Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Run... Therefore I Am

Yesterday I ran 3 miles. It felt amazing! It was on a treadmill in a hotel fitness room, but it still felt amazing... especially when I reflected back on it and on all of my past running accomplishments, as I sat watching a screening of the new documentary about the Hood to Coast race.

My hubby and I had driven down south to attend the Ashland Independent Film Festival. My cousin is an independent film maker and had a movie that he had co-produced, written, and starred in that was being screened there. Friday we had seen my cousin's movie and gone to lunch with him afterward. Lots of fun!

The weather was lovely on Saturday morning, but since I was unfamiliar with the area where we were staying, I decided to use the treadmill in the hotel's fitness room, instead of running outside. It was a nice piece of equipment that included a built in TV and headphone jack. It's already easier for me to run on a treadmill than on pavement, but watching “The Wedding Planner” to distraction, made it all that much easier! Seriously, though, I felt everything working together and had so much energy... getting through the 3 miles (with minor walking) felt like a breeze!

Later that day, we returned to the Film Festival to watch a screening of "Hood to Coast". The room seated 500 people and it was sold out! The energy in the room was palpable. Runners and non-runners alike were excited to see this documentary about a very unique running event that is considered the “mother of all races” and takes place in our own backyard. It was not only the first race of it's kind, but it is currently the largest relay race in the world.

The movie was amazing! It highlighted four teams and their journey, prior to and during the race. The novice team, “Thunder & LAIKAning” (pronounced LIKE-uh-ning), brought a lot of laughs as they struggled to complete each leg of the race, never having done any competitive racing before... EVER. The elite group, who's team name was “Dead Jocks in a Box”, were hilarious as they talked about how much harder it was to complete the race year after year, as they aged. Our hearts were touched as a family raced in honor of a loved one who'd died in the recent past, and brought tears to our eyes.

And then there was Kathy, who was so inspiring. It was her comeback race after having "died" during the race the previous year. Kathy, who was 66, had run many marathons and had completed the Hood to Coast 17 times. During her 2nd leg of the race, one year, her heart stopped and was revived through CPR. People told her she'd never run the same and that she should slow down, but running is her life and she wouldn't take no for an answer. One year and a triple-bypass later, she completed the Hood to Coast, running with a teammate and a heart monitor. Her team “Heart & Sole” took 2nd place in their age division!

As I sat and watched all of these runners of all different abilities, ages, shapes, and sizes, I was reminded of what amazing people runners are. There's something about running that not only brings people together, but it actually changes the way you think and feel about yourself and other people. You can't run and not be changed. Kathy needed to go back to the race that almost killed her and prove to herself she could still do it. “Dead Jocks in a Box” were so supportive of other runners and cheered everybody on. “Thunder & Laikaning” were so changed by the experience that some members have gone on to become more active and fit and are now training for a marathon.

I, too, have been changed by being a runner. Off and on over the years, as I have crossed the finish line of a variety of 5k's, I have felt the joy of accomplishing something challenging. I have also experienced the euphoria that comes from successfully completing something more difficult than I thought I could do. It drives me to push myself to get better. I'm grateful to be included in the amazing community of runners who also inspire me to push myself harder. I don't know if I'll ever be inspired enough to run the Hood to Coast, but as I watched the movie, I was proud that I, myself, had run, just that morning. I walked away from the movie with my head held high, ready to face the challenges before me in my training to run a half marathon.

I walked away proud to call myself a runner.


vaxhacker said...

Wow, that's inspiring, although I have to admit running is just not my thing, but I applaud you for having the strength and dedication there.

The Ashland trip sounded fun, too, what a neat getaway.

Alyson said...

Wow, I'm completely blown away by the Kathy's story. Thank you very much for sharing that. I don't think I have the stamina to run all the time, but following your blog has been very enlightening and just reading this post brought tears to my eyes. I'm cheering you on from the sidelines and I hope you are keep being successful in your running endeavors.

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