by Melissa Brunner
Shortly before 6 pm, Brad Rhoden checked the weather conditions on his cell phone. "99 degrees, heat index of 111," he proclaimed and shook his head.
Brad is commissioner for the Sunflower State Games Governor's Cup 5k and 10k runs. As such, he had the task of doing all he could to ensure participants in Friday night's events stayed safe, even as he knew there was no way we'd be comfortable! He and SSG volunteers added a water station along the route and quickly rounded up more coolers and jugs, filled with water, sports drinks and ice.
My shirt was already soaked with sweat by the time we toed the starting line at 7pm. I was embarking on the 10k route, while Amanda Lanum and Matt Blanchette ran the 5k. Side note, I lectured Matt about wearing a black shirt, but he pointed to the word "Bruins" across his check and smiled - such a diehard fan! I had no delusions that this would be a PR day - I just wanted to make it to the finish line and still be running.
The thing about group runs is that everyone is dealing with the same conditions and you can all make your mind up to make the best of the situation. It was also helpful to have people along the streets, clapping and offering encouragement. One of those friendly faces was Amanda's mom, volunteering at the first water station. I usually try to grab the cup, keep at least a jog going, and get a sip or two before moving on. After that first water stop, I made up my mind that I'd have to slow to a walk for a few steps to make sure I got some water down - then dumped the rest on me to cool off! Also helpful were the folks who had their sprinklers pointed toward the street so we could run through. A special thanks to the cute couple we passed twice who held their hose with the sprinkler nozzle over the street the entire time. When I said thanks they told me they were going to talk their neighbors into joining them next year!
I got a little spring in my step the final block before we crossed 6th St. and made the final turns through Hummer Sports Park. I ended up catching a woman I know a few steps from the finish line and urged on to cross with me - my husband Doug got a great picture of us smiling... yes, smiling despite my shirt weighing about 10 pounds extra with all the sweat! My time was 1 hour, 5 seconds, which is a good five minutes slower than I might usually expect, but I have to say it was a satisfying feeling to stick it out in those conditions. Matt earned a bronze medal in his 5k age group and Amanda finished strong, too.
Was it fun? You know, as I was trying to suck in air from the blast furnace around me about mile 4, I might have questioned that, but a few steps later, I ran through a sprinkler, and, at the finish line, a couple of my running friends found me and we swapped stories, and, not long after that, the little kids took off on a fun run around the parking lot, smiling as they earned their first medals. So, yes, it was fun! It's fun to set a goal, meet a challenge, and see it through. It's what the Games are all about!
I have an album of pictures posted at www.facebook.com/WIBWMelissaBrunner - check it out!