Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 Free to Breathe 5K

Happy Monday! Holy moly this past weekend was busy – and leading up to this upcoming weekend will be the same. Our area’s 2nd annual Bark for Life is on Saturday and I’m the chair for the event – needless to say, crazy days at work and getting things together for Bark has consumed most of my time these past few weeks.

I know I’m incredibly behind on blogs – I promise to catch up soon! I haven’t forgotten y’all, and I appreciate you guys sticking with me!!

On Saturday morning, Jason and I ran a 5K!  Our area hosts an annual Free to Breathe 5K and I always try to participate if possible, since the proceeds benefit lung cancer research. My grandfather passed away from Lung cancer when I was a senior in high school and is part of the reason I began working in oncology in the first place. My grandfather was a smoker for most of his life and woke up in the middle of the night one night, unable to breathe. It scared him so much, he quit smoking “cold turkey”. Not long after, a lung mass was found on a chest x-ray. Needless to say, we had several good months with him before lung cancer took his life.

Did you know that up until recently, there wasn’t an adequate early screening program in place for lung cancer? (Breast has mammography, colon has colonoscopy, etc.)  Thankfully, that’s changed – if you are between the ages of 55-80 years old, are currently a smoker or quit in the last 15 years, and have a smoking history of at least 30 pack years, you qualify for screening (which is basically a CT scan of the chest).

Ok back to the race…

This race held my current 5K PR (from the previous year) at 26:10. I’ve been working towards a 5K PR in the 25 minute range for so long I could taste it - OK two years but whatever…seems like a long time to me.

It began to rain on us as we were driving into the race and I was worried about wet roads and humid temps. We arrived at the race site and stood in line for our race numbers and t-shirts. I ran into a few friends and talked to them while I waited, which helped calm my nerves.

Free to Breathe 5K

I was eating this up! :D So excited to have him out there with me as a participant!

Free to Breathe 5K 2

Prior to the race, I began reading the stories behind those who have lost their battle and those who are continuing to fight.

Free to Breathe 5K 3

This story broke my heart…

As an oncology nurse, I’ve learned to take the good with the bad. Celebrating the positives and the survivors is what carries me through day to day.

Free to Breathe 5K 4

Talk about celebrating? This is the reason I love what I do, because of stories like this.

The race began and despite the wet roads, all was ok! I started out in front because this race wasn’t chip timed – I wanted my time to reflect as closely to the time clock as possible.

Starting off with the front runners is not something I’m used to and by .3 miles, my breathing was way off. I looked at my watch and noticed I was running in the mid 7 minute range. Not good – I knew I couldn’t keep that up for 3 miles.

After finding a comfortable pace, I fell into the rhythm and “ran” with it…hah. Like the previous weekend, the Frozen Soundtrack was blaring in my headphones and that helped me stay upbeat.

I was really excited to run a race where I felt as if I was able to push my body to its limits, without injury holding me back. My knees felt great the entire race – I’m chalking it up to the fact that I was able to foam roll in the parking lot only moments before the race began. Hey…whatever it takes!

My mile times were pretty consistent in the 8:10 range.

As I neared the finish line, I waved to my running group friends and pushed through (what was left – not much) to the end.

Official finish time, 25:23! A PR! 

After snagging a bottle of water, I walked over to my running group to watch for Jason.

Free to Breathe 5

These guys were incredible – the little boy in the stroller was dressed like a fireman and these guys showed the true hero inside of them. So touching!

Free to Breathe 5K 6

Before long, Jason was rounding the corner, too! He crossed the finish line in 44:33 – beating his goal of 45 minutes! Way to go, Jason…so proud of you!!

Free to Breathe 5K 7

I received several compliments on the Princess Half Marathon shirt! 

Free to Breathe 5K 8

We headed over to the time boards so I could check out my official finish time and I had to do a double take - I placed FIRST out of 25 ladies in the 30-39 age group…and at such a big event?!  I was floored.

Free to Breathe 5K 9

I’ve chalked it up to the schwings. It’s gotta be the schwings.

Free to Breathe 5K 10

After the awards ceremony, we walked over to the lake to honor and remember those we’ve lost to this disease. This was an incredibly touching moment as hundreds of people tossed flower petals into the lake.

