WHY WE RUN
About 40 years ago when my sons David and Jon were 8 and 6 years old I decided to take them camping. So I borrowed a flimsy old tent and we went to a mangy old state park in Maryland. It started raining as soon as we got there, so after a quick meal of Spaghettios and Oreos we went inside our tent with me lying in the middle and a boy on each side. Then it really began pouring buckets and water gushed through the top of the tent. It stopped for a moment and my son Jon said, “Dad, why are we doing this?”
So…why are we doing this? Why did we decide to run the Boston Marathon this year? I daresay there are as many reasons as people on the Marathon Coalition team.
Some of us couldn’t finish the race last year because of the horrific bombing incident.
Some of us were angry and wanted to do something to exemplify the Boston Strong philosophy.
Some of us had never run a marathon before, and we knew that running the 2014 Boston Marathon would be an especially amazing experience.
Some of us had more personal reasons: We wanted to lose weight or prove something to someone else – or to ourselves. Or we had someone we wanted to honor by running for a specific charity.
As for me, being up in years, I wanted to heed the advice of poet Dylan Thomas who wrote:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
After struggling through the last 12 miles of the 2008 Boston Marathon due to calf cramps (and missing my goal of breaking 5 hours by 40 seconds) I promised my good wife Tina that I wouldn’t do another marathon again. Well kind of promised.
When the explosion occurred last year, I said to myself right then: “I’ll be running that race next year.” So in the fall I contacted Rick Muhr, who had been my coach in 2008, and told him my plan. He suggested several charities; I did some research and picked Best Buddies.
Somehow I forgot to tell my good wife Tina of my intentions, but one night Craig Welton, the head of Best Buddies called to tell me that I had been picked to be on that team.
After I got off the phone, Tina asked, “Who was that?” I said, “Oh, some guy who heads a non-profit organization in Boston that I’ll be raising money for.”
“Why will you be raising money for a charity in Boston?” she asked, which is a fair question since we live in Maine.
“Because I’ll be running the Boston Marathon.”
“Oh,” said, Tina. Long pause. Pained expression. “I didn’t know that.” She knows me well enough to know any protestations would be for naught, and she’s been very supportive.
Whatever our own particular reason, each of us then faced two big challenges: First, training for the race and second, raising funds for our chosen charity. Each of these two challenges prompted more “Why am I doing this?” questions.
As to training: Why am I getting up early to run in the ice or snow or, for that matter, even indoors on a cold winter morning? Why am I voluntarily choosing to deal with achy joints or painful cramps or (fill in the blank) injuries? Why are some days easy and some days impossible?
My own training has been slowed down by an atrial flutter (a heart issue) and exercise-induced asthma (a lung issue). Some people might view heart and lung issues as problems. I view them as opportunities. I now have two more prospects for my Best Buddies pitch: my heart doctor and my lung doctor. Both of them contributed to my campaign. I think they like telling people that one of their patients is running the Boston Marathon.
On the fundraising front, we’ve surely faced hurdles and doubts. Some people we thought would give didn’t give. Some people we thought would give big gave small. Sometimes we got tired of putting our hand out during what remains a tough economy. I overheard more than one Coalition runner saying that the training part is much easier than the fundraising part.
But …. we made it. We’ve overcome these challenges. Three cheers to us.
We’ve also shared something else: the astute advice and strong support of our coach, Rick Muhr. He knows running. And he knows how to motivate.
Rick also knows some other things about life, which are the most important lessons we can all take away from this incredible experience.
If you lift up others you lift up yourself. And your extraordinary fund-raising efforts will lift up others for whatever charity you’ve been raising funds.
And he taught us something else:
If you never dream big you will never stand tall.
When you dream big you have to persevere, whatever comes up along the way. It’s about having the passion to go for something and the discipline to get there.
That lesson can be applied to all areas of your life – your running, your work, your hobbies, even your relationships.
As Rick will tell you, why hold back in life. Why sit on the sidelines. Get out there. Take a chance. Be strong. Boston strong.
So, asking why we run is like asking why we live or why we breathe. It’s just who we are.
Congratulations to all and let’s go get ‘em on Monday.