49er Gold Rush 5K
Groundhog Day Mixed with a Race
We’ve all heard of Punxsutawney Phil, the little furry guy in Pennsylvania who comes out, sees his shadow, and declares six more weeks of winter. February 2 brings the most-watched weather forecast of the year—and the only one led by a rodent. Legend has it that on this morning, if a groundhog can see its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If it cannot see its shadow, spring is on the way.
My alarm mysteriously went off at 5am and while Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” did not start playing, I knew I wasn’t falling back asleep anytime soon. Believe me, I tried tricking myself. I figured, if this day were going to repeat itself, why not run a race on Groundhog Day!?! My friend Rachel mentioned the night before about a race taking place at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), a Gold Rush 5K. Groundhog Day mixed with a race was an easy sell for this guy. Honestly, either of those two were good enough reasons to get out of bed, but combine the both of them, and you have the start of something special!
The next steps went something like this: 1) Google the location of the race 2) Grab my scrubs and lab coat 3) Hop in the shower (for easily 45 mins) 4) Slide my feet into my newest pair of running shoes! If today were going to repeat itself, I was well prepared to do battle again and again.
Being a Northerner, you would think 25 degrees was no big deal; however, living in North Carolina for the past 10 years has warmed my blood substantially. And yes, spoiled me (guilty). Actually, it wasn’t so much cold as it was downright freezing (cue my entire family and friends in Michigan rolling their eyes)! I made my way to the registration table and immediately started getting looks from fellow runners. While most runners were covered in multiple layers from head to toe, yours truly roamed around in his medical scrubs and was being asked time and time again, “What’s Run4Papa?” The amount of attention and awareness from wearing this attire alone was worth bearing the frigid temperature.
I ended up running alongside 800 fellow runners. We started on a racetrack but were quickly directed toward a variety of hills zig-zagged around the beautiful UNCC campus. I happened to run quicker than normal and could feel my fingers thawing out one by one every half mile. When I approached Mile 3, there was a massive group of college volunteers supporting runners as they made their way toward the finish line. When I got closer, this group started going wild! “We have a doctor running this race!” As I flew by, I heard “Run 4 Papa, Run 4 Papa!” A BIG smile came across my face. Why? Because this cause continues to have a contagious affect not only at each race and venue, but by the amount of support, awareness and traffic generated online.
I thought to myself “If every day is like this one, my alarm can go off at 5am anytime. Groundhog Day or not, I will be happy to repeat this effort day after day until the 1st National PPA speech therapy trial is funded.” And by the looks of it, I am thinking this goal will be achieved within the next 135 days.
As I crept back into bed, I turned my radio on only to hear the song “I Got You Babe” playing. Seemed timely enough to me.