Last Saturday morning as I drove to meet my running partners it began to rain. I had convinced myself (thanks to our stellar weathermen) that it would rain lightly for a few hours and clear by the time we were actually running the Hartford NU ½ and full marathons. Honestly, I was more than a little tempted to go back to my nice warm bed and curl up with my critters for just a bit more. But I had set a goal and would not, could not give up being so close to completing it. After all what was a little discomfort in the grand scope of life?
I also knew I was running with my running partner and that with her by my side, I would be able to cross that finish line. I am a firm believer that alone we are strong but with help, we are invincible. Together we truly are so much more.
As we approached the starting area another realization hit me, we weren’t alone. Upwards of ten thousand “crazy or “half crazy” people were there milling around. Trying to stay warm and, dare I say, DRY. I have never been quite so humbled at a starting line looking over the sea of garbage bag clad runners jumping and twisting in place before the gun. All of these runners had already endured long runs in all sorts of weather but that is a runner’s life, right? What really moved me was the thousands of runners that were there to raise money and awareness for charities. Susan G Komen, Team Mad, CT Children’s Medical Center, Live Strong, and many more charities were being supported through fundraising efforts of these incredibly dedicated volunteers. These runners represented every demographic and all had one thing in common. They believed in something so strongly that the blisters, lost toenails, muscle cramps and loss of free time were a small price to pay in comparison to those needing the charities benefits.
At the Y, we get that commitment. It’s what drives us every day to be or do better for our community. It is why we work together with our members, corporate neighbors, and other non-profits to ensure that the services offered here continue to meet the changing needs of our community. We face challenges head on with partners like Youth Services, Hidden Acres Therapeutic Riding Center, the Board of Education, NEF and many more because together we can do so much more. HINT- Keep an eye out for some great programs offerings coming soon.
I have been blessed in my life to have a large Y family both here in town and across the country. What that means is that anywhere I go I know someone through the Y. This race was strange in that regard. I had 50+ friends running and only saw three the entire race, two of which are running partners. I suppose it was the whole garbage bag, rain coat look that threw me off. But never the less I was never alone. Not once. When my partner and I got separated I simply set my sites on a charity runner. The conversations started something like this…”why are YOU running on this lovely fall day?” Some of the responses can’t be included here but ended with some insight into why they were subjecting themselves to some pretty uncomfortable conditions for someone else. Mother Teresa said it best “‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” No she wasn’t running with us. But it gets to the general idea. I help how I can and together we will make a difference.
Every single person has challenges in their life that they must live with or overcome but to be able to join forces to lend a hand, or in this case thousands of hands, to those less fortunate, is a pretty powerful motivator. Knowing that they weren’t just running for themselves pushed them through the puddle filled roads to their ultimate goal, the finish line. It pushed me through too. Not because I was running for a charity but because I remembered as I ran alongside a struggling charity runner that everyone needs help at some point. By focusing on anothers needs, ours don’t seem so important anymore.
Our small group of runners all finished. Some with personal records some not. As I crossed the finish line 5 seconds shy of my own personal record dripping wet and freezing cold all I could think about was that WE did it. The people around me, both those literally running with me and my support system of friends and family that were cheering me on from home made that finish possible. If it weren’t for my running partner I would have stayed in my nice warm bed and missed out on a great race, meeting terrific new people and ultimately being successful in attaining my goal. Sure I was capable of running the race myself, but with her support and the support of ours like the Naugatuck Road Runner participants and coaches I trained properly. I stayed motivated and realistic. I was prepared and felt it. With the help of others I was able to meet my challenge and achieve my goal. Together we were stronger and able to do so much more.
Be well and see you at the Y.