3. Race for the Cure, 2006

This year I participated in the Charleston, South Carolina Race for the Cure. It’s a 5K (3.1 mile) benefit race which promotes breast cancer research. It’s the first race I’ve participated in besides the Cooper River Bridge Run, so I was pretty excited. The only snag is that I haven’t fully regained the level of fitness which I had before the accident. Sorry, can’t discuss how I got banged up. There’s a legal case pending. Suffice to say that there was a broken arm and a banged up leg. It’s all better now, but I’m still training back up. the first time I tried to run three miles was about a week before this race, so I wasn’t too sure about how I would do. Still, I wanted to go. It looked like fun.

Registration

As with the Bridge Run, it pays to be early. According to the website, the street adjacent to the nearby parking area would be closed by 6am and the far lot by 7:30am. I wasn’t sure about the size of the crowd, so I was there by 5:30am. I kicked around until 6:00, got registered for the race and bought some coffee at a little café next to a Publix. I was glad that they were registering on race day, since I only decided to go for this event a few days before.

Family Circle Magazine Stadium

Here’s what the location looks like when the sun is up.

Chance Meeting

Chance MeetingWhen the light was better, I took some pre-race photos. The lady on the far right was working for the people who brought the boat, I guess. I had just come from the car (my super-early parking space was pretty close) and she was checking something under the boat. As I approached, she said “hey, handsome.” When I wished her a good morning in reply, she quickly turned around. As it turns out, she thought it was her husband behind her. “That’s okay,” I said. “I’ll take all the compliments I can get!”

Star Spangled Train Wreck

Star Spangled Train WreckEventually they decided to have someone sing The Star Spangled Banner. So this dude on the left stepped up onto the stage and proceeded to wreck it most painfully. Look, I understand that it’s a hard song, and it can be a bit boring, but that’s no reason to change keys in the second line. Seriously, am I the only person who noticed this?

After his impromptu key adjustment, he carried on with his very best white-boy Whitney Houston impersonation. Everyone else was faithfully holding their hands over their hearts, but I was fishing for my camera. Some people may think that it’s unpatriotic to make fun of the person who’s singing our national anthem, but I happen to believe that it’s kind of unpatriotic to let this guy wreck it without throwing at least one tomato at him.

Late Race

The race ran a bit late, because I-526 was backed up. Everyone in town apparently decided to come to the race, and most of them were late. Of course, Charleston, South Carolina is typically pretty jammed up whenever all of us try to do something as one big group. Rush hour in this town is ridiculous for a city this small, but we’re able to achieve regular jam-ups through a joint application of dumb driving and even dumber civil engineering.

The one-mile Fun Run was supposed to begin at 8am sharp, and the 5K race at 8:30am, but they ran late about a half-hour. In the end this was a good thing. It left me plenty of time to deal with the natural results of drinking too much coffee.

Pink Ribbon

Pink Ribbon

Okay, enjoy this one while you can. There were a few rows of vendor/advertiser booths at the event, and while I was checking them out I stumbled upon two women who were painting pink ribbons on people’s faces. I couldn’t help myself. I just had to ask what they were for. Were they for people who had lost a relative to breast cancer, or perhaps a simple symbol of support?

“It’s just to show support! Come here!”

“Um…” I replied. “I think the t-shirt in my packet is a great way to show general support…”

“Oh, come on! This is a great way to show your sensitivity and support for women! Come on, BE A MAN!”

This was a definite first-time event. Never before in my life had I been the victim of macho-oriented peer pressure from a bunch of women. I was so suprised by the whole thing that I wound up with a pretty pink ribbon on my face.

But after a few minutes, it didn’t seem so bad. Since this was a female-dominant event, one should expect to see a lot of pink everywhere. The important thing is that we were going to have a fun race, and it was for a good cause.

The Race Itself

At the starting line, I found myself talking with a couple of… you guessed it. Women. There were plenty of men around, but it was the gender ratio was of the sort which men tend to prefer. You’re more likely to bump into the fairer sex. One of them was Erin, who works in an Environmental Laboratory. The other, Lara, is an officer in the Coast Guard. When they asked me, I had to admit that my job is to prevent a dairy’s computers from sprouting legs and running off.

When we started, Erin disappeared. Lara and I ran together for a while, but I told her not to slow down for me if I got tired. I’m training up, but I don’t want politeness to interfere with her own goal of twenty-five minutes. I stayed with her for about a mile, and then I told her that I would have to slow down. Really, I could have kept the pace… but I would have eventually thrown up on the side of the road. It’s a much better policy to just slow down and stablize. In the end, We both acheived our goals. She finished in 23:30, and I finished in 26:40, well below the thirty minutes I had planned. I was dead tired, but satisfied.

Free Food!

Upon finishing, there was water, as well as other goodies. These magnificent paragons of virtue were handing out free bagels… for free! After some well-deserved water and a free bagel, how can you go wrong? Now that the race was over, I could get my camera back from the car and take a better look at the vendor booths.

Free Food

Just like regular bagels, but they’re FREE!

Vendors and Booths… Oh, and Balloons!

Hot Air Balloon

There were newspapers, advertisers, a booth for Sun Chips… all sorts of stuff. My interest was quickly caught by this balloon basket near the Remax balloon. I guess they were affiliated, but unfortunately I didn’t ask. All I know is that I had to dig out the digital camera while that guy was still inclined to ignite that engine. I’m not sure if it was the sunlight or the timing of the shot, but in this photo you can’t see the amazing fireball which was produced. That really breaks my heart.

The Pink Ladies

At last, it was time to gather up the ladies in pink. Every one of these pink shirts in the photo on the left is a breast cancer survivor. I saw a lot of t-shirts at the race, some plain, some official, and some humorous. For instance, I saw young women wearing shirts which read “Save the Boobies” and “Save the Ta-Ta’s.” that was pretty funny, I admit, but it’s these pink shirts which are the most important.

Pink Ladies

I should mention at this point that I’m not the fake type. I’m not going to make a politically correct speech about the power of women to survive, blah, blah, blah. Stuff like that is never sincere. However, the number of Pink Ladies walking around is an interesting testament to our steadily improving medical technology. How many of these women would be here if they had been diagnosed fifty years ago? It’s something to think about.

Strange Signs

Strange Signs

I’m not sure about these signs on people’s backs. I think it means that they lost somebody to breast cancer. I thought about asking, but it seemed like an excellent way to get into a really awkward situation. There were names on the signs, so I went with the “lost loved-ones” idea.

Pink Ribbon Renewed

Pink Ribbon Renewed

During the race, my pink ribbon melted right off. I dropped a lot of sweat, so by the time I got back to the booths it was simply gone. This wasn’t really a point of concern at first, but it when I passed the face painters again I was accused of removing it intentionally. They didn’t believe that I had simply sweated it off, so a replacement was in order once I had dried up a bit. Once again, I was branded.

Fond Farewells

Fond Farewells

When I decided to leave, there was only one chore left to do. I found my early morning admirer (middle-left) back at the boat and asked her if I was still handsome. Not only did she say yes, but she granted me the honor of another photo. At first I thought that these were survivor shirts, but they’re actually not. They’re just company shirts which happen to be that color.

Over all, the race was a lot of fun, and I plan to do it again next year.