Running in a Forward Direction
Yesterday I ran my first half marathon. I didn’t set any records. I surely am not fast. But just to write those words makes me feel proud. My story isn’t remarkable, but it’s mine to tell.
If you knew me when (up through high school), you knew that I could not stand any type of physical activity. I was the girl in school who begged her mother to excuse her from running the mile in PE class.
Five years ago my husband, Thurston, and I moved to Missoula when I took a job at PartnersCreative (yesterday also happened to be my official 5-year anniversary here). At that time, I typically worked 50+ hours a week, every week. I was overweight and, ahem, not very physically fit.
But at this job, I swore it would be different — that I would strike a better work/life balance. And, Missoula is blessed with one of the most active running clubs, Run Wild Missoula, in the country. To boot, I work at a place that actually encourages striking this balance. (I know — we all want to think that about our employers, but let’s face reality.) So, I started running and I loved it. It is the only time of the day that I actually disconnect from everything — work, chores, family — I just listen to my music and RUN. And while I suffered injuries the first two years, I never gave up — I was discouraged, sure, but not defeated.
Which leads me to yesterday and the experience I shared with 6,000 runners, 900+ volunteers and 100s of supporters. Just two months ago, I was running, amping up my miles, but hadn’t thought about actually running 13-plus miles. When my husband informed me that I indeed was training, it hit me — why not go the extra mile (pun intended) and sign up?
Shortly after I registered Thurston was injured, so I took his place on the Missoula Youth Homes’ “Run 4 Kids” (money donated to this program helps the kids participate in activities we take for granted — camping, hiking and fishing excursions; music, dance, drama and art lessons; etc.). And that’s when the run became real for me. Now, I was not just running for myself — I really wanted to run for the kids.
I may not be a great, super-fast runner, but I’m a great fundraiser. Sunday, July 7, our donations totaled $212; so I poured on the charm — as of today, Thurston and I have raised $1,585 and counting.
Raising this money came into sharp focus yesterday as I rounded the corner and headed up Higgins Street bridge. There, dozens of kids from Missoula Youth Homes stood with signs they made, cheering me on. These are teenagers — they don’t get up in the mornings willingly, not in the summer, not on a Sunday. Yet there they were.
And suddenly the impact of my small role hit home. And I started to cry. Of course, with only .25 miles left that was the worst time to burst into tears — I needed all the breath I had to make it up and over the bridge. But I saw those kids and didn’t really have a choice. I sucked up the tears, raised my arms in the air and smiled. I was doing something I love to do, and that day, that moment, reminded me how fortunate I am and how just putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how slowly, does make a difference.