Thursday, June 28, 2012

The blessing of running because so many can't

For those who don't know me well, it may surprise you to know I'm extraordinarily sentimental. I tear up instantly at some of the silliest things - every time I hear John Denver's Country Roads, when I line up at the start of a race, watching the Olympics (and even the trials it turns out), watching my Mountaineers run onto the field during a football game, any time I watch a wedding on television. This is a contradiction to my brash (often abrasive) candor the rest of the time. I'm a complicated lady.

I really do get misty eyed at the beginning of races. When I started the Detroit Marathon in 2010, I was so choked up that I was having trouble breathing. I had to force myself to calm down. Sometimes during a race I will see something that I find touching and I tear up again. During the Green Bay Marathon last month there was a woman with a shirt that said, "I run for all of my PT patients who aren't able." I immediately teared up and realized how blessed I am to have a body that lets me run. At one point during that same race there was a little old man in a motorized wheelchair at the end of his driveway ringing a cow bell for runners. (For the record I just teared up even thinking about this.) I'm running for you, buddy.

Last weekend I got the opportunity to participate in a 5k in honor of a little boy who passed away in 2005 at the age of six. I did not know Max, but I'd heard Max's Race was a great race. Little did I know I would feel so emotional. As I lined up at the starting line in East Lansing, I started thinking about Max, a little boy who contracted bacterial spinal meningitis at only seven months old and had seven surgeries in his short life.  I looked around at other runners, all of us ostensibly healthy, able people. And I said a little prayer to thank God that all of us were able to run in honor of Max and others who aren't able.

Max's Race was my third race of the Playmakers Race Series and my favorite so far. It ran through Michigan State's campus on a gorgeous morning passing all the big sites - Spartan Stadium, Munn Arena, and along the Red Cedar River. Most of the trail was tree-lined and shaded.  Prior to the race the crowd was joined by MSU's mascot, Sparty, and the Spartan cheerleaders. It was a very fun start.

At the start of Max's Race
I ran a solid race, finishing almost a minute faster than my last 5k. My goal of breaking a 25 minute 5k is still alluding me, but it's early in the summer. Max's Race was impeccably organized. There were TONS of volunteers all along the course, and they were awesome. They were cheering for runners, and guiding us along the way. I can safely say these were perhaps the best and most visible volunteers of any 5k I've ever done.

Sprinting to a strong finish
I don't often like to run the same race over and over, but I am adding Max's Race to my race calendar from here on out. On days where it's too hot or too cold or my body feels tired, I vow to stop thinking of my own struggle and think of how fortunate I am to be able to run. I will get out there because I am can.  Because I am thankful. Because I am blessed. Max's Race reminded me that there's more to running than just finishing in a good time or staying in good shape. Running is a state of mind, and we should all remember how blessed we really are.

 

   

 

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