Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday October 1, 2011
As my feet pounded the pavement last Saturday I had plenty of time to reflect on why I was running to begin with. My thoughts drowned out my killer play list, specially programmed on my Ipod for this day. My songs ran the gamut from Coldplay to Prince, Def Leppard to Queen. I thought this would take my mind off of why I was there but once I got started I could not quiet my thoughts.
I ran in the 12th annual Hoosiers Outrun Cancer 5K run and walk in Bloomington on the beautiful Indiana University campus. This event supports the Bloomington Hospital Foundation and Hoosiers Outrun Cancer patients and their families can learn more about cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. All services are offered free of charge.
This is my second year serving as captain of Team Tallman. My family and friends from both near and far help me to raise funds for this great cause and to support not only me but others they know who have been touched by cancer.
We all probably know someone who has been affected somehow by this disease, whether young or old, it does not discriminate. We ask ourselves what we can do to help. Sometimes it is as simple as making a meal, holding a hand during a round of chemotherapy or walking in honor of a sick friend.
I have been so fortunate these last 20 months to be able to surround myself with others who have helped me get through this. From the first moment I have had cheerleaders on my side who have not let me get down about this ‘situation’. I truly think it helps to not only have a positive outlook but to also have a strong support system to make you feel like you can do it.
|My little family right before we ran …|
When I first found out I felt down, but not out. I was hurt but not broken. Several surgeries down and a few more to go, I am a long way from figuring out how to live with this. I have just learned how to adapt. I am pickier on how my family and I spend our time. I have made more right decisions in the last 20 months than I have in my life thus far. I am figuring out who I am and I don’t know if I would have had this nudge if it was not for finding out that the cluster of cells I had deep down inside of me was cancer.
But I have gained perspective and for this I am thankful. It has not always been easy, but I have so much to be thankful for and so much that has been clearly laid out in front of me I have to move forward. So on this day I ran, not only for myself but for everyone who has had to endure so much more than I have.
The highlight of my day was watching my husband run a personal best and place in his age group and my father cross the finish line having just ran in his first 5K race ever. This was a lot to be proud of!
So as my songs droned on and I reflected on how lucky I was to even be able to run at all I became very emotional at every mile marker. At the first mile I was just happy to have the hills behind be and still be at a good pace. At the second I was reeling with feelings as a crowd of students yelled out my name and cheered me on. By the third mile I had found a sense of renewed energy as I ignored the pain in my hip and picked up my pace. My goal was to drop time and to run the whole race. I didn’t drop time, rather I maintained my time from last year. But, I did run the whole thing. I finished strong and I felt more humbled than I ever had in my whole life.
As I crossed the line and came to a stop the announcer called out my name, Heather Tallman: Survivor.
|Right after my son crossed the line in his walk.|
So in honor of this run I made my favorite pasta using the last of this summers basil crop and tomatoes. This combination encompasses many of my favorite flavors and if it were up to me I would eat this every week. The fresh basil, creamy mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and pasta work so well together that there is little you need to do to spice it up.
Pasta Rigate with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella Cheese
1 pound of spaghetti rigate, cooked al dente
3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of basil, chopped, or more to taste
1 small container of Boccotini, (small grape sized fresh mozzarella)
3 TB olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
coarse salt and fresh pepper
crushed red pepper, optional
In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and garlic.In a large bowl add the cooked and drained pasta. add the tomatoes with their juices and drizzle with the olive oil/vinegar mixture. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Add the basil and cheese and toss, lightly, to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature. I like to add a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes to the top of mine for a little zing.