This week I went running twice. Outside. In the cold. Medal, please?
In all seriousness, I have really fallen off the running bandwagon in the last month or so. I ran the Catalina Island Marathon and NYRR 60K in November (and didn’t yet finish the race reports), but when the Dallas Marathon got canceled and I had to bail on the Whine Not a Marathon because I was sick… I pretty much gave up and have been doing indoor runs only. (And honestly, I’m usually heading to gym classes more than I choose to just hit the treadmill.) On Tuesday, though, I got an early Christmas present that also got me motivated to start running more: I was matched with an I Run 4 buddy, Paul!
My friend Blake first pointed me in the direction of I Run 4 a few months ago, and the more I read, the more I realized it is such an amazing organization. The I Run 4 nonprofit seeks to match runners with a child or adult with special needs who can’t run. You join the Facebook group, and whenever you go out for a run (or another form of exercise), you post about your run in the group, tagging your buddy so they know what you’re up to. To quote directly from the I Run 4 website:
“We all have friends who say “run some for me” because they don’t WANT to run… what about those who physically CAN’T run? After an inspiration from a close friend who was battling bilateral hip dysplasia – Founder Tim Boyle found a whole new inspiration to run. The mental and emotional encouragement for both runner and honorary runner is proving to be a whole new level of motivation and awareness. Runners are able to find a whole new sense of purpose in their running while sharing who they are running for and bringing awareness to diseases and disabilities of all types. We hope you will join us to run for someone special that you may not know yet…. but you will instantly form a bond.”
The only thing that I didn’t love is that you have to wait quite a while between signing up as a runner and getting matched. The I Run 4 organization is so popular that it can take a while for all the matches to process! But I suppose if the buddies can have the patience not to run, skip, and play like they want to, I can find the patience to wait to be assigned a buddy that I can run “4.”
And that waiting process just made me even more excited on Christmas Eve when I received the notification that I had been matched with my buddy Paul! Paul and his sister Harlee Grace were diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Canavan Disease, and after doing some Googling to learn more about it, my heart absolutely broke reading about how horrible it is. I’m so grateful that I can help even in a small way by letting Paul know that I’m running for him, and by sharing photos and stories of my running.
Today was just a loop of Central Park (along with Theodora and some new friends in the Juice Press Run Club), so not incredibly exciting. (Though so much fun and I was so glad that Theodora talked me into going!)
I’m hoping that my running tales will be longer and more interesting once I get back to marathoning and can take pictures of lots of different places to show him where “we” ran together! I’m also planning a few surprises for Paul that I don’t want to write about on my blog just yet. But so far in the two runs I’ve done since getting matched, my thoughts have drifted over to Paul several times while I’m running – I really am running for him. Although completely virtual, having Paul as a buddy really is like having a coach who pushes me, in that it makes it hard to quit when I know that he’s at home and literally can’t do what I’m getting to do! I was feeling really lazy on Christmas morning (especially when I saw that it was only 20 degrees out – brr!), but knowing that I would be running for him made me hop to and get my butt out the door – and then head straight to the computer once I got home to let him know what “we” had done! I don’t want to let him down, and it feels silly for me to complain about running in the cold when he’s fighting a much bigger battle.
If you’re a runner, perhaps you’d like to sign up with I Run 4 to get matched with a buddy as well? The signup process takes only a few minutes (though you do have to be patient to get your buddy). Once you’re matched, though, the motivation to keep going for your buddy is something that will last a heck of a long time, and will hopefully help you build an amazing friendship with someone who’s not able to run. It’s really a blessing to be healthy enough to exercise, and joining the I Run 4 group has helped to remind me of that much more often! I am so, so excited to be running for Paul, and I’m really looking forward to all our future runs together.