About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Run, mama run!

Today I ran in my first race, the Carlsbad 5000.

If you would have told me two years ago that I would be running in a 5k race, I wouldn't have believed you.  But then again, if you would have told me a year ago that I had cancer, I wouldn't have believed that either. Life is full of surprises, isn't it?

I've been working on my 5k times over the past several months at the gym. My goal on the treadmill was to do 5k in 30 minutes or under. I never quite got there, although last Thursday I clocked it at 30:22. Secretly, my goal today was to do it in under 35 minutes. I'm not an experienced road runner, and with it being my first race, I was cutting myself some mental slack.

Wouldn't you know it, I finished in under 30! I don't know my exact time yet, we left before they posted them. They give you a little tag that you wear on your shoe that starts your time when you cross the start and finish lines. They will post them online tonight and I'll check to see then. But I know I was under 30 because when I crossed the finish line, the posted clock was 29 minutes and change.

There were hundreds of women in the "masters" class.  That's a nice way of saying women of a mature age. Ahem.  Yes, 40 and above.  I was worried yesterday about embarrasing myself by being slowpoke. Once I got there and saw some of the other women, that concern was gone. I definitely wasn't in the best shape of everyone there, but I wasn't in the worst, either!  I overheard people talking about how they were planning on walking the course. So I knew I wasn't going to be last!

Near the starting line, they had flags that said "10 minute mile," "9 minute mile," "8 minute mile," and down to 5. The closer you were to the starting line, the faster the mile. I guessed that you were supposed to stand in the general area of your speed to start.  It seemed like a logical point so the slower runners wouldn't be in front and be in the way of the speedier ones. I went ahead and stood in the 10 minute mile section.  I tried to warm up a little bit, but it was kind of hard. I was anxious.  I had my heart rate monitor on and just standing there my heart rate was at 90.  Ridiculous.

When the horn blew for the start, everyone slowly started moving forward. When I got to the start line, I started to run. I found out quickly that not everyone was honest about their speed when they were lining up. I found myself passing a lot of people, and having to run zig zagged to get around them. At that point, I figured, forget about time. Just run.

From the get go, my heart rate went through the roof.  I think it was the adrenaline and anxiousness. I didn't like to start out so high, though. It didn't bode well for my endurance. But it was liberating to be participating in the race. I thought in the early minutes about what I've been through over the past months. Running this race was like a victory in itself. I even shed a little tear over it. Eric and the kids staked out a spot near the beginning of the race and cheered me on as I passed. That was nice. I'm glad I asked them to come with me this morning.

Then it became about finishing. I wanted to run the whole thing, if possible. At the 1 mile mark, they had a clock running. I saw that I was under 10 minutes. Cool!  If I could just keep that pace up, I figured I might just make a decent time for myself.  The course itself is gorgeous-you are running in Carlsbad Village and most of the course is parallel to the beach. Lovely! The weather was perfect for running. Slightly overcast, but not to chilly. Especially once we started running.  I spotted an elderly lady running in front of me at a steady pace. My goal became to keep up with the "old lady."  At the 2 mile mark, I was under 20 minutes. That was encouraging, and I knew I was getting done.  But my heart rate was way too high, so I walked a little bit. I fell behind the old lady and that was that.  I would say I only walked about 30 seconds. I just couldn't stand seeing people passing me!

When I turned onto the last street, I saw the finish sign. I did my best to sprint, and I did pick up the pace a bit. But I couldn't keep it up. I saw the clock under the finish line and it was at 28 minutes and change. I did my best to run as fast as I could. I could hear the announcer talking about an 80 year old woman who had just finished in under 30 minutes. Good for her. Could I do the same?  I did my best and sure enough, crossed the line before the clock turned to 30. Eric and the kids were in the crowd at the finish, but I didn't see them.

It was a tough run for me. As I went, I thought about things I would do differently next time. For one, I ate too much last night. My bright idea was to have pasta. I also had some chicken. That was all well and good, I just ate too much of it. I woke up full this morning. I even skipped the planned banana. I did have some green smoothie, but that was it. I felt like I had a bucket of lead in my belly the whole time. Yuck.  Next year, don't overindulge the night before! I also didn't run with music. I think next time, I will bring my iPod. Music can really pump me up and keep me going when it gets tough.  Finally, I was suffering from a bit of sore muscles in my left side. I can thank Jillian for that. I usually like the feeling of being sore, but on the run it gave me pain to think about.   Next time, don't get sore the week before!

But I did it! I beat my personal best time. I'm glad I did it, and hope to do it again next year. Maybe I'll make it in 25 minutes or less.....


  1. You deserve a big congratulations! That is so phenomenal that you not only could run a 5K, but your time was impressive. I have a goal of being able to run one-half mile and that seems like a huge challenge!

  2. you are an inspiration for everyone!! Congratulations!!

  3. Great accomplishment Tonya....