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Tales of a Charity Runner

Posted Jul 04 2012 11:30pm

A couple of weeks ago, I ran the Seattle Rock & Roll half marathon for the American Cancer Society . To frame this appropriately, here’s a couple of fun facts:

  • This was my first long race since the knee surgery last year
  • My longest training run for this race was 7 miles (oops)
  • This was the first race I’ve run in several years with absolutely no goal except to finish – no PR chases, no time goals, not even any super-secret-known-only-to-me-private time goals

I’m pretty sure that last point is the key to the great race I had that day. Sure, the perfect weather helped (partly cloudy and in the 50s/60s), and the fact that the rain held off until after I was done running was also a key factor. However, the fact that I really, truly, honestly didn’t care how long it took me to finish was key. The only slight bit of time pressure I had was the fact that I wanted to take a shower in our downtown hotel room before heading home, and if check-out time was 11 am instead of noon it was going to be a bit tight if it took me more than 3 hours. (Luckily, checkout was noon and I finished in less than 3 hours, so I had plenty of time to shower and relax after I got back to the room.)

I ran a few miles, then I’d take a walk break. Then I’d run for a few more miles, and then I’d walk some more. I had an absolute blast, especially along the part of the course that ran right next to Lake Washington (although the hill we had to run up to get there? could have been less aggressive). I would have said I ran the whole thing with a smile on my face, except Irwin’s pictures prove otherwise:

Dawn at mile 1 of the Seattle Rock n Roll half marathon, with Nuun tattoo

Just before mile 1, sporting the Nuun love on my face

I’d layered up thinking it was going to be cool, but it was humid and the sun came out shortly after the race start, so the t-shirt was quickly tossed aside. Irwin caught me again just after mile 12, and I was still looking super-serious, despite the fact that I was really honestly enjoying myself at that point.

Dawn at mile 12 of the Seattle Rock and Roll half marathon 2012

Mile 12ish, from above, and having more fun than it looks like I am

As I made my way through the course, I was cheering on other runners, saying hi and talking to people. Along the Alaskan way aqueduct, I came across another runner who was wearing a “Rock Idol” bib with the number 10 on it, indicating he’d run 10 Rock & Roll events so far this year. I asked him if that was true, and he replied with, “Yes, 10 American events.” I was incredibly impressed, mostly because that’s a lot of race entry fees and a lot of travel.

All in all, this race was an absolute success. I ran well (incredibly well given my inconsistent training), had fun and, most importantly, was able to raise a grand total of $1500 for the American Cancer Society.

However, I discovered something very important about myself as a charity runner: I am not an externally motivated person. Part of the reason I chose to run this race for the ACS was because it was a cause that meant a lot to me personally, and part of it was I figured the public commitment and cause bigger than myself would help keep me motivated to train. And, if I was someone who was driven by external motivation, it would have. However, I’m very internally driven. If I’m not feeling it, it’s not going to happen. On those mornings when I tried to think of the reason I was running to summon some extra motivation to get up and get out the door, I still hit the snooze button and fell back asleep, but felt a little more guilty for doing so. The only time that my commitment to the ACS got me out the door to run was on race day.

Does this mean I’m against charity running programs? Not entirely. However, I have learned that they’re not for me. I’m not the most natural fundraiser, and when you combine that with the fact that external motivation does so little for me, it just doesn’t make sense for me personally. I’m still glad I did this, and I know it meant a lot to a lot of people that I ran this race as a charity runner, but it’ll be a while before I choose to do so again. (Plus, after running so many races alone, it felt weird to have the ACS coaches jumping in with me every few miles to ask me if I needed anything or if I was doing OK. Really weird.)

The biggest thing I got out of this race, in all honesty, had absolutely nothing to do with my fundraising efforts. It was that I got my running confidence and mojo back. Prior to this race, I’d been feeling uneasy about Ragnar , wondering if I’d have the fitness to get through it. Now? I know I won’t be fast, but I’ll be able to run well enough to enjoy myself, and I’m really looking forward to it. (Especially since I got to meet several of my NUUNKOTB teammates that weekend, including Becky , Laura , Stacie , Holly , and Alanna !)

Dawn at 2012 Seattle Rock & Roll half marathon

When your husband is your photographer, you end up with pictures of your butt

Irwin took several pictures of the event, so if you want to see more than just me, head over to his Flickr page to see them all.

I’d also like to thank Bondi Band  ( Facebook / Twitter ), Brooks ( Facebook / Twitter ), NeoCell ( Facebook / Twitter ), Nuun ( Facebook / Twitter ), Oiselle ( Facebook / Twitter ), Promax ( Facebook / Twitter ), ShowerPill ( Facebook / Twitter ) and Sparkly Soul ( Facebook / Twitter ) for generously supporting my fundraising raffle . Please click over to their sites and show them some love on Facebook and Twitter if you like what you see.

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