When it comes to running or biking, my uncle is all-knowing. At least, I think so. He turned me on to The Chi of Running. A method of running that helps prevent injury, allows a relaxed running stride, and utilizes a gravity-assisted forward lean. That’s right. Chi Running encourages you to lean in and let gravity propel you forward.
In October I traveled to Springfield, Missouri to participate in the Bass Pro Half Marathon. I love the energy of race day: thousands of people gathered together, huddled up, jumping around to stay warm, sharing Bio-freeze, sharing Cliff Blocks. The hush and hum of thousands of voices listening to and singing along with the national anthem.
It is inspiring to see so many people working toward the same goal. Individually. Collectively. Running along side an 85 year old woman; along side a father pushing his special needs son. Passing police officers directing traffic. Passing others on the road, running the race. Being passed. Everyone encouraging each other along. Celebrating the success of each step forward.
There is a lot of time that passes when running a half. An hour and some change filled with stories, silence, and cheers. There are volunteers that hand out water, others that hold signs and cheer. Some of my favorite signs,
“This seemed like a good idea 3 months ago.”
“Worst parade EVER!”
“May the Course be with you!”
“Kick some asphalt!”
“Chafing the Dream!”
The same uncle that turned me on to Chi Running was my running partner for this particular race, the Bass Pro Half. During the run, he shared with me a story that made this run, this day, make so much more sense. He volunteered for a race a while back and his position was to cheer on a portion of the course. So he stood on the side of the street while runners he did not know ran by. He shouted praise and encouragement. Clapped his hands. Made them laugh like he so naturally does.
As a volunteer, my uncle was positioned at the later portion of the Half when the runners were a little more tired; as if they were taking a beating from the road they were running. It seemed to him that their purpose or drive to run was wavering.
After noticing this, my uncle started to change his cheer. Instead of the typical, “You can do it” or “Nice Job” he began to shout: “Run your Reason!”
“We are all here for a reason”
“You know your reason”
“Run your Reason!”
He noticed people looked up from the pavement in front of them.
They looked up. In Pain.
They began to tear up. From Pain.
Some started crying. Some gained a new sense of purpose for their run.
All of them looked up to see the road before them in a new light.
His story made me more present to the race I was running at the time; to my reason for running.
I run to strengthen myself physically and mental.
I run to release pain, sorrow, suffering.
I run to experience freedom.
I run to meditate and clear my mind.
I run to remind myself that even if I feel like I can’t go on or I don’t have it in me,
I can and I do. And I will.
I run to remind myself there is aways room for more...
I run to find that strength and space within myself.
Because, if I can’t find that room within myself to believe, to hold on to hope, to heal and strengthen; then I cannot hold that space for my patients. For my loved ones.
I run for those who can’t. I run for my nephew, Anderson. For the campers at MITIOG.
I run for those who can’t, yet. Who need time and hope to strengthen and heal. For Maddie, For Hannah.
I run for those that don’t have the energy; the metabolic function. For Delaney. .
I run for those who run beside me.
It is amazing to work along side (and stand beside) a woman who was told she would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. It is amazing to work with and help heal individuals who have been told they will never conceive, never change, never heal...
It is amazing to persevere.
I realized, during this race, that we are all traveling the same road. Together.
We are all walking each other Home.
Lean into it.
Allow gravity to unfold and propel you forward.
Push through the pain.
Look up from the road to a new vision.
Celebrate each step.
Run your reason.