“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Susan Jeffers
by Barry James
Judging by my time in the Mercer Island 5k held on March 2nd, one might conclude that my effort was not my most memorable athletic accomplishment. After all, my finishing time was about 50 seconds slower than my goal. For the James-Clan and me, just showing up, toeing the start line and finishing the endeavor was a victory.
Most of you are aware of my two and a half year ‘adventure’ with rare malignant liver tumors. And some of you might know about the results stemming from my 15-month cancer check-up. Yep, after looking great at 3, 6, and 9 months, tests on February 25th revealed the stuff has returned—major bummer to say the least. As with the past occurrences, I have zero symptoms and feel very fit and strong. Go figure.
So, after dealing with the shock of my new situation, I operated with about 12 total hours of sleep for the six days prior to the Mercer Island race. In fact, I was up at 1:00 a.m. at the hotel on a floor by floor quest of vending machines containing Starbursts (AWESOME therapy food), just hours before race time. So, by 6:30 a.m. I had a very heavy head, exhausted spirit, and tired body. When Sarah woke me up at the appointed time, I was understandably not in the racing mood at all. But of course I decided to do the race anyway.

Much to my surprise, the race was awesome! Close to 4,000 folks participated in the half-marathon, 10K and 5K events, helping to raise money for colon cancer awareness. And, many other cancer-surviving brethren were there, too. Let me tell you, seeing so many folks living and loving life really warms the soul.
Given the duress of our family’s situation, the race and event came at a perfect time for us.
The Humorous Part: The James family seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take to reach the race site. Mercer Island is just that: an island. So with just a couple of freeway exists to work with and thousands of cars heading to the same location, traffic was at a complete standstill along I-90, at least a mile away from the starting area.
With less than 60 minutes remaining until the start of my race, I hopped out of my car (Sarah took the wheel), peeled off my sweats, ran down part of I-90, up the exit ramp and over to the starting area and continued my warm-up. Many other traffic-logged runners followed my lead, and a steady stream of racers headed down the interstate behind me!