Best Damn Race is everything wonderful about running and Orlando. BDR is designed as a race for runners by runners, and while it may not have all the massive bells and whistles of larger event series, it is one of my favorites. My opinion could be swayed by the wonderful race ambassadors and having met the race organizers personally, and that I have loved running the BDR series with my close circle of girl friends.
Thank you, Joe, for snapping our tired mugs!
When my buddy, Pat, and I ran the Castaway Cay 5K (way before those new fancy runDisney Challenge medals), I cackled when the cruise staff requested runners to avoid making “Dramatic Water Stations” while we were on the island. Runners, don’t pretend you don’t know what I am talking about. (Every last one of us has dreamed that highly coveted dream of the slow motion Baywatch-esque montage involving the dumping of cool water over our heads, shaking off droplets of water, and flinging away the empty cup as one resumes kicking asphalt.) The basic premise, make an effort to discard your cups in the receptacles before continuing the race. I have always thought that runners should seriously make efforts to be more ecologically conscientious, especially when racing.
Jeanette is such a bad ass!
So first things first, I am going to climb up on my soapbox and appeal to your environmental responsibility as members of the running community. Then, I’ll get to the happy stuff.
As runners, we have a social responsibility. We cannot expect the community to welcome us and allow us to overrun their neighborhoods and potentially ruin their plans if we insist on trashing their property in the process. Yes, there are volunteers at the stations to rake up the cups and scrape up the discarded gel packets, but your race fees cover the course amenities, not the clean up. Many road races weave in and out of neighborhoods, and if we’re lucky, the residents come out in their pajamas with their coffees and cheer the runners on.
You don’t litter while on a picnic, so why wouldn’t police your own rubbish while running? When you train, are you littering along your precious training routes? Would you want to want to trudge outside as part of your morning ritual to find someone’s half-eaten gel pack oozing all over the morning paper? When did the running community become so selfish? I feel like this behavior paints runners in a negative light and we should make strides to not only be more aware, but to change this behavior. Seriously, we should adopt a “take only photos and leave only footprints” to running. It isn’t difficult at all.
(It would behoove you to get your Best Damn Box of Tissues ready, People…
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
Previously, I’ve talked about emotional finishes at several of my races, but this time around, I would like to highlight a single moment along the course which gave my Best Damn 10K an additional aura of awesomeness. As an endurance athlete, I have often questioned why I run aside from the pursuit of life, run, and the quest for shiny bling. Often joke that I do not run for the PR (Personal Record Best), but the R (Record; Finish). Since my participation in the Revlon Run/Walk 5K back in 2011, I haven’t participated in a charity run, not because I don’t care about causes, but I feel like my unique work schedule doesn’t permit adequate time to fund raise in addition to train. I am revisiting the possibility of seeking out a charity team once I am back at my racing weight and fitness level, but that wouldn’t be on the table until at least September.
What has prompted this return to giving back you ask? Let me break it down (and break down my breakdown) for you..
Longest Mile* EVER!!
The fourth mile water station was stationed by a group of Best Damn Volunteers from the Autism Society of Greater Orlando. I took a cup from a shy, young man with glasses. He was timidly and patiently waiting for a runner to blindly pass by and take the cup from his hand. I intentionally bypassed the girls passing out cups left and right. When I took the paper cup from him, I looked him in the eye, smiled and thanked him. He smiled broadly. (I love it when people genuinely smile!)
“I did it again! I gave away my second cup!” he rejoiced as Meghan and I trotted off.
After close to an hour of the 10K, he’d only give out one other cup?! Were people running by and ignoring him the entire time? Maybe I misunderstood, but regardless I felt my heart clench. Instantaneously, I felt a lump catch in my throat as I dropped my emptied cup in the trash bin. Audibly, I started muttering to myself “don’t cry.” I turned to Meghan, fighting the tears misting up in my eyes.
“He was so happy that I took his cup…” I choked out, quickly followed by another couple of rounds of “don’t cry.”
A shooting pain form my left knee went up my leg, but all I could think about was that young man. I wish I knew his name. I would thank him over and over, for reminding me why I run and who the race truly benefits. I’d give him a hug if I could because he reminded me that I need to find the simplicity and happiness in the smallest of gestures and briefest of moments. If anyone from ASGO knows this young man, tell him he made a difference in my race experience. He made my grumpy Saturday run a memorable one which I will treasure until the end of my days. He helped me finish out my last two miles, including pushing myself to sprint at the end to finish under ninety minutes. Those two miles do not belong to me. They undeniably belong to him.
