With a quarter-mile to go before crossing the finish line there's a nasty hill to conquer.
Dubbed the Hill of Hope, it's supposed to remind runners that while running a 5K and tackling this hill right before the finish line is hard, it's not as hard as what a cancer patient or survivor goes through. Because cancer? It's a nasty disease. An ugly disease. It hurts. But those people who cancer has chosen to attack fight on. Because they don't want to let cancer win.
As I approached that hill Saturday morning during the Sole Burner, a local 5K that raises funds for the American Cancer Society, I was starting to hurt. I had gone out aggressively. I had goals I wanted to achieve. A race to run. A time to beat. And I was on pace.
But it was starting to hurt. A tiny part of me just wanted to slow down momentarily.
But I knew that hill was approaching. And for a moment, my mind wandered. I wasn't thinking of 5K PRs or even anything about me.
Instead I thought of my grandmother, a woman I never knew because she lost her battle to breast cancer before I was even 5. And I thought of a good friend of mine, whose family got news this past week that a brain tumor her father is battling keeps growing and the difficult decision they made to stop chemo and any other treatments.
What I was going through Saturday was hard. But not even close to what others are experiencing.
So I dug deep and attacked that hill. I felt strong thanks to the training Coach Jim had put me through this spring. I passed people. But most importantly, I destroyed that hill.