Running For Gold

 

There's a long race ahead.

In my youth I ran for gold. Now, it’s a gold of a different kind.

I love exercise, but now that I’m in my fifties exercise doesn’t always love me. One of my favorite exercises is running. Over the past 30 years I’ve participated in hundreds of races. They’ve ranged from 800 meters (twice around a track) to marathons (26.2 miles) to team cross-state relays. I suppose some might call me crazy as I run up and down hills, over rough trails, around tracks, or down long roads, all to end up exactly where I started. Am I crazy? Maybe not.

 

Getting ready for the race.

I still enjoy running, but I have to admit I need to be more careful these days.

I Still Love Running

 

In my prime I was a decent runner and often placed high in the results. I still do okay for people in my age bracket, but now my body often ends up with aches and pains. It can take days to recover. On the other hand, my brain still runs under the misguided illusion I’m young and can race like the wind. And in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, it still believes my body can recover from injury with ease. You could say my mind wants to take the body where the body just can’t go.

 

This race featured a 5K and 10K event. 

 

Even though it’s harder now, I feel grateful whenever I can get out and participate in a running event. I’ve learned the key is to (1) limit the length of the race to no more than 5K, (2) pace myself both before and during, and (3) allow a sufficient amount of time for recovery. This has meant choosing the races I want to participate in more carefully than I did in my youth.

 

 

It used to be if the race course was flat and fast it could mean a personal best time for me. Or if there was something unique about the race—such as running across the 520 floating bridge or over the Grand Coulee dam then I’d say, “Sign me up!” There were also certain races that were famous and you wanted to be part of them—like the Bolder Boulder or the Honolulu Marathon. I guess you could say that when I was younger running was definitely more about what was in it for me—as in good time, good t-shirt, and good prizes.

 

This group put on a 5 and 10 K run this year. It was a great event.

I keep score differently than I used to. Now, I try to support causes that move me.

Changing My Tune

 

These days I’d like to think I’ve grown smarter in respect to what’s important in life. For that reason, I’ve started focusing on races that promote particular charities. Last Sunday was a great example of the type of race that now interests me. I ran in the 2nd Annual NAMES Foundation 5k. It turned out to be a tough course (since the first mile was mostly uphill). Believe me, I definitely came home feeling it. Yet in spite of some lingering stiffness, I feel lucky I was able to do it and to help support a noble cause.

 

Please consider making a donation.

If you’re interested in making a direct donation to this group, click on this picture. It will take you to their website.

According to their website, “The N.A.M.E.S. Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to honoring the life and memory of 1st Lt. Nicholas Aaron Madrazo, USMC. He was killed by a roadside bomb along with Capt. Jessie Melton (USMC), HM3 Eichmann Strickland (a medic), and an Afghan interpreter on Sept. 9, 2008 in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan. His life ended that day but the influence Nicholas had on so many people has inspired the N.A.M.E.S. Foundation’s beginning.”

 

Running will always be one of my passions.

I may not be as fast as I used to be, but I feel more inspired when I can support a group like this one.

Last year the foundation raised money to help buy phone cards so soldiers and families could keep in touch. This year the goal is to raise money to help wounded soldiers and their families travel to visit each other.

 

Gold Stars

 

When I was in grade school doing something perfect meant getting a gold star. My running these days is far from perfect so my chance for any kind of gold is long past. Yet for today’s military families getting a gold star is something to dread, since it means a loved one has lost their life in combat.

 

I can't imagine the grief families of fallen soldiers face.

I talked with this gold star mom after the race. I left thinking what a truly amazing woman.

As I finished the race on Sunday, I talked with two “gold star” moms who were out supporting the event. Without experiencing it, how would we ever truly know the pain they feel over their incredible loss? The best we can do is to try and imagine it. I’m a mom myself, so as I stop to consider the struggle it must be to make it through another day my heart goes out to each and every one of them. Gold star families pay the ultimate sacrifice. There’s no way I see words would ever be enough to truly lessen the grief. And since my words feel so inadequate, I’m just happy I can run and do something I love to help support their cause.

 

Support a cause. You won't be sorry.

In a sense, events like the Names Race are all about finding and building a community. If you’ve never participated in an event like this before, I urge you to give it a try.

Perhaps running isn’t your thing, but most 5K events sponsored by groups like The NAMES Foundation also allow people to walk the course. In most cases, the fee to participate and a good portion of the event’s related proceeds go to the group sponsoring the event. In some cases, you can even walk for others by getting the people you know to donate. Better yet, corporate sponsors often give time and money and show up to award participants with free prizes.

 

You’re Never Too Old

 

Whether the cause is defeat Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s or supporting the soldiers and families who sacrifice everything to preserve our freedom, donating your time and money this way can be as easy as going for stroll. If you’re interested in supporting a charitable cause, I urge you to take the next step and contact local organizations in your area to get the details on upcoming events. If you’re like me, you’ll be glad you did. And hey, you don’t have to be young.

 

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