The good news was that my 12-mile long run on Saturday went well and was as on-point as it was going to be in 70 degree temperatures, which, I’ve learned over the years, are not my jam.
The bad news was that I felt every yard of that 12-mile run in my legs on Sunday as I walked to the starting line of the Run Jimmy Run 5K. My legs were tired and it was hot — 73 degrees and sunny. A beautiful summer day, but not my ideal running conditions. Still, I gave my best effort and was convinced I had at least negative split my run. At worst I ran even miles.
After downloading the data from my Tom Tom watch I saw the truth: I had positive split my run. In other words, each mile was slower.
So not only had I run another slow 5K, but I didn’t even run a consistent pace. (IMPORTANT DEFINITION: “Slow 5K” refers to “slow for Amy Mo” and only refers to “slow for Amy Mo.” Carry on.)
Not one bit of that mattered.
After I crossed the finish line on the cusp of the outfield at Buffalo’s Coca-Cola Field, I went back and started looking for my parents.
My mom and dad registered for the 1-mile walk. This was the first time they ever registered for a race. The first time they have had a race bib. The first time they were in the event instead of watching it. And it was huge for another reason. As my brother described it, our mom is a superhero.
About five years ago she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and COPD. After rounds of chemotherapy treatment and scans and follow-ups, she had beaten the cancer. Ironically, getting lymphoma probably saved her life. A follow-up scan showed her lymphoma gone, but caught a lesion in her lung. Late last year, she was diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer.
Had it not been for that scan, doctors would probably never have caught the lung lesion. By the time they did, it would have been too late to do anything about it.
With lots of fear and doubt and about a million other emotions, my mom picked a treatment course and got good news — the lesion responded to the treatment just as they had hoped. Now the treatment didn’t make breathing any easier for her. She still struggles with her lungs and the COPD. She struggles with her legs, the aftereffects of chemotherapy.
But when I registered for the Run Jimmy Run 5K, mom was all about signing up for the walk.
She told me it was important for her to make this her first “official walk.” It starts and ends at the downtown Buffalo ballpark, the place she most loves to spends her summers. Baseball has a special place in my mom’s sporting heart. And for the race to be in memory of the late Mayor Jimmy Griffin who prized family, well, that was the best spot for mom to be at.
I took off on my run and she and my dad were at the back of the pack. And I mean the back of the pack. The walkers were most power-walkers. My parents are not power walkers and they quickly lost the group. Washington Street, where the race begins, is an uphill. Mom wasn’t mentally prepared for that. Early on she thought she couldn’t do it.
Nevertheless, she persisted.
She and my dad made it to City Hall, took a break, then started making their way back to the ballpark. By the time she crossed the finish line she had walked 1.6 miles. I was jumping up and down. I was cheering at the top of my lungs. Because that, my friends, was amazing.
Take that lung cancer!
When my mom crossed the finish line, it wasn’t the end of something but rather the beginning. She told me recently that she’s taken a new approach to life.
“I’m at the age where, if I want to do something, I’m just going to do it,” she told me. “It might take me longer with somethings, but I’m not going to let things stop me from doing what I want.”
I don’t know if there’s an age requirement to living how you want, but I’m going to follow my mom’s lead. The worst that could happen … well the worst rarely happens. And if you stay on the couch afraid of the worst, you will almost certainly miss out on the best.
My mom indeed is a superhero.