To all my fellow runners out there, happy Global Running Day!
To those who think I’m nuts because I love running as much as I love writing and exploring nature trails and meandering the globe, happy Global Running Day, as well. We’re out there on the trails and treadmills so you don’t have to be.
In 2002, I watched my first marathon. I lived along one of the streets of the Chicago Marathon. I also handed out water bottles and Gospel tracts to onlookers who cheered on their friends and families. That day, a seed was planted: I wanted to run a marathon.
But I wasn’t a runner.
As a kid, I’d had tons of health concerns that kept me mostly sedentary and off my feet. Running was a dream I thought I’d never achieve.
But in 2004, while on tour in South Africa, something within me sparked to the idea of trying anyway. I knew it would be a slow, painful process, I wouldn’t get very far, I’d never take any medals, and I’d only ever be a jogger, really. But I was okay with that. I was going to surprise my best friend and roommate, Elizabeth, by returning to college and popping up early one morning to go running with her.
And I did.
And I’ve not looked back since. I even ran the Chicago Marathon in 2016, raising funds for the Organization for Autism Research. It was such a joy and privilege to give of my training, my energy, and my personal funds, to benefit this organization in Elizabeth’s memory.
Today, running remains one of my favorite activities – but it’s also become something a bit more. It’s become a memorial every time I hit the trails for a summer morning jog.
Elizabeth, my running inspiration, passed away in 2014. Now, every year on her birthday (which happens to be tomorrow, June 3), the anniversary of her passing (September 11th), and other special dates that meant something to us, I run. I do virtual 5ks and 10ks, or just jog along the wooded trails of Cook County Preserves.
Her memory keeps me running. For joy. For health. For love.
And I genuinely hope it always will.
Happy Global Running Day, E. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate “eve” of your birthday than this.