KNOXVILLE (WATE) - After seven weeks of training, our Ready to Run group hoped we were ready to go.
Our trainer, Levi Dodd, who volunteered his time with us these past weeks, had some last minute advice before we hit the 5K course for the race benefiting Volunteer Ministry Center.
"Run your run," Dodd said, "Run your pace. Right now, everyone's nerves have been going all morning. Your adrenaline is going strong. It's going to go even higher when you get up there."
Up there was the Clinch Avenue bridge, the start of the 5K on Saturday, September 24.
My daughter, Kelsey, Star 102.1's Kim Hansard and I, along with Mary Beth Ramey and Karol Harper, both staffers at Volunteer Ministry Center, gathered as part of a race with 250 runners.
We did our best to stay on track through the University of Tennessee campus along Volunteer Boulevard and back, relieved our trainer was right there with us.
"I'm going to stay with you, run with you, help you keep your pace, keep everybody going, " Dodd reminded us.
While we were still running, the fastest of the fast started heading for the finish line, making their way around the bend from Clinch Avenue to World's Fair Park. Kenta Nolin, 20, won the race with a time of 18:09.
Then familiar Ready to Run group members crossed the finish line. Kelsey was first to finish at 39 minutes, followed by Kim at 42 minutes. I finished at 45 minutes.
Mary Beth and Karol rounded out our group. Both of them had stops and starts during the race as they helped others along the way.
Our trainer was happy everyone finished, which was our goal this first time out. "Everybody did excellent," Dodd said. "We didn't talk about it up front, didn't want to get wrapped up in numbers, but I had goals for everyone and everyone hit it."
"Not only have we helped Volunteer Ministry Center raise money and awareness, we have built friendships," Kim said. "I don't think we'd have met some of these people if not for this run."
Speaking of raising money, Kim and I had a little challenge going. Whomever raised the most money in pledges got to enjoy seeing the other kiss a pig during closing ceremonies.
Kim won that dubious honor. It's an image we won't forget, on a day all of us tried to make a difference.
The money raised benefits programs at VMC to prevent or end homelessness and you can donate online to the center or call 865-524-3926.