Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 22, 2014

Race for the Cure: good for heart, soul

By Jeff Wilson, Ledger publisher | Oct 28, 2011

The picture safety-pinned to the back of the runner in front of me showed an attractive young woman with the dates 1971-2010 underneath.

I stared at the woman’s smiling face for the first half mile of the Susan B. Komen 5K Race for the Cure in Des Moines last Saturday morning.

When I took a quick look to my right to see how Lucy was doing, she was wiping a tear from her eye.

“I do that every time during this race,” she said. “That’s what makes this special.”

We were just two of more than 21,000 runners and walkers jostling for position in the early morning shadows of the Iowa Capitol building.

More than a month ago, Lucy suggested I join her for the event she had done numerous times. It was a good reason for me to step up my less-than-strict weekend training schedule in Fairfield.

After Memorial Day I was bumped off the Trojan Stadium track when the construction project started. The school still has the track padlocked to weekend warriors like me due to the last few construction details.

I found the Jefferson County Health Center parking lot to be a good alternative. However, the rubber running surface on the high school track is a little easier on the knees.

The Komen race is a little more than three miles and my training regimen never exceeded two miles of jogging without stopping to walk.

“It’s different running with all those people,” warned Lucy. “You find yourself going with the flow and people watching.”

She was right. We were among the minority of runners who paid extra for timing chips. All that did was give us an official recorded time and a start at the head of the pack.

The faster runners quickly separated from the traffic jam. As Lucy and I drifted back with the joggers, we had plenty of time to soak up the incredible atmosphere.

There were goofy costumes, lots of pink, young kids running, old people walking, special signs for breast cancer survivors and dedications to those who died. I tried to remember the name of the 39-year-old woman. I wanted to find out more. Maybe look up her obituary online. The strain of running blotted out my memory.

A third- or fourth-grade boy asked his mom if he could start running faster and leave his family behind.

“Go ahead Drew,” said his mom, “Use your cell phone.”

We flew past the first mile marker. The second mile marker took us right past Principal Park where the Iowa Cubs play baseball. Both Lucy and I were beginning to hurt.

We pulled off to the side for Lucy to retie a shoe then walked a couple of blocks going uphill near the capitol steps. We jogged the last half mile or so and crossed under the finish line with a time of 36 minutes. There were still walkers just beginning at the starting gate. I was relieved to finish, but a little sad it was over so fast.

The loudspeaker blared the event raised close to $1 million. Runners, joggers and walkers mingled about. After the race, we were all just proud participants.

On Sunday, Lucy emailed the race results. U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley finished fifth among male 70-79-year-olds, five minutes faster than our times. Drew finished in less than 20 minutes. I was 29th among 50- to 59-year olds.

I’ll kick butt against the 60- to 69-year-olds next year.

Jeff Wilson is publisher of the Fairfield Ledger.

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