Free to Breathe 5K 11

They may be gone, but they are not forgotten.

Free to Breathe 5K 12

Overall, this was a wonderful event. I loved that we had fun while running a race for a good cause, then brought it all back full circle with a memorial at the end.

Free to Breathe 5K 14Free to Breathe 5K 15

After the race, I grabbed one of my BRF’s and my husband and we headed to our favorite local diner for breakfast!

Lucky for me, the store on my race gift certificate was in the same area as the diner!

Free to Breathe 5K 13

Funny story - last weekend when I placed in a local 3 mile race, I received $15 to an athletic store and 30% off a pair of shoes. Unfortunately, the store didn’t carry my specific shoe, so Jason was the lucky recipient of a new pair of running shoes. When I won the same thing this weekend (a $15 gift certificate to the same store), Jason said “Woohoo! I get a new pair of shoes!” Hah – sorry buddy, doesn’t work that way! :D

Instead, two new pair of Saucony socks are now in my possession! Thanks, Free to Breathe!

I hope you had a great weekend! Did anyone run a race? Do share, I wanna hear all about it!


  1. Wow, you are really rockin these races lately girl! Good for you and congrats on a new 5K PR! Your post was quite moving to me today as my grandmother had lung cancer too and passed in 2008. I miss her all the time!

    1. ((Hugs)) I'm so sorry about your grandmother. Such an awful disease.

      Thank you, by the way! :0)

  2. What an amazing race - I love how you honored everyone who lost their lives or are fighting lung cancer with the flower petals.

    Huge congrats to you and Jason on your goals, and to your first place AG placement! Two weekends in a row too!!

    1. Thanks so much, Lauren! It was a great event all around! :D

  3. Congrats on that PR and Jason's PR!!! Yay! That sounds like an amazing race! How cool they had the memorial at the end!

    1. Thanks so much, Mindy! The memorial was one of my favorite parts of the event!

  4. Congrats on a great race. Loved the pics. I wish they had an event like that here in BR. This November will be two years that my dad died from Stage 4 Lung Cancer just 4 days after being diagnosed. I still miss him greatly. Today I have to upgrade my iphone and I have a few voicemails from him saved that I really dont want to lose. :(

    1. Thanks, Nicole! I'm surprised they don't have an event like this in BR! I'm so sorry about your dad...such a terrible thing to happen. I'm sorry about the voice mails, too. Is there a way to save them on your computer? I also have a few from my grandpa that I don't want to let go of...

  5. Congrats! That's an awesome race with an awesome cause!

    1. Thanks, Lauren! I definitely agree on both counts! :0)

  6. Great job to BOTH of you! So glad Jason ran! Great job on placing. Sadly I will never place around here in my AG unless it's a tiny race, 1st place in my AG at my last race was 20:00! omg! Never gonna happen!

  7. Nice PR and congrats to the hubs too!

    I love the flower idea to remember. Very touching.

    1. Thanks so much, I was very touching!!

  8. So happy for you! Way to nail the race, PR and AG place.

  9. This is amazing, and congrats to both of you! I love the flower petal memorial -- such an incredible (and beautiful) way to celebrate loved ones. Awesome PR! :)

    1. I was an amazing memorial! Thanks, Jennifer!

  10. What a touching post. I lost two of my grandparents to lung cancer (one was a smoker, the other not). I've also done the Relay for Life (an event I know is dear to you) in honor of them.
    Congrats on the PR and first place! Great job!

    1. Oh goodness...Kim I'm so sorry. Cancer is such a horrible disease. YAY for Relay - it means so much more when it has a personal emphasis! Thanks, Kim! :0)

  11. This race was meant for you Karen, with the cancer sad that so many are affected by this horrible disease. How exciting that you got a PR Karen. Congrats to you and Jason.....and another prize too is always fun!

  12. I was so happy when I read about your PR. That is amazing! Breaking through barriers is so fulfilling. Exciting!!!

  13. Awesome PR! Great job Jason! I was happy to log. 3 miles outside on Friday! Now we have snow again. It's the little things, but still excited to get a run!

    1. YAY for a snowless run!! That's exciting! Hope you are able to run many more very soon!


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