After last year's race, I made this in honor of Brittany Romero, who is Uncle Ryan's sister. She spent many years in and out of the Packard hospital, fighting an aggressive form of spinal cancer. It's unthinkably tragic, but she succumbed in 2004, at the age of 17.
This year, my friend Betsy joined our "team," though I ended up be too busy to do any serious fund-raising efforts. The most I was able to do was iron out some T-shirts that say "Team Brittany" at the last minute. Maybe next year I can be more organized about it!
This year's race was much easier to deal with than last year's, which was nice. Parking was easier, it was easier to get to, they staggered the start times of the 5K and 10K races, and there weren't massive lines for the bathrooms. It's a nice course around the Stanford campus too.
Last year, Gabriel and I ran the race mostly together, until the very end when I was able to sprint past him just before the finish line, beating him by one second. This year, it wasn't even close -- he was determined to beat me, and did so handily. We ran together for about the first half, then he decided to edge ahead, where he stayed. He was always in sight, maybe 40 feet ahead (I'd guess about 5 seconds at most), but I just couldn't push enough to catch him. The race results say he finished 18 seconds ahead of me, but that doesn't sound right -- 18 seconds is far enough ahead that with bends in the course I'd have lost sight of him. Regardless, he won easily!
I realized on the drive home that Gabriel had brought his two favorite stuffed animals with him in the car (and rats, I didn't get a picture). One of them, Green Doggy, was given to him by Brittany herself, when Gabriel was born, and it's still one of his favorites.
The best part was that the whole drive home, we talked about Brittany and what she meant to the Romero family, and what I remember of her. He asked what relation she was to him, and I explained that she's sort of an aunt since she's his uncle's sister. I told him about the time we visited her family's home in Santa Cruz when he was a crawling toddler, and that she really liked him, she thought he was really funny. I told him about how Uncle Ryan remembers taking care of her, and how much he loved her, just like Gabriel loves his little sister too. I dug up every story I could think of that Laura's told me about her, as they were quite close too. We talked about her cancer and the time she spent at the Packard hospital, and how that affected her life. I told him that the one thing she really wanted to do was just be able to go to school like every other kid. It's not often Gabriel spends so much time in another person's world like that, so it was very very sweet.
All in all, a very nice way to start the day. But I wonder if I'd have a better chance against him in the 10K next year! :)