Love this …..
My first “Why I Run” essay was easy: I was running to raise money for canine cancer research (a cause, sadly, close to my heart). Now the question is: Why am I still running?
In part, because – since my first KBVCM relay – I’ve amassed too many compression tights, running socks, and soft shell jackets to go to waste. And those 3-mile training runs with my best friend and my dogs are the only time shy, sweet Heidi (she’s the dog – not the friend!) truly comes out of her shell.
But really, it’s the event. Or perhaps “The Event.” In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, I’ve thought a lot about what makes running events so special. And I think Roger Robinson’s article for Runner’s World says it best. “[M]arathon running is a sport of goodwill. It’s the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It’s the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of… It’s the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody.” And where do you get the energy to keep going up those steep hills and across the finish line, when you just want to quit? He writes, “If you’re losing your faith in human nature, look at marathon crowds, standing for hours with no seating, no cover, no bathrooms, to cheer thousands of strangers.”
That’s what made me want to transition from “spectator” to “participant.” I wanted to feel it from the other side. As I walked to my relay station that first year, I was literally inspired to tears, watching those runners trudge up the Assault on Battery. At first, I was just thankful to not be among them (I was the 4th leg that year). But though they struggled—some because of physical limitations, others because, well, let’s face it, it’s a steep hill—they were also oozing a sense of pride. Of accomplishment. It didn’t matter if they were in silly costumes, National Guard uniforms, or running tights and tee shirts. They were all there to prove to themselves, each other, and the crowd that they could do it. And the crowd ate it up. Cheers, chants, cow bells ringing. I got my first high-five from a woman watching me struggle up North Avenue. Never before had I personally experienced such a unifying, motivating moment.
I was proud to be part of an event that meant so much to so many people. And I’m excited to be part of it again. After participating in the 5-person relay for 2 years, last year my best friend and I signed up for the 2-person relay. Race day didn’t quite go as planned… so this year, we’re “Back in Action.” (If you see a banner with 3 dogs saying, “We love you Mommy, even though you’re slower than us,” somewhere in the North End neighborhoods, that’s for me.)