My friends had been trying to get me to run a half marathon with them for about a year. I kept saying “No. That’s not for me. Too far for these legs to go”. I try to run when I can for exercise but my racing days are over. Or so I thought.
One day, I received an email at work asking me to run a half-marathon for Crohn’s and Colitis. My best friend in high school had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Without even thinking I signed up that day.
I had never run more than a 5k and honestly never wanted to run more than that….ever. I was content with the occasional run and did it just to get a little exercise.
I started training and with a busy schedule, I just never felt like I was as prepared as I wanted to be. As the race day grew nearer I became nervous. I had nightmares that they were taking down the finish line before I came across, and all the fans were gone and the celebration was over.
The race was held in Napa Valley and I worried even as I packed my bags. When I flew to California and saw the hills in person, it felt even worse. What did I get myself into? This is for real runners. I am nothing like them.
At the pasta dinner pre-party the night before, I met some of the people I was running to help and heard their stories. At first, I kept thinking, what if I raise this money and they find no cure for them? What if what I am doing does not help?
As the evening went on, I realized that most of the comments were about this race and the program that was helping them with support. The Crohns and Colitis Foundation provided them with connections to people who have been going through what they are going through. Like the 16 year old who had been the youngest person ever to be diagnosed with the disease when she was a baby only a few months old. She was now a top student in her class, involved with the community and is an amazing young woman with a bright future ahead of her. She was brought together with another child that is diagnosed at an even younger age and is spending time with the family. How lucky is this mom who now can see what a beautiful life can still be ahead for her own child. It’s not an end, it’s a beginning. To know the challenges that lie ahead. And also the gifts that are waiting.
Maybe my money won’t save someone’s life, but it will help them live with what they have been given. Maybe it will help them cope, help them fight, or just help them know that they are not alone.
When my legs turned into rubber on the eighth mile, when I got a leg cramp at mile 11, when I crossed the finish line not sure if I could keep them going without falling down – I knew why I ran and never gave up. I never ran for me.
I never wanted to run a half marathon. I never even considered it. I took myself out of my comfort zone and did something that, to be honest, scared me. That 2 hours and 36 minutes was for them. I did it for a friend, for hope, and for a cause. I was able to walk away with a great new group of friends and a whole new appreciation for a digestive system that functions normally.
Kay Rudzinski, Delta Corporate Teammate in Napa 2014