10, 2022

Hot Chocolate Run: Festive and (sort of) fun

Ready to run

First things first, or last things first, the hot chocolate (with marshmallows) was delicious last Sunday at the end of the annual 5K, the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, in Northampton. The run is festive and fun, but,
not surprisingly, when being made for so many people, the hot chocolate is not always the best. This year, many of us remarked on how good it was. I would have lingered if the people I came with didn't want to leave. 

The event was fun, but the run, not so much. The delayed start time (about 15 minutes) made me stiffen up. I hadn't been training, unless you could call running around a tennis court training. I've been running about once a week, maybe three miles or a little less. Some weeks I didn't run though I jumped around a lot in exercise classes at the Y. Does that count? In the couple of weeks before the run, I made sure to add some hills. I thought it was enough to do it and feel OK. The hills through and around Smith College are tough. Normally I run up but this year I walked. 

 I was part of a team of tennis friends this year – The Ace Capades – and the fast walkers in the group ended up walking more quickly than my very slow run.  I don't have asthma, but I actually started wheezing. The Fun Run, as opposed to the Road Race, is not exactly competitive. Runners pushed strollers. A guy in front of me juggled as he ran. He dropped a ball, stooped to pick it up, and started running again. People wore fun outfits. An instructor from the Y cheered for me as I ran the home stretch. When I saw her in class a couple of days later, I thanked her and told her I hadn't been feeling so great. She said I looked good. That made me feel better, in hindsight. 

Who cares, right? Here's why I cared. My PTSD regarding getting diagnosed with leukemia after a slow race (the Saint Patrick's 10K in Holyoke) clouded my vision. Was I relapsing? My pride at having been a "real" runner was a wee bit damaged. At least if I "only" did a 5K, I didn't have to wheeze. The difficulty breathing lasted a while. One of my teammates who was walking back to the car with me stopped with me. I tried to get some better breaths in. In through the nose, out through the mouth. I perked up a bit. 

6th annual photo with Amy Willard

Did I say I am doing some personal training at the Y? My trainer had done the race with Y members who were doing a "couch to 5k." I texted with her afterwards, when I got home. I think I scared her because I said I didn't feel so great. She wanted to know if I was light headed. I said no, I was just doing a reality check about the late start giving me problems. She said she thought that was normal.

I can do cognitive behavioral therapy on myself. What were the facts? I hadn't trained. I was 13 years "out." (Meaning 13 years after my fourth stem cell transplant, in the highly unlikely to relapse territory.) Speaking of which, I was probably the only one with multiple stem cell transplants doing this. The next day at tennis, when my group was coming on the court, I chatted with a friend who was coming off. I said something about not feeling great in the Hot Chocolate Run, and she said, "At least you were out there. I was at home drinking hot chocolate. "

All that aside, we raised money for a good cause. If you donated, thank you very much!

And there is also the matter of a nice new mug.