“Let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1
One of the things I have learned about running is that there will be race fees. They are a necessity for runners, along with the clothes, shoes, and various other running accessories, of course. There is something exciting and fulfilling about starting and completing a race. It’s the energy of being surrounded by other runners who love the sport as much as you do, and the fun of meeting new runners who are ready to meet the challenge set before them. It’s setting the goal, pushing yourself along the way, and celebrating the accomplishment. There is always something to reach for, whether it be a farther distance, a faster pace, a new placement, or simply crossing that finish line. You reach for your goal, grab hold, and embrace the victory; the feeling is like nothing else. Races are one of the fun things I get to do through running, and I enjoy each and every one of them. Sometimes the race is just plain fun. It’s dressing up in a sequin skirt, celebrating a holiday, traveling somewhere new and exciting, or running through mud or splashes of color. Yes, some runners actually find it fun to get sweaty, out of breath, AND run through mud or colored powder. Other times though, the race is so much more than that; sometimes the race isn’t about us at all. Sometimes it is full of pure purpose for others, it is in their memory and their honor, and it is very humbling.
This past Saturday morning was one of those humbling races for me. It was an extra special kind of run, and in my opinion, the very best kind of running to do. My husband and I woke up bright and early, had some toast and coffee, and then set out the front door towards the starting line. We had signed up for a race which was being held by a local, non-profit organization. Their mission was to raise awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research and their slogan was “Run for their Lives”. I love running with purpose, and I was definitely honored to be a part of this one. Before the race started there was a moment of silence and a balloon release. For each balloon, a name was read aloud of a child that had lost their battle. It was a moment to remember them, and to remember why we were all there. During the race, I thought about the children who face this terrible disease every day, and the families who have to watch them fight and suffer. All along the course were signs with the faces of children who were fighting, or who had previously fought, and each picture was accompanied with a statistic about pediatric cancer. I looked at every single sign and dedicated my run to this cause. I ran alongside men, women, and children who were all there for the same reason, and it was extremely humbling. At a few points on the course there were hills, and I had to push…hard. I kept my focus on my purpose, and I ran for those that couldn’t. I told myself I had no right to complain about the hill in front of me, for it was nothing compared to the mountain these children were facing.
Many ran the 3.1 miles that morning, while others walked the distance. Some pushed strollers or a wheelchair, and some ran alongside their children or their canine companions. Every person was inspired to be there, and they themselves were inspiring. Each person had awoken early on that Saturday morning and were there, putting one foot in front of the other, in honor and remembrance of others. Not everyone is able to run, most of the time due to physical restrictions, and I believe it is so important to listen to our bodies and know our own limitations. For many, walking alone is something they have to push their bodies to do, and that is okay. Actually, that is more than okay, it is amazing! It’s all about one foot in front of the other, setting a goal your body can achieve, and then doing it. Never get concerned with someone else’s goals or accomplishments, but rather, set your sights on your own, and rejoice in your personal victories. My race is different than your race, and we should support everyone’s individual, beautiful journey.
Someone recently asked me why we run for charities, they asked why a race? Obviously, part of your registration fees go towards the charity, and people seem to love races, so they usually draw in large crowds. For me, it is more than that though. I am not just donating my money but I am also setting aside a special time to think about the purpose of the run. We all get so busy and stuck in our day-to-day routine of work, home, kids, errands, and life in general, that it can become easy to forget how blessed we are. It’s easy to forget that others are carrying burdens we can’t possibly understand. It is important to me to remember this, and to remember them. To run for them, and to raise awareness for them in our communities. The question is, what are you waiting for? Get out there and run the race, no matter what your race may look like. For you, and for those who can’t.
This blog is dedicated to all of the children and families who have been touched by pediatric cancer. May they draw strength from knowing that we will walk beside them and support them any way we can, as they run their race to fund pediatric cancer research.