Ah, but my best laid plans...
I started out feeling pretty good. Even though it's the middle of the day (I should have run first thing this morning, but I just like sleep too darn much!), it's still beautiful out. Low seventies, cool breeze, no humidity - PERFECT weather. At this point, I know you're asking why I'm sitting at the computer writing this blog instead of enjoying the weather outside, and that's an excellent question. But I digress. Once the first couple of minutes went by, I felt the fatigue set in, and the weird ache I've been getting in and around my right knee since yesterday started up. I reminded myself how much I hate the first mile, and thought about how good the second mile had felt on Tuesday. So I hung in there. Unfortunately, the second mile was just as tough as the first, so after twenty minutes, I gave myself permission to walk. Because I'm not training for anything really hard or long, I feel like I can mentally give myself a break sometimes because the point here is to really love running, not to make myself do it until I can't stand it anymore. So I gave myself five minutes to walk, and then ran the last five minutes, pushing myself to go a bit faster. Although I didn't run for 30-minutes, I still got a 25 minute run in there, and my muscles are definitely feeling the burn. And hey, the important thing is that I got three decent runs in this week, and it's been a WHILE since I could say that!
As I mentioned, I'm not training for any big races, but yesterday, I got some news that will motivate my running for the next month. Run for the Fallen was started in 2008 by 1st Lt. Michael J. Cleary's best friends and classmates from Hamilton College (my alma mater). Michael was killed in Iraq on December 19, 2005, only a few shorts weeks before he was to return home and marry his high school sweetheart. Although I didn't know Michael (he was a year behind me), I certainly saw him around campus - Hamilton is a small school where everyone knows everyone, and everyone's business. The team that created Run for the Fallen wanted to honor Michael and the other military men and women who have lost their lives fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Beginning Flag Day, June 14, 2008, a dedicated team of runners ran across America from Fort Irwin, CA to Arlington National Cemetery, one mile for every Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, and Marine killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. For ten weeks, team members marked each mile with an American flag and signcard in an apolitical reflection of remembrance of each service member.On August 24, 2008 runners from around the world joined Run for the Fallen in remembering our fallen. Over 9,000 participants ran over 35,000 miles in remembrance of those fallen in OIF and OEF. Just incredible.
I remember learning about Run for the Fallen last year, and I really wanted to do it. But I wasn't a runner, and I thought my inability to run even a mile wouldn't do justice to the sacrifice that these men and women, and their families, have made. But this year, I am a runner! I thought about Run for the Fallen yesterday, and googled it to see if they were doing it again this year. It turns out that a team of 24 dedicated runners will run from Cape May, NJ, to Holmdel, NJ, and they will be running right up Route 9 through Barnegat, a five minute walk from my house. They didn't say anything about signing up other runners, but I thought maybe they'd let me run some of it with them. So I emailed the guy in charge, who said they'd love to have me and now I'm just waiting to hear back about when they think they'll be hitting Barnegat - it's a two-day run. I'm so very honored to be able to remember our fallen heroes this way. I don't think the miles I run will ever be more meaningful than the ones I'll run to remember those we've lost. In particular, I'll be running for my cousin's West Point classmates and friends, Lt. Todd Bryant and Cpt. Tim Moshier, as well as Michael Cleary.
Although no contribution is required to run and remember the fallen, I'd like to raise as much money as I can for this important cause. Run for the Fallen NJ is to raise awareness for the fallen soldiers of New Jersey and their families. All proceeds above the event expenses will be donated to the Gold Star Mothers' Monument being built in Washington DC. A Gold Star Mother is a mom that has lost a son or daughter while in defense of our country. If you'd like to make a donation, I've set up a page to do that. As you may know, our military means a lot to me, since I've had a number of friends and family serve, so any donation you make really means so much to me personally.
So now my running takes on some new meaning - nothing spurs you on to push a little harder than thinking of the soldier or the marine who faces danger every day, just so I can run down the street freely.