Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Run Because I Can

Much of why I continue to run is somewhat centered around me. I run for the health benefits, to lose weight, to have time to myself, to maintain balance in my life, to experience the peace of mind that running provide me. But it is impossible for me to forget why I started running in the first place. My reason to start running actually had nothing to do with me.

As I walk around my office and see all the posters and signs for the upcoming Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, I am once again reminded of why I started running: I ran for those who couldn’t…who maybe still can’t. My company is putting together a team of employees and their families to take part in this 5k run or 1 mile walk. I get very excited when people work together for a purpose. (I blame my dad…he’s practically giddy when all of us are in the kitchen, working together to clean up after a big family dinner.) But underneath all this excitement, I can’t help but feel this sadness for those who have battled breast cancer and for the more than a million women who will be diagnosed this year alone.

After my run this morning, I stood in our back yard looking upward during one of my stretches. As I watched the wind move the dark clouds across the sky, the peace that I started to feel suddenly turned into what I can only describe as determination. It was time for me to take the energy it took to be sad and turn it into energy to give others hope. And so…here I am.

This is me encouraging all you beautiful women/Marathon Mommies to take part in the Race for the Cure in whatever way that you are able. How awesome is it when you can take something you love (running) and apply it to a cause so worthy. I’m pretty certain that all of us have a family member or a friend that we can run in celebration of or in honor of, and somehow, running for those who can’t…well, it just gives us all a chance to give someone a little hope.


Charity said...

I was actually thinking about this very thing last week...June 14th is our big race here in Anchorage, Alaska. It is the largest womens only race in the entire state. Last year 4,479 runners and walkers, including 287 breast cancer survivors ran or walked.. The event raised $178,000 for breast cancer support programs and research this year, and $2.2 million since its inception. I WILL be running this race this year, a nice 5 miler for a good cause...thanks for the reminder!

M&M said...

Beautiful, inspiring post. Thanks for the reminder of the blessings we have, and that we can DO something for someone else. I will look into the Race for the Cure.

Good for you, too, Charity!

Bart, Erin, Hunter & Jorden said...

Hey JP... You made me think about an article Kristin Armstrong wrote in last July's Runner's World. It is my running mantra... as if she reached in and beatifuly put my thoughts into words. Here it is

Pretty Strong ~ by Kristin Armstrong

A few months ago on a school morning, as I attempted to etch a straight midline part on the back of my wiggling daughter's soon-to-be-pony tailed blond head, I reminded her that it was chilly outside and needed to grab a sweater.

"No mama."

"Excuse me?"

"No, I don't want to wear that sweater it makes me look fat."

"What?!" My comb clattered to the bathroom floor. "Fat?! What do you know about fat? You're 5 years old! You are definitely not fat. God made you just right. Now get your sweater."

She scampered off, and I wearily leaned against the counter and let out a long, sad sigh. It has begun. I thought I had a few more years before my twin daughters picked up the modern day f-word. I have admittedly had my own seasons of unwarranted, psychotic Slim-Fasting and have looked erroneously to the scale to give me a measurement of myself. But these departures from my character were in my 20s, before the balancing hand of motherhood met the grounding grip of running. Once I learned what it meant to push myself, I lost all taste for depriving myself. I want to grow into more of a woman, not find ways to whittle myself down to less.

The way I see it, the only way to run counter to our toxic image-centric society is to literally run by example. I can't tell my daughters that beauty is an incidental side effect of living your passion rather than an adherence to socially prescribed standards. I can't tell my son how to recognize and appreciate this kind of beauty in a woman. I have to show them, over and over again, mile after mile, until they feel the power of their own legs beneath them and catch the rhythm of their own strides.

Which is why my parents wake my kids early on race-day mornings. It matters to me that my children see me out there, slogging through difficult miles. I want my girls to grow up recognizing the beauty of strength, the exuberance of endurance, and the core confidence residing in a well-tended body and spirit. I want them to be more interested in what they are doing than how they look doing it. I want them to enjoy food that is delicious, feed their bodies with wisdom and intent, and give themselves the freedom to indulge. I want them to compete in healthy ways that honor the cultivation of skill, the expenditure of effort, and the courage of the attempt.

Grace and Bella will you have any idea how lovely you are when you try?

Recently we ran the Chuy's Hot to Trot Kids K together as a family in Austin, and I ran the 5-K immediately afterward. Post-race, my kids asked me where my medal was. I explained that not everyone gets a medal, so they must have run really well (all kids got a medal, shhh!). As I picked up Grace, she said, "You are so sweaty Mommy, all wet." Luke smiled and said, "Mommy's sweaty 'cause she's fast. And she looks pretty. All clean."

My PRs will never garner attention or generate awards. But when I run, I am 100 percent me- my strengths and weaknesses play out like a cracked-open diary, my emotions often as raw as the chafing from my jog bra. In my ultimate moments of vulnerability. I am twice the woman I was when I thought I was meant to look pretty on the sidelines. Sweaty and smiling, breathless and beautiful: Running helps us all shine. A lesson worth passing along.~

Team Hanni said...


I remember that article too. I love it!!! Thank you for sharing it.

JP - you have written a beautiful post. I love watching incredible people at races who run even with so many challenges: prosthetics, etc... I am reminded that I have NO excuse but to run, and run hard because I can.

I love that you run with a cause. You are so great!