Last week I enjoyed a wonderful experience celebrating survivors and remembering those lost to breast cancer at the Susan Komen Race for the Cure in Washington, DC. Saturday I completed the twofer by running the KomenDetroit race. Where The DC event was more of a communal celebration Detroit was more commemorative and personal. Returning to not only the city of my birth but also my mother’s, made the entire trip much more poignant. Additionally while I didn’t realize it when I decided to run the races earlier this year, I was repeating the steps we took at her passing, funeral services on back to back Saturdays, first in DC, then in Detroit.
For that and many other reasons, it didn’t matter that I didn’t fly into town until 1am and woke up at 6am. It didn’t matter that it was raining right before the race( it cleared up). All that mattered was being a part of the event at home. Detroit is second nature to me but I’ve never run there before. This was a first. From the time I landed to the time I crossed the finish line the experience was intensely familiar and personal. The event in general, one of the largest races in the country, felt uniquely like the Michigan and like Detroit. Situated along the picturesque Detroit River and International Riverfront the views were peaceful. The pre race area full of buses from all over the state, TV news crews, and tents from radio stations to the Detroit Pistons it had the feel of a hometown community event.
With a diverse crowd of all backgrounds and teams comprised of church members, corporate sponsors and families supporting loved ones the festive event kicked off to the sound of a rock band and was followed almost every quarter mile by high school bands, jazz bands and supporters along the way. It didn’t matter that my playlist didn’t work on my new iPhone, the adrenaline of the environment and the memories of my mother kept me going.
While the last mile was a challenge that seemed like it would never end, I was proud to finish with my best time of the year and towards the top quarter of the male finishers. An added bonus and incentive was finishing along the riverfront near a location where years ago I had purchased a commemorative brick in my mother’s memory. The joy of finishing the race and then going to stand next to her brick in celebration of her life and completion of the race at home, was immeasurable. I’d like to say I spent my couple of hours at the race interacting with everyone and making new friends, and I probably will next time, but this year it was a personal and focused experience that was equal parts tribute, triumph and thanksgiving. Thanks Mom.