Friday, November 29, 2013

Why I Run

Whelp....we attempt the Seattle half marathon on Sunday. I wrote this latest post on the plane to New York but wanted to sit on it for a bit. As always, going back and reading my writing I find it falls short but the point is still valid so up on the blog it goes!

Here's what I want  you to get out of it: We have some incredibly people in our life going through really difficult stuff. I don't feel like it's my place to share the depth of their journey these last few months so this post is a whitewashed 1000-foot view off their story, but their example has inspired and motivated me and THAT is why I'm running.

Why I Run:

We’ve recently started training for the Seattle Half Marathon on December 1st. And by recently, I mean we’re on a seven week training schedule...not what most people recommend but it’s been working for us so far. Here’s how this little adventure all came about:

I come from a family of runners; my mom has WON the Seattle Marathon before, my Nana is a runner, my brother, I think even my dad has run a marathon or two. Hjorts are just built to go the distance. I was on my school’s cross country team when I was younger but I’ve had knee problems ever since so I tend to stick to lower impact exercise. Still, I’ve always wanted to do a long race. My mom would finish one of her marathons, I’d get all inspired and think “I could do that!”, look up a training schedule, realize I’d have to run at least five days a week and then my dreaming would go dormant as the reality of our busy life took over. 

Our pastor Matt was diagnosed with Hairy Cell Leukemia almost exactly a year ago. Thankfully this is a very treatable kind of leukemia with a very high survival rate. I’m sure he certainly wouldn’t call it a good time, but within a few months we were all celebrating because he was in remission. He volunteers his time as a track coach and used to run with his wife before they got engaged (there’s a pretty funny story there). So Matt and my mom decided to train for the Seattle Marathon this year and run it with Team in Training which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. The team is full of leukemia survivors or people who have lost someone to various types of cancer. 

Well things don’t always go as we plan them (ha!) and in September Matt received a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Hairy cell is like a warm fuzzy teddy bear compared to AML and the chances of one person getting both in their lifetime are literally astronomical. So it’s September, Matt’s not running. I’m praying and worrying, worrying and praying (which I know aren’t supposed to go together, but I’m only human). I was kind of taken aback at how much his diagnosis affected me. I’m a pretty easy-going person and wouldn’t normally categorize myself as a “fixer” but I just felt so helpless and REALLY didn’t like it.

I was having lunch with my mom in mid-October. We were talking about Matt, her half-marathon training, how much the team was missing getting to run with him, etc. And I don’t know…I just…wanted to run. So that night Nathan and I did just that. I had no idea how far I was capable of going…apparently 3 ½ miles. It was slow but I finished in one piece and from there we decided. We’re doing this.
I’m not under any illusions. I know that my running is about me, it's just a way for me to feel in control and that it has no material impact on Matt’s health, but as much as it’s wrecking my knees, it is healing my heart. I’ve been really intentional about not running with any headphones in, which on a long run is a lot of quiet time with my thoughts.  A lot of time to pray, and think, and question, and wonder.

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