Well, technically, it is a post about running. But stick with me, all you non-runners. This is a post for you, too.
I know, I know, Wednesday was National Running Day. And I know, I know, I should have said more than just a lame “Happy National Running Day.” But you know what? I am going to treat it like Valentine’s Day–every day should be considered National Running Day! And not just for us runners, but for everyone. Because “running” is the medium, but not the answer. The community, the exertion, the triumph, the sorrow, the fun, the gritty work, the vocabulary and slang, the exercises to try to improve. Running is just a metaphor, one way to express how we strive to find ourselves in the midst of the crowd–individuals as part of a whole.
I run to move beyond expectations, as I so often say. I run to believe in myself, that I am capable. Maybe not of anything, but of more than I thought at first. I run to help others to believe in me as well–when I was diagnosed, I had a doctor’s note to keep me FROM running in PE because we were worried that running would overstress my body (and I can’t disagree, to be truthful). Running has become, for me, a thermometer/barometer/measuring stick of choice for my disease: I use it to gauge how I am really doing. During my last flare, the year that I met Alex, by the end of that semester, I had lost 20 lbs and couldn’t run for more than 8 minutes before my insides would start to spasm, sending my body into overdrive and me to the bathroom for an unproductive 45 minutes and exhaustion following. I kept asking myself why I kept running, when I knew that this would happen (I was literally waiting for the collapse every time). And I got my answer when, during the last week before I gave up, I couldn’t make it to 10 minutes.
That experience, coupled with my injuries that I have dealt with in the past year, means that every mile, every minute, I am grateful. I am grateful for that step. For this step. For that step. Do I still get angry when I fall short of my goals, when my body doesn’t work the way I want it to? You bet. But I know that this little body is giving me everything that it has in it, like my horses have done for me, even when they were actually dying inside. Running is as close as I will get to flying–lifted up by some invisible force to cover ground. To head straight into the wind, and to defy it, but to respect its strength. Running humbles me, but also congratulates me on a job well done. And so do my fellow runners. The support of a community, for the selfish action of an individual. Beneficial Strategic Selfishness
Running is the medium, not the focus. We all have something in our lives, something that makes us tick, that we throw ourselves into whole-heartedly. That, if we could, we would give every ounce of our strength to see through til the end. Before running, it was the horses. After running, I don’t know. Likely being a mother, but I am trying to speak more so in terms of an activity or interest, rather than a interpersonal relationship.
This weekend, CCFA Team Challenge is coming to Chicago from all over the United States to raise awareness of and funds for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis research. Though I trained for my half marathons alone, I ran as part of this team. In the first race, I race for me, myself, and I. In the next 2 races that I ran with TC, I have vivid memories of being on the course and feeling like I wanted to give up, that I couldn’t keep the pace, that I was hitting the wall. And then I remembered: you are more than just yourself out here. You are running for every person out there that cannot. Bring it home for them, if not for yourself. Show them, and Crohn’s Disease itself, what a true Crohn’s Kid can do.
I run to believe in myself.
Because I will need all of the self-belief that I can muster when the floor falls out from underneath me.
Whether you run or not, I urge you to celebrate National Running Day as a spiritual exercise where you look at what drives you, you indulge in it, and you are thankful for it. It doesn’t have to be active–maybe it is learning about the Renaissance, or knitting. What makes you, you.
Celebrate that fact, that you are you, every day.
May you live every day of your life.
If not running, what is your “running”? What makes you feel individually fulfilled as well as connected to a greater whole?