I share my medal with him because in this race he was my Best Damn Hero. Thank you, Darling, for being the Best Damn Cheerleader on the race course. Honestly, he earned my medal more than I did, and I would give it to him if I could.
This girl is so many wonderful things!
Too many of us get swept away in the hunger for more medals, new challenges, and winning our age groups. More and more runners are talking over the National Anthem and refusing to remove their hats. Entitlement is polluting a fantastic sport that should be open to everyone, and sadly leading to runners ruining running for other runners. I am tired of people joining charity teams purely to gain entry into a race while being completely devoid of interest in supporting the charity teams’ mission and purpose.
I am putting forth a new movement:
Run with Gratitude not Attitude.
Nick, Beth, & the Best Damn Race Folk: Thank you for bring the humanity back to running. Thank you for welcoming and treating every runner like they are a welcomed part of the running community and not only focusing on the Elite Runners. Thank you for highlighting some of the greatest cities within the Sunshine State. Thank you for bringing together an amazing group of local organizations and businesses to support our runners. Thank you for treating every runner, volunteer, and spectator as equals, and removing the velvet rope, dividing the running community. Thank you for being some of the Best Damn People on the Planet!
Autism Society of Greater Orlando: Thank you for reminding us of all the fantastically wonderful things you are doing to raise awareness and support our diverse, local community. Thank you for serving as a reminder that we are running to help raise money for charities in own hometown. Thank you for providing perspective to me and letting me have a nice, good cry along the race course. Thank you for reminding us how powerful and wonderful people from all walks of life are and how vibrant the human spirit is in each and every last one of us.
The Best Damn Volunteers and Run Club Cheer Squads: Thank you for supporting us whether it’s handing out water and sports drink and telling us it’s magically beer, wine, and margaritas. Thank you for the high-fives, hugs, fist bumps, fantastically inspirational signs, and that illustrious Best Damn Cowbell. You being there and shouting words of encouragement and even using our names, makes each of us feel like an elite runner. Thank you for the orange slices, pretzels, and other snacks along the way. Thank you believing that we can finish and telling us that we’re “almost there,” especially when we do not believe it. You have no ideal what an invaluable resource you are.
Locals of Orlando: Thank you for patiently waiting while we ruin the flow of your morning with road blocks, traffic stops, and a paper trail of cups, gel packs, and at times— discarded clothing. Thank you for being the runners who make the Orlando community strong, proud and supportive. Thank you for sitting in your drive ways in your pajamas and cheering us “crazy people punishing ourselves” in compression socks and tank tops while it’s 40 degrees outside. Thank you for bringing out those cute doggies willing to give up puppy kisses. Thank you for the horn honking drive-bys and words of encouragement shouted from your car windows as your roll past on your way to work. Thank you for letting runners feel welcomed and safe as we run through the city. Thank you for supporting a race series that truly helps build the community. Thank you for making Our City Beautiful.
These aren’t my friends. They’re my Sole Sisters. ❤
My Best Damn Tribe: Ladies, you put up with my antics and running commentary throughout the course. You tolerate my photobombs and comic relief when celebrating our victories. You stay with me when I walk through the pain.You tell me to stop apologizing and apologizing for apologizing when I need to stop or slow down. You give the best damn hugs when my Itty-Bitty-Sh*tty Committee is getting in my head and fast passing my body right into The Wall. You inspire me. You perspire with me. You don’t care if I finish first, last, or not at all. Old friends and new. All shapes and sizes. We laugh together as if we’ve been friends our entire lives, and I can’t get enough of any of you. We converge prior to the race, huddle in the corrals for warmth, send each other off, scream like proud Mamas at the finish line and brunch when we can. Meghan, Andrea, Jeanette, Cecille, Carla, Mia, Christina, Jen, Hope, Sarah… (I hope I am not forgetting anyone, and if I have, I blame the fact that I am sobbing while I write this…) Every last one of you is a goddess in my Pantheon!
Everyone, seriously. Thank you from the bottoms of my soles and the depths of my heart and soul.
- Chip Time: 1:29:13.4 (Pace: 14:30/Mile)
- Gun Time: 1:29:52.0
- Place: 583/674 (#113 in 35-39 Age Group)
My Best Damn Coaching Advice (to one of my gal pals): “Cecille, you can only finish this race before us IF you run. No cars!”
For the record, Cecille PRed in 1:24:34.2 (13:34/Mile)! Get it, Girl!! ❤
Note*: The Mile 1 sign for the BDR 5K coincided with the fourth mile of the 10K. I decided to make a group of runner laugh by expressing what we were all feeling!
Race Date: Saturday, February 28, 2015
Location: Lake Eola, Orlando (The City Beautiful), FL