There are days when I hate it. Days when it hurts. Days when I can’t stand the thought of putting my feet in incessant motion. I’m tired. I’m burned out.
Then I remember those who can’t run.
I remember the first time I paid attention to the Shepherd Spinal Center while running the Peachtree. I was slowly “making my way” (i.e. struggling) up that not-so-fun cardiac hill, when I noticed three men on the right-hand sidewalk cheering from wheelchairs. One was wearing a previous PRR race shirt. I was overcome by their presence - joy on their faces as they watched us pass – living life despite horrible accidents or illness.
I remember especially the one man in the race shirt – who has known life as a runner, but whose running shoes now can only serve as a reminder of what he wishes and dreams to one day be able to do again. He once was just like me, and now longs to have the opportunity to run down the street, the opportunity I take for granted. Here I am with a capable body… don’t I owe it to him to use what I am blessed with?
Then I remember the Peachtree wheelchair racers.
View from the 2009 PRR Wheelchair Race (from ajc.com staff photos – Vino Wong / email@example.com)
As an AJC PRR volunteer for many years, I had the complete joy of watching the first part of the race that many people forget about – the incredible men and women of the wheelchair race division (the Shepherd Center has sponsored the wheelchair division of the road race since 1984). Watching a person tired, exhausted and putting every ounce of strength they can into their wheels to roll up those tough hills while gravity is pulling them backwards is a moving experience. If that doesn’t tug at your heart and inspire you, I’m not sure what will.
The next time I’m feeling lazy or exhausted I hope to recall these incredible men and women – people who hope for a chance to use their legs, and who won’t let excuses stop them in their pursuit.
I must run with gratitude. I must be thankful for able legs and for the opportunities they provide. No matter how slow, how hot and sweaty or how arduous the run, by using the gifts I am given I create my best self.