This past weekend a friend invited our family to participate in a 5K organized to raise money for Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
Since last year’s laughable but traumatizing experiences while ½ marathon training, I’ve remained somewhat cautious in my running routes and times. For example, I know I must specifically avoid a certain path in my community during the months of March through July due to crow and Blue Jay nesting seasons – which ruinously occur at the same time. I also cannot run in the early morning and early evening hours as those are peak bird nesting hours. Suffice to say, unless I run on a treadmill, I am at serious risk for bird attacks — running anywhere near a nest will result in bird swooping and general aggressive behavior.
Unless you’ve been subjected to this little known (but common risk) runners (and I use that term lightly) face during each run, like my husband, you’ll find my paranoia amusing. But I digress. At hand is the issue that due to the birds, I’ve fallen off my running habit. I picked it up right before the holidays and as such, was excited to participate in my friend’s 5K.
So, the day of, I showed up to the appointed place but not at the appointed time. By the time I got to the starting line, the runners were about 4 to 5 minutes ahead of me. I ran fast to catch up but by mile 2 felt winded and out of synch with my normal running pace.
I decided a brief respite was justified. As I eloquently justified myself and nearly stopped my run, a woman and son jogged past me. I overheard the young boy tell his mom he couldn’t go any further. He breathlessly told her he felt pain in his chest and wanted to walk the rest of the way in.
She wouldn’t hear of it. She grabbed his shirt and told him it was his duty to continue the run and complete it. She reminded him that children battling cancer and other crippling illnesses would trade places with him in a minute, just for the chance to feel their legs run with strength and their unassisted lungs fill with breath.
They completed their run. He never stopped and as I kept up with them, I was reminded that this wasn’t just another morning run. I was there to support a very important cause. Until mile 2 I had completely disregarded the purpose of my run. I was entirely engrossed with the bird population and their nesting practices, and thought of little else beside my need to rest.
That cold morning the truth of her words unknowingly kept me on task.
Though I lost sight of them when they crossed the finish line, I remain grateful for her truthful words.
February 16, 2010