Some mornings I wake up and think that running the Chicago Marathon for a charity was a terrible decision. Today was one of those mornings.
My legs have now reached the we-ache-all-the-time-and-can-barely-make-it-up-a-flight-of-stairs point of marathon training and my stomach is only ever satisfied when I consume all edible items with a 100-feet radius. Instead of feeling calm and fulfilled on my runs, like I am when these workouts aren’t attached to a goal, I am stressed that I am not running hard enough or long enough or often enough.
Then there is the fundraising. I worry that I will not reach my goal. I worry that my goal is not high enough. I worry that my friends will laugh in my face if I ask them for a donation. I worry that I will not do enough.
Today’s fear stemmed mostly from the 18 miles that I plan to run tomorrow. I am anxious that I won’t eat the right things tonight, or that the heat will be unbearable, or that my mind will trick me into believing that I can’t do this. I am also nervous because this will be my first group run with Team World Vision. Up until this point, I’ve been doing my long runs solo, coming up with rational excuses as to why I can’t join them: I want to finish earlier, I am going further, I probably don’t have the right clothes. But, tomorrow, the group is doing a special 13.1, so I plan to run five miles to their meet up and do the rest with the group. I am scared that the other runners won’t like me or that I won’t find that running camaraderie that led me to joining a team in the first place.
Even with all the worry and pressure I put on myself, I am not worried about water. It will be hot, but I will have plenty of opportunities to chug some water at fountains and stations along the Lake Shore Trail and TWV run. When I get done with the run, no matter how difficult or torturing, I will drink a huge Nalgene full of refreshing, clean water.
As a white, middle-class American, I’ve never really worried about water. Even when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in West and Southern Africa – where I drank water from a well that was littered with trash and swimming frogs and water that caused me to be so violently ill that my community thought I might actually die (I was far from it, but still quite unpleasant) – I knew that it was only temporary and eventually I would have an endless supply of clean water, like I always had.
But my experiences in life have allowed me to see that this isn’t a reality for far too many people in this world. Too many children don’t go to school because they are walking for hours to fetch water that will likely make them sick. Too many people die because they don’t have access to clean water. Most of this, of course, happening in African countries, where a large of my heart is. This led me to want to do something about it – raise money through a non-profit that works to eliminate this huge gap of inequality. At this point in my life, I know that I don’t the capabilities to do something grand, but I can do something small, like raise a bit of money.
Throughout the day, the more I thought about how this race and fundraising isn’t about me or if I can do enough, the fear dissipated. Something bigger than my ego is at stake. Running a marathon is hard work and raising money is harder, but those are nothing compared to not lacking a basic human right, such as clean water. Because having clean water is not something I am worried about is enough of force to push me through all of the worries I do have.
If like me, you are not worried about water, I encourage you to join my efforts and donate to those who don’t have the same luxury.