Sunday, July 17, 2011

Running, Where We Actually Get A's for Effort

"Life doesn't require that we be the best, only that we try our best."

**H. Jackson Brown, Jr. **
       When non-runners look at the running world, they see the leaders like Ryan Hall or Kara Goucher eating up the roads at magnificent speeds and appreciate the skill, determination, and work that has gone into those hard won miles. Runners see the same things, but it extends much further. Anyone that has been part of the larger running community, like participating in local 5K charity races either as runners or volunteers, knows the blood sweat and tears that can go into the finishing chute with the average Joe long after the Ryan’s and Kara’s are gone.

       Watching the finishers cross the line for a local 5K you see many different stories. You see the guy that has run all his life and breezes over the line in 22 minutes. He didn’t try his hardest that day, he has a more important race coming up, but he wanted to run with his friends or support a particular charity. Everyone cheers for his great time, gives him high fives, and he may even walk away with a shiny age group award. I appreciate his hard work and achievements, but there are more touching stories to come.

      The real inspiration comes in later. You see the 80 year old man that struggles to cross the line before the chute is packed up and taken away. You see the woman that has recently lost 70 pounds and is over the moon because she ran all 3 miles and 180 yards without walking. You see the 40 year old that decided to get serious about his health and giving it all to bread 30 minutes. You also see the survivors of cancer, heart disease, abuse, and an endless list of other challenges straining to do their best. What time these people finish or what place they received for their age group is totally immaterial. They are out there giving their very best effort for no one but themselves. They are there to prove they are stronger than their struggles and the crowd cheers for them like they did the ones that crossed the line early on. Sure, Olympians are inspiring, but I know I will never run like that. It is the rest of the people that inspire me more. To be strong like them, to have that heart and determination, that is what I strive for. I hope I am still crossing finish lines when I’m 80! I hope that if I ever have to face cancer, I can do it with that kind of courage.

       A dear running friend of mine is more than half way through cancer treatment. He has battled through Chemo therapy while working full time at a physically demanding job. Now he has a few more weeks of radiation to go, but he is back on the treadmill and just knocked out his first mile. In comparison to his achievements of qualifying for the Boston Marathon 3 times, running one single mile in a day may seem like nothing, but it is everything. It is the WIN over cancer. It was the hardest mile he has ever run, and it is the most inspiring mile he has ever run. THIS is the thought that gets me out the door when I don’t feel like running. This is the thought that keeps me setting goals and pushing forward. If Bruce, with a feeding tube in his stomach and a body ravaged by deadly chemicals and radiation, can step up and run, I can put my excuses on the shelf and get out the door. (For more of Bruce’s story, please see his blog )

       So what was my week like? Well, I’m still pretty cruddy from last week’s bug so my times were much slower than I like, but I got the miles in and hope in the next week or two to be back up to pace.

Mon: 3 easy miles

Tues: 7 stronger miles

Wed: 3 easy miles

Fri: 11 mile long run.

Sat: extra recovery day

      I choose to skip the hash run this Saturday to try and kick the last of the crud with back to back rest days. I had a nice mile+ walk just to shake the lead out, but otherwise give my body time to heal. I’m primed and ready to begin week 5 tomorrow!


Janice said...

I absolutely agree with everything you said. I love seeing fast runners, but watching those at the back of the pack, particularly in a marathon, brings me to tears. Those people are such heroes. They have slogged it out and finished and that amazes me!

I also find it's the non runners who ask about times. I never ask peole about their race times. I just ask how they felt:) That's what's important.

Clare said...

so true...since i've been volunteering a lot more the last 2 years, i notice this even more.

bizzilizzie said...

I'm not easily moved to tears, Wendy, but your eloquence, together with Bruce's courage, managed to do that today.

Thanks for the reminder of what running is really all about. :-)