Last week, I started to doubt the reason I chose to run this marathon for World Vision.
Not everyone is supportive of this cause or this organization and a few conversations with friends left me wondering if I should have gone with another charity. Maybe I should chose a safer charity, one everyone will want to support, in the future, I told myself.
This week, in the hardest week of my marathon training, I got sick. I called in sick one day and cut runs short this week to prepare myself for Saturday’s 20 miles. I was tired and mentally exhausted. I just wanted this whole thing to be over. I wasn’t afraid that my body couldn’t do it; I was scared my mined would turn on me.
Then this morning came, early at 4:30 a.m. We were asked to be at the run, which was setup as a mock race, at 5 a.m. so I had ate my pasta, watched Nike inspirational commercials, and went to bed before 9 the night before. Ethan, boyfriend of the year over here, insisted that he also get up at that time, drive to my house, pick me up and take me to my run. See? Boyfriend of the year. It was dark, rainy and cold, like all of our Saturday morning runs had been leading up to this point. Because I was one of the eager bunnies, we stood in the cold for almost an hour before we began the run. Trust me, 20 miles sounds even less appealing when you have to wait in the wind and rain 60 minutes beforehand.
Before we run our team runs, someone usually gives us an inspirational word or two. Today, it was Justice’s turn. Justice, a Kenyan, is the World Vision liaison in Kenya and he was in Chicago to visit the WV office and to cheer on the runners. Justice told us about the children who need clean water and how many of them will soon have it.
“You make an impact,” he said. “I’ve seen it.”
Twenty miles never flies by but it felt as good as it could. I led my pace group for most of the way and we were quite consistent. My head was strong as well as my hydration and fuel, all things that failed me during the 18-mile run a few weeks ago. My legs ached but I was could walk just fine after. This run set me up so well that I can go into the taper with complete confidence in my ability to have a great race day in three weeks.
What helped the most, I think, was not seeking motivation from within. I let Justice’s words snap me back into focus when my thoughts turned sour. Then faces of children from village in Niger popped into my head and I fantasized about my efforts specifically reaching them (Niger is one of the countries our clean water fundraising benefits). I thought about the people I love in Lesotho and how sometimes I am scared that I let them down. Our pace group told inspiring stories during the last two miles of the run, when our legs wanted to give out. I thought about all my friends and family who’ve supported me along on this journey – including an entire group who came to a fundraising party last week and chipped in – all because I asked.
World Vision may not be the perfect cause, but I am not the perfect runner or fundraiser. I may not agree with them in all aspects, but I agree and believe in them on this one. What I am doing here is not heroic or groundbreaking, but it means something. And that’s enough to carry me through pain, exhaustion and, even, doubt.
Three weeks to go.
Please consider helping more people access clean water. Donate